Sharon, We Have A Problem…….

Why does it always have to be in the middle of the night? After a couple of rapid fire successive events, I knew I was headed to the ER in one of Springfield’s two major hospitals and, honestly, dreaded the ER more than the malady that was taking us there. Unbelievably, there were just a couple of folks in the waiting room and my symptoms garnered the immediate attention of the triage nurse and boom……I was in the system and taken to a little room buried in the bowels of the ER. Today I write about that experience and the changes in the way hospitals are run. They may not be what you remember from days gone by.

The emergency room doctors and staff were as might be expected. They were compassionate, concerned and busy sticking needles in my arms. In the middle of the initial response, the usual concerns about financial responsibility were addressed and a very nice lady asked me to clarify my wishes in response to intubation should the mornings activities go south. I told her my directive was on file and the nice lady sitting in the corner, would make whatever decisions needed to be made. Reassuring……..not in the least. At this point it is important to note that blood doesn’t bother me at all, unless it is mine and there is a lot of it. I was not in the mood to discuss legalities. To add to my angst, a surgeon, at 4 AM mind you, walks in to the room, shakes my hand, and says he will be happy to take care of me should we need to “go upstairs”. I was beginning to get the feeling that I should have spent a lot more time in church.

After things calmed down, I then endured the next 17 hours on an ER bed designed to have a board placed on it for CPR. Why, you ask? Because there was “no bed for me upstairs”. Actually that was misrepresented and I was not buying it. After a subtle interrogation from a guy who used to do that all the time, the nurse admitted there was no staff to attend to patients. Beds they had. Finally, after my stay in the ER listening to any number of psych patients screaming through their meth addled delusion, I was taken upstairs, deposited in a room, and an hour later, met by an astonished nurse who had no idea I was being entrusted to her care. This began two days of massive IV antibiotics, a liquid diet, blood draws every 6 hours, a little morphine to take the edge off and a gentle conversation with the best patient advocate ever, Miss Sharon. The pain began subsiding, the bleed was staunched and I began to take notice of the current state of affairs. Of the 7 nurses that I came in contact with, 6 were “traveling nurses”. They were paid SUBSTANTIALLY more per hour than were the regular staff nurses that remained loyal to the system. Their abilities were without question and their level of care as high as anywhere I have been. So the nurses from city A travel to city B and vice versa. They meet on the road motivated by higher pay, control over their hours, and the ability to visit places they enjoy. You simply cannot argue with their logic. Anyone who has supervised folks can see the problem this causes. Why is this happening, Covid and mandatory shots. I will NOT be drawn into a discussion about this mess. It is simply the reality.

Hospitalists are next up. You no longer see your PCP on rounds as in the old days. You are handed off to a hospitalist, a doctor who takes over your care after admission. Honestly, while I would rather see my regular physician at the start of the day, these guys (and gals) were very much involved in my care and I had only positive interactions with them. The lady Doc who made the decisions on my last day, prescribed meds and established follow up care with the appropriate specialists. She was a angel. She was as knowledgeable on the matters at hand as the specialists that streamed in and out of the room during this stay.

Apparently, one size fits all!

Of interest. Covid and the response to it, with mandates and political intrigue in the mix, has changed the landscape. This hospital is forcing life altering decisions upon it’s staff, yet does not enforce the anti-covid protocols in their own lobby. It is my absolute belief that politicians need to stay the hell out of the practice of medicine and the individual response we all have to it.

I have lived to fight another day. A special thanks to the men and women who delivered me back to my front door, weak but getting better. A final thank you to Sharon. She is a wonderful lady and terrific advocate. She can go from demure to Beth Dutton with the flip of a switch and watched every move on my behalf during this event. When you are scratching around in your overnight bag, looking for your directive, it pays to have folks like her in your corner.

Have a great weekend!

SR

Never Leave Home Without It……..

Not too many years ago, Sharon and I visited her mother’s cousin in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Earl, a successful gynecologist, was a charming fellow full of wisdom and great stories. The good doctor was a Renaissance sort of guy, taken to snow skiing and world travel and prided himself on always being prepared for life’s adventures. His emergency medical kit relied heavily on duct tape and he was masterful with it. I recently used a version of duct tape on a temporary repair and it worked just fine. What about this stuff that we tend to take for granted? Let’s have a look.

