Daylight Savings What…….?

Will Rogers once quipped that we should be thankful we’re not getting all the government we are paying for. Never has that been more true than with the Daylight Savings Time hoax that we endure each year when the weather warms. To whom do we blame for this great deception that fools no dog or cat, much less anyone who has even a mouse’s perception of astronomy? I am glad you asked…

This charade began in Germany in 1916, when that great industrial country decided it would be fun to tamper with time. Germany was moved by the writing of a very intelligent British dunce named William Willett who, in 1907, determined the sun often shines on you while you are asleep. Smart guy, that Willett. If Mr. Willett could have moved his lazy nether regions out of bed at daylight, he could have ignored the clock. Obviously his counsel did not come from the many farmers who dot the British countryside and who could give one good damn about what a clock says. You see, they make hay while the sun shines. American politicians, apparently fresh out of our money to spend, took it upon themselves to implement our first time aberration in 1918. They noted that retail sales, particularly of BBQ supplies and golf equipment soared when they tampered with time. Major League Baseball saw the “light’ and noted they could avoid costly electricity by playing in daylight hours, thus supporting this asinine, time change proposition. As politicians often do, they suggested the farming community loved the concept when actually they could care less. When this supposition fell through, the politicians looked around and found an obscure US Department of Energy study that suggested as much as a 0.5% decrease in electricity use was noted, probably in Arizona, for reasons to be discussed later. The Presidents you should thank for this concept are LBJ in 1966 and Tricky Dick Nixon in 1973 (as if both of these clowns didn’t have enough to worry about). Nixon feared that without the change, “children might be run over while playing after dark”. Profound.

Most time savvy folks understand that you are not saving one millisecond of time when you play these games. Arizona certainly gets it when they suggest tampering with the clocks, as most of the nation does, will serve to guarantee an extra hour to enjoy the hottest part of the day, most often in triple digits, as opposed to adopting the more rural concept of getting up at sunrise before the day turns into Hell’s Kitchen on steroids. The motion picture industry hates the concept and Starbucks, savvy as always, embraces the concept as they have as many cold drinks as hot. I am with Arizona.

Today the average American has at least two time keeping devices on his or her person, many of which will make the change for you. The point here is that something that runs on electricity trumps (pardon the pun) the reality of nature. We should end this great deception and go back to nature as seen through the eyes of a bull frog. They sing at sundown and grunt and complain during the heat of the day. In Missouri, we have a law that suggests that headlights are to be displayed during hours of darkness. The hours of darkness are determined in relation to sunrise and sunset. Salute to this archaic approach to the concept of time, which coincidently works quite well. The Pols must have consulted an American Indian before writing this law.

There are far more normal folks, who are not nature adverse, than BBQ equipment and golf ball salesmen. It is time we take time back! Have a great week…..

SR

The Case For Skilled Trades…..

We fell in love with our home the first day we saw it. The realtor had saved this home as the last of three we were to look at on the fourth day of looking in Springfield, Mo. I saw a very nice brick home, three years old, with all the essential elements in place. Sharon saw a newer home that needed a few “touches” to bring it into line with her preferences in what may be the last home we own. It should be noted that I am an Army brat, and spent my formative years in military “quarters” located all around the world. Brats understand going in that your home will be a cookie cutter, one size fits all proposition. Not so outside the installation gate where you have many housing options. Our decision to “make a few changes” have introduced us to a variety of skilled tradesmen and women, which in turn has prompted this writing.

Trades folks

First, I should address the elephant in the room. I have always believed that higher education serves to enhance the minds of motivated students who are goal oriented beyond the degree itself. Put another way, our colleges are graduating more than a few student who will have a degree and that is about it. Their majors will be all over the map in terms of practical usefulness thus guaranteeing incomes that fall below the expectations of reward that accompanies four years of study. There is plenty of room and considerable demand for folks who are trained, call it educated, in a skilled trade. I might add these folks are, in many cases, reaping a financial reward that makes the college graduate with a degree in music appreciation envious. I disrespect no one, rather, I suggest there is much satisfaction to be had, financial and otherwise, by those who are skilled tradesmen.

Our desire to customize our home has brought us in contact with extremely skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers, security experts, welders, concrete and granite masons as well as design specialists. Each of the trades people that have contributed to our improvements proved to be professional, courteous, and exceedingly competent. They were all well compensated for their efforts and we could not be more pleased with the result. The wizardry of the electricians alone was truly impressive as they routed electricity to places it should have been in the first place and re-routed potential house burning attempts at saving a few dollars by the original home owners. The tradesmen and women who contributed to our customization are a credit to their professions and our debt to them is much deeper than a check for their services.

