Plain Talk About Handguns………

I have carried some form of firearm for 50 years both on and off duty as a trooper and a citizen. With the notable exception of a sojourn in Vietnam I can count the times that I have shot at another human being on one hand, one finger, actually, and my business was seeking out folks who would harm another human being and putting a stop to their designs. Firearms, in one form or another have relegated me to the cadre of half deaf old uncles and grandpas who can’t hear much without the the marvel of todays electronic hearing devices. I have earned the right to comment on today’s arming of our citizenry in unprecedented numbers. This writing is not about the politics or constitutionality of carrying a firearm, rather the common sense approach to do so comfortably.

The hotter EZ above is far more pleasant to shoot than the LCP below….and far more effective.

To the shooters out there, now is the time to grab a cup of coffee and hear me out as I am going to challenge todays fascination with little, bitty handguns in untrained hands. Yes, there is a such thing as too little, kind of like the difference between a lady finger fire cracker and the old M-80 of years past, equivalent to a quarter stick of dynamite. The truth my friends lies somewhere between Dirty Harry and the back up, pocket derringer of Doc Holliday. The fascination with micro pistols is placing a lot of horse power in hands that cannot handle it comfortably or safely. Here we go.

Not too many years ago, your choices fell along the lines of a very reliable revolver, usually in the 30 caliber range or a full sized pistol in the 1911 class of firearms, heavy pistols in the .45 caliber realm. When I started on the Patrol, we carried a very reliable and beautiful old revolver that was pleasant to shoot. We graduated to heavier revolvers in the magnum range and finally into the new polymer pistols that are the rage today. Ammunition was no where as sophisticated as it is today, velocities were adequate but not excessive. Smart troopers carried a handful of solid nosed ammo to dispatch the luckless cow or deer that had been struck and mortally injured. We enjoyed our range days, as the revolver was ergonomically designed and your hands were wrapped around walnut grips that were somehow comforting to the touch. I have yet to see a trooper who could not be taught the mastery of handling those handguns by folks like our legendary Roy Bergman, a shooter of national acclaim. Today, mom runs down to the gun store and buys her polymer pistol based on the single consideration of size. Never mind that every time she touches off a round, she closes her eyes, has little idea where the bullet is going and grips what little handle she is holding with the tenacity of a catfish eating a perch. The shooting experience is not pleasant and her practice sessions are therefore limited.

Polymer pistols are here to stay. They are light, affordable and can be configured in sizes that are easily concealable. In untrained hands, the smallest of these pocket cannons, with today’s high pressure loads, are simply not fun to shoot. The new shooter will squeeze a magazine or two off, and proclaim themselves combat ready. That is not in the best interest of the shooter or those around them. They are not combat ready, which dear readers, is why they want to carry a pistol in the first place.

I am not narrowing this consideration to women. I know ladies that are masterful hand gunners and men who cannot hit a barn door. That is a human thing. Personally, after three hand surgeries, I do not, at all, enjoy the snappy nature of micro pistols. For me, a mid sized pistol, still concealable, but entirely manageable is the ideal self defense carry pistol. There are many folks my age who still have the strength and dexterity to handle a small pistol with skill and dispatch……there are many who do not. What is my point?

When you go forth, arm and train a new shooter or a shooter with compromised hands, please place enough pistol in their hands to enjoy the experience. These handguns are out there and easily obtainable. In today’s market, there is a handgun and caliber that is appropriate for nearly every shooter. Shooting should be enjoyable and involve more than 8 rounds and a purse/pocket stash for the life of the firearm. You should become intimate with your carry choice, how to reload, clear stoppages, clean and finally shoot the damned thing. Hand gunning, like most anything in America today, involves compromise. Harry’s magnum is too much for today’s new shooter and Holiday’s derringer is too little. Err to bigger and you’ll thank me later.

Where do you and yours fit in the shooting paradigm? The controlled explosion that occurs at arm’s length should be manageable, fun, safe and effective. A death grip on a card deck sized pistol with a hot load in it is none of these things in the vast majority of shooters hands.

Have a great week.


