The Reaper Sometimes Moves Quietly

As he has thousands of times the grim reaper has struck again, this time stealing into town quietly and leaving with another human being to add to his collection of Covid victims. We must remember that every victim is a friend or family member of someone, however; the transactions between the reaper and victim are sometimes barely noticed. Such was the case this week when Mike Mulholland, a friend, associate and confident died quietly at Mercy Hospital. What about this retired Highway Patrolman the kids in Odessa years ago referred to as “Mike with a moustache”? Let’s have a look.

The officer you wanted behind you…….

Mike was from the Moberly, Missouri area where he earned a Business degree from Northeast Missouri State College. He was whip smart and graduated near the top of his class, a feat he would repeat at the Highway Patrol Academy a few years later. He was an excellent athlete, not the thin kind that you see mostly see today, rather a fireplug of a guy who would fool you with cat like reflex and determination. As would be his custom through the years he let his skill do the talking, with not a hint of self promotion in his repertoire. Mike walked the walk.

Mike, bottom right, a team player with a mile wide smile……

I came to know him in January of 1972 after graduating in the Patrol class following him. As luck would have it, we both were assigned to Odessa in Lafayette county where we became the responsibility, back to back, of a crusty Dutchman as our training officer. Lafayette County was an ideal place to be a trooper, where officers from every department worked together and our exposure to policing was comprehensive. Mike and I loved to work together, a practice soon discontinued by our Sergeant, as we somehow found ourselves into mischief every time we suited up on the same shift. Mike was marked for early advancement on the Patrol and soon was transferred to Jackson County where he stayed busy in and around the Kansas City area in a supervisory role. Mike rose to the rank of Lieutenant as quietly as he entered the department in the early 70’s. There are many stories about our time together, but they can be summed up with high praise for Mike. Mike Mulholland had your back, period. Secondly, he sought no praise or exposure to bright lights or fame. He went about his job carefully, reflectively, and with a work ethic that few could emulate. Mike was a bulldozer in a diplomat’s hat. He was one of the finest to ever wear the uniform, worn with pride and always representing the Patrol in a positive light. Paul Michael Mulholland, the devout Catholic from north Missouri, was an absolutely reliable officer of the law with excellent judgement and the ability to relate to virtually every living being on earth. He was, in short, one hell of a Highway Patrolman.

A parade…….Mike loved celebrations!

Mike left this world quietly. Covid is like that, they say. His beloved wife Judy is gravely ill with Covid and is on a ventilator at the same Springfield hospital where Mike was introduced to the Master. Judy’s future is very uncertain, but while they could they travelled extensively, enjoyed fine wine and laughed often on their backyard patio where’re Mike held forth on one of his several outdoor grills and stoves. We were privileged to enjoy his deck artistry with a smoker, laughing and remembering things probably best left un-remembered. His unexpected early departure from this world has left a vacancy for another American that loves his country as much as his family, will always complete a job and would never leave a fellow officer or friend hanging. He left this world as he lived life………under the radar but always there.

Mike was as solid as the granite that will mark his eternal resting place. Few are remembered as well……..

We’ll miss you Mike…….thank you

Traffic Cops Cry Too…….

We all can see it. We are driving like hell is in the seat next to us and we are paying a price for it. I made a good living regulating the flow of traffic on our roads and highways and it pains me greatly to see what is happening out there today when folks take the wheel. Let’s end the old year, a tumultuous one at best, with a reminder that sloppiness behind the wheel exacts a measurable toll. To be more precise, it is killing around 100 people a day in the most progressive country on the face of the earth. What is happening?

In 1899, the first year statistics were reliability recorded, America lost a total of 26 people on our rough roads behind the wheels of unsophisticated iron, propelled by low horsepower engines. Contrast that with 1970, where we suffered through the deaths of 52,627 presumably good people. Engineering kicked in, enforcement tightened, and road money flowed like an Artesian well. Fatality rates continued to climb steadily. Despite more cars on the road, cheap gasoline and a wanderlust that is second nature to Americans, the fatality rates then began to drop annually from 1980 until 2020 when they started to rise again. In 2021, the first half of the year saw a 38% increase in deaths over the first 6 months of 2020, with 20,160 folks finding a porcelain slab table in a funeral home. Again, what in the hell has happened?

