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July 8th, 2011

red shirt

We visited the Market Street in our neighborhood, enjoying the pleasures of a modestly upscale chain grocery. I wore a red Star Trek shirt. Star Trek shirts are not a big part of my wardrobe. I bought this one at a perfectly satisfactory Star Trek exhibition in Riverside California during a business trip last year. My main memory of this shirt is the immense sticker shock I experienced when I realized that this tourist trap was charging me thirty dollars for the shirt--which is roughly 10 dollars for the cloth, and 20 dollars for a single TV show faux insignia. Had I been a better man, I would have put the shirt back on the shelf, bought myself a soothing cookie, and spent the other twenty eight dollars on pet adoption. But I instead was too embarrassed to put it back on the shelf. Is it any wonder that I like insignia-free caps from dollar stores, or caps from forgotten Future Farmers of America branches? Actually, my favorite caps involve brands I think appropriate to some imaginary heartlands--nobody ever disrespects you if your baseball cap says Ford or Craftsman.

As I stood in the Market Street line, purchasing a dinner of smoked turkey, smoked green beans and pinto beans, a long-haired gentleman behind the counter became animated. He then turned to me and explained that he was educating his staff on the importance of red shirts with Star Trek themes. In the original Star Trek series, the red shirts were the other ranks, who inevitably would be vaporized, crushed or alien-afflicted during an episode in which the lead characters came and saw and conquered. The grocery store bon vivant was sharing his knowledge of this phenomenon with his co-workers, who seemed every bit as interested as if he had been holding forth on ways to steam asparagus or favorite corgi dogs through history.

I tried to join in the repartee', explaining how, in my youth, I remembered the classic Mad Magazine issue which presented a Star Trek musical, in which a song was devoted to just this topic. I am afraid that my young friends' five year mission had not thus far included much Mad. Mine has not, either, for that matter--I perhaps have only bought a half dozen or so issues in fifty one years in this fascinating life.
For me, though, the magazine is a kind of bedrock, while for others it is ancient limestone fossils.

I am pleased that we are to have company this weekend. I spent my morning researching alternative ways to share north Texas' stark beauty during a warm Summer.

brown-headed cowbirds on parade

Each Summer I pledge not to let the heat keep me indoors. Fulfilling this pledge makes life more fun. Today as I drove home, the radio announced a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. When I reached the Harris section of the Spring Creek Greenbelt in Garland on my way home this afternoon, I pulled into the parking lot. I put my binoculars around my neck and began to walk.

This park is lovely--one crosses under the roadway via sidewalk, and the sidewalk takes one on a concrete sidewalk path. On one's left is scraggle-woods leading to Spring Creek. On one's right is open field. Straight ahead the path loops around a little creek-fed pond. The whole loop is 8/10ths of a mile.

The heat proved to be no distraction. The swallows did not slow down a bit--nor did the eastern kingbird, nor did the brown-headed cowbirds. Brown-headed cowbirds are little blackbirds with brown heads. I like them because they remind me of the people you knew in elementary school (in my case, the word is perhaps not "knew" but "became") who never quite got color coordination down right. They're graceful, and smart, and lovable, and unloved, and odd--and that's an unbeatable combination.

I liked the eastern kingbird, which is a lot like a flycatcher wearing funeral clothes, as well as several sunfish, a turtle, and the ubiquitous starling. The walk was refreshing, even in the heat. Now I feel my Friday is off to the right start.

My wife and I dined on restaurant-grilled flounder, and marveled at the odd choices people make in life. I spent my dawn hours finding options and things to do--which is fun.