Old Men and Old Cars……

In 1967 I was a carefree kid sliding through High School laughing, playing baseball and thinking about pretty girls and fast cars, neither of which were particularly affordable at the time. Many of my friends in high school had acquired a car, and they ranged from utilitarian to exotic, all US made iron, with a good mix of “muscle” cars in the crowd. Dad surprised me near the end of my junior year with a brand new, black vinyl over regimental red 1967 GTO. It was a muscle car, but there were many rides on the lot that could best it in the quarter mile. (How I know that is a closely guarded secret.) I have often wondered where the Goat ended up, probably smelted down and reincarnated a Prius, God forbid.

The “Goat”. A wonderful memory.

Old cars and old men have much in common, which leads to this writing. As an example, the cars of this era were relatively simple. Most of us could swap out plugs, set the points and timing, adjust the carbs and change out worn belts and such. Our generation enjoyed a little grease and oil on our hands and certainly knew which polishes and waxes were superior. We knew a lot about tires as you were looking for new ones every 10K or so to replace the bias belted tires of our day. We could identify virtually every car we encountered, from any angle, and were always looking for badges and bulges that separated the performance cars from the grocery getters. Regrettably, seatbelts were usually neatly crossed on the rear floorboards and seldom worn. We were not aware that lap belts, while helpful in rollovers, were not much use in keeping you out of the steering column, the demise of a lot of folks in those days. Today, I am still drawn to the cars of that era, where weak V8s churned out 200 horsepower, while the fire breathers torqued out 400 and more, all the while delivering 8 miles to every gallon of then cheap premium fuel. What about the parallel with old men, you ask?

The “car guys” of that era were also relatively simple, in a good way. We were motivated by the dream of earning a living, owning a home and raising a family, often with the same girl we took to the Junior Prom. Air conditioning was a luxury, in a car or home, and we were still motivated by Detroit’s annual reveal of their latest offerings. Today, every other car on the road is foreign manufactured iron, with small displacements churning out incredible horsepower while delivering equally incredible fuel efficiency. Pop the hood, or trunk in some cases, and we would not have a clue what we are seeing, most of it requiring thousands of dollars in electronic diagnostics to decipher any issue that shows up. With respect, the men coming of age today have never had oil on their hands and would have no idea what a dipstick is, or if it even exists in their car. (I owned a BMW Z-4 that had no dipstick, you pushed a button on the dash to “check” your oil.) When car shopping today, performance is a remote consideration, after concerns with fuel efficiency and extended warranties are evaluated. I doubt today’s generation has ever lined up the family hauler against the loud mouthed neighbor to see whose SUV is quicker. (Again, rumor has it that our generation would square off on a straight stretch and settle arguments with carefully managed shifting and clutch management, a tactic that evokes the 5th Amendment with us.) We didn’t envy the guy with the white collar job driving the latest Detroit boat, rather the guy with the cute girlfriend who drove a super quick Chevy II with the 327/350 that could dust about every thing in town. The Deuce would catch our attention at the A&W, the boat would not.

My hat is off to the new generation of men who see a car as a utilitarian piece of comfortable equipment with a sumptuous Corinthian leather interior sporting blue tooth capabilities and in-dash mapping. This generation can dance with a computer, execute stock trades in minutes and shop for the new family chariot online, even having the car delivered to your driveway, sight unseen. While I admire you, I also feel sorry for you. You will never know the significance of such words as Holly, Edelbrock, Cragar, Muncie, Hurst, Shelby, tri-power and positrack. You will never feel the rush when you key up a big V8 and listen to the tuned dual exhaust promising plenty of push off the line. You will not enjoy the envy of others when you swing into Sonic, exhaust burbling, eliciting a head turn from everyone on your side of the store. Sure, the new stuff will run like hell won’t have it, with electronically controlled everything, in air conditioned comfort, while you listen to satellite radio blasting the tunes of the day. Again, I am sorry for you as ours was the golden age…….today’s Subarus just don’t turn our heads.

