The thoughts of a writer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stop Shooting Children in North Minneapolis

As I watched the news story about a second (in six months) child shot while inside of his house in North Minneapolis, I could hear and feel the pain and frustration in those who spoke or tried to speak about the subject. The problem is, what can I do about it? I'm sure these angry, frustrated people don't want me to come into their neighborhood and tell them that they need to root out the people in gangs and those who kill and distribute drugs.

Why would this be a problem? Because these "bad" people live in the same neighborhoods and look like the sons, uncles, cousins, etc. of the people who are crying over the dead. The change has to come from within the groups who are harboring, producing and protecting the killers. If the shooter is someone from your family, you need to turn him in.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Minneapolis Morning

TQ's Pig Roast

I had fun at TQ2's pig roast over the weekend. The attendees were mostly developers (computer programmers). There were a lot of very smart nerds there; and I found it enjoyable that when I wove a small (sometimes they're very small) joke into the conversation that these people not only got the joke, but they interjected their own humor into it as well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Goodbye Uncle Bob

My uncle Bob passed away on Saturday after a lengthy battle with kidney disease. As a couple of his boyhood friends had the same disease, it is the suspicion of many that the polution in the Vermillion River (where they swam) may have been responsible. Hopefully the practice of dumping is a thing of the past.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Plastic Sword

My family is temporarily living in my condo while we're "between houses." Amongst our pile of "junk," from the previous house is a toy, plastic sword. Somehow, though we packed a storage container full of stuff from the house, this silly plastic sword did not make it inside. So now even though we are cramped for space, there is a stupid plastic sword sticking out of the pile of stuff. Periodically, I will get a semi-serious tone and ask my wife if while looking for anything, if she may have.... come across, a plastic sword, because I was looking for one. Of course we both bust out laughing, because it is just too ridiculous!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Déjà vu

Lately I have been experiencing Déjà vu; and for good reason. We have moved to my condo while we purchase a new home. For me it was interesting because everything is familiar; yet instead of living alone I have my wife and son with me. When I go to the store or visit a friend in the condo complex, it is like returning to a previous time in my life. I think it is a great experience to actually return to the same place where I spent several years of my life and revisit it--even if it is only temporary.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some People Should Shut-up

Like the people who keep reporting that oil prices are falling and the price of gas is going down. All I have to do is look at the signs on the gas stations, to see that gas has been going up since they started saying this crap.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Louisville Swamp Mosquito Hike




I went hiking at Louisville Swamp yesterday.







The mosquitoes were really bad and the weather went from sunny to rain. The Jabs Farm crossing was flooded too.






Sill I saw some interesting things like the Indigo Bunting and the wildflowers like those in these photos I took.



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day 2012



Father's Day 2012 will be special for me because for the first time in my life, I will be a father on that day. It has been an incredible experience. Sometimes it is very tiring, but always I am amazed at how my heart melts whenever my little baby boy smiles at me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bear Feet

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gerber...


Isn't it weird when baby food and toilets have the same name?

Hikers

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Growing Buck

Click photo to enlarge, click back button to go back.
Could this buck I saw yesterday, be the same one I saw on May 14th? I think so! It is a good example of how quickly the antlers have grown (in 22 days).

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Gunfighter

By Kevin J. Curtis

Henry Klein was not quite five feet tall and weighed less than three-quarters as much as most men. He had always been small—which meant he had always been picked on by the other boys in his town. That was years ago now, and as an adult Henry Klein had turned mean. He had battled depression for most of his life until he found solace in a nickel plated pistol that his dad had left him before he had died. Henry didn’t care whether he lived or died, since being the boy that everyone picked on was all he had ever known. But something happened when he shot the revolver and felt the smooth action of the cylinder turning. He practiced with the gun until he could pull it from the holster and fire it accurately in the blink of an eye.

Henry had heard about another man… a gunfighter who had injured his shooting hand. He had been gunned down shortly afterward in a duel. Henry decided to purchase a second gun and he practiced with his left hand until he was almost as quick as he was with his right. Soon Henry began to wear both guns in the style of the gunfighters of the old west. At that time, in 1869, in the Dakota Territory, it was common to wear a gun—but wearing two was an invitation that you were a gunfighter looking to prove yourself.

