Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Man on the Street Interviews

Live - From XYZ-TV

Announcer:  “It’s time for our weekly ‘Man on the Street’ segment.  We’ve sent our reporter, Steve O. Smith, our S.O.S. man, out to San Francisco where the ‘Anti-Gravity’ protest is in full swing.  Now let’s join Steve at the protest rally.”

Steve:  “Thanks, Bill.  I’m here at the Anti-Gravity protest where there is a great deal of excitement.  Let’s talk to some of the folks who appear to have issues with the Law of Gravity, which they feel is unfair to weight-challenged people, white basketball players, and busty women.”

Steve:  “Hi young lady.  I’m Steve Smith with XYZ-TV. What’s your name and what do you do?
Suzie:  “My name is Suzie and I’m a college student.”
Steve:  “Why are you here today, Suzie?”
Suzie:   “My professor gives us extra credit if we show up with a sign and …”
Steve:  “But why are you personally involved?  How does gravity affect your life?”
Suzie:  “Well, my professor goes, ‘just show up, and I’m like…, well gravity is a problem.  And he goes, ‘we need to fight gravity.’ And I’m all, ‘wow.’ Like I really don’t know much about gravity, but, like, I know it’s bad.  He goes, ‘it started under Bush.’  And I’m all …totally. Anyway, my professor wants to, like, unpeel the law.”
Steve:  “I think you mean, ‘repeal’ the law.’
Suzie:  “Whatever…”
Steve: “Thank you, Suzie. 

Steve: “Here’s a young man who appears enthusiastic. What’s your name, young man?”
Tyrone:  “Mohamed Washington Milhous Willy Jackson.  Jus call me ‘Tyrone.’ What it be like, Bro?”
Steve: “It be cool.  Why are you here today, Mr. Jackson . . . ah, Tyrone?”
Tyrone:  “Too much gravity, know what ah mean.  That space guy hopping around on the moon.  He be jumpin’ like a grasshopper.  We need moon gravity for basketball - jump shots, slam dunks, nothin’ but net, know what ah mean.”
Steve: “That makes sense.  Thank you, Tyrone.”

Steve: “Here’s a fellow who…I think he’s a ‘fellow.’  Hi.  What’s your name and what do you do?”
Dr. Brucie: “I’m Dr. Gaylord Brucie. I’m a college professor.  I teach ‘gay, lesbian, transsexual, bisexual, and asexual studies.’  I’m also the author of two books:  ‘Joys of Bestiality,’ and ‘Catatonic Foreplay.’  I’m currently working on my next book, ‘How Traditional Marriage and Monogamy Contribute to Global Warming.’”
Steve:  “Well sir, one of your students said you were a little ‘light in the loafers,’ so I wondered why you would protest the Law of Gravity. Wouldn’t that be an advantage for you?  I mean, being so light and all…”
Dr. Brucie: “Oh, a big silly you. Gravity is not our friend.  Haven’t you ever fallen down?  Think of the lives that could be saved without gravity.  But I’m happy you asked, you macho savage, you.  Oh my, I simply love your hair.”
Steve: “Thank you, professor. I …Ah…I have to leave now. 

Steve:  “Here’s a young fellow who looks pretty calm among the excitement of the protest.  What’s your name, young man?”
Young man:  “Huh?
Steve:  “Why are you here today?”
Young man: “Where am I?”
Steve:  “You’re at the ‘Anti-Gravity’ rally.”
Young man:  “Seriously, Dude?  I knew I was somewhere.”
Steve: “So why are you here?”
Young man: “Free grass, man . . .”
Steve:  “How do you feel about gravity?”
Young man: “Huh.  What the hell is gravity?”
Steve: “That’s what holds you to the ground.”
Young man: “Oh. That can’t be good.  But it don’t affect me.  I stay high.  I don’t know jack about grav…What was that word again?  Here, take a toke, man.”
Steve: “No thanks.  I have to move on.

Steve: “Well hello Senator.  I didn’t expect to see you here.”
Senator:  “And who are you?”
Steve: I’m Steve O. Smith from XYZ-TV.  We’re doing a piece on the Anti-Gravity protest.  Are you involved in this?”
Senator:  “No.  Not really.  But these are my constituents and I’m here to support them.”
Steve:  “So you’re against the Law of Gravity too.”
Senator:  “Is that what this is all about?  I thought they were protesting daylight savings time or trans fats. But whatever it is, I support it.”
Steve: “But Senator, these folks don’t seem to know what they’re protesting.”
Senator: “That’s a good thing.  The less they know the better.  That’s how we get their vote. Buzz words like ‘women’s rights,’ ‘racism,’ or slogans like ‘hope and change,’ work every time.  Gotta appeal to their emotions - not their brain.
Steve: “So you believe that they don’t think about issues?  They simply vote on feelings and emotion?
Senator:  “Hell man.  Half the country votes like that.  Some of them can’t even read and most don’t even know who the Vice President is, so we have to tell them what to do and what to think.  We know what’s best for them, (he laughs) and what’s best for us, of course (laughs again).”
Steve:  “Well, Senator, I don’t want to keep you from your constituents.  I appreciate your taking time to talk with us.
Senator:  “No problem, Steve, but don’t forget to vote for me.”  
Steve: “Thank you, Senator.”

Steve: “Well Bill, that’s the scene at the Anti-Gravity rally.  Everyone here seems to be happy to be back protesting again. Evidently they believe that the Law of Gravity is racist and a violation of human rights.  They say the real victims of this law are women, minorities, and the poor. They want it repealed.  Back to you, Bill.”