Give me the Goat, the Temptations on the AM, and a pretty girl out for a movie. Old men and old cars………we were made for each other!

America’s Problem with Authority……

Early life, for me, was really easy. I had absolutely no problem with authority as I was living in an authoritarian world where the pecking order in life was both clearly established and closely adhered to. I was an army brat under the tutelage of a demanding father who had no problem conveying expectations. While I may not have agreed with the decision at hand, I clearly understood the ramifications of failure to deliver as directed. In true military fashion, I could gripe and air my opposing views, but still delivered. Today, we are seeing a runaway generation that is not being schooled in a simple concept that has served our country well. Everyone has a boss. There is little practical accountability and unless our ox is gored, we sit back and watch our country being shamed by stupidity with no guarantee of stopping the current madness.

In combat, you follow the orders delivered by a superior. It is that simple. Unless confronted by a situation like My Lai, in Vietnam, you do as you are instructed. Sometimes the reward for following orders is death, but the assumption remains, orders are to be followed. Three troopers in Oregon, using very poor situational reasoning skill, failed to follow their bosses (The Governor) order to mask up when in public. There is plenty of opinion as to the validity of this concept, however the Governor’s direction is tantamount to an order. At least one of these officers announced publicly, the Governor could not issue such an order and further responded with a vulgar recreational suggestion for her to consider. The troopers won an audience with the Governor and a “conversation” ensued in which they learned that she did have that authority. Troopers, mind you. Presumably disciplined enforcers of the law. Every body has a boss. On social media, a young man was photographed with his pants pulled down below his hips with his underwear clearly visible. We have come to accept this as some sort of indication of defiance of conventional wisdom regarding the display of your drawers. He needs a ‘60s drill instructor, meeting him as he gets off the bus at 2AM on a military base, with his pants in disarray. It would take only 6 seconds of his precious life to understand why pants are to be worn properly. It is not a cultural thing, it is a defiance thing.

You will find no pants at half mast here.
A boss at work.

This morning I listened to a talking head suggest that everyone that is involved in damaging our heritage and engaging in meaningless disruption of the daily flow should be charged and adjudicated. It can’t happen because our bosses, to date, have refused to enforce any semblance of reasonable adherence to law and order, and the numbers are to many to handle. We also cannot possibly arrest everyone who exceeds the speed limit, but we can arrest enough of them to create an incentive to not speed. We are delusional if we believe folks are tearing stuff up and raising hell in the name of some social injustice. They are doing it because they can successfully defy authority, a trait carefully cultivated from early childhood. You disagree? Have a conversation with my retired elementary administrator wife about the defiance that is occurring at the very basic elementary levels, often without meaningful sanction.

In paramilitary organizations, specifically the uniformed services that are absolutely essential, bosses are understood and obeyed or you will enjoy another line of work. In these institutions, you do not surrender your right to complain and disobey, instead your surrender your right to work there.

This week, a Harvard educated accountant published a ignorant rant on a social media site that threatened death and injury to folks not supporting the BLM movement. Her prestigious accounting firm showed her the street. Ignorance rewarded and I am confident that other employees understand they have a boss at this firm. I know this firm, having professionally interacted with them while working at our Gaming Commission. My always high opinion of their ethics and honesty has been substantiated. A boss at work is a beautiful thing to watch.

In closing, consider this proposition. If you are in a position of authority and you tolerate insubordinate and illegal activity in those you manage or govern, you are not a boss, you are a facilitator, and are discrediting your area of responsibility. There is a wide array of weaponry in your managerial arsenal to deal with folks who are anti-authoritarian. Use them and get us back on track. We are on a runaway train, and somebody needs to step up and drive the damned thing. We need bosses, not facilitators.

The Heart And Soul Of Policing…….