When I retired from a long career as a state trooper, I accepted the reality that my skill set was not particularly in demand outside of policing. I immediately gained employment with a general contractor, believing that everyone should have some degree of marketable skill with his hands. I worked for ten dollars an hour with the understanding that I would be exposed to the building of a house from the dig to handing the keys to the owner. I paid close attention and turned this education into a nice, over-built home overlooking Truman Lake. We carefully designed and built this home that we later sold for a handsome profit. It was an immensely satisfying project that could not have been accomplished without the assistance of the many skilled craftsmen that we brought in to guarantee the integrity of the build. Now for the take away here.

There’s is room in our complicated economy for all kinds of folks who are willing to work and learn. It is unwise to look down your nose at carpenters, barbers, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, painters, heavy equipment operators, machinists, concrete masons, HVAC technicians, welders and the agricultural trades. Few folks, degree or not, employ the use of mathematics more than many of these trades people do. My hat is off to folks who are good at anything and willing to work towards excellence. A disgraced politician once quipped that “it takes a village” (to make America work). She got this right…….

Enjoy the sunshine today!

SR

The Misinformation Age…..

Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Mr. Shaw’s genius is on full display these days and one needs to be particularly vigilant in interpreting what he or she hears or reads. Let’s have a look at why we are skeptical in this age of instant communication.

Let’s start with the obvious. Unless you do not have electricity and running water, you have been exposed to a constant barrage of lies, half truths and gross distortions courtesy of the current political climate. A student of communication art is schooled to understand the young and very old are susceptible to the acceptance of what they hear as being factual. This may help explain the explosion of popularity the concept of Socialism is currently enjoying on our campuses. I recently enjoyed pie and coffee with a college student that is near and dear to my heart. The topic was Socialism and why the concept is the illusion that Mr. Shaw speaks of. After considerable, detailed, discussion this student finally grasped the futility of the concept and is ready for the voting booth. Free everything is a mesmerizing concept! Our politicians have lied so many times, we have been conditioned to accept the concept (lying) as acceptable and even funny. It is neither. These are tough times folks, and we had better take the time to do a little math before we enter the voting booth.

A politician at work!

Next on my hit list is the subtle art of labeling, whether it be a can of dog food or slab of “Atlantic Salmon”. Sharon and I try to buy products that are manufactured or produced in America or another country that shares our interest in purity and quality. I am too damned old spend time in the grocery store carefully deciphering the country of origin or percentages of a harmful substance (in my case salt and sugar) in a given product. I want my shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, not raised in a sewage infested “farm” in some third world country. A law degree is required to understand labeling today, whether it is food or consumer goods. As a final note, nearly every consumable good contains a carcinogen, usually courtesy of some California standard. If you don’t grow or raise it, you likely have no idea what you are consuming. Read a little about the common fish Tilapia, and you will understand my point here.

The story of the day is the Coronavirus. This malady is a serious form of influenza with much potential to do harm. America is rated number one in the world in terms of preparedness to manage a pandemic or lesser epidemic occurrence, according to the Johns Hopkins Medical School, where such things are studied. Talk radio and television in general is rife with stories about this new scourge. In thirty minutes time, you will hear at least two conflicting assessments of this virus or it’s implications, which has served to ratchet up our anxiety beyond any reasonable level. It is the fear of the unknown thing, not totally irrational. The President has assembled a supreme talent pool to address this problem and Congress has appropriated a load of money to manage the issue. I choose to listen to the CDC or a member of the President’s team, with some consideration given to the World Health Organization, although WHO’s assessments have been suspect in years past. I walked into a box store two days ago to buy a mask to use to paint a project we are working on. Their stock of masks was sold out, not surprisingly to a handful of folks who bought them in huge quantities. There is no ethical aspect to buying these masks and reselling them on the internet when and if the need arises. Once again, I rely on the CDC’s advisory relative to the use of masks. As it is, a very high percentage of flu cases can be avoided by simply keeping your hands away from your face and properly washing your hands……but that is not a titillating media story.

So here is my advice. Do not get your legal advice from Geraldo Rivera on a talk show. Do not get medical advice from the clerk selling bandaids at the drug store who “just saw on television that….”. When buying seafood, ask the counter man (woman) what the origin of the seafood is. When a politician offers a “fact” smile and think of your last vacation or a slice of good pie. There are precious few of them that speak the truth…….

Remember Mr. Shaw’s admonition. Communication can be a huge illusion!

Have a great weekend!

SR

Stewards of The Land………..