First, Covid. The movement of 5,000 pounds of steel on a hard surface DEMANDS regulation and education. When there is little likelihood that your outrageous driving behavior will result in a meeting with a traffic cop, you tend to push the envelope. A perfect storm exists when officers have little time to work traffic because of other duties and a dearth of said officers exists. Sticking your head in the widow of a violator’s car who might be a Covid carrier is not popular these days, never mind hauling the bad guys in the front seat of your cruiser while he coughs and gasps his way to jail. Next up, speed. Speed is still the primary driver of mechanized death, a simple matter of mass in motion, or physics. You do not have to be a mathematician to understand that a car at 1 MPH into a steel post will not be as devastating as that same car at 80 into the same post. I was in the business for 27 years and have never seen the flow of traffic as fast as it is today. Period. I also cannot remember the lack of common courtesy rising to the level seen today, added to the distractions provided by cell phones, food and total inattention, the second big contributor to accidents. You want to drop the fatality rate by 50%? Just drop one of the electronic devices into every car that records your driving behavior, forward an annual report to your insurer and base rates on your driving habits. I can guarantee results when you tamper with an errant driver’s wallet.

A section of door glass with an original decal taken from our Capital doors many, many years ago.

A final observation. The political climate in our country has given rise to an unprecedented level of anti-authoritarian behavior. As an example, the government is NOT telling me when or if I am going to take a vaccine. (I did take it) We don’t like the notion of anyone tampering with our “freedoms” what ever they may be. Traffic enforcement, effectively done, makes arrangements for the violator to discuss his preferences in regard to “big brother” with a judge, not at car side. Traffic enforcement is definitive in nature and has a tendency to temper foolish behavior and attitudes. Without it, we are simply narcissistic folks wandering about with little fear our behavior, when it strays, will be met with the contrary opinion of an officer.

Too many times, I have fished through the pockets of a dead person looking for some form of identification, with the vast majority of the circumstances revolving around a monumental mistake made behind the wheel. Children lying on a porcelain table will bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened officer. I drive today flabbergasted with the casual behavior of our unregulated generation of drivers. It is high time we re-emphasis the regulation of traffic. When will the price for ignoring this important consideration be too high? Hopefully soon…….

If you are not part of the solution, then you well my be a part of the problem. Resolve to be better behind the wheel this year. At some point you will be glad you did. I can guarantee it.

Happy New Year!

SR

Ringing The Bell

Last Friday, a wet, cold day, I fulfilled a long standing item on my bucket list by taking a turn ringing the Salvation Army Bell in front of Bass Pro Headquarters in Springfield, Mo. Notwithstanding the Army’s foray into the woke arena, they have always been a favorite charity of ours and the deal to help them out was cut some time before they entered the political field. I gained immeasurable insight into marketing, human relations and the mood of the people in SW Missouri.

A rewarding experience!

Truly successful salesmen, like Lee Iacocca, rely on a proven sales technique to transfer their product to you in exchange for your money to them. I have read his book and many of the things he espouses seemed appropriate in gaining a financial contribution in this endeavor. Here we go.

I felt that eye contact with each patron was critical. Several folks simply avoid your eyes and head for the door furtherest from your location. My subliminal message was that I am wringing the bell just for you. I also noted a hearty “Merry Christmas” was also effective, as I was now in a conversation with the customer. Next up, the compliment. I tried to compliment the customer, or his/her gloves, Christmas hat, warm boots, anything positive which established an open dialogue. A comment about their kids was very effective in gaining their trust and commitment. The fact that an occasional person would avoid these overtures, seemed to create additional incentive for the following customer to increase their contribution. My technique was twice removed from the guys who stand silently with a look of utter boredom wringing the bell with contempt. I also made it fun!

I made an attempt to typecast folks based on their appearances. To this end, I made several observations. Folks who were, based solely on appearance, somewhat disadvantaged as opposed to those who were dropped at the curb courtesy of a new Escalade, were the most prolific contributors. It was the middle American folks who carefully doled out a contribution to each of their children to drop into the kettle. Children loved this experience, and when thanked with a smile, seemed to encourage the adults behind them to dig a little deeper into their wallet or purse. As I have already mentioned, kids were a key element in my success. Kneeling down and acknowledging the children was very effective, which explains the politician’s kissing of babies. Without question, ladies were more likely to contribute as were solo men. Men need to step up their game here, likely because they are less inclined to respond to flattery. There are many more things about ladies to compliment than men………..just gotta be careful!