Hold on Captain! I’ll have you rolling in just a minute.

Duct tape traces it’s origins to the turn of the century. As early as 1902 an early version of a cloth backed tape was used to wrap the cables on the Manhattan bridge. Even then it consisted of a cloth or scrim backed fabric coated with a pressure sensitive adhesive. The fabric, even today, is usually polyester, nylon, rayon or a form of fiberglass. The adhesives have dramatically improved and the stuff has seemingly magical holding ability and use. A roll of duct tape is stowed on every manned capsule we send into space……you never know when something will need fixing. In 2003, when we were a little jittery with the world situation, the Department of Homeland Security recommended that every household have a roll of duct tape in their disaster kits.

A winglet on a modern jet liner….problem solved!

You can see from the attached photographs, duct tape is often employed in the aviation industry, holding in place pieces and bits pummeled by exceeding high wind or airspeed. Those of us having experience with helicopters in Vietnam may remember the “100 mile per hour tape”, green in color, that was often affixed to the rotor blades, usually to restore balance or cover some imperfection in the blade surface. It wasn’t a super secret fix, rather it was green duct tape. From a medical perspective, with little proof but plenty of anecdotal evidence, it has been suggested that duct tape will remove a wart from our skin. Just apply it and after a few days, bingo, the wart dissolves. While I am not recommending this wart fix, I can attest to the use of duct tape for removing a deep splinter, as long as the tape can actually make contact with the splinter. Apply it, drink a beverage and in 30 minutes or so, yank it off and the splinter will come with it. It has been used to hold wounds closed (on dry skin) and is a very effective flypaper hung in a room where flies are a problem. Duct tape is flammable and makes a good fire starter when lit by a match or other means. It burns hot and long enough to get something more substantial burning.

A grizzly tore this airplane up. The pilot duct taped it back together and flew it home!

Around our part of the country, it is not at all unusual to see automobiles held together with duct tape securing a piece of plastic, window, taillight or sealing a misfitting door or windshield. In fact, a shade tree garage equipped with duct tape and zip ties can tackle about any problem with trim or surface repair. To further complicate the picture, we now have variations of duct tape in color, strength, size and quantity. We, also, have a relatively new version of this versatile tape, a product called Gorilla tape. It is mean sticky, leaves a residue and you’ll almost have to burn it off the repair.

Here is the crux of the matter. I can’t imagine a household without a roll of this stuff on hand. There are new applications being developed regularly with too many uses to contemplate. Our RV culture does not leave home without it and neither should you.

Have a great weekend!

SR

Married To A Smoking Hot Wife……..

Unless you are a newlywed, being aroused from a deep sleep at zero dark thirty means different things than it did years ago. The soft rustle of freshly laundered sheets, the gentle breeze from a ceiling fan and the soft breathing of your wife as she stirs to life still happens, more frequently than the grand-kids would give you credit for, but little do they know. Your senses all come alive and you finally drift back to slumber land with the soft fragrance of a warm and gentle interlude on your mind. Your wife slips easily back into bed, wrapped in the soft scent of woodsmoke. This is the life of a man married to a serial smoker, and I would not change a thing.

My smoking hot wife at work!

We are carnivores. I make no apologies, having been raised in a family where there was meat of some sort on the table three times a day. It might be salt-pork, fried crisp and chewy, or canned salmon or, on good days, some form of beef, pork or chicken. Honestly, I had no idea you could eat a meal without meat until I joined the Army and was served a nice dripping ladle of oatmeal on a steel tray with toast and canned fruit as a side. Mind you, after shuffling around in the sand of Ft. Polk, La., in 100 degree heat the day before, a slice of cardboard with syrup would have tasted good. It should be no surprise that when I returned to the civilian world, I picked up where I left off, eating meat. That is why we have a couple of outdoor appliances on our deck, one for the quick char, the other to gently smoke a delectable cut into a culinary delight. The smoker reigns supreme.