The Red BAT…………

In a manner of confession, I acknowledge my seriously maudlin tendencies. Tossing a trashed pair of athletic shoes or an old sweatshirt that is barely identifiable as an item of clothing conjures up memories of the miles and smiles we have enjoyed together. It should not be surprising then, that watching a truck leave that has conveyed Tazzy, Sharon and I around the country evokes a similar response. I am also a retired trooper, and troopers develop a relationship with vehicles that follows them to their graves. It is in our DNA.

About 5 years ago, we began to RV around the country. I was skeptical at first, as situating yourself a few feet away from a stranger, in a strange place, is a bit out of my comfort zone. My concern was all for naught, as it turned out to be a hoot and results in meeting people who make you proud of America. We started with a nominal sized trailer, blissful ignorance as to what we were doing and our existing, very capable, Toyota Tundra pickup. I am not writing to evoke an argument over the merits of tow vehicles, but we determined the Tundra, in the howling crosswind we were negotiating on the way home, did not suit our interests. I personally delivered the Tundra to a brother-in-law in sunny South Carolina where it continues to suit his purposes to a “T”. Enter the red BAT, short for “Big Assed Truck”, a RAM turbo diesel with features that to this day I didn’t know it had.

When vehicles enter our stable, I endeavor to see to it they leave in as close to the same condition they were received. The BAT was no exception. Along the way, the BAT reintroduced me to the craftsmanship of the Chrysler Corporation, that I felt had gone the way of the dodo back when I was assigned a Grand Fury that was more noise than go, and equipped with a seat out of a New York taxi cab. When you work an interstate, you quickly ascertain the limitations of your brakes…..and the Grand Fury barely had enough to get you safely halted at a coffee stop. After a thorough investigation and conversations with mechanics, I turned to the BAT. It turned out to be the finest all around truck that I have ever owned, and folks, I have owned an embarrassing number of them.

Recently, I made the acquaintance of a hard working, very real gentleman from Herman, MO., courtesy of Facebook and a mutual friend who happens to house sit for us when we are on the road. Yesterday we met for lunch and talked about our experiences as first responders. It was the perfect opportunity to get the measure of Matt, and I came away feeling certain the BAT, which he was here to take delivery of, was going to a home where it would remain a favorite family member. I suppose as a result of the many miles that Sharon, Tazzy and I have spent seeing America, wrapped in the comfort and power of the BAT, our travels have endeared her to us. Thus the maudlin approach to her leaving for Herman and the custody of Mathew, who happens to also be a skilled mechanic and exacting craftsman.

Mathew, his wife Cindy, SR and the BAT

We have ordered a new RAM that will soon be built by the good folks in Saltillo, Mexico. They say it will take 8 weeks to build. ( Folks who know me know I have infinite patience. I will wait until Monday to find out what the hell they are doing in Saltillo and where my new truck is.) It, like the BAT, has a few options that I can barely spell, but are cleverly hidden in the packages that manufacturers make you take in order to have the stuff you gotta have. We have gone all in on this one, as I am getting to the age where you may have no necessity for another one in the years to come. To that end, I have already named the unborn, soft white turbo RAM “Cirrus” after the soft white colors reminiscent of the cirrus clouds that float over Missouri on a breezy afternoon. When she arrives, I’ll drive over to Herman for another lunch with Matthew and introduce her to her older sibling.

The automobile, in it’s many forms is the heart of America, beginning with those first few solo miles driven by a newly licensed driver. It becomes a reflection of you, your values and a part of your image. With this in mind, I drive RAMs and likely always will….an unashamed fan of the big, thumping Cummins diesel that seldom sees hardship. Many thanks to my mechanic friends who pointed me in the right direction. I will never forget the BAT.

Have a wonderful weekend!


An Advantage of Age…….

Today marks the first day of spring. I am looking through my office window at a lawn that has suddenly become threatening to the button downed neighborhood that we live in. It occurred to me that we are shaking off the chaos of winter in anticipation of a new season and new adventures. When you are retired, with no deadlines, pending projects and production schedules, you begin living rather than existing between critical events. This explains why older people lament the passage of time. We are not tied to a clock. When we look at a calendar, we are often shocked.