I also moved our kettle closer to the mainstream of pedestrian traffic. This placed me in a position to greet the avoiders who were seeking the far doors, which in turn alerted the other avoiders they were going to be engaged and resulted in a uptick in their contributive effort, thus avoiding the appearances of Scrooge. I did note that really competent avoiders were adept at strategies such as opening an umbrella in my direction, thus spoiling my ability to engage them on some level. These are the same folks who can pass the plate in church with a flourish, creating an illusion of offering when they did not.

Tazzy warmed hearts!

So, was I successful? I think so, but was not privilege to the final tally. People displayed a lot of Christmas spirit and were very upbeat. My efforts were enhanced by Tazzy, wearing an apron that read “I Ate Santa’s Cookies”, sitting by the kettle, and a smiling Sharon on the Bear Bench behind my duty post, throwing out a final Merry Christmas to the folks we met. A confession is in order. I am absolutely confident that whatever money we raised broke along two lines. I may have accounted for 30% of the take, Tazzy earned the rest. Bring a cute dog to your next fund raising effort. They are money in the bank. Too bad Lee Iacocca never thought of this…..thank you Tazzy, and to the Salvation Army for the opportunity to make a difference.

Have a great weekend, and a very Merry Christmas!

SR

The Retail Experience is Vanishing…..

Need a coffin? No problem, all you need is a laptop and credit card. Want to avoid the haggling when buying a car, keep the laptop handy and check your credit limit. Food? Ditto. With rare exception the acquisition of just about anything imaginable can be accomplished within a day or so, delivered to your doorstep by an automated process that is as impersonal as it is efficient. Forgive the nostalgia, but I miss shopping.

I walked into an Ace hardware in Navarre Beach, Fl., a week or so ago and was transported back in time to McIntyre’s farm store in Marion SC, where we shopped for garden seed and a few baby chicks to insure a Sunday post church dinner within a few short weeks. I can still smell the poultry, leather mule tack, hickory shovel handles and petroleum products like grease and oil. The smell was accompanied by the sound of a huge, belt driven fan that tempered the humid Carolina air by keeping it moving. The Florida store smelled similar, the merchandise was where you expected it to be, and bins constituted the inventory system. The employees were tenured and knew instantly if they had what you needed and where it was. Hardware stores are disappearing faster than folks at a Biden rally and will soon be gone. Unlike Biden, they will be remembered fondly. Find one and buy something……….it is an experience that will be a distant memory soon enough.

A hardware store, back in the day.

Guns and ammo. I can remember popping into a country store in Texas County, Missouri for shotgun shells some 50 years ago. Those days your selection came in green boxes (Remington) or yellow and red boxes for Winchester. You would find 4, 6 or 7 1/2 shot in low or high brass with a cardboard hull and wad. Rifled slugs were sold individually out of a box of 25. Gun stores back then carried a few foreign made firearms but the majority were either Remingtons or Winchesters. Rifle ammo was available in 30-30, 30.06 or .22. There were as many half-pints of chill remover (whiskey) for night hunters sold as boxes of ammo. Condoms, for the big boy night hunters, were stocked behind the gun counters, presumably to keep your mother from ciphering things she should not be interested in, should she be shopping nearby. Most importantly, gun stores saw more stories told than any institution in America outside a barber shop or creek tavern. Who you gonna’ talk to now, the UPS guy running a five second 40 and tossing your new hairdryer in the rose bushes? He doesn’t have the time…..believe me.

Gun stores that sold guns, dispensed advice and smelled of cigars. The golden age of firearms.

I never thought I would miss shopping. I tend to be focused, with the ability to walk into a retail establishment and walk directly to what I am interested in, making the purchase and walking out. That is a good practice today, because you aren’t likely to be helped by a clerk until you run the guy down from appliances to help you with your purchase in shoes. Think I am overstating the issue? I googled Amazon and found caskets, embalming fluid and a “how to book”. There are hundreds of kinds of condoms and live chickens available. Automobiles are next up with at least two brands now on sale by Amazon. Conversely, you can walk into a box store and buy a spinning rod from a guy who doesn’t know a broom handle from a pool cue. Jeans are no longer made in America and your expensive tennis shoes hail from a factory near the lab in Wuhan. You don’t need it if Amazon doesn’t ship it and a return involves driving by a retail store, tossing the item in the door and leaving with a credit on your card. They’ll even throw in a coupon for merchandise from the location accepting returns.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll head over to Ace Hardware and cruise the aisles. They look like a store, smell like a store, with the guy wearing the red apron an expert on, well, all kinds of things. God bless the local retail experience. Now that I think about it, I began grade school wearing mail order clothes from Sears and I’ll be put away in jeans and a shirt from Bangladesh, China or Pakistan. Shopping locally used to be the backbone of our economy which has now become a so called global economy. It may be too late, as kids today think everything in existence comes on a brown truck courtesy of a track star with a good arm.