A beautiful Monday morning finds me reflecting on a career in law enforcement, a profession I knew nothing about until I put the uniform on and hit the road. I walked away from the profession with mixed feelings, primarily as a result of the inevitable shifting of focus from the road and street, where a difference is really made, to the office where your attention is diverted to survival in the management ranks. I just watched a video clip of a state police officer as he went off the air for the last time and it reminded me of the incredible contribution that officers make to the American way of life every day they work. He was a working officer and retired from the same place he began, thirty inches off the ground and twenty four inches behind the windshield. God bless him.

I was blessed and cursed in my career. The blessings were rich and the rewards great when I came on the air in my driveway and turned my attention to providing that razor’s edge between what was clearly right and clearly wrong in my zone. The blessings continued during my years as a field supervisor, providing structure to working schedules and supporting my guys as they delivered a police response. A field supervisor in most State Police organizations is a working proposition. You are on the road with your officers, which serves to keep you firmly in touch with the realities of the job, sharing the elation when a remarkable difference is made and the crushing sadness when rules are broken and death comes calling. When I look back, I was blessed to work with bright, energetic officers who were deeply committed to excellence in a science where excellence goes unnoticed by the folks we serve.

Bleeding blue and damned proud of it.

My blessings continued when I was given a field command. The troop that I was handed the reigns to was a mature, settled and capable troop in a conservative corner of the state. These guys were good, amazing me every day with their ability, energy and sense of service. I was jealous. The Colonel, my boss, gave me clear direction when he sent me to this assignment. He told me that when he called, needing something, he did not expect me to answer the phone from headquarters. Instead, he admonished, he would find me where ever I was in the field, as that was where good commanders belonged. I took his advice, showing up at odd hours in the field, working DWI checkpoints at midnight and visiting with my officers for coffee when they least expected it. I was constantly amazed at the quality and quantity of service these guys delivered. I was able to stay in my element, behind that windshield and just off the road surface in the seat of a patrol car.

I write today in response to the zany antics of various police commanders who are embarrassing their departments by bowing down to demonstrators and washing their feet. They are not the heart and soul of policing, rather their red faced officers are. In policing, when your emphasis shifts from lending dignity to undignified situations to the inevitable politics of senior management, you begin to lose focus on what really matters. These are brutal times for the men and women on the street. I suspect there are any number of good commanders still out there, but they are not getting the headlines. Instead the political wimps who will casually toss an officer under the bus with the first whiff of trouble are the peoples choice. There are two points that need to be made here.

The heart and soul of policing belongs to the men and women who are on the streets and roads, not to the commanders who are busy testing the political wind with a wet finger. Secondly, if you have not been in the business, your best course of action is to rely on those who have been for advice. I am, at once, sickened by the current assault on policing and deeply appreciative to have been associated with the men and women in my organization. Policing is not for the faint of heart, advice that applies equally to the folks in the field and the leadership behind them. The weaknesses I see in police leadership today, both internally and politically, make me nauseous…..

Have a great week.

SR

Crossing The Chalk…..

Yesterday I spent several hours helping a neighbor set up a new RV at a park near Springfield, Mo., my hometown. These folks are new to the RV experience and have acquired a very nice trailer to begin a new adventure in their lives. Danny Crafts holds a Ph.d in a variation of personnel management and is retiring from teaching at Missouri State University. He and his wife, Pam, have sold their home and are going on the road full time with the intention of seeing America at ground level. Mind you they are going from a very nice suburban existence to the nomadic lifestyle that a 30’ trailer provides. I admire their conviction and courage as Sharon and I have often talked about doing the same thing. It turns out the Crafts are wonderful folks that we regrettably only knew in passing, as they are moving to the RV in the next day or two.

I like RV stuff. It is challenging as you really must have some concept of things like weight and balance, mechanics, sanitation systems, water management, refrigeration and the ability to drive in traffic when you essentially have little concept of what is going on behind you. You also meet really neat folks while on the road as you develop an understanding of the RV culture. The Crafts will be a wonderful addition to the people involved in this lifestyle.