On this first day of spring, we have plans that reflect little reference to time, rather a response to conditions. Breakfast is not on a schedule. There is no specific time for that first cup of coffee, and I am more interested in a busy Robin outside my window than the happenings in Washington. More as a result of budding trees and the sounds of a lawn mower last evening, I instinctively know the crappie will be schooling on secondary points, the canoe trailer tires need to be aired up and the RV unbuttoned after reposing for nearly a year while the world was preoccupied with a virus. We will drive over later today to Pryor’s Pizza, a hundred miles from here, to enjoy our favorite pie after a slow drive through Piney River country. Neither of us has given much thought to tomorrow as we have little desire to mingle among those unfortunate souls who have only the weekend to live life. Another, non calendar, indication of spring is the breakup of tom turkeys from their winter bachelor groups into fierce competitors for the affections of amorous hens. I have no date on a calendar for this event, nor for the blooming of dogwood trees, signaling the movement of crappie to the banks to spawn. Calendars and watches mean little when nature talks to you. When float trips are spontaneous, a trout adventure is arranged the day before and conditions are just right for a mess of morels you go. You are relying on what guided the Native Americans long before the advent of fancy watches, cell phones and a calendar clutched in your hands or within easy reach. It is a beautiful time to be alive.

She has no clock and….I don’t need one.

To be sure, the schedules of folks who are still slaves to some master somewhere, interfere with our ability to drift. There are appointments for doctors, and vehicle maintenance. You must schedule your adventures with the RV, thus assuring an available camp site, although we often dally when we travel, preferring to simply “pull through” at a campground for the night, never unhooking from the “BAT” (big assed truck). We enjoy traveling in our abode instead of to an abode, thus permitting spontaneous stops and roaming about. This freedom opens new adventures, such as visiting an Amish family in Pennsylvania and enjoying a pastry in their kitchen, or pulling off and glassing elk and antelope.

The blissful dismissal of time as your master has it’s perils. I mentioned the often expressed dismay with the passage of time by folks who have used a lot of it in their lifetimes. The ability to wander, drink in this unbelievable country and answer to your inner clock rather than a wall clock results in sadness and shock when you suddenly find yourself getting senior discounts and preferential seating. I am closing with this advice: embrace life that is not tied to a timepiece, shamelessly exploit your freedom to go and do what you damn well please, when you want to, as opposed to when you can. Live life doing things that matter to you and not a “boss”. Finally, measure time in months rather than hours. The American Indian understood more about time, with little regard for numerical measurement, than you might guess. Spring is here. I know this because of the trees, birds and morning warmth when I enjoy a coffee. Embrace the freedom in a state where freedom is still sacred.

Have a great weekend!


Hellcats Come In Many Forms…….

MOPAR has a relatively new automobile on the market that is appropriately named Hellcat after the mythical creature that can be found in literature. Hellcats possess many attributes such as tenacity, viciousness and fearlessness. Aside from the soon to be legendary Dodge, three other Hellcats come to mind when I consider this mythical creature. One is an airplane, the second a firearm and the third the diminutive lady I am married to. Your personal images of a Hellcat may differ, but we all have them.

F6F Hellcat began combat in August of 1943

The Hellcat airplane was a pugnacious, 2000 HP, hot rod that could climb at 3400’ per minute to an altitude of 37000’. While it rested on a carrier deck with it’s wings folded, it was a rather peaceful looking little guy in spite of being equipped with six 50 cal machine guns and the ability to carry 2000 pounds of bombs. A skillful pilot, such as Lt. Bill Hardy, dealt the Japanese hell in aerial combat. Hardy, on one sortie lasting just over a hour, shot down 5 Japanese planes over the Pacific. This airplane could also take a beating and bring the pilot back to his carrier.

A Springfield Armory Hellcat Pistol

Next up we have a Hellcat in a little different form, that of a micro pistol, developed by the Springfield Armory folks over in Illinois. These little guys are designed for concealed carry by folks who are so inclined. Do not be fooled by its concealable size. This is a big boy (girl) handgun, packing up to 14 rounds of potent 9mm fodder, more than enough in most circumstances to slow down a bad guy (girl) with bad intentions. Properly concealed this little guy is the perfect antidote to folks who increasingly walk among us not caring who they hurt or threaten. Like the airplane, it is best suited to well trained hands and people who understand the implications of it’s employ against armed enemies. This is the same Hellcat that bit me a week ago, on the range, when I carelessly placed a thumb in the path of the slide.