Sharon has developed quite a set of notes relative to the preparation of meat on a smoker. She reads voraciously on the topic, borrowing technique and recipes from the great Texas and Alabama smoke artists. She is developing a style unique to our tastes, eschewing the traditional spices with modifications that suit us, taking the spice induced heat out of the meat to protect old stomachs that can no longer endure a ghost pepper finish. Among her late mother’s coveted old cook books, she treasures her developing manuscript on the art of smoking above all else in the kitchen. She is a Traeger Wizard, although concedes the name on the smoker means little if you are just going to throw it in and jerk it back out with a slathering of some preservative laden sugar free stuff that is designed to insulate the diner from a piece of dry, flavorless muscle that would send Tazzy to the kibble can.

The Kama Sutra for old guys!

For me, gone are the days of smoke being associated with the P. Lorillard or R. J. Reynolds tobacco companies so important to our family in rural South Carolina as we struggled to raise a cash crop of cancer inducing herb. Today smoke means a delectable finish to a perfectly marbled piece of cow or our favorite, the pig. We don’t do tobacco in our house, cars, or yard for that matter. We do however, bring the neighbors down the street to their decks with the aroma that a pork butt, languishing over fine Missouri Hickory wood smoke, brings. Dogs break chains for this stuff, all courtesy of my wife, addicted to smoking.

Back to where we started. A smoking hot wife is what every man dreams of, but it is a carefully guarded dream, and I am surely violating my man card by reminding folks that we may be old but we are not dead. We still love a wee hour of the morning kick start to the day, courtesy of a wife willing to wake up and arouse our primal senses by firing up the smoker. I have decided to toss my expensive colognes in favor of a dab of liquid smoke on the back of my neck. That ought to do it. I love being married to a smoker and I know how to get her attention. An early morning with the sounds of rustling sheets replaced by the crackle of butcher paper and the scent of hickory coming to life, ain’t all bad now that I think of it. Guys, buy her a smoker and bring romance back into your life. There is nothing quite like a smoking hot wife in the wee hours of the morning!

Have a great weekend!

SR

Caveat Emptor……

If you are a member of the RV culture, you likely have participated in one or more of the numerous online forums where folks comment on their RV experience. Scathing critiques of various dealers around the country are prominent in this arena, prompting the title of this writing, which is Latin for, “Let the buyer beware”. This axiom is particularly important when you make the decision to spend on a big ticket item such as a RV.

I am not a shill, in fact would not be good at it as I tend to bore in, recognizing excellence and castigating substandard stuff with little political savvy. I feel sorry for the folks who buy a RV from a dealership that considers itself a lot with trailers, hooks you up (in more ways than one) and sends you packing to figure out how to use what you just laid big bucks down for. Such is not the case with a family owned RV store in Carthage, Missouri, named Coachlight RV. Hop on line and the horror stories in this industry abound. It doesn’t have to be this way, and the guys at Coachlight are committed to a positive experience from beginning to end.

The boss, Mr. Marty Lown

This business was founded in 1968 by Marty Lown. He is an affable guy who can still be found at his desk selling and “coordinating” as Fred Sanford used to refer to his management of Sanford and Sons. His son, Doug is heavily involved in the operation of this business and can be found on the lot on the days he is not appearing in Federal Court as a qualified expert witness in matters related to warranty and lemon law in the RV industry. These guys know RVs from the opulent, very expensive Newmar motor coaches to the smallest bumper pull trailer. They treat each customer, whether a picky millionaire wanting luxury in a coach or the rest of us with the same degree of respect. You do not win the prestigious Newmar Platinum Award for sales and service for some 23 straight years unless you are good at what you do. Their dealership consists of 12 bays capable of handling virtually anything within reason and service is the cornerstone of their existence.

“The wall” Service and Sales Awards

Dealers today are (should be) a critical part of the ownership experience. Few dealers will meet you on delivery day with your unit completely hooked up in a delivery bay, and carefully walk you through each operation and nuance of the RV you are purchasing. This is after they have thoroughly vetted the unit. After your training day, they extend the courtesy of a night or two at their adjacent campground, help you set up and are available to walk down and assist you with anything that might require further explanation or their attention. New to this business? They will also have a tech help you hook back up and break down, taking as much time as is needed for you to grasp the “tricks of the trade”. Compare that to the RV “box stores” whose attention begins to drift after the check is written. We have shopped for RVs nationally, checking out the latest offerings from other manufacturers, and are now enjoying our third Grand Design, courtesy of this midwestern dealership who places service on the same level as sales. This is how it should be done.