Sad, really.

Have a good weekend!

SR

Unsolicited Advice For RV Folks…….

We have been in the RV world for about 7 years now, and the culture is undergoing a continued metamorphosis, as all things tend to do. We are currently in Navarre Beach, Florida, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by snowbirds. A number of my readers are RV oriented and may be a little behind the curve as a result of Covid, so indulge me as I offer a peek into the changes and expectations today.

Food. One of the terrific advantages of traveling in a RV is the ability to cook in your mobile condo. We have been stunned at the inflationary impact on dining out. We love dives and diners, but even the seediest stop for normal stuff will easily run 30 bucks for two. We have strayed into a number of eateries and dropped half a Benjamin on lunch. Unless you are grabbing a Happy Meal and water with lemon, food out is going to be expensive. Two meals out, even when you are careful, will easily burn through a Benjamin. Coffees are going to bump you an easy 6 bucks a couple and it adds up. Pack the grill, set it up, and cook under your awning. In a hurry yesterday, we stopped at a Seattle based coffee place and a short macchiato was 6 bucks……..I didn’t price a cup of their normal swill……..

Park rentals. When we started, your rental for a night was comfortably within the 30 to 50 buck range. We insist on water, sewer and electricity and avoid setting up in mud or on sand. Today, you can anticipate 50 as a minimum, and we are currently over our normal pay grade here at 100 a night. Inflation is alive and well in this industry. Parks are expensive propositions to operate, and the costs must be passed on. Obviously, state parks are a better option, but RV’s are being built and put on the streets at an astronomical rate and they all have to be somewhere, every night. State Parks require planning well in advance. Book ahead and do your homework here. There are options available, depending on what level of utility connectivity you are comfortable with.

Santa Rosa Sound, from behind our RV, a gift from the Master

Fuel costs. Do I need to even comment here? With a big diesel, I average around 11 MPG. My neighbor who just pulled in with his new coach gasser, averaged 5 MPG. You can do the math.

If you are just getting started in this pastime, please listen carefully to the next piece of advice. Choose your dealer as carefully as you choose your primary care physician. The RV industry is plagued by a very poor support network after the sale. When you are 800 miles from home or your place of purchase, you are on your own. Mobile techs become your salvation. This industry is not like the auto industry where a Chevy dealer in any town USA stands ready to help when your vehicle throws craps. I am not turning this piece into a shill for my dealer, but when we had a problem, miles from home and the manufacturer would not even answer the phone, he stepped in and is negotiating a payback to us with the manufacturer (We relied on a mobile tech). There are various networks you can join that help mitigate these nightmares……but the dealer is the key. If a dealer cannot guarantee his advocacy, find another one.

For the love of all that is sacred, please take the time to go to a big parking lot with your new RV and a half dozen cones and practice maneuvering the unit, whether a motor coach, 5th wheel or pull behind. I watched a very nice man in a 38 foot 5th wheel, his first RV, try to back it into a tight spot in this luxury park. It was painful. His frustration was overwhelming, his wife in tears and a couple of folks who obviously knew even less than him offering advice. There is NO substitute for experience when towing or driving a RV, and your failure to practice will be all too evident at a fuel stop or park. In Texas, I white knuckled our 38 foot trailer into a tight spot after dark, and needed a shot of Jack after bringing the beast to a stop. Practice and experience will add years to your life!

Finally, develop a relationship with someone experienced in this pastime that you trust before buying, hitching up and taking off to parts unknown. The RV pastime is not rocket science, but there are many considerations relative to your goals, tow vehicles, and operation of these little homes on wheels that require knowledge and are best considered from a position of experience. It is fun and the people you meet are mostly great folks. Your mentor should be able to help you from the selection process through your first experiences on the road. Like piloting an airplane, handling a RV and touring the country is a pastime that never stops delivering surprises, and you will learn every day you are out. Our RV delivers views like the one here and the ability to have your pup, cat or alligator with you all the time. It is a hoot……but a thinking person’s hoot.

Have a great weekend!

