Traffic Officers And Killers…….

The unsung heroes of the police profession are the men and women who suit up, climb into a patrol car and regulate the flow of traffic in our country. As a police commander, I loved the general practitioners of the police world, guys and gals who could handle a wide variety of the law enforcement circumstances they came in contact with. I was fond of admonishing my officers that nearly every really bad actor in our society drives a vehicle and crosses paths with a diligent officer on our streets. Alert traffic officers had a knack for ferreting them out and welcoming their entry in to the criminal justice system. I know it can be done as I have done just that on numerous occasions. It is also important to note that speeders, aggressive drivers and impaired drivers kill more Americans than murderers on an annual basis. Traffic officers also catch killers, as evidenced below.

The beginning of the end for many bad guys begins here…..

Great traffic officers have a keen understanding of “probable cause”. When you master this legal requirement, the door is open to legal searches of vehicles where the mistakes of criminals lurk. Illegal substances, stolen property, and on occasion, bodies, are sometimes detected. The following commentary illustrates my point here, cases where heinous killers and traffic officers crossed paths with the bad guys losing……

Timothy McVeigh, currently residing in a corner of hell courtesy of the US Government and the death penalty, sent to his reward on June 11, 2001. Tim needs little introduction. He killed 168 folks on April 19, 1995 as well as maimed hundreds more when he blew up the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City. An alert Oklahoma trooper stopped McVeigh on the day of the bombing for having an expired license on his Mercury. A probable cause search revealed a loaded firearm and the investigation unfolded, sending Timothy to the “big sleep”.

Randy Kraft, currently awaiting execution in California. On May 14, 1983, California Highway Patrol officers noticed Kraft’s Jeep being driven erratically and stopped him. Kraft quickly exited his Jeep and walked toward the officers who subjected him to a field sobriety test which he failed. The officers detained Kraft and searched his Jeep where they found a shrouded body of a young Marine in the front seat. The Marine had been heavily sedated and then strangled. A subsequent investigation resulted in the conviction of Kraft for killing 16 young men, many were Marines, picked up hitchhiking. It is believed he killed as many 67 men.

Wayne Williams, currently residing in the Georgia State Penitentiary where he will be for the rest of his life. Traffic officers were watching bridges over the Chattahoochee River for suspicious activity as a result of as many as 30 young black men being recovered from the river, victims of homicide. Williams stopped on a bridge before dawn on May 21, 1981, officers then heard something hit the water, and detained Wayne for stopping on a bridge. Forensic evidence subsequently led to his conviction. Wayne was black, dispelling rumors in the black community these killings were the work of the KKK or some other white hate group.

Ted Bundy, sharing a bench with McVeigh in hell, courtesy of the State of Florida and the electric chair. Very few people don’t know about Ted. What you may not know is that he was arrested in August of 1975 by the Utah Highway patrol for driving without lights after dark. An investigation resulted in a conviction for aggravated kidnapping. He escaped from jail in June 0f 1977, but his lack of driving skills brought him to the attention of another traffic officer who initiated a stop and determined the car was stolen. He escaped again in late 1977. Later Bundy was spotted in Pensacola by a traffic officer in yet another stolen car and his luck was at an end. He had killed too many young women to count and was electrocuted on January 24, 1989. Arrested three times by traffic officers.

There are many more. William Suff, on California’s death row, convicted of murder, rape and mutilation in 1995. A killer of prostitutes he was stopped and arrested by a traffic officer for an illegal u-turn. David Berkowitz. He parked illegally on a city street, a traffic officer checked his plates and Berkowitz was identified as the “Son of Sam” killer. (Berkowitz is serving 364 years in Attica and has converted to Christianity and now calls himself the “Son of Hope”. Good luck with that Berkowitz.) Joel Rifkin, stopped for no license plate by New York State Troopers, serving 183 years for the chainsaw murders of uncounted numbers of folks. In the bed of his truck was the decomposing body of a young woman. I can go on and on…….but you get it.

My point is this. We owe a tremendous debt to our police officers, of every stripe and specialty. This being said, traffic officers are an invaluable addition to the LE community and deserve just as much recognition as the super sleuths that investigate crimes……their contribution to criminal justice cannot be overstated.

Have a great week!


Deadly Force…..

It is far easier to buy, load and carry a firearm today than it has ever been. Millions of Americans have chosen this route in the name of self preservation in an increasingly violent society. It is a rite that has seen broad support from the courts. In fact, however; comparatively few folks will ever rely on that firearm in a confrontation, a consideration that leads to complacency and a rather lackadaisical approach to strapping one on or dropping it in your purse. I thought it wise to offer just a little guidance relative to the use of a firearm to protect ourselves. Missouri is a “stand your ground state” meaning there is no obligation to retreat from a perceived threat. There are 37 states that offer some form of this doctrine. I am offering a peek at 5 considerations that come into play when the time comes to defend yourself. A little reflection now may save your bacon after a deadly confrontation.

Pulling the trigger will change your life

1. Innocence. You cannot start the fight. Your provocation in a confrontation is NOT a justification for the use of deadly force. Such provocation will put you on the wrong side criminally and civilly. If you go looking for trouble, you will find a bag full of it when you shoot someone.

2. Imminence. The confrontation must be sudden. Vengeance is not a legal foundation for the use of deadly force. The threat must be imminent, or present in time and place.

3. Proportionality. This is sticky. Excellent judgement is in order here. In a hurry, you must decide whether the force should be deadly or not deadly. This is why this is a sticky proposition. There must be a discernible threat of death or serious personal injury to justify elevating the force to the lethal level. A firearm is a lethal consideration every time it comes out. If the threat isn’t deadly or necessary to prevent a rape or likely to cause serious injury, it is not justified. It is why police officers carry a variety of force options short of the pistol.