The underboss, Doug Lown

At Coachlight, Steve, the service honcho, understands that everybody wants their work done yesterday. He works hard at scheduling one of his outstanding techs, like Cody, a military veteran who has twice been shot in the line of duty and Scotty, who is an old hand in this business. This industry has and is consolidating at a quick pace and the dealer is the linchpin of the RV culture. When you shop, shop for a dealer with all the diligence you reserve for the brand and type you buy. It is that critical.

Caveat Emptor, my friends!

SR

What Piloting Has Taught Me……..

I read posts on social media from time to time written by my friends who are able to pursue their passion for flying airplanes. There is nothing quite like the feeling of an airplane rising from the runway for a new adventure, seeing the world from the uncluttered confines of the heavens. I was blessed to have a terrific instructor who had an amazing ability to teach as well as instruct. She was demanding but patient, as old folks are harder to teach than young folks, and I started this adventure relatively late in life. After many hours with her and less than 10 solo, she pronounced me ready for my sport pilot check ride. I procrastinated and the opportunity is past. The lessons will follow me to my grave. Thank you, Jeanne’ Willerth, for sharing your passion and skill in instructing.

If you are to pursue this passion, do it as soon as you can. Lesson number one is the things that happen to you as you age are of great interest to the bureaucracy known as the FAA. They do not take prisoners and will dive deeper into your medical records than Jacque Cousteau in the Mediterranean. A relatively small lacunar infarct, also known as a stroke, many years ago is a show stopper, relegating budding old pilots like me to a limited “license” known as a Sport Pilot Certificate. The stroke was totally asymptomatic, didn’t know anything about it then or now, but only after some thirty thousand dollars in neurological testing could I be considered. The finest medical examiners who must sign off on your fitness to fly advise against the testing as a “denial” would preclude me from flying under any circumstance, including the sport license which requires only a valid drivers license. When the FAA denies you…..you are finished.

On the wing of a beautiful older airplane.

Lesson number two. Airplanes in the air are marvelous pieces of machinery. The FAA and pilots in general, place great importance on experience. On a clear air, visibility unlimited day, when everything is going just fine, you can relax just a bit and enjoy the world below and above. Things happen quickly in an airplane and you might go from a semi relaxed state to one of rapt attention as “something” has happened. Be it mechanical, weather related or any number of scenarios that only experience has prepared you for. Today, experience carries an inordinate price tag, and it is not getting any cheaper. The FAA is almighty, and has passed yet another regulation that has the flying community in arms, and will serve to increase the expense. I have learned there is no substitute for experience in life just has in flying.

Lesson number three is an extension of lesson number two. Airplanes are expensive. You have hangar expense, annual inspections, insurance and the hourly expense of actually flying. All this after you acquire an airplane. The costs associated with flying have and are rising at an alarming rate, with old hangar queens commanding big prices. These expenses are somewhat manageable with an older airplane, if you are a private pilot, but the sport pilot has far fewer options as a result of weight limitations. New airplanes, well, for most of us, are simply not affordable. When your age and experience are not in sync, insurance companies look the other way. A sport pilot ticket is a way to fly, but the limitations are daunting and relatively expensive.

Piloting requires thinking at a level not reserved for a jaunt to the grocery for a loaf of bread. It is a procedure laden experience that requires a lot of knowledge about the airplane, weather, rules and regulations. It offers an opportunity to awaken your mind and apply conscious thought to what you are doing and what the result is going to be of your action. I deeply admire, if not envy, pilots who have and are living their passion. Approach an airplane with the casual indifference we approach the family chariot, and sooner or later, you are going to get in trouble.