Not caring about living or dying meant that Henry was fine with folks thinking that he was a gun slinging trouble-maker. The pint-sized gunman was about to be tested, though, when his childhood nemesis, Ben Kozial, walked into the saloon that Henry was sitting in one evening.

“Well what the hell?” said Kozial. “If’n it ain’t ‘the runt!’ What are you doin’ in here? Don’t you know they don’t serve dwarves around here?”

The other men laughed at Kozial’s remarks, as they were all interested in seeing if the little man was really good with his pistols.

“You might want to smile when you say that Butch,” said Henry. “I might have to take you outside and blow yer fool head off.”

“Why you pipsqueak!” said the enraged Kozial as he reached over to grab Henry Klein. Before he could touch Henry, the smaller man had pulled both his pistols and had one aimed at Kozial and the other aimed at the center of the saloon; in case someone else decided to get himself involved in Henry’s business.

“Care to apologize or are we going outside?” asked Henry.

“Yeah I’ll go outside!” answered Kozial. “Put those pistols away and I’ll beat you bloody”

“Oh I’ll go outside alright,” said Henry, “but you’re gonna’ have to pull your pistol ‘cuz I figure you got over a hundred pounds on me and I ain’t about to get beat. Why don’t you come outside and see if you can shoot me dead, fair and square? That is unless yer yella.”

Though he wasn’t at all confident all of a sudden, Ben Kozial had never said “no” to a fight—and he didn’t want to start now—especially with the pipsqueak. Red-faced, he walked out the door and headed down the street about twenty steps before he turned to face his smaller adversary.

Kozial pulled his gun but before he could level it at Henry, the smaller man had already pulled his pistol with his left hand and had it pointed at Ben Kozial’s heart. A crowd of people looked on from the safety of windows or behind corners of buildings.

“Now even though I think that the world would be better off without the likes of you, Butch,” said Henry, “I’m gonna’ give you one last chance to apologize so I don’t have to send you to yer maker.”

“Go to hell!” yelled Ben Kozial as he pulled the trigger of his own pistol. Before he got the shot off, Henry had pulled and fired the other pistol with his right hand. The bullet struck Kozial in the forehead and sprayed blood and brain tissue out the back of his head when it exited. Kozial was thrown backward by the impact of the bullet and lay on the ground on his back kicking and bucking as his body reacted to the deadly blow to the head.

“Piece of shit,” commented Henry as he replaced his guns in their holsters and walked back inside of the saloon. He felt a rush of adrenaline and satisfaction as the room full of larger men stepped aside to let him through.

“I’ll take a beer,” Henry said matter-of-factly to the bartender.

The sheriff made an inquiry of what had happened and decided that Ben Kozial had died in a fair fight. In fact, several witnesses said that the smaller man had offered to end the fight if the dead man would have apologized. Still, the sheriff was not too happy about having a gunslinger in town; and he sure didn’t want to end up in a shootout with him.

Henry Klein wasn’t actually looking for trouble. He had just decided that never again would he be beaten down, injured or insulted by any man. Once he had his handguns as an equalizer, the size of his adversaries made little difference.

As he thought about killing Ben Kozial, he realized that his courage in that incident came largely from his years of hatred for the man. Kozial had been a bully to everyone in town, but especially liked to pick on Henry. If the gunfight had been against an unknown person, would he have been as confident? His reputation began to build as word of his duel with Ben Kozial got around. That was when another gunfighter arrived in town intent on pushing Henry into a gunfight.

That man was Riley Watts and he rode with his brother Billy Watts. The two were always mixed up in some kind of trouble and how they had escaped the hangman’s noose for as long as they had was anyone’s guess. Most folks believed that even the law was too smart to get mixed up in a gun battle with the likes of Riley Watts.