The Sweetest
Hellcat I know

Finally. We have the third Hellcat whose appearance is deceptive. Miss Sharon is the picture of an articulate, well raised and educated lady. She can carry a conversation with both a dumpster diver and professor with equal acumen. She loves kids, animals and kind people of all descriptions. She can back a 400 HP John Deere with skill, shoot with either hand and knows her way around the kitchen with a skill honed by a mother who was a farm chef. She can respond with grace and sympathy and has a winning smile. Do not be misled by these qualities. When cut off in traffic, she can deliver an oath that would scare a sumo wrestler, has little tolerance for people who are rude, and even less tolerance for parents who are ruining their children with their inability to correct them or teach them whom the adult in the room is. She also has an uncanny ability to communicate volumes with a narrowing of the eyes and artful pause in conversation. It is why I love her. I do not have to guess in our relationship.

So we have an airplane, handgun and lady that all easily earn their monikers of Hellcat. I believe that an association with a Hellcat of some form makes life richer and challenges normalcy, whatever that is. Here is to a great week ahead. Take a minute or two to consider your Hellcats, or better yet, whether you are a Hellcat yourself!


An Apology For A Life Of Insensitivity……

I am writing this week to in an attempt to find peace after living a life of utter insensitivity. I have come to notice how this horrible trait permeates my existence from day to day and somehow, if I acknowledge these shortcomings, I might find solace.

First, I acknowledge the the sin of reading to my children and grandchildren from Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain and Laura Engles Wilder. I meant well, but know I have damaged them. I also am guilty of serving them pancakes made from Aunt Jemima batter and of all things allowed the use of syrup by the same name. Compounding this egregious conduct, I served Land-o-Lakes butter, an obvious affront to the Inuit population, a group slandered by the moniker “Eskimo”. We have enjoyed far too many Eskimo Pies, a treat contemptuous of the Inuits. I am deeply chagrined by my decision to actually drive on streets named after confederate generals. That was so callous.

On a personal level, I love white meat from the poultry that is a staple in our home. This is an obvious affront to dark meat and should have been obvious. How could I? We are also fond of rice, a carryover from our southern heritage, and have even eaten Uncle Ben’s rice. Oh the magnitude of that transgression. As a kid, I enjoyed a Mr. Potato Head, oblivious to the fact that I was relegating the female gender to second class status. I deeply regret the wonderful float trips on the White River as the Black River was so close. I just was not thinking. Without giving it a thought, I casually pull on Cotten underwear, with little regard for the fact that many years ago, black slaves toiled in fields chopping Cotten for the convenience of people who wear underwear.

The insensitivity goes on. How could I possibly enjoy a slice of cold watermelon? My eyes have been opened to the horrible implications of Father’s Day. Clearly this day should be renamed Hermaphrodite Day, to acknowledge the importance of folks who are genuinely afflicted. No more white sheets for us, only sheets of color. I am repulsed by the many loaves of White Bread on the shelves, with nary a loaf of black bread to be had. In this age of food coloring, you would think this matter easily resolved. I have allowed my insensitivity to show in the preference for white vehicles, probably a genetic flaw as a result of my southern heritage. There are plenty of black, brown and red vehicles around and I should know better.

I have come to appreciate the necessity of renaming the teams that challenge the sensitivities of folks who cannot identify with the racist monikers such as Indians and Chiefs. I would welcome the Cleveland Indians being renamed the Cleveland Multi-Culturals, and the Kansas City Chiefs the Kansas City Amoebas, after a harmless one cell organism not offensive to anyone.

Cancel Culture explained, visually.

America does not need a bright, capable head of state backed by an energetic congress who makes the people their priority. America needs more sensitivity. The cry of the cancel culture mobs, even though they constitute a minority in our population, needs to be heard. We are at a fork in the road my dear readers. If you choose the left route and do your research, it is likely that you can find a new way to trample the cultural norm and get your three minutes of fame. You will be among the liberals and Democrats that are currently driving the bus. If you go to the right, you can join conservative America that shakes it heads at the ludicrousness of the cancel culture movement. My satire is obvious, and I thank God that I am not a Democrat today. If this movement wasn’t as dangerous as it is, I would need a sedative to quell my hysterical laughter at what is happening.