I read, a lot. Center in my bookcase is a leather bound logbook, between two airplane bookends. It is the most expensive book on my shelf, as I have invested time and money in every entry in it. It represents a beautiful expenditure of time, in limited supply for old guys, but seemingly unlimited for younger folks. Flying is a passion and I delayed far too long. If you have a passion, and you won’t know until you have tried it, do not delay. Do not let the everyday business of living get in the way of your dreams. I did, and I am now an experienced wannabe. Tip of the hat to my pilot friends…….

Have a great weekend.

SR

The Written Word…..

Computers have made us lazy. Books are available electronically, greeting cards are now emailed and letters have gone the way of the dodo. Documents are, more often than not, filed electronically and electronic signatures are legally recognized. Newspapers are now loaded with propaganda, available online, and losing subscribers in great numbers as we live in a 24 hour news cycle and prefer to have a talking head tell us what we think. The ability to spell words that involve more than a single syllable is no longer necessary, as spell check will handle that task for us. The emotion and warmth that surrounds a hand written note or thought is lost in the coolness of a few keystrokes by hordes of people who transmit their thoughts electronically with nary a care about the impact of these kinds of communications. This realization has prompted today’s writing.

What and how we write is an important part of our personal brand. As a young officer, I made sure that everything in writing that hit our regional headquarters reflected a maximum effort. The record that we kept of gasoline and vehicle expenses was in ledger form and at the end of each month, I carefully reprinted this form for the convenience of the motor equipment officer in headquarters. The motor Sergeant in turn, was required to transcribe my records into a system that managed these expenses, and I was careful to end each gasoline purchase with a .5 or .0, which saved him time in transferring the data. The Patrol required block printing on official documents, and most officers were meticulous in their preparation of reports. Supervisors did not make changes in reports, but would return them to you when you failed to adequately explain a happening or circumstance. Good police officers are good story tellers. Accurate and lucid descriptions put people in jail, keep people out of jail, clarify undignified situations and portray history in factual terms.

Say it in writing…….

Hand written notes are superior to any form letter or card. This statement is worth repeating in another way. There is no substitute for a hand written condolence, note of appreciation or recommendation. As I progressed into police administration, I was in the habit of regularly isolating a particularly well written investigation report or accident report produced by one of my officers. I would then express my appreciation for an excellent effort, hand written, on the margins of a copy of this report, and mail it to the officer’s home. Some thirty years later, I run into an occasional officer who reminds me of how much this meant to him at the time. Proof positive the efforts of the officer were indeed reviewed and evaluated. I enjoy writing and have deep respect for those that can carefully and lucidly explain a complicated circumstance or procedure relying on the King’s English. There is not one among us who has not opened a set of instructions for a home bound project, written in broken English, which failed entirely in providing useful instruction in regard to assembly.

I’ll end by saying that I am now taking the time to write letters to folks who have made or are making a difference in my life. I will continue my habit of writing various medical professionals, sales people and service folks who exemplify hard work and effort on our behalf. Fifty eight cents is a small price to pay for the privilege of creating a personally written note to a friend or other person of importance to codify my thoughts as to why they are important. I will trade this privilege for the habit of writing politicians to express an opinion, only to have it answered by a form letter months later. In the end, one of your friends will be tasked to carry you on that short walk from the velvet lined casket hauler to your last owned piece of real estate. They will come closer to appreciating your thoughts than will the pol who is only concerned with the loss of a potential vote. My father had the benefit of knowing about when death was going to call. While he could administer a scorching verbal correction to those in need, he chose to write a personal note to each of his pallbearers, thanking them in advance for their services yet to be delivered.

Col. SR (Steve) Johnson, Sr.

Writing a legible and coherent note or letter still carries the impact that electronically generated thoughts never will. As the lawyers say, if you don’t have it in writing, you don’t have it, period. It is never too late to start writing!

Have a good weekend!

SR

All For The Want Of A Chip……..

Within hours of birth and almost always after death, we go for a ride in a vehicle, be it a car, truck or glorified station wagon with a velvet lined cargo area. America loves cars and guns and both have been severely impacted by Covid, the little virus that has disrupted supply chains world wide. Guns need ammunition, in short supply, and cars need chips, also in short supply. It is in the news and on our tongues, “chips” but do we understand what is happening? I can help here…….