Aside from his abilities in the classroom, Danny is also a baseball umpire, having officiated at the college level and Double A level of my favorite sport. We made a couple of trips into town to procure extra items necessary to set this unit up, as his reserved spot had the sewer on one side of the unit and the utilities on the other, a particular inconvenience that requires extra power cords and water hoses. During these trips and while enjoying a nice BBQ lunch, Danny told one story after another about what really happens between the chalk lines in my favorite sport. I laughed at his recollection of events that occurred that involve far more than what the TV camera’s capture while the announcers provide “color commentary”. The color, dear readers, is on the field as this game is executed. Baseball is a complicated game and umpires are uniquely positioned to offer deep dives into the strategies and machinations of a sport played by superbly conditioned human beings who must also be very clever to capitalize on the nuances of strategy. The umpire controls the diamond, and is confronted by any number of “experts” on each side of the field peering out from the “hole” or dugout. Danny is a masterful story teller and possesses the unique personality trait that I refer to as “duck-back”. Duck-back people are able to accept criticism and a reasonable amount of inconvenience with a smile, deflecting the irritation at hand like water off a duck’s back. They are rare, but ideally suited to the role of an umpire in baseball. I am sad that a master of the game is moving away before I learn more from him, an unfortunate circumstance that happens when you fail to get to know your neighbors well. Danny Crafts will draw a crowd around his RV when he settles in with a beverage and his easy smile under the awning, and talks of America’s pastime.

“Duck-back” Danny Crafts

Umpires, like police officers, must make decisions in seconds while relying only on their God given senses without the benefit of cameras and replay that do not take into account the angles and limitations that exist on every play. Every play is reviewed at that level and you are constantly harangued by the perceptions of those without your experience or viewpoint. The difference in baseball is that life or death is not in the equation……unless you are a hot headed manager or coach who will certainly challenge your status as a duck back as they bring the fires of hell with them from the dugout.

Good luck, Danny and Pam. Your experiences, thirst for new knowledge and zest for life will serve you well. I am sorry to see such lovely neighbors move on, but you will surely touch many as you travel about.

Have a great weekend, be safe and ignore the conflict all around us, for just a day!

SR

When Not To Turn The Other Cheek……

Christianity, a religious point of view that seems to be losing favor among our society, teaches us many things, including doctrines that were used by folks like Dr. Martin Luther King to lend dignity to the political and social issues of his day. I am not in his league, and seldom mix politics and religion when I write or speak. When you think about it, the two issues are not particularly compatible. This being said, today I am going to violate my usual norms and talk about our response to the politically correct tone of the day. Let’s dive in.

Mathew 5, Verse 39 says; “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Verse 40: “And if a man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”

What does this mean in practical terms? It refers to responding to injury without revenge and allowing more injury. It is commanding nonresistance. Child psychologists often rely on this doctrine in attempting to teach our children that non violent resolutions are superior to physical response. This being said, there is a huge caveat to relying on this concept. Now we are getting into the reason I write.

The doctrine of turning the other cheek can work ONLY if the other person has the capacity for conscience. It will NOT work when sadistic, crazed or hate filled people are actually intent on injuring or killing us regardless of our behavior. This is settled psychological reasoning. In fact, in today’s PC world, if you turn the other cheek, these crazed, ignorant people who are intent on destroying America’s great institutions, will knock the hell out of you, or worse, kill you.

I just read where a major city Chief of Police turned out a large number of violent protestors arrested during the riots, without charges. You sir, in your infinite wisdom have just empowered a group of fanatical, hate filled people who understand there is no penalty for raising destructive and injurious hell on the citizens you protect. You have turned the other cheek, and there will be hell to pay. This is not the time to turn the other cheek and there are many among us who do not respect your decision.

My final point. America is turning the other cheek every time we tear down a piece of history, deface a cemetery, burn a business, loot a store or bow down and kiss the feet of another race in the name of political correctness. Our rush to placate the revisionists who see a package of pancake batter as a racist symbol because a black lady is on the package, our constant concession to the BLM movement when we know that EVERY life matters, including the lives cloaked in blue, is seen as a sign of societal weakness by those intent on destruction. Those that hate or have no conscience are empowered by this weakness. Turning the other cheek in Seattle, allowing thugs to establish a lawless zone within a beautiful city, is empowering the thugs.