God help us.

Have a good weekend!

The Art Of The Tip……..

The significance of tipping for services began for me in 1965 when I was unceremoniously delivered to the office of the manager of the Ft. Leonard Wood commissary, or grocery store for those who aren’t into military lingo. My new, and first, boss was Mrs. Mabel Steward, who drove daily from the community of Evening Shade, south of the post, to supervise the operations of the store. At the age of 16, I began a job that was as consistently physically demanding as any I have held since, a job that was compensated entirely through tips for service. I was a bag boy, packing groceries into paper sacks and delivering them to car side and loading them in cars. My clientele was military, usually dependents, and ran the gamut from frugal to generous. I have never forgotten the delicate dance that occurs between a service provider and the customer, and the significance of a generous tip. Haircuts were mandatory and a white shirt and tie was the standard.

First the ergonomics. Lifting double bagged canned goods into cars as well as watermelons, cartons of tripe (yes, tripe), as well as handling fragile goods on a good day was tough work. On a rainy day you learned about expediency and efficiency. Each customer from the bread and milk folks to the beginning of the month, double cart loads, needed to be met with a smile and courtesy. Occasionally, you encountered the customer who tipped poorly or not at all, which required a little more effort, but a customer they were and unpleasant responses were not acceptable to Mrs. Mabel. In those days, military families lived month to month and the first 3 days of a new month were met by huge orders of groceries and better tips. We averaged about 5 customers, packed and loaded, per hour with the bread and milk folks adding a few more. We worked behind 12 cashiers, all with the big manual NCR cash registers, and these folks could really fly on their machines. The cashiers knew full well the significance of their demeanor on the compensation of the bag boys, and could converse with customers and check with NASA like efficiency.

Near the end of the month, you would average around 10 bucks a day in compensation. Earlier in the month, you could count on a number of 20 to 25 dollar days with the best tips being a dollar on a double cart carry out. We knew who the good tippers were. There were far more customers who requested a particular bag boy than you might expect, and they compensated accordingly. As hard as it might be to believe, a number of the carry out “boys” were grown men who supported a family with this work. We had a break area and our breaks were not scheduled, but loitering or leaving registers unserviced would bring the affable Mrs. Mabel out to correct the inefficiency. Our responsibilities included keeping the floors clean behind the registers, stocking bags and policing spills and such up. When it snowed, we manned the shovels and kept the loading areas snow free and safe. It was damned hard work, well compensated for the era, and priceless in terms of human relations. Before the end of my tenure in this rather menial job, I was selected to supervise the bagging crew. I began understanding supervision and teamwork at the age of 17, lessons you will not garner at Harvard or Princeton. I also began understanding America’s fascination with titles, as we referred to ourselves as “commodities packing and transfer specialists”, far more impressive to the girls in school than “bag boy”.

During my years as a commodities packing and transfer specialist, otherwise known as a bag boy!

Today, Sharon and I overtip by the standards that currently exist. It is because I understand the tipping concept and because we absolutely love to see Americans work for a living. When time permits we talk with our waitresses and waiters, and mention their efficiency to the managers and floor supervisors. In turn, these service providers remember us, often calling us by name when we are seated, resulting in a pleasant meal or other service where tipping is customary. From experience, I know that an extra dollar or two on top of a normal gratuity means much more to the provider than it does to me. After a long day on your feet, seeing to the needs of customers, a dollar or two in extra compensation from each customer results in a broad smile when the provider makes it home, kicks off their shoes, and tally’s the days income. I know this……again from experience.

Only a seriously, mathematically challenged individual does not understand that increases in the minimum wage will be passed directly to the consumer. These increases will tend to shrink tipping and result in layoffs and business failures. Tips, where permitted, will make more difference than ever before. A large, vanilla Diet Coke at Sonic, even at happy hour, is worth at least a buck for the purveyor of this nectar……a transaction that leaves all concerned feeling better. Tips, my dear readers, are important.

Have a great weekend!


The Ammunition Crises Explained…..