Chips are simply tiny little wafers that perform complicated electrical transactions at damned near the speed of light. The picture below is of a chip, or more appropriately semiconductor. This is why your local new car dealer is wringing his hands and opening a fruit stand on his vacant lot while hyping his inventory of used trucks that are bringing new truck prices. Can’t find that new Silverado you have been waiting on? Here take a couple of these vine ripened beauties home and make yourself a nice BLT. He’ll even toss in a bag of chips made from potatoes, they are in abundance. We can walk on the moon, but can’t build a chip, some of which are damned near microscopic in size. Sure we can, but our “global” economy has us by the…well, walnuts.

The chip!

Chips are manufactured in Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore and here. Ah, but each country produces a certain kind of chip and all are dependent on one another to come up with the thimble full of these little miracles to make today’s vehicles run. It ain’t your daddy’s old Buick with a few fuses and relays, folks, our vehicles are damned complicated. Covid has seriously interrupted production in virtually every country that makes these things, and relief isn’t likely until early 2022 at best. Flu Siew Hai Wong, the head of the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association, says until the virus let’s workers return to the factories, chips are going to be in very short supply. New car sales in America are down 18% in August alone, selling at the slowest rate since 2011. Used car prices are climbing like homesick angels, pushed up by an increase of 8% in new car prices, when you can find them, this year! The average new car transaction price this year is $42,736.00. That is a big number.

Stellantis, (Chrysler to us old road dogs) is now installing old school analog speedos in some of their cars to avoid using a precious chip. Ah the good old days of a speedo that ticked between a couple of MPH as you hurtled down the super slab. I certainly hope my new Ram heavy came in early enough to avoid having chips replaced by rubber bands and Velcro. Who has been impacted by the shortage of chips? Every manufacturer, however some more than others. If you have a hankering for a new Chevrolet, Ford Bronco Sport or F-150, Mustang, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Mercedes C-class, Mini Cooper, BMW X-1 or X-2, Nissan, Subaru Ascent or Outback, you could be in trouble. Make that ARE in trouble.

As a final note. Are you proud of your Detroit born and bred hauler? Gonna keep those American dollars at home where they belong? Don’t check into the origin of the parts that comprise your latest chariot to freedom. Ain’t no such thing as an All American vehicle these days. The UAW is alive and well down in Saltillo, Mexico where my latest behemoth was manufactured. Economy of production and the bottom line drive the cost of vehicles, always has and always will, so production is a multi-national thing. When old Johnny Cash sang “One Piece at a Time”, he had no idea the pieces would be coming from all over the world in just a few years.

When you reach the age of my contemporaries, waiting until next year may be a dicey option. For now, keep circling your dealers lot and be prepared to pay MSRP, or better, for your next new car smell. Now you know the rest of the story!

Have a great weekend!

SR

The Handgun Is Not A Tool For Idle Threats……….

History teaches. During the Civil War, Generals Robert E. Lee and his able assistant, James Longstreet, were far more successful when fighting from a defensive position than when on offense. Athletic competitions will also lend credence to the axiom that a good defense will beat a good offense with amazing regularity. Let’s talk personal defense for a bit.

Indulge me while I remind you why this is important. America with 4% of the world’s population accounts for 40% of the civilian owned firearms in existence. We now own an estimated 350 million firearms, and recent sales have tilted in favor of handguns, which we now believe constitute over 40% of all firearms in civilian hands. Purses, pockets, backpacks and various holsters are placing handguns within easy reach of folks who find themselves in some form of an encounter with people who lack civility. How we respond is critically important, both for the belligerent and for you. Enough numbers.

Television, video games and our beloved cinematic aristocracy teach us that when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. How unfortunate. Verbal skill and the ability to remove yourself from the confrontation in the first place should be in the top of your tool box. For citizens, that means running away from the gunfire instead of toward it, the sworn duty of the police. When you have assumed a good defensive position and are cornered by someone hell bent on hurting you, out comes the hammer. Translation: When a crazed sociopath is in your front yard, waving a machete around and threatening you, leave your little Micro 9mm in it’s holster, go inside, call the police, and grab your shotgun or AR and wait until the bad guy leaves or the police arrive. When he starts kicking your door down, you will be far better equipped to deal with the problem than in a yard fight. It will also make far better reading on a police report.