I generally avoid blogging political matters as my readers are fully capable of making their minds up without another amateur pundit suggesting he knows more than they do. That being said, I reserve the right to take shots at the inherent insanity of today’s political process, as evidenced by the dance of death the Democrats are currently engaged in. At some point, candidate Bloomberg has suggested the occupation of farming was an exercise in simplicity, requiring little more than the ability to drop a seed into a hole, step back and watch a plant grow. I have enjoyed a long career separating pompous jackasses from ordinary people and cannot pass on this opportunity to do so again. Today, we are going to talk about “farming” as I pen a rebuttal to Mr. Bloomberg’s asinine assertion.

I spent many of my younger years on a small farm in South Carolina where one of the smartest gentlemen that I have ever known raised a modest crop of cotton and tobacco. My grandfather, Mr. Ernest C. Cooke, was a hard working, temperate man, who possessed a number of skills necessary to the production of a cash crop. Those days, farming was an intensely laborious business with tobacco set out by hand and both tobacco and cotton cropped by hand. Mr. Cooke, as he was known, managed a sizable number of field hands that required the utmost in interpersonal skill and a refined sense of fair play. He was also a keen observer of market conditions, a mechanic, carpenter and amateur agronomist with an exceptional working knowledge of meteorology. His skill set is in high demand today, as some things never change.

Mr. Bloomberg has parlayed exceptional business skill into a fortune and here we must give him credit. Along with prodigious wealth he has developed an air of superiority that apparently gives him license to speak about matters that he knows less about than a corner post. Farming is one of those matters. I spent several years of vacations and weekends on Sharon’s family farm, a row crop operation producing mostly soybeans, wheat and corn. If you like big words, this type of farming is referred to as arable as opposed to pastoral or mixed. The USDA classified this farm as a small farm, under 1,421 acres. Today in America, in spite of the corporate acquisition of farms, 88% of our farms are still classified as small farms. I have never worked harder, not at planting and harvesting, which will wear you out, but in the allied skills of market analysis, mechanics, time management, seed science, the vagaries of weather analysis and risk management. To this mix, you are required to have a working knowledge of chemical application and suitability, soil analysis and genetics. These skills are necessary if you are to reap between 1k and 250K a year or……maybe have to rely on crop insurance to feed your family. Farming is a family business, with farm wives and children playing an essential role in their incessant support of the man or woman on the combine. Some of the finest meals that I have ever enjoyed were served on the tailgate of a truck.

A successful year!
The herd

If you are a farmer or rancher that is in the pastoral business, it is necessary to add even more knowledge to the mix noted above, with veterinary science, pasture rotation and management and a healthy amount of compassion for the critters you are responsible for. You must understand the forage sciences, genetics, animal husbandry and have a willingness to forgo a nights sleep in sub freezing temperatures to tend to your charges. Farming is a high asset business with the cost of land and equipment unbelievably high in relation to the return on your investment. Ranchers, like my good friend Marvin Proctor, the owner of the Triple P cattle ranch, are among the hardest working folks on planet earth.

Mr. Bloomberg might be surprised that successful farmers have been relying on a tried and proven concept that fighter pilots use; the OODA loop.They observe, orient, decide and act every day the Master gives them. They do this to manage our crops, orchards, vineyards, poultry and livestock operations all under the guise of “Farming”. Farmers do not take a can of corn or a prime midwestern cut of beef for granted, as they have the intimate knowledge of just how that fare made it to your table.

In closing, I will stifle the urge to display a prominent middle finger to the pompous excuse for a Presidential candidate that Mr. Bloomberg represents. I will always place my lot with the hard working men and women who are our nations farmers. Denim and manure never smelled better…….

Have a great weekend!

SR

The Uniform…..

I have worn a uniform for all of my professional life, first as a member of the US Army and then as a State Trooper. Along the way I have worn a uniform as a member of sports teams, such as a player on a softball team participating in an emergency services league, and other endeavors that are senseless at my age. I have never put a uniform on that I was not proud of. To me, the uniform signifies membership in a group of folks who are all pulling in the same direction with the same goal in mind. The uniform is also utilitarian in as much as they identify status within a group or facilitate the carrying of certain equipment essential to the mission of the wearer. I accept the inevitability of change and have made an honest effort to acknowledge diversity as the hall mark of a civilized society.

My efforts along these lines have hit a wall and it will take professional help for me to embrace the wearing of beards, hibabs, turbans and headscarves by our military forces. These changes have been adopted by the US Army and Air Force, in an effort to permit the expression of religious preference and, let’s face it, personal preference that is hiding behind religious expression. I have never expected my readers to agree with every word that I punch into a writing, and if you are in strong disagreement with my position here, I understand. This would be the appropriate time for those who think I am hopelessly dated to move on to a more pleasant topic on this beautiful Sunday morning. My mind is not changing anytime soon.