We are empowering a group of people who have little understanding of Dr. King’s philosophy and effectiveness. This is not how America has evolved and it will not serve our interests in the years to come.

Have a great weekend!

SR

I Don’t Have A Dog In This Fight……

Last week, I published a blog and within a day or two, took it down. While I strongly believed the points I was making, it occurred to me that anger is not going to move the football in the hysteria that is gripping a small part of vocal America. I had lowered myself to the level of the folks who believe that, somehow, removing statues, seizing portions of cities and burning down the rest is the right thing to do. My anger was fueled by a passion and belief in the police profession that I was a part of for my adult working life. I believed that a little reflection on my part would help me to understand what is actually happening to us. Today I write with a better handle on the idiocy we are seeing and our response to it.

There are parts of our society that cannot tolerate authority. They do not want to conform to rules, laws and the dictums of social order and are gleefully showing contempt for the orderly way of life that we are seeing assailed. My wife, a career educator, saw this coming years ago and warned me that we are heading to a day of reckoning. She had an amazing ability to identify the children in her charge that enjoyed no parental guidance. The application of discipline was left to the teachers on her staff, who worked tirelessly to instill some degree of conformity to the kids, all the while knowing full well their lessons of the day were not being reinforced at home. She would point these hapless kids out to me and suggest, that one day, they would be my problem as a officer of the law. History has confirmed her suspicions, and we have watched a number of her predictions sadly come to fruition.

A child that has a chance in life

To be sure, this is not new to our culture. In the Army, during basic training, I watched the not so subtle application of absolute discipline amazingly transform young men, that were societal problems in the making, into productive human beings capable of following orders and marching to a tune not struck up by their own, personal band. The military still has this ability, however unfortunately, you must volunteer to be a part of this transformative process. The deranged folks who are attempting to destroy our heritage and worse, leading this destructive process as political leaders, do not choose to embrace the concepts about which I write. There are a number of these folks, evidenced by today’s happenings, and this is their day.

What about the rest of us? What about the millions of apathetic Americans who are shaking their heads in horrified response to the idiocy we are seeing? The answer is simple, they feel they do not have a dog in this fight. To borrow yet another colloquial saying, our response depends on whose ox has been gored. Certainly, to be fair, we are not going to take a day or two off from work and pack up to destroy a few Veterans Memorials or statues of great military minds that found themselves on the wrong side of history. We also are not going to pay homage to the sacred alter of television and accept the now defunct media’s opinion as to what is right and wrong today. We know full well what is right and wrong. As a result of our acceptance of the wonderful life we live, we will talk with like minded folks about the strife we see, and that is pretty well it.

To my point. We have elected the certifiable idiots that we see at the helm in New York, Minneapolis and Seattle. The outrage of America is on the back burner, conveniently cloaked in the fear these issues might become our dog in the fight. Our ability to trust government to come down on the right side of the incredible divide is shaken. The threatened destruction of our police forces is an example of the extremes that threaten the sanctity that we enjoy. The hordes that advocate anarchy and act on their ignorant impulses must be crushed in a way that leaves an indelible impression on those who do not understand reasonable dissent. If we fail in Seattle and across our nation to affirmatively address these deranged people we are doomed to live under their rule…which is no rule at all. I have given calm reflection to what we are seeing and refuse to accept one damned thing the anarchists are proffering.

Please, folks. Your dog is in this fight and your ox has been gored. Make your opinions known. Our representatives need to hear from us. They must understand that we are at our limits with the situation as it stands. I visited my local gun shop yesterday to pick up a new optic for one of my firearms. He is enjoying one of the best weeks in sales in his history. What does that tell you? When the anarchists bring their handiwork to rural America…..it will not be pretty.
We will not allow Seattle’s damnable situation to happen here. We need to flood elected leadership with written notice that we are outraged and their very political existence hinges on their management of this outrage.