Civilians should be concerned with protecting themselves and folks within a few feet of them. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but going on the offense is not in your best interests. This is a job best left to the professionals….when at all possible. You carry for those precious few times when a belligerent individual will not leave you alone, pulls his or her handgun or knife and threatens you, and you cannot get yourself and your companion to cover or away from the situation.

Okay folks, the long and short of it. Learn to shoot effectively, holster and un-holster your firearm, and maintain it. Avoid arguments with strangers, especially those that have not read this piece and may be carrying a “hammer” with no thought given to avoiding confrontations. I have taught retention techniques to hundreds of police officers in years past, and you must give thought to keeping your firearm out of an assailants hands. I DO NOT like open carry, for the aforementioned reasons. Open carry complicates the situation when you are scrambling from an active shooter situation to a position of cover. It creates unreasonable expectations from both the bad guy and those around you who now expect you to respond instead of seek cover. This is not a good situation to be in.

Oh hell no…….

Embrace the concept that a “hammer” is the last resort to be employed when no other option exists. Always carry concealed. When you are cornered and have no other option, then the production of a firearm MAY resolve the problem, and if it does not, the flash and loud noise that follows likely will. We are not the police and our job is not to go after bad guys, rather to protect ourselves from imminent harm. Make them come to you.

The handgun is not a tool for idle threats. We use deadly force as a last resort and only when we are forced to. You are not much of a carpenter if your only tool is a hammer….

Have a great weekend.

SR

The Smell Of The Earth On A Road Less Traveled…………

This piece is about us, not the folks living in concrete and steel, rather about America’s farmers and meat producers. If you don’t occasionally take the road less traveled, you will soon miss seeing the true pride of America, the family farm. It is inevitable, but sad. The reality is that we are watching the transformation of farming into just another mega business with all emphasis on the bottom line. Along with the gobbling up of family farms by mega corporations we are watching small town America dry up. How profoundly sad.

The dust aside, the harvest this year (1990) was great!

Dad was a professional warrior. Mom was a farmer’s daughter. I was blessed to see much of the world, worth seeing, as a result of dad’s experiences and still gain insight into a 70 acre cotton and tobacco patch in rural South Carolina. My agricultural education was further honed on a medium sized row crop operation courtesy of Sharon’s parents. Both farms required business savvy and experience. It isn’t as easy as seeding the ground and harvesting a crop, an art that our newest generations may never be exposed to. I loved every minute my boots were in dirt.

I am hooked up and ready to go. Spring (1989) ground work……..

Sharon and I love to drive the roads less traveled. I smile when I drive by a Missouri Century Farm, knowing that successive generations of farm folks have not capitulated to the corporate raiders that have bought every acre they can, cleaned every ditch and hedgerow and planted the margins that were once home to coveys of quail. In 1985 Missouri, we were home to 23,000 individual pork producers, a number reduced to 2,000 today. How big are these operations that are relegating the family farm to a historical reference? Virginia based Smithville Foods has 1,000,000 brood sows on the ground. In the 1970’s, our Agriculture Secretary, Earl Bautz, championed the mantra of “get big or get out”. Thanks Earl, for encouraging the demise of a noble family enterprise. In 1990, family farms accounted for about half of productive acreage. Today it accounts for less than a quarter.

The demise of the family farm is eroding rural America’s wealth and political power. This is easy to see in the last election process when rural America wasn’t accorded the respect that is centered in our big cities. The talking heads were not at all concerned with what we say in farm country, rather the concern was in the cities. As a kid, I loved to go to town and visit McIntyres store, a feed and farm store, with it’s unique aromas of seed, chicks and turkey poults. The HVAC was a giant fan, blowing dust on wood plank flooring. Farm equipment was simple back then, much of it still involving a sturdy mule in well oiled traces. Thank you Lord, for giving me those wonderful memories.