SR

From Whence You Came……

We are currently in the great state of Mississippi, on the coast enjoying cool mornings and warm Gulf breezes in the afternoon. As is our custom when traveling, we avoid the big name restaurants for the most part, preferring dives and diners where, more often than not, the owner is at the grill and the conversations flow easily. I smile easily when I see a vintage pick up truck or a combine with more miles on it than an interstate trooper. The real America lies with the folks at a grill or with mud on their boots. That is from whence I came, and may be why I am so interested in the basics today.

I have lived in many parts of the world. Military brats have that in common. Without fail, I find other countries fascinating but am always anxious to return to America, even in these troubling political times. As a kid, running around Pulaski County, Missouri my interests ran simple. I was a teenager who wore his hair short, preferred starched paisley shirts and shoes in good repair. I lived for the outdoors, hunting and fishing at every opportunity in and around the Piney and Gasconade rivers. The young ladies in High School were charming and clever, no games, with pretension on the back burner. I was also fascinated by cars. After a life of hard work, I am able to slip back into the lifestyle that provided great contentment in those carefree days. Gasoline powered cars and trucks, soon to be obsolete have been a huge part of my life.

Many years ago with Luke and Belle

So what has changed? In those days a Mitchell 300 reel, spooled with 10# test line, hung on a Garcia Conolon rod was my fishing arsenal. I ultimately acquired a cheap fiberglass fly rod so that I could emulate the big boys at Meramec Springs, fooling an occasional trout with some silly bait that trout seem to prefer. My tackle box was a one handled affair with an array of live bait hooks, weights and a few lures. Surprisingly, I caught as many fish with this rudimentary gear as I do now. I fished from a canoe or Jon boat with a paddle for propulsion. Today, I have a ridiculous amount of tackle, a rod rack that looks like a Bass Pro display, and just divested myself of a 21’ Ranger with more horses than I have IQX2. My gun safe is ridiculous as opposed to those early days when a 30-30 and an 1100 Remington was the extent of my armory. Why? Because the weight of your toys seems important in this competitive age. The tragedy is that it is not important and it is unfortunate that you slip into old age before you realize that. My German Shorthairs, Luke and Belle were the best friends I had, and understood the important stuff.

A Mason Jar beverage……

I came to love Missouri within days if arriving here in a March sleet storm in 1964. It is my adopted home where I still love the sounds, sights and smells of an early morning launch into current on one of our spectacular rivers. A fat goggle eye on a long rod is my sailfish and a nice line-side is my grouper. A battered old Jon boat or canoe is my bass boat, a slab meat sandwich on a gravel bar my Ruth Chris steak and a cold drink from a small cooler my champagne. Our RV is our condo and second home, whether on a beach, lake or out west. I need to sell a bunch of rods and reels and and at least 100# of terminal tackle, most of which is in the original packaging. My remaining guns are utilitarian, for the most part, and I own several of them in defiance of those who think I don’t “need” them. A very wise man, successful in the Casino industry, upon our introduction offered this advice , “I have enough money to burn a wet mule, but it doesn’t mean a damned thing if you don’t have your health”. He died of cancer shortly after our conversation. He died longing for the simple days, years before.

A cool morning in the river

I am closing with this advice. While you still can, return to from whence you came. Revel in the simplicity of those times and your happiness back then. If you are young and reading this, stop and reflect from time to time just exactly on where you are. Time is relentless and you’ll be sitting where I am one day, reflecting, not doing. Folks who are not being pushed around by the need to succeed are often the happiest of all. Add a measure of this advice to your recipe for life!

SR

Earning A Living……

I am a proponent of higher education. In todays fast paced environment, fueled by rapid technology advancements, study beyond high school serves to enhance a fine mind. In my hometown, Springfield, we enjoy a number of educational opportunities for those who choose to enter a technical field where the melding of hands and mind produce folks who keep this country running at ground level. Contrary to the nonsense that Joey Biden spews that suggests Americans do not see the return on their efforts in the workplace, John Deere is leading the way in compensating folks in line with their profits. It’s called Capitalism, Joey, and it works.

In my 70 plus year tenure in America, a little over 10 years was spent in an agricultural environment. My grand father was a tobacco and cotton specialist and my in laws were row crop specialists. Every minute of that time was spent on or near green painted tractors and equipment, delivering the wonderful odor of turned earth. There are a number of US based farm equipment manufacturers to choose from, but none more iconic than John Deere. I still have a can of John Deere spray paint on my shelf, needed for the errant scratch that is inevitable when you challenge Mother Earth to meet our needs. It is a reminder of another time.