Within the past month or so, I stopped in my favorite toy store, Bass Pro, to pick up a few boxes of .22 caliber ammunition, with the intent of taking a new rifle to the range and tuning it up for the late squirrel season. I quickly discovered the days of grabbing ammunition for an afternoon shoot are on hold. I did find a box of .223 ammo and proceeded to the check out where I waited behind a gentleman buying over $1,000.00 dollars worth of .38 ammo, presumably for resale. There are many things wrong with that day’s experience prompting a look into this shortage for the benefit of my readers who either own a firearm or know someone who does.

If 37 million gun owners would just write their Congressman…..

It is obvious that demand has exceeded supply. The question is why. In the days before Covid, about a year ago, supply easily exceeded demand. All was well. Obviously Covid has been an ingredient in the shortage recipe, however civil unrest, often violent in nature, a white hot presidential election and the installation of the party of gun control is in the driver’s seat. Congress and the Presidency are controlled by folks who have never met a gun they liked. Add to this recipe around 7 million new American gun owners and you can start to see the makings of trouble for folks who enjoy firearms, but cannot find ammunition.

Back to my .22 ammunition experience. The makers of this diminutive little bullet tell us that if they stop taking orders today, it will take two years to fill the existing back orders with a price tag of around 1 billions dollars. A thoughtful business mind would conclude that more production is the answer, perhaps building new factories. Not so says the industry. Factories are excruciatingly expensive and current 24 hour production schedules will eventually fill the demand. It is unwise to build new factories to see them out of production in a year or so. We must also remember the shortage is cyclical in nature, as in 2017 when ammunition supplies easily exceeded demand.

Now it starts to get sticky. Manufacturers are starting to raise prices to distributors, logically reflecting the increase in production hours and labor costs. Market savvy folks know that when prices are high enough, folks won’t be stockpiling full combat stores of ammo. In simple terms, prices will discourage hoarding, something new to America on the levels we have seen recently during the pandemic. If you are one of the folks who has a thousand rounds of .223 in your basement or who has built a bunker to store obscene stockpiles of ammo, then you are part of the problem. Buying hundreds of expensive, personal defense ammunition for your 9mm is ludicrous, as the chances of touching off even one shot is incredibly low. By the same token, enough full metal jacket, for the range, makes perfect sense.

Has the new administration ordered the stockpiling of ammunition or ordered production slowed? Have they attempted to slap a high tax on ammunition? Not yet, but stay tuned. They will likely exhaust every effort to somehow make ammunition the centerpiece of their desire to crush the 2d Amendment. The new boss has blank executive orders at his breakfast table, and signs them anytime he can find his glasses. It is necessary, in most cases, to challenge these orders in the courts, and that takes time. Stay vigilant on this sensitive political issue. Boss Biden really has no need to think about running for a second term so he will run over anything he disagrees with.

A good strategy going forward through 2021 is to stay calm, shop for ammo deals on line, don’t buy and shoot that cheap Russian crap, and ease up on those long strings of .223 while on the range with your AR. The days of paying a buck a round for 9mm will likely disappear sometime this year and we can go back to the pastime so many of us love. Support your favorite 2d Amendment advocacy group to the extent you are comfortable and pick up the pen and put your thoughts on paper. Don’t miss an opportunity to teach a kid, or your wife or husband to shoot, safely and accurately.

Have a good weekend!


There Is No gender Equality in Car Crashes….

We have had it up to here with this gender equality thing, where boys are girls and girls are boys. This crazy concept is all the rage among woke folks who prefer blurred lines in our world today, however; as we will soon see, there is a difference in the world of car wrecks between the sexes. Almost every one of us drives an automobile of some sort, almost every day. Let’s talk about what is really happening on our streets and highways as it relates to gender. Twisted metal, blood and asphalt can tell us something about the differences in men and women.

One of my forefathers taking a break!

Men die at a much higher rate than women in automobile crashes. Period. That is because men are not as risk adverse as women. Generally speaking, males tend to do more stupid things. Crashes involving males are often more severe than women, however women are more likely to be killed or injured than males in an equally severe accident. We know that women, in frontal collisions, are 3 times more likely to suffer a broken bone, concussion or other moderate injury and twice as likely to suffer a collapsed lung or traumatic head injury. Is structure, musculature, or weight a factor? The weight and type of vehicle may also be a factor in this statistic. Death is the result of simple physics, the more weight at a given speed requires more energy to stop. This dissipation of energy is what tears a human body or vehicle apart. The answer is elusive. I supervised the Traffic Division for the Missouri State Patrol along the way, a place where accidents were studied at great depth in an effort to positively impact injury and death rates on our highways. Statistics are slow to develop but can be enlightening. It is snowing out, Texas has just experienced a 100 car pileup due to icing on an Interstate, and our body shops are busy estimating and scheduling. This is a perfect time to review what we know. Grab a cup and have a look.