On the first occasion that the Watts brothers had the opportunity to confront Henry Klein, Henry was busy working in the livery stable. Henry was good with horses. He liked horses better than he liked people and the horses seemed to like Henry too. There was always work to do at the stable, and Henry had been employed there since before he had ever picked up a pistol. Henry wasn’t wearing his guns while he was cleaning out the stalls. That’s when the Watts brothers cornered him.

“We got him!” yelled Billy Watts as he and Riley began to punch and kick Henry Klein. When Henry fell to the ground semiconscious, the two men stripped him and covered his body with horse manure before carrying him outside and setting him down on the front steps of the hotel in town. No one in town intervened, and even the sheriff was somehow unaccounted for while the assault was taking place. After they had their fun, the Watts boys left for the saloon to get drunk and tell everyone what they had done.

Eventually a few of the kinder folks in town went to help Henry after the Watts boys were gone. They carried him to Doc Smith’s house and went back to the livery stable to retrieve Henry’s clothes. Though he was battered and bruised, Henry seemed to be in reasonable shape considering his beating.

“Don’t get any ideas now,” said Doc Smith, you took a nasty hit to the head and you need some rest.

“I’ll rest when I’m dead,” said Henry. “Or after they’s dead.” The small gunfighter went to the livery stable where he found his two guns. He had left them safely hidden in a wooden box near the tools. He put the gun belt on and adjusted the holsters. He quickly pulled out each gun alternately several times and then both together before putting them back in their holsters. Then Henry left the stable to look for the Watts brothers.

He asked around town and a few nervous people pointed at the saloon. Henry walked to the door of the saloon and stepped inside. His hands were above his guns at the ready. He looked at the crowd who began to slowly move away from the two Watts brothers.

“I’m lookin’ fer a couple of no good cowards who attack a man from behind,” said Henry. “They’s both a couple a pigs and they’s both named Watts.”

“You got a big mouth fer such a little man,” said Riley Watts.

“Come on outside Watts,” said Henry. “I don’t expect yer able to come out alone, so why don’t you bring that idiot brother of yours along with you so I can kill both of ya’s at the same time. I got things to do and I might as well not waste time killin’ one of you now and one later.” With that Henry stepped back outside and saloon door swung closed. The two Watts brothers were visibly angry—especially Riley. He slapped his brother and motioned toward the door. Both men walked out with their guns already drawn. Outside Henry still stood with his hands above his guns.

“You draw pretty quick when you got your guns already in yer hands,” said Henry. “I thought you was supposed to be a real gunfighter.” With the onlookers behind every corner and window, Riley slowly put his pistol back in the holster. Billy kept his gun out. Almost simultaneously, Riley pulled his gun and fired at the same time Billy with gun already drawn, fired.

One bullet ultimately grazed the left arm of Henry, but it was only a minor scratch. As the smoke from the four pistols rose slowly into the windless evening, both Watts brothers lay on the ground outside of the saloon. Riley was dead and Billy was mortally wounded. From the ground, Billy Watts lifted his gun and pointed it at Henry who fired both of his drawn pistols into Billy; sending him back down to the earth for good. “I guess that about does that,” said Henry matter-of-factly as he walked back to the livery stable.

Henry had a small corner of the livery stable where he lived. When he got home, he pumped some water into a tub and cleaned himself. The manure the Watts brothers had rubbed on him still lingered—even though Doc Smith had wiped most of it off. Henry dressed in fresh clothes and went to bed.

The next morning the sheriff came by to get Henry’s side of the story. The Watts boys couldn’t give their side, though there was no shortage of townsfolk who were happy to tell their account of what took place. The sheriff never had an explanation for his whereabouts when the assault and subsequent shootings took place. He did seem relieved, however, that the Watts boys were gone once and for all. In the end the killing of the Watts brothers by Henry Klein was deemed justified by both the law and the people in town.

Henry’s reputation as a gunfighter, however, was increasing with each account of this new tale that was told. He had sent three men up the hill to the cemetery within a week. Violence and gunplay was common around the town, but three in a week was thought (by some folks) to be some kind of a record!