The military, and virtually all accredited uniformed services have welcomed religious diversity. The military offers services for virtually every make and model of religious preference and you are welcome to pray your way whenever the need arises. Your blood type and religious preference is stamped on your dog tags, both useful pieces of information when you are shot through and in need of medical attention or, God forbid, beyond medical attention. It is your uniform that establishes your occupational responsibility, not your religious preference, when you become engaged. Unless involved in certain special operations, a beard is of no value, and a turban or hijab will provide far less protection than Kevlar. I do not recall ever having a conversation with a fellow soldier or trooper where his or her religious preference was critical to the job at hand. As far as I am concerned, you can wear a fruit salad on your head when you are off duty…….

Uniformity

Finally, there is this matter of tradition, a word that is fast leaving our vocabulary. A well maintained mustache and a clean haircut are what I expected as a police commander. I was particularly keen on footwear and headgear, both signs of discipline and self pride. In the Army, I was taught and expected to “break starch” in the utility uniform that I mostly wore. I relied upon one pocket among many to carry a few dollars and driver’s license. The rest were starched closed. This was tradition. I am guessing that an in-rank inspection today requires a working knowledge of the proper way to wear a habib, a ruler to measure the length of beards, the right way to wear a turban or the ability to judge the quality of a head scarf. Soon to come will be a manual on the wearing of the yarmulke, kippah or zucchetto.

Turban

When you see an old soldier or trooper walking down a sidewalk muttering to himself about what has happened to his beloved organization, smile and give him a little space. You might also cover the ears of your children as he is likely expressing himself in terms that are offensive. Don’t ask him what is wrong………as he or she will damned sure tell you. That is also a part of our “tradition”.

Have a great day!

SR

Humble and Healthy…..

Like many of us in Missouri, I watched the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs as they paraded through the streets of Kansas City negotiating a crowd north of a million admirers and fans. I am not a sports writer, however; I am a sports fan and as such have developed a personal profile that I use to help me define athletes who, even when they have a bad day, make us smile and appreciate them even more. Profiles are not infallible. With that being said, I thought I would share a thought or two about athletes and greatness.

First the exceptions. Many years ago, as a freshman at UMKC, I strolled into the Student Union to listen to a brash, young, superb athlete deliver a rather incoherent speech during a black history event. I happened to be close enough to the speaker as he entered the building to find my self shaking hands with Muhammad Ali. He was jabbering away, as was his custom, impeccably dressed and I distinctly recall shaking a hand that felt like a Virginia Ham. I had given little thought to evaluating athletes beyond their arena (whatever it might be) performance on a given day. It did occur to me the thought of kicking his butt was off the table as he was as imposing an individual as I had ever seen. Mr. Ali was not a humble man but was an exceptional man with settled principles. He stayed healthy until his mental capacity began diminishing as a result of his chosen occupation. Along these same lines, in the NFL, trash talking athletes, superior and journeymen alike, are a dime a dozen. I don’t find it particularly endearing and they do not fit my profile.

At the risk of igniting a firestorm of protest, I offer George Brett as an example of the complete athlete who meets my two pronged test for greatness. Hold on friends, as blasphemous as this may be, Tom Brady is another example. Brett was amazing to watch as he quietly went about the business of knocking the hide off baseballs, fielding incredible hot shots at third base and making blistering throws to first taking out the fastest runners in the game. He didn’t talk much about his exploits, on or off the field….he didn’t need to. He was one of those greats whose immense talent was secondary to his modesty. Brett is the picture of class. Brady, to date, is at the head of the class of great quarterbacks to ever play the game. He is almost too perfect. His millions, his super model wife and his seemingly ageless youth are what he is. Never mind that he is bright and, although not as well as in the past, has the ability to place a football in the shirt pocket of a receiver cutting routes that can not be followed by NORAD, thus guaranteeing him a place in the Hall. His absolute dedication to staying healthy has served him well past the age that most quarterbacks are sitting back thinking of ways to spend their piles of money.

George Brett

Enter young Patrick Mahomes. He, single handedly, is the reason I began watching the NFL again. I am well past tired of the protests suggesting that America isn’t being fair to a given demographic, especially by athletes who are benefitting tremendously from America’s generosity. I have lived all over the world and believe me when I tell you, we have it made by any and all standards. Mahomes, today, exactly meets my profile for greatness beyond the ordinary. He is healthy, and, gasp, humble.When his heroics on the gridiron save the day, he gives credit to God and his teammates, without fail. He is very smart, fast and can put his throws into the watch pocket of a gaudy suit worn by so many players in the league who seek attention in any form. I watched George Brett play many times and deeply appreciate my good fortune at being able to do so. Hopefully I can say the same about young Mahomes in the years to come. The highest compliment that can possibly be paid to an athlete, who has been blessed with supernatural talent and skill, is when he or she is remembered as immensely talented and….a genuinely nice person. That my friends will meet the profile for greatness. The difference between “destined for greatness” and “greatness” is staying healthy, and humble.