Sharon’s grandfather’s sale bill, reflecting a love for John Deere many years ago.

This year, John Deere enjoyed record profits. We’re talking big numbers here, an income estimated to be between 5.7 and 5.9 billion dollars. Do the corporate leaders of this company stash that money in tax shelters and thus avoid paying their fair share of taxes? No, they return it to the workers who make this company great. Their Union just negotiated a deal with Mother Green that pays a 8,500.00 signing bonus, an immediate 10% increase in wages, and a guaranteed 20% wage increase over the life of the 6 year contract. They already enjoy excellent health benefits. You see Joey, they don’t need your handouts, they use a tried and true tactic to guarantee income…..they earn and distribute their wealth among the folks who have a work ethic. An American company that delivers, not takes.

Johns Deere’s iconic green paint.

Our technical schools are turning out folks who have real marketable skill in a number of fields. One of our schools has recently added aircraft mechanics to it’s curriculum, a trade that guarantees a nice income for those who are willing to earn an associate degree in this expanding field. Training for health professionals, mechanics, welders, machine workers and critical support staffs for any number of professional services are available. They offer terrific agricultural training, animal science classes, computer science and public safety training among others. A skilled mechanic, trained in one of our technical colleges is destined to earn at a much higher level than folks who stand on a street corner with their hand out or wade the Rio Grande to await his or her handout from Joey Biden’s ridiculous social “safety nets”, unless of course Joey hands these swimmers a half million bucks for their wading experience and horrendous parenting skill.

There are many opportunities in America for folks who understand the work/reward concept. Congratulations to John Deere and especially the folks who make this company great. Green paint is an integral part of America’s agricultural scene and has notched another win in compensating it’s skilled labor force generously. Their high standards will continue to be met by workers who share in the reward that excellence produces.

One of America’s most demented politicians once uttered words that were true, “It takes a village”. It does, and there is no reason the villagers cannot be compensated for their contribution to America’s success. That being said, the manufacturing of a half million dollar combine requires far more skill than assembling a taco and folks need to understand why this is so. I know, as I began my employed life as a grocery bagger, compensated accordingly. It was my introduction to the concept of work/reward. The beginning of a work ethic…essential to any measurable success, was courtesy of a brown paper sack.

Have a great week!

SR

A Different Kind Of Veteran’s Day…….

This Veteran’s Day, Sharon and I left early for Union Station and the Holocaust exhibit that is playing to rave reviews. We began with a simply outstanding hot breakfast delivered to our car, drive through style, by our local Hi-Vee. A piping hot serving of scrambled eggs, hash brown casserole, sausage and bacon, a biscuit smothered in sausage gravy, topped by a tasty little cinnamon bun kick started the day’s activities. It was fitting that breakfast was delivered from a tent, something every veteran knows about. Hi-Vee loves our veterans. Fortified with a cup of hot joe, we started north to meet with our dear friends Col. (Ret.) John Bryan and his wife Bridgett to see what the exhibit was all about. It did not disappoint.

The Red Army, approaching from the east and American/British forces from the west and south were the first to see the inhumane horror tagged by the Nazi’s as the “final solution”. The exhibit singled out perhaps the most notorious death camp, Auschwitz. Students of history are familiar with this aberration in human behavior, however only those who dig deeper than the obvious horror will understand the concept of genocide, a concept that generally requires societal buy in, but occurs at the direction of fanatical leadership, such as that provided by Adolph Hitler and his like minded henchmen and women. The overwhelming consideration for me was the blissful ignorance of the German population and the people’s willingness to adhere to their satanic leader, Hitler and his psychotic musings. I also came away with a renewed sense of the incredible power of the military in today’s world. The Holocaust was the work of the German Army and it’s destruction and unveiling the work of Allied Armies. The common defense of the Nazi denizens from hell was the concept of absolute adherence to the orders of their superiors. It saved several from the gallows, but more often than not, the most demented of the lot met their demise at the end of a rope. We know, too, that many of the Nazi death camp workers met their end upon the liberation of the camps, some shot to death unceremoniously, others beat to death by those detainees able to wield a club or other tool. Far too many Nazi’s, directly involved in these horrors, escaped justice, a number of them enjoying the protection of the Catholic Church, for reasons that escape comprehension. Then again, the Holocaust is incomprehensible to the vast majority of folks who take the time to soak it in.

The fence….