A new week came on Sunday, and with it a stranger rode into town. Colt Wilson wasn’t well known in the Dakota Territory, but he was known in Texas where he was originally from. The gunfighter, cowboy, sometimes lawman and likely horse thief, was meaner than a rattlesnake and twice as fast with a gun. His first day in town he got into a fight during a poker game and shot one man dead and wounded another. As was his habit, the sheriff called the killing self-defense, and Colt was out walking the streets the same night.

As quick as he was with a gun, Colt Wilson was even quicker with his fists. That night a small mob jumped him outside the saloon; intent on hanging him. Though it was five against one, Wilson managed to whip the lot of them with only minor damage to himself. As he walked into the saloon after the fight, a couple of cowboys decided it would be fun to stir up some trouble between Colt Wilson and Henry Klein. They almost succeeded too—by questioning the bravery of the two men. As the crowd headed outside, the two instigators kept up their banter directed at the two gunfighters. Eventually Colt Wilson told the two to shut-up.

"We ain't the person you should be sore at," said one.
"Tha's right," said the other. The pipsqueak’s the one what called you yeller!"
With that, Henry Klein pulled his left pistol and shot the man dead as quick as lightning!
"What the?" started his partner. "The pipsqueak shot him dead!"

"Maybe you should join him," said Wilson as he pulled his own gun and shot the surprised man between the eyes. As the fallen man kicked and bucked in the dirty street, Wilson and Klein turned to face each other. The contrast between the two men was astounding!

Colt Wilson was a huge man of African ancestry. Henry Klein was a tiny man of European descent. They stood looking at each other—each still holding a pistol. Finally Henry put his gun back in its holster and said to the bigger man, "I reckon I got no reason to fight with you."

"What's going on here?" asked the sheriff; finally appearing on the scene.

Colt Wilson holstered his own gun now and spoke.
"My small friend here was forced to shoot one of these men who was threatening him; just as I was forced to shoot the other who threatened me."

"Is that a fact?" asked the sheriff—looking directly at Henry.
"Yup," said Henry. "It happened jus' like this black cowboy says it did."
"Somebody call the undertaker. It looks like this killing was self-defense," said the sheriff.

"Let me buy you a beer," Henry said to Colt while motioning toward the saloon.
"Of course," said Colt smiling. "As long as I can buy you one after we finish the first two.”

The two men walked into the bar and sat down. The bartender approached them and said, “You can sit here but the blacky has to sit on the other end the bar."
“Is that a fact,” replied Henry. “I doubt you is as fast with a gun as my friend here; and I know you ain’t as fast as me. So you bring us two beers over here and save your crap for somebody what can’t blow yer head off before you can blink!”

The bartender thought better of it and went to fetch the beers. Colt Wilson looked at the bartender and then said to Henry, “nicely done.”

The two men were later seen talking and laughing at the bar as if they had been friends for years. It seems that in spite of their differences, they had much in common—such as having been treated poorly by others until they learned to fight back.

Copyright 2012 by Kevin J. Curtis

Saturday, June 02, 2012

8 Gallon Car Wash



Eight gallons doesn't seem like enough water to wash a car. I guess that explains the discount...

Friday, June 01, 2012

Adapted Classics...

I started reading an "adapted classic" version of The Adverntures of Huckleberry Finn. These "adapted" classics are supposed to be so we can understand great literature of the past. Mostly it is because an easily riled segment of the population finds it necessary to make classic literature, "politically correct". So even though I have a degree in literature and read Geoffrey Chaucer without their help, some ass-clown thinks he/she can re-write for a master like Mark Twain! I guess modern people are not allowed to come to their own conclusions about history. We can't read a book in the language of its time and place in the world. Like so many other things, we need to sanitize it to make it less offensive--instead of try to understand it from the point-of-view of its place in history. Oh well... I guess I will go read more about Huck Finn floating on a raft down the Mississippi with African-American Jim...

Cutris Stacks Giant Blocks

Cutris Stacks Giant Blocks
UnAssociated Press
June 1, 2012

Cutris was seen placing giant concrete blocks yesterday.

Cutris rests after moving a giant block.







We wondered what Cutris was up to?

An hour later we had our answer!