Bill:  “Thank you, Steve.  I want to remind our viewers that our next report will cover Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s latest attempt to bring sexual neutrality and gender sensitivity to the nation.  The new bill proposes removing the “stand-up” urinals from men’s restrooms and banning offensive masculine references in words.  For example, former Governor Jon Huntsman, will be known as Jon “Huntsperson.” A college freshman will be a “freshperson” and so on.  Be sure to tune in for that report.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Big Fish Story

     Fishing in the mountain lakes and rivers of Plumas County is a popular form of recreation, but I’ve only been fishing once since we moved here.  I guess I’m all fished out.

            When I was a boy, my father took my brother and me fishing regularly in Monterey.  He had a favorite boat captain named “Sam,” who had a couple of fishing boats and guaranteed a good catch.  He always kept his promise and I remember coming home with gunny sacks full of fish.

            Much later, I would go fishing most weekends with two buddies who owned a fishing boat in Santa Cruz.  It was an old diesel thumper that required ether to start the engine.  Combined with the smell of diesel fuel, I was always on the verge of sea-sickness before we left the harbor. Despite the woozy feeling, I never got sick, no matter how rough the sea.  Never - except once.

            That “once” was during a particularly rough sea on a foggy morning.  When you can’t see the horizon, you become more vulnerable to getting sick and turning green.  I actually saw a guy turn green once.  I don’t know if I was green that day, but I spent a significant amount of time hanging on the boat railing straining to see a horizon line.  I was on the verge of losing it.

            Some of my “good buddies” are very skilled at pranks.  As I was struggling to keep my breakfast down, I got a tap on my shoulder.  The late Glen Dennee, a friend since high school, was a foot from me when I turned around.  He was grinning with a slimy squid hanging and dripping from his mouth.

            I have a fairly well developed diaphragm from playing the trumpet most of my life.  When I spun back toward the ocean and let loose, I swear I sent everything I had eaten since my tenth birthday party straight at Japan.  And I mean “straight.”  The trajectory defied gravity and shot in a straight line as far as the eye could see. I felt a sense of pride at my power. It was like hitting a high C on my trumpet.

            More recently, I did some halibut fishing in Alaska.  Reeling in a large halibut is like pulling a minivan up a hill. But the largest fish I have ever seen was right off the deck of our previous home in Discovery Bay.  Right in my own back yard. 

            We had decking that extended out over the water and you could fish right off our deck.  I was working on the deck railing when I heard a commotion by my dock.  When I looked, I saw two ducks under the boat lift and one seemed to be very agitated.  I thought he was just in love until I suddenly saw a monster fish come out of the water in an arc and take that full-grown duck in one swallow.

            That would require a huge mouth.  I was startled at the length of that fish.  It was six to eight feet long with a head over a foot across.  Hitting Japan with an abdominal purge may have been slightly hyperbolic, but this description is accurate.  The fish I saw was even bigger than the one in the photo below.

            At the time of this incident, I was writing a weekly column for the newspaper and asked my readers if anyone in the delta area had ever seen a fish that size.  I was amazed to get reports of other sightings that confirmed what I saw.  It was a relief to realize I wasn’t delusional. 

            I don't know where the fish in the photo was caught, but you never know what lurks below the surface - even in the delta.  Well that’s my fish story for today.  Some of you may have even better stories.


Friday, November 1, 2013

A Bum Rap?

     The Tea Party seems to arouse the same anathema as Christianity, global warming, acid reflux, and erectile dysfunction.  But why?  Are the tenets of the Tea Party so extreme and dangerous that they deserve denigration, contempt, and fear?  Maybe we simply disparage that which we fear.

             But do the media and the public have any idea why they hold the Tea Party in such contempt?

            If the rational segment of the public was aware of the precepts of this grass-roots movement, they may find that they are in agreement with the beliefs of the Tea Party without even knowing it. 

            Unfortunately, the term, “Tea Party,” has become a generic label for fanatics and snake-kissing swamp people led by the banjo player in “Deliverance.”  But most people have no idea what the Tea Party people actually believe. 

            The original Boston Tea Party was a protest by the colonists against the British tax on tea in 1773.  It had to do with taxation and the colonists rebelled by dumping British tea into the harbor.          

            As most informed people know, we live in Huxley’s Brave New World where words like Tea Party, freedom, patriot, and other normally innocuous terms trigger governmental spy agencies to check in on us to see if we are faithfully practicing our fascist salute.  It’s wise to be aware of government surveillance and control, but that doesn’t mean we should give up the fight to regain the freedom we’ve lost.  

            Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:  God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.”

           So if the Tea Party is as bad as the media and politicians make it out to be, let’s look at the nefarious and “extremist policies” that make up the Tea Party platform:

The Tea Party Platform:

* Abide by the Constitution of the United States
* Reduce the Overall Size of Government
* Believe in the People
* Eliminate the National Debt
* Eliminate Deficit Spending
* Eliminate Excessive Taxes
* Promote Civic Responsibility
* Avoid the Pitfalls of Politics
* Maintain Local Independence
* Protect Free Markets

"The Tea Party is a grassroots movement that calls awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty, or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation, the United States of America.   From our founding, the Tea Party represents the voice of the true owners of the United States:  We The People.

"The Tea Party includes those who possess a strong belief in the foundational Judeo-Christian values embedded in our great founding documents."

           Basically these folks believe in restoring America's founding principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, free markets, lower taxes, and individual freedom.           

           If you agree with these principles, you may be onboard with the Tea Party and not even know it.  Consequently, you will be considered an "extremist."  It wasn't so long ago that you would have been thought of as a typical patriotic American.  That's how far from shore we've drifted.

           Remember the ominous warning from John Adams:  "But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom , can never be restored.  Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

           Liberty once lost, is lost forever . . . sad, but true.