Our recent drive to South Carolina, much of it on secondary roads, confirmed this unfortunate transformation. Still visible were old farmsteads and the occasional small farm with equipment in a machinery shed and evidence of denim and chambray uniformed folks running the show. If you have not done so, please expose your kids and grand kids to these last vestiges of a beautiful and honest way to make a living. The smell of freshly turned earth or freshly mowed hay is a wonderful way to begin a day. Take them to a country cafe and sit among the jeans and work shirts worn by people whose opinions are most often grounded in fact and where neighbors rely on each other. Walk them among the farm markets where real producers bring home grown produce to be sold at the prevailing market, (careful here, there are frauds selling boxed produce from big distributors among them). Teach them the differences in tomatoes, melons and fruit. We must not lose sight of the wonderful opportunities to see and understand food production.

God never leaves the countryside! Photo courtesy of Sarah Turner Pratt.

In closing, it is sad that politicians don’t get out of their cars on a rural road and talk across the fence with a hog producer, beef producer or row crop farmer. You just might learn a hell of a lot more in that conversation than you will on a big city street. Most importantly there is very little likelihood you will be shot or knocked in the head. A little manure on your glossy loafers won’t hurt a thing and there will be little, if any, pretense.

Have a great weekend and week ahead!

SR

Why We Love RV’ing……..

This past week, we returned from a trip to the Deep South where we were able to work in a much overdue visit with friends and family along the way. It was great to see them, however it was our second extended trip in a car as opposed to pulling our RV, and we missed the trailer. We are in between RV’s and our new one is in production, as is most of America these days, or so it seems. What do we miss and why the fascination with a RV? Let’s have a look.

Hate to leave home? Bring home with you!

First, let’s consider motels and dogs. They are a bad mix from the perspective of motel operators and that is easily understood. Dogs can be destructive, dirty and loud. Bad dogs have bad owners which causes problems for those of us who travel with the Tazzy’s of the world. The fix is easy, on top of rapidly escalating room costs, they tack on between 50 and 100 bucks for “pet fees”. Consider yourself fortunate if you find the rare motel that will accept them at all. The pet walk areas are usually littered with excrement, another sign of laziness and slob owners that walk among us. Before leaving this subject, trust me when I suggest that while motels are springing up like nut sedge in a lawn, they are showing wear along our interstates. We also can’t help but wonder how many folks occupied the room before us while suffering from Covid in some fashion or another……yes we are one of those couples who takes precautions with this virus. As a final note, dragging a bag or two through motels is becoming more of an issue than it used to be when we were young enough to travel with a change of clothes and a toothbrush.

Your RV addresses the motel issue head on. It is your condo on wheels. We have duplicated our home existence in the trailer, down to the coffee makers and precise climate control. When we come home from a day of exploration, we are back in a familiar environ, watching the local news and soon enjoying Sharon’s expertise in the culinary arts. If you are careful, you can stay in one of thousands of beautiful parks for a fraction of the costs associated with a room in a motel. Tazzy has his rug, and we are, indeed, in our second home.

The current national trend toward providing your and my tax dollars to folks who choose not to work has resulted in a restaurant nightmare out there. We have waited for 30 minutes to be seated in an empty restaurant because there are no folks willing to work. We have endured horrible meals from previously renowned eateries because the kitchen is relying on someone who will work for a week and watch his mailbox for the remainder of the month. We found ourselves eating what was handed to us through the take out window at fast food stores, and quickly tired of the predictable carb bundles that are inevitable in these places. The RV has a stove, oven, refrigerator and my personal chef who is at home in any kitchen.

Finally, RV’s keep your mind sharp. You become somewhat of a sanitation engineer, are mindful of various systems such as HVAC, water management and mechanics. You become tire conscious and travel with tools to handle stuff that is loose or broken. There is artistry in setting up and breaking down. There is also the pride of ownership, reflected in maintenance and keeping stuff clean. I even enjoy raising Old Glory over the Blue Line flag, a sign that I enjoy America and have an investment in her. Unlike a motel, you will meet your neighbors and delight in new friends along the way. Folks like a second home and the RV provides that second home, in as many parts of America as you care to see.

This is why we love the RV culture, and why dealers can’t keep them on their lots. Today, more than ever, it is a great way to travel!

Have a great weekend!

SR