Have a terrific weekend!

SR

A Rogue Officer, The Camera and America….

Minneapolis is on fire while I write, as rioters take to the street and destroy property in the name of justice. I am a 27 year veteran of policing, having served as a State Patrol officer in Missouri. I am not an experienced municipal officer, but have enjoyed the company of officers from an excellent municipal department while commanding a Highway Patrol zone in Kansas City. I write without the results of the many investigations that are currently going on as a result of the death of one Mr. George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis. The optics in this case are appalling, however, there is still much to be learned. Prudent observers will wait for the facts, but the folks who are burning down our cities are not prudent observers.

This is not the answer

The noble profession of policing has at it’s core, a certain commonality. Understanding the law, certain techniques, the mastery of modern technology and the pursuit of the common goal of peace and tranquility come to mind. Another desirable trait is the understanding of human behavior, street level sociology and psychology. When presented with the opportunity, peace officers resolve an astonishing number of conflicts with verbiage. This being said, the fork in the road for this profession is somewhere near the city limits of a major municipal community and the wide open spaces of rural America. Let me explain.

I recall riding with an experienced Kansas City police officer in the days before the advent of verbal judo and community oriented policing. This officer was extremely competent, quick thinking and street wise. This assignment was during a period of unrest in KC. We patrolled a section of the city that was less, shall we say, affluent than other parts of town. As we met motorists, I would offer a wave to them if we happened to make eye contact. The officer noticed my gesture and suggested that my waving was viewed as a sign of weakness in this community. So much for my habit of waving casually at motorists on the country roads in my rural patrol zone! When we answered a call, two cars responded, one to handle the call, the second one to watch the first car while the officer responded. In the county where I normally worked, one issue, one officer. Period. Diplomacy was what you reached for first. The afore mentioned fork in the road is real, folks, you can bet on it. The differences between rural policing and municipal policing are actually much deeper than this story would indicate. There is much rage in the cities and policing is not easy there.

Okay. While I am in no way condoning the actions of the officer implicated in Mr. Floyd’s death, I am issuing another plea for sanity. The officer has been introduced to the complicated criminal justice system as a defendant. This system presumes innocence until proven otherwise and burning down our country is not going to result in anything other than further divide, hostility and empowerment to those who see this as an opportunity to vent through property destruction and media scrutiny. Our outrage is based on the narrow optic of the camera catching a police officer using a technique not taught anywhere that I know of, and the death of the arrestee. Ugly……but that is not all there is to this story. Let’s save the condemnation for the whole story…….and not burn down our country in the meantime. The officer in the photo is alleged to be a rogue cop, and the camera is damning, but alleged means nothing until the verdict is in.

In summary, I was blessed. I worked in an environment where policing was respected and the officer’s I served with on every level could rely on diplomacy and reason to solve a vast majority of the problems we encountered. It could be violent, dangerous and we certainly dealt with our share of miscreants who ranged from sociopathic to tranquil, but we could also wave at a motorist we met, the same motorist who might be next to us at a charitable event that night. I was also privileged to work among the professionals in Kansas City, a lesson than I will not forget.

Remember the fork in the road.

Have a great weekend!

SR

$1.69 A Day……..

Memorial Day is once again upon us and the Lord has seen fit to recreate the conditions that existed on June 6, 1944 on the shores of France where thousands of troops landed on D-Day. Today it is cloudy, with a guarantee of uncertainty in the air as America faces the inconvenience of Covid-19. This malady is just that, an inconvenience as opposed to the hardship of landing on a beach, facing withering fire from a German army that knows full well that if they don’t stop us here, we will not be stopped.

Sacred Sand……..