From 1975 through 2018 vehicle occupant death rates have been about 2 times higher for males than females. There has been a notable decline (56% for males and 39% for females) in total deaths. (Likely due to both highway and vehicle engineering and sophisticated enforcement strategies). Let’s look at age. In 2018, males 80 and older suffered the highest death rate per mile driven, followed by males aged 20-29. Male drivers and passengers are twice as likely to die as women in a vehicle driven by a male with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. It’s the risk aversion thing again. Clearly a case can be made for the difference between males and females, with females showing better judgement. To further illustrate this point, a much greater percentage of males, as opposed to females, involve excessive speed in the equation that led to a fatal accident. Speed DOES kill.

Where are we here? Approximately 29% of all vehicle deaths were female. Males accounted for 48% of all passenger deaths, 3% of large truck deaths were female and females account for 28% of all large truck passenger deaths. Males account for 69% of pedestrian deaths, 86% of bicyclist deaths and 91% of all motorcycle deaths.

The bottom line. When your wife suggests you slow down, yield at an intersection or signal a turn, pay attention. When she asks for the keys at the end of an evening filled with libation, give ‘em up. She is much more likely to be hurt when your episode of driving with your head in your butt leads to a crash and she knows better…..the numbers don’t lie!

Have a wonderful, if not cold, weekend!


The Habu And The Mongoose…….

As a kid, I traded the comfort of a hometown for the life of a military dependent, beginning with my birth in Japan. Along the way, we lived in Okinawa, an island in the Ryukyu chain, running south from mainland Japan. This island is populated by a deadly snake with the moniker Habu. Venomous snakes are generally not well thought of and the Habu can deliver a nasty bite with dire consequences. It’s natural enemy is a rodent known as a Mongoose. This weasel looking little guy is lightening quick and ferocious when he confronts a Habu. The locals in Okinawa often stage fights between these two sworn enemies, a spectacle you will not soon forget. Blood flies and the snake is usually vanquished.

The snake relies on quickness, venom and constricture to win the fight, while the mongoose is cunning, lightening quick and possesses a sharp set of teeth. It helps that Habu venom has little effect on the rodent. I have witnessed one of these fights and absolutely did not enjoy it, but can attest to the ferocity of the little mongoose as he dispatched the snake. The natives know that a well rested mongoose is going to to be deep trouble for the snake so they up the odds by increasing the threat to the Mongoose by placing two or more snakes in the pit with him. This gins up interest in paying to watch the spectacle. I am guessing there is a certain number of snakes that it takes to destroy the mongoose, but am not privileged to that number. Suffice to say, a Mongoose is not welcome in a den of Habu’s and the meeting is going to end fatally for one of the critters. Clearly, a nest of Habu’s will figure out a way to destroy the intruding little Mongoose. It is the natural order of things.

Nature teaches us that upsetting the natural order of things usually doesn’t end well. In the case of these two natural enemies, neither one would make a good pet as an astute person would never turn his back on them. If forced to have one in your home, you would likely die from sleep deprivation, induced by sleeping with one eye always open. For the life of me, I see little value in poisonous snakes and am sure the Mongoose was created to manage snake populations. I can also attest to the fact that a Mongoose does not back down from a snake and can be depended upon to fight like hell when confronted. While it’s mission is honorable, the style and nastiness of the method leaves something to be desired if you are the slightest bit squeamish. The diminutive little guy knows no fear and intimidates any snake he encounters, unless of course, the snakes have superior numbers. In Okinawa, experienced Mongooses are revered, snakes not so much. One last point, there are far more snakes than Mongooses.