In spite of the current woke mentality that seeks the destruction of our country’s history, it is so critical to the survival of mankind that we record and preserve both the good and bad in our past. Sharon was struck deeply by the Jewish mothers who carefully packed the necessary things for their infant children, believing that all would be well, only to be forced to hold their child in front of them so that a single bullet would kill them both before toppling into a ditch. Is man capable of such depravity? Yes, and we must never forget that.

The shoes remain…..their souls are in the care of the Master

Our system of government is designed to provide a check and balance to authoritarian rule. We have the legislature, the judicial branch and the executive branch. We flirt with destruction when all three branches are in lock step, especially if the intent does not represent the will of the people. Hitler and the Nazi party are a stark reminder these things can happen. Germany, an industrial giant with a fabulous standing Army, handed Hitler the reins, a mentally ill, hatred filled human like, demonic creature, and the Holocaust resulted. You wouldn’t know these things if we had obliterated the horror of Auschwitz and the “final Solution”

A mix of emotions have ranged through me as I process the lessons from this exhibit. The power of a country’s military, the hatred that fairly seethes through our country today, the incredible power we have vested in the Presidency, the flaunting of our constitution, our Pollyanna outlook that all is going to be fine, what will be will be. The German economy, destroyed in WWI, offered Adolph Hitler an opportunity to seize control of Germany and shape it to reflect his idea of a great society, racially pure and devoid of folks who did not meet his ethnicity standards. The exhibit teaches. History teaches. It was a Veteran’s Day that I won’t forget.

Hard earned wisdom…..

God bless our military. May they never be used for anything other than the defense of our nation. May they always be strong and capable of crushing the military of other nations whose intentions are other than existing peacefully in a world order. Finally, preserve history, do not re-write it or, worse yet, attempt to hide it. The reasons are obvious.

Have a great weekend!

SR

Why Missouri Is Not A Blue Zone………..

My deep roots are in the south, however; the rigors of being a military brat resulted in my adopting Missouri as my home. It is a wonderful, diversified but honest state, populated by mostly European ancestors, folks who call it like it is. The winters, however, are cold and the summers hot and it is not a healthy state. I’ll let you be the judge as to why we rank 40 out of 50 in terms of overall health, and barring some miracle will never be a “Blue Zone”, a special designation for places in the world where folks routinely live to a hundred and seem to get along just fine. I lived in one of the Blue Zones for 4 years and can offer direct insight into the practices that enhance longevity.

The World’s Blue Zones

There are between 5 and 7 Blue Zones in the world, depending on who is reporting. The generally recognized areas are Icaria, Greece, Costa Rica, a 7th Day Adventist enclave in Loma Linda, Ca. and Okinawa, where I lived from 1960 to 1964. Social scientists and medical authorities have long studied these locations and have reached a number of conclusions as to their secret to longevity. Before we start down that path, the common denominator in each of the considerations lies in the word “moderation”. Look at your lifestyle and list the things you are driven to and those that you could could less about. Despite the stereotypes to the contrary, Missourians are not the laid back, hay baling, straw chewing, coon skinning, barefoot hillbillies that folks on the coasts think we are. Let’s jump in.

Folks in Okinawa and other blue zones are at peace. Once you achieve a reasonable standard of living, a roof over your head and a place in the family hierarchy, you have arrived. They do not strive for castles, fine cars and big ranches and farms. They eat reasonably, mostly fruits, vegetables, and fermented dairy products with the healthy addition of whole grains in their fare. They drink alcohol in careful moderation and love their coffee. There is a remarkable lack of stress in their lives. Remember, rather than a weapon oriented culture ,Okinawans rely on a form of karate, and are schooled in this empty hands method of defense from an early age. Even the kids will open a can of whoop ass on you if you challenge their sanctity…very effectively. They have a refined pecking order and attach great deference to their elder population. Moderate physical labor and motion constitute their physical training beyond the application of a karate chop or two to fend off aggressors. Yet they are a very active people. Blue zone folks tend to have a strong spiritual base, secure in the knowledge of the existence of a higher power. Okinawans practice “tege” which means literally, “about enough” or “so so”.

Does that sound like a day in the life of a Missourian? We are far from laid back, go to gyms and bust our tails to maintain conditioning, eat red meat every time it is offered or available, eat refined breads and pastries, drink sugar laden drinks, rely on high heat cooking and love our pizza. We are materially oriented, want bigger, faster cars, settle our differences with a knife or gun, regard old folks as obstacles to a fast lifestyle, and are under constant stress. We live in homes that are at least twice as big as we need, drink what and as much as we can handle and measure success with “things”. Faith based living is on the decline. Okinawans eat to live and we live to eat. Genetics play a role, but it takes a long time for this to manifest itself in terms of longevity. Blue zoners also tend to reside in moderate climates.