Memorial Day belongs to the dead. It is an occasion where we remember those in uniform whose only thoughts were of survival and the God given blessing that if death is to be their reward, they die well. On Omaha Beach, 2,000 American soldiers were casualties, killed, wounded or simply gone from the face of the earth, their fate a closely guarded secret of the Master. Our British brothers and sisters in arms suffered the same fate, 2,000 lost on Sword and Gold Beach while our Canadian warriors lost 340 on Juno Beach, a great number when considered in the context of troops on the ground. The bedlam, uncertainty and smell of death permeated the air, but failed to stop America’s greatest blessing, our military, as they began the march to Hitler’s bunker, joined by the British and Canadians.

The media today is rife with stories of immense suffering as a result of the pandemic that has us in it’s grip. The financial impact is terrible and certainly the toll in human suffering is seemingly unbearable. It is important, though, that we place the events of today in context. Much has been written about the financial impact of the pandemic on our country. On June 6, 1944, the troops who waded into certain death were guaranteed a boxed meal, ammunition and the princely sum of 1.69 a day in wages. When you are in a gunfight, there is little time to consider the politics of the day, or whether or not your rations contain pound cake or fruit cocktail. When you were bouncing along in the Higgins boat, on your way in, with round after round pounding the ramp on your boat, you tuned out the smell of cordite, vomit, sweat and blood as it mixed with the sea air. The screams of the wounded on the beach ahead of you, the visions of troops wounded and drowning because they cannot stand to get their heads above water is secondary to your efforts to avoid a similar fate. You sure as hell were not concerned with the 1.69 that you were being paid for this days work. This, my friends is hardship, as opposed to inconvenience.

May God, on this Memorial Day, touch the souls of every man and woman who died in defense of this great country. War is the single most disorganized, chaotic exercise in discipline and courage known to man. It is a multi-sensory experience that will likely plague the human race until the final bell is rung by a Master tired of our lack of respect for one another. I write today in remembrance of those in uniform who were struck down on D-Day and every day of every war we have waged throughout history. To die well is the ultimate measure of courage, and those who have shed their blood for America deserve this holiday.

As you enjoy this weekend, and begin to emerge from the inconvenience of the current virus induced pandemic, take just a minute to thank those who have surrendered their souls to God in the name of America. Memorial Day is their day and they deserve your appreciation. Death was their reward. We must never forget them……never.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

SR

The Last Time……

I was on the five year plan. Back in my forties, I submitted to a routine colonoscopy, drank the nectar from hell and drifted off into nothingness, courtesy of the magic drug Versed. When I awakened, the doctor indicated that I had a polyp or two, but they were gone now and not to worry. The fact that an anomaly was discovered put me into the two year plan for a few years before being returned to the ready reserve, the five year plan. Earlier this spring, I drank the gallon of go-fast and reported for my Versed induced power nap. When I drifted back to reality, the gastroenterologist eased into my cubicle and said some things about being in great shape, plumbing wise, before he uttered words that were chilling. “Because of your age, you will never need another exam, this was your last time.”

Say what? The last time! Whoa there doc, I have no plans to check out for quite awhile, I’m thinking at least three or four more of these things, on the five year plan. What in the hell do you mean I won’t ever need another one? Sure I will, doesn’t cancer strike “mature” adults too? I was thinking much faster than I was talking, the Versed again, but the good doctor and I need to talk again! This little exercise in mortality has haunted me since and I have been thinking about “the last times” in my life. Let’s have a look.