Nature’s lesson

I like analogies and this missive is intended as such. You have to admire the courage of a Mongoose when he encounters a snake(s) and steels himself for the fight. There are those that wager on the rodent and those that wager on the snake, but the snake bettors seldom will place money on a even competition. They operate best when they are in a nest which multiplies their deadly tendencies. I’ll leave it to the reader to humanize this analogy and match it to the times. Who are the snakes? Who is the Mongoose? Who are the spectators? What happens when the snakes prevail? What happens when the Mongoose prevails? Where is the arena? Which critter do you want to live with? We can learn from the Habu and the Mongoose. I know that I have.

Enjoy the weekend!


Guns, Sociopaths and 2020………

I don’t dwell much on images that appear in the rear view mirror, but occasionally it is necessary so that we might keep things in perspective. With Joey Biden signing executive orders as if they were Christmas cards, those of us that constitute the so-called “gun culture” would do well to consider gun violence in 2020. It was a mixed bag, but it usually is. Joey and his boys and girls do not like guns and screaming from the lawn at his minions who come after yours is not going to be effective. Facts, however, always are. As I write, you cannot find ammunition in any of the popular calibers and there are waiting lists for the latest firearms. In the present political climate, I do not see that changing.

Fear no evil……..

The year 2020 saw the fewest number of “mass” KILLINGS in the last ten years. A mass killing is loosely defined as four or more killings in a single incident or 24 hour time frame. Cutting to the chase here, there were 19 such incidents in 2020 as opposed to 32 in 2019. Half of these incidents involved family members and the others were generally involving the drug trade and gang wars. Two of these shootings were what drives fear and scares the hell out of folks, such as concerts, churches, a restaurant or other public venue. People who commit these public massacres are sociopathic, deranged or otherwise bat shit crazy as they say down in the hills. Often they are trying to settle a score with society over some perceived injustice. They walk among us and there is little we can do about them until they act on their deadly impulses.

Interestingly, there has been a rather sharp increase in mass SHOOTINGS, the criterion being 4 or more folks shot but not killed. In America, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were about 50 of the non fatal incidents a month last year. Why, you ask. Sociologists might suggest that being laid off, idle time, schools being closed and the unbelievable numbers of guns being procured by a population fearful of having a constitutional right stripped from them by an administration that believes themselves to be omnipotent, might have something to do with it. Others might conclude the shooters were not very proficient. After all, we now have a President who offered to beat up folks on several occasions while campaigning, thus suggesting violence as a perfectly reasonable response to a situation that he cannot handle otherwise. I seriously question his ability to cope, but that is another story.

Here is the point. There is an estimated 434 million guns in the hands of private US citizens, of which an estimated 21 million were sold in 2020. About 37% of American households own one or more guns.While any unlawful shooting is genuinely regrettable, there is not much happening here that is newsworthy. The media sees little value in the story of a homeowner killing an intruder, as happened in a community near here this week, by all accounts a perfectly legal response to a situation that had resulted in injury to the homeowner before he ended a burglars career. To provide a reference for gun mortality, in 2016, more than 30,000 adults died in falls in the US. Statistically, Alabama experienced about 25 fatal falls per 100,000 folks while Wisconsin experienced 143 deaths per 100,000. About 800 adults a year are killed while riding bicycles in vehicular traffic. Remember reading about these statistics? No, these folks were just as dead as if shot on a corner, however; the death did not involve a gun or politician. (I would suggest that a correlation can be made between walking on ice as opposed to walking in the red dirt of Alabama as far as falling is concerned.)

Americans are frightened and very angry. Coronavirus, an economy that has been crushed, and an administration that has gone wild with executive fiat is in office. We are a sharply divided people with little relief in sight as the polarization is being stoked by a President who talks unity but does the opposite. Guns are an easy target. They do not vote, are capable of great destruction and are never viewed through a favorable prism. They are also deadly in the hands of a statistically small segment of our society that has zero in terms of the ability to cope.

The year over year trend in unnecessary gun violence is somewhat favorable, however attacking guns isn’t the answer. We need to get a handle on the terrorist culture, not the gun culture. When ANTIFA, BLM, and street gangs are given wide latitude to pursue their anti-social agenda, bad things are going to happen. Housewives aren’t buying handguns in unprecedented numbers because they suddenly want to burn powder at the range. They are doing it for personal protection from thugs who enjoy their personal protection in the form of an inert government with their heads in the sand. You can bet on it.

Have a great weekend!