Patrick Mahomes

So, my friends and readers, humble and healthy, in my view, is the perfect base in the recipe for greatness. This consideration is especially important to our young athletes as they establish their reputation for years to come. I recently met a 16 year old high school pitcher that has all the tools, a 85 MPH fastball, great personality and tons of potential on the diamond. He is also a really nice guy. Stay humble young man and healthy. I would love to read about you some day!

SR

The Silent Disability……

I suppose that for most of my life I have suffered from an addiction to noise. I enjoy the sounds of a high revving, old school V8 engine, motorcycles, thunder and various mowers as they churn the scent of freshly cut grass or hay into the air. For me, total silence would be a curse. The carefully attenuated sound of a firearm is also an enjoyable indication of my appreciation for our right to own and shoot them. In my brief flying career, I came to appreciate the sound of ATC through noise cancelling headphones, necessary in the small airplanes that I flew. I did not appreciate the noise associated with a fire fight in Vietnam and certainly didn’t appreciate the damaging results of a year on fire support bases where you lived within feet of 105 and 155 guns and their nose bleed inducing noise at the higher charges. I am exceedingly fortunate though, as tinnitus appears to be the only real negative consequence from that experience. As a result of that noise induced damage, I receive a token of appreciation from the VA in the form of state of the art hearing aids, which is no small consideration as they are exceedingly expensive.

We all know about the disabled parking spaces throughout our communities. They are visible attempts at making life a little easier for folks who have some degree of difficulty “getting around”. Much more often than not, we honor those who are not as nimble as the rest of us, even offering help to these folks with such gestures as opening doors and giving them the right of way in shopping aisles and such. Our courtesies are extended because we can easily see they need a little consideration and because we care enough to be kind. Today, I am writing to offer my deep appreciation to those who take the time to accommodate folks who are plagued by the very real, silent disability of poor hearing. In this age of communication, a significant hearing loss is one of the most frustrating afflictions that you can have. I know because I do not hear well.

It begins with those who we share life with daily, our families. When you live with an individual who does not hear well, it takes a little extra effort. As is often the case I have difficulty with ambient noise. Background noise tends to reduce normal conversation to a mumbling exercise that would be humorous if it were not so incredibly frustrating. We become good lip readers, to the point that we can watch television without sound, as long as we can see the speakers as they talk. I deeply appreciate wait staffs in restaurants who are alert to the subtle indications of hearing difficulties such as the small wire leading to my hearing devices or keen attention to them as they speak and we “lean in” to better hear their voices in an environment where there is plenty of background noise. The higher pitches make understanding my grand daughter a real challenge when she offers conversation in her rapid fire style. She knows to slow down and enunciate, especially after a gentle reminder to do so. It is often inconvenient, but conversations with Sharon are most effective when we are face to face unlike in years past when we could converse from room to room with little difficulty. Conversations in a moving automobile present special difficulties as the ambient noise is so multi-faceted. If the speaker is looking out the side window, commenting on something they are seeing, it is often lost on me as the driver. These issues are frustrating for the speaker, and damned frustrating for me as a listener.

Today’s hearing aids are incredible. The better devices are digital, bell clear, and the volume is adjustable. They are pitch oriented and can be programmed to your particular hearing loss. I have friends who simply do not get along with them for various reasons and have given up on their use. I feel badly for them. I adapted to them very quickly and am a terrible conversationalist without them. Just as you are, I become annoyed with “huh”, “what did you say” “say again” and the other indicators that we “ain’t gettin’ what you are telling us” that pepper our conversations. We don’t wear them to bed, therefore “pillow talk” is long gone, unless you are very close….whoa, where am I going with this!

To those folks who are keen observers, easily sensing that a person they are communicating with isn’t hearing well, thank you. To those who respond favorably to hints from hearing impaired folks, such as “I don’t hear well”, thanks for staying in the conversation and amping up the volume a bit or slowing down when we talk. Hearing impairment is a silent disability, and affects many, many folks. Handling this often subtle disability requires at least two people, the speaker and the listener.

Sympathy is not what we seek……understanding will do the trick!

Speaking of noise….on to the super Bowl. Go Chiefs!

SR