When you are forty-five years old, in good health and near the peak in terms of professional ability and contribution, there are no “last times” in sight. Our minds do not work that way. When you are seventy, having long ago lost your fast-ball, every time you do something that is memorable, it might be your last time. Thanks to pragmatic doctors like my gastroenterologist, who is emerged in data and science instead of optimism, you begin to reflect. As an example, I remember, as if it were yesterday, the last time that I put on my Highway Patrol uniform. Honestly, I fought tears. I left our home, hit the highway and began working traffic. I remember a warrant arrest that day, several speeding citations and lunch in a little country diner. Troopers never forget the hush as they stride into a diner for coffee and a slice of pie. That same afternoon, I stopped at a photo studio where I met my daughter, then a Water Patrol officer, and we posed for a picture together. That photograph says so much, and is a tremendous source of pride to me. I vividly remember the last time that my father and I spoke to one another, the day before he left for a new assignment in the Lord’s Army. What was left unsaid haunts me to this day. There just wasn’t enough time. I recall my last motorcycle ride with amazing clarity. I handed the reigns of the Red Baron to a gentleman from Eldon, Mo. with the admonition that he was to treat the Baron with the respect it deserved. Sharon and I ate at one of my favorite eateries, a Steak & Shake, before driving home in silence. The change of command of the Street Glide was a tacit admission that I no longer had the reflexes and strength that I once had. I also remember selling my bass boat, on a ramp at Truman Lake, after a painful day of fishing. Arthritis played a prominent role in the sale of these toys that meant so much to me. These last times were a concession to age and I do not concede easily.

One of the last trips, with Ralph Biele

I could go on, but I am sure you get the point. It is important that we hang on to dreams, visions and plans all in the name of staving off the inevitable “last time” the doctor spoke about. Call your dear friends and touch bases with your family. Life is a race to work in another event, trip or experience. As a final note, in five years, I am going to schedule another colonoscopy, even if I have to pay for it entirely out of pocket! We all need something to look forward to!

Have a great weekend!

SR

A Spring Vacation……

If you really want to know how the mind works, open a social media account. For a deep dive into human behavior and thought processes, mix in a crisis of national magnitude. Some weeks ago, I predicted that folks would soon find one side or the other of the line between those who think that quarantining and personal protective gear is effective and those who cannot stand the thought of restrictions on individual freedom. When you add a cup of economic chaos to this nasty situation, unvarnished personalities are exposed. Separating the wheat from the chaff becomes easy.

I can see both sides of most issues, but like many folks, after consideration I tend to arrive at a position on matters of importance. It is imperative that you consider both sides of an issue, a tactic employed by thousands of trial lawyers every day they practice. I also understand that almost everything in life is important to someone, for some reason.

Recently, on Facebook, I suggested that I could see both sides of the issue as it relates to the beautician in Texas who chose jail time over closing her shop until the end of the order of the Governor. I still can. Economic necessity is a major driving force, however the rule of law is the foundation of our society. The Texas Supreme Court vacated her 7 day jail sentence and this lady has become the champion of millions of folks who are up to here with not working and various executive orders restricting movement. The Governor, in response to her machinations, modified his order to prohibit jail time as a consequence of violating his order, ostensibly issued to protect the citizens of Texas. He has pulled the teeth of the tiger with his position and reduced his orders restricting movement to suggestions, although the possibility of a fine is still apparently on the table. Civil disobedience at work, creating a nasty kettle of fish.

So what am I writing about? We are in dangerous times my friends. Relationships are being crushed by a microscopic little demon from hell that has disrupted life in a country where life has been good. I have watched friends who I have a great deal of respect for suggest you are a coward if you do not shed the masks and go about your business as if nothing is going on. Others have suggested the orders protecting health are simply tyranny and patently unconstitutional. They are neither. Seeing both sides of the liberty vs pandemic fight is not popular, and like politics, there is no demand for folks in the middle. We have reached a point where we are now assessing just how much death and suffering is acceptable when weighed against the cherished notion of individual liberty. Absent a vaccine, we’ll soon know the answer………

I am ready for a vacation. It is time to get away from social media, politics, morons, my way or the highway types, limited vocabularies and derisiveness. It is time to stand waist deep in a trout stream, with the singular worry about whether my tired, old eyes can see well enough to tie a tippet on after losing a good fish. I have deactivated my Facebook account, limited my information channels to a single cable network and the Wall Street Journal where news has a chance of being objective. My email account is in good standing and I am sure that friends who have something substantive will avail themselves to that medium or, the cellphone.

Sometimes, too much information is a bad thing.

Have a great weekend.

SR