A last but significant consideration is what I call the “happiness” index. Folks who live in the blue zones tend to be content with the status quo. They enjoy far more days of relaxation and happiness than days of anger and consternation. We just lost a retired Highway patrol centenarian, one of the most affable fellows you could hope to meet. Although he enjoyed the fast pace of a WWII fighter pilot, he left that behind and seized life on his terms. It can be done, but most of us just aren’t good at it. It is why Missouri will never be a blue zone. The blue zone concept may appear abstract, but it won’t if you are ever fortunate enough to spend time in one.

As an after thought, you might ask where the name “Blue Zone” comes from. It came into being when an author, Dan Buettner, began studying these areas and circled them on a map with a blue pen!

Have a great weekend!

SR

Lead Us Not Not Into Temptation……

Depending on which Christian scholar you subscribe to, Jesus, at some point in his ministry, provided us the Lord’s Prayer that has crossed the lips of any practicing Christian, perhaps many, many times in his or her lifetime. In this prayer, we ask that we not be led into temptation. I suppose the Lord was far more concerned with much bigger temptations to mankind than cookies but that is precisely where I found myself after Sharon and my sister Wanda’s recent trip to Ikea. Let me explain.

If we take the Lord’s words at face value, we would do well to turn off the television, rock back with a good book and never eat in a restaurant again. Our world is full of temptation at every turn. Our Amish and Mennonite brothers and sisters are content to ramble about in a horse drawn carriage to take care of business. They share the roads with any number of motorized conveyances, all designed to tempt us to purchase the latest, greatest, fastest or most opulent vehicle we can afford. A closer examination of the Amish buggies will reveal varying degrees of fit and finish….within reasonable constraints of course. Temptation here? You be the judge. I stood in a Pennsylvania Amish kitchen a couple of years back while a demure grandmother touted the excellence of her gooseberry jam. The temptation was too much and I acquired a jar of the sweet goodness. She was baking bread, the smell of which was simply too tempting to resist. The gooseberries simply closed the deal.

Current advertising strategies in America are constructed around temptation. As an example, sex, a much ballyhooed temptation, sells a lot of things. A lovely, scantily clad siren leaning on a car of any description, enhances the appeal of that car, whether it be a Corvette or a Prius. The lascivious consumption of a s’more by a hearty country soccer mom, in tight jeans and flannel, at a fireside picnic, enhances our desire for a Graham Cracker, Hershey bar and big fluffy marshmallow. Advertisers also understand that a subtle addition of sexual innuendo will have a greater effect on a 20 year old than a 70 year old person, who tends to be more concerned with mileage and comfort. (The car, not the model…..) No matter how you sum it up, they are tempting you to buy their product. I am still thinking over the relationship between a couple sitting in two separate bathtubs in front of a waterfall to male performance drugs. Maybe it is age again, but side by side bath tubs in front of a waterfall does not conjure up thoughts of…..well you know. On the other hand, a hormonally charged 20 year old can drift towards amorous thoughts when they see a cardboard box. They tend to be enveloped in temptation, seeing tempting opportunities everywhere.

Back to the cookies. For reasons known only to Sharon and the Master, my sister succumbed to the temptation to buy a plain box of ginger snaps at IKEA as she left the store last week. She left them in Sharon’s car where they found their way onto the freezer in our garage where they tempt the devil out of me every time I walk by them. They are delicious little cookies and I am struggling to avoid one or two every time I walk by them. Mind you, I don’t need them, but I cannot leave them alone. Boom, something else I will have to account for one day. These little brown morsels have now threatened a handful of Oreos and a glass of milk as an ultimate temptation. I don’t need another car, but Lord help me if I see an add with a comely lass, wearing the remnants of a bathing suit, leaning on a new model, with a glass of milk and handful of ginger snaps or Oreos in her carefully manicured hands.

Temptation knows no strangers!

I am guessing there are little temptations and big temptations but life has taught me to judge not. The prayer does not suggest that we avoid being led into big temptations as opposed to little temptations, so I am a failure on some level. There is a lot of space between the Ten Commandments and a box of ginger snaps………choose carefully!

Fall has finally shown it’s color a bit. Have a great weekend and watch the temptations…….

SRuy