4. Avoidance. In the 13 states that that have a “duty to retreat” doctrine, you have a legal duty to run away from the encounter, when you can safely do so. Obviously, if your assailant is holding a gun on you and has threatened to shoot you, running away is not a viable option. Most states see the futility of this doctrine, however, it is always wise to avoid a potentially deadly confrontation when you can. If it can be demonstrated that you had an opportunity to avoid the confrontation , your defense is compromised. Remember this….

5. Reasonableness. Okay, this consideration seethes through all of the above elements and is going to be given a heavy weight in subsequent legal actions. Perfection is trumped by reasonableness. The totality of the circumstances will dictate the reasonableness of your action. As an example, you shoot someone and they fall to the ground, obviously incapacitated. It is not reasonable to empty the magazine of your pistol into the miscreant when he no longer presents a threat. The test of reasonableness will be applied in every encounter where lethal (deadly) force is employed.

When you made the decision to procure a firearm and carry or rely on it for self protection, you are assuming a potentially life altering responsibility. I think it wise to consider each of these points BEFORE you slide Ole Thunder out of your waistband to lend dignity to an otherwise undignified situation. In this piece, I have cracked the door open…….step through it before you make the decision to carry.

Have a great week!


Graduation Day……

I have been kicked out of the nest. Yesterday marked my last day of Physical Therapy, session 23, on the road to recovery from a badly torn rotator cuff. This experience was a tough one, and at my age I am no stranger to health issues that are taxing. I have previously written about falling and will end the discussion about unexpectedly leaving your feet with this admonition. Falling situations are all around you, but they mean something entirely different to a 70+ year old as opposed to a 30 something person. Do not take falls for granted.

This has been a long process. In early April, I fell down the steps into our garage. On May 5, the talented Dr. Timothy Galbreath, an orthopedic surgeon in Jefferson City, reconstructed a badly messed up shoulder. He is in favor of limited immobilization post surgery, unlike many surgeons, and prescribed physical therapy beginning on May 17. I elected to rely on the Physical Therapy services at Mercy Hospital and was introduced to Coe Rose, PT DPT, shortly after. Coe and I share a propensity for very short hair (none) and began a protracted relationship involving a manageable level of pain and plenty of homework. Along the way, a young lady, Katelyn Schmude, a senior student of Physical Therapy entered the picture. Katelyn is finishing a PT internship under the watchful eye of Coe before returning to school in St. Louis. Simply put, I could not have been in better hands.

Left to right, the patient, the princess and the master.

Like most folks, I had a very basic knowledge of the nuances of Physical Therapy. These folks rely on a solid knowledge of anatomy as well as an intimate knowledge of just how a given part of our body should move. They understand the healing process and how to measure progress over the course of time. Their prodigious bag of tricks includes isometric exercise, rubber bands, free weights and the manual manipulation of the aggrieved part of our anatomy. They can spot bad technique from a block away and have an uncanny ability to isolate a particular muscle or connective tissue so as to maximize healing and strengthening. I have developed a deep appreciation for what they bring to the table in terms of healing. Perhaps as important as their ability to guide you physically, is their ability to encourage you and help you to understand that we are all different and respond differently during the healing process.

I end where I began. There may be health care systems and practitioners in the world that are as competent as ours but there are none better. I still have a ways to go, as most orthopedic surgeons will tell you that recovery from this injury and surgical repair will take a year. I am 5 months in and am ahead of the curve in the opinion of my therapists. These folks will tell you early on that recovery is a partnership and that you will get out of the process exactly what you put in it. Thank you Coe and Katelyn for your professionalism and skill. In hillbilly terms, “you done good”! As a parting thought, Katelyn is scheduled for another internship in Chicago……..please be careful young lady. The world needs your talent and compassion. Chicago could care less about your well being………

Have a great week ahead!


The Home Of Conservatism………..

This is not destined to be a deep thinking treatise on Conservatism along the lines of a thinker like George Will, rather a tongue in cheek look at what makes Missouri, a deeply red state, the home of conservatism. You don’t choose to be a Conservative, you are shaped by a philosophy. Learned minds, like the great scholar Michael Oakeshott, a champion of the right said; “to be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown,…the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, and the limited to the unbounded”. I am proud to be a Missourian and Ozarkian. Here is why.

A typical Missouri viewpoint….it why we are deeply red………

Conservatives have an aversion to rapid change. Handed down wisdom, honed through experience and tradition is very comforting. As a Missourian, I see a good, tight barbed wire fence as a terrific alternative to raising stock in a confinement operation. The Lord made pastures, not steel and concrete buildings for our critters.

The U.S. Constitution works just fine in it’s original form. As a Missourian, I follow the rules. I don’t question signs that say no trespassing. I always rely on gender specific restroom signs. I have no desire to be beat senseless by another Missourian for venturing into a ladies room. It is why we have sign boards and paint …….to help us avoid the inevitable ass kicking if we don’t pay attention.

Conservatives have a sense of morality. In Missouri if you reject Christianity, keep your mouth shut and keep to yourself. It will promote your well being in the Show Me State but will do nothing to lessen the pain in the fires of hell later on. Missourians are schooled in the “right thing to do” early on.

Conservatives embrace free market capitalism. In Missouri, you sell your watermelons for a fair price and understand that if they are inferior, we’ll pass the word and you’ll soon have all the sorry watermelons you can eat.

Conservatives believe in national exceptionalism. We believe America is the beacon on the world hill. Missourians will fight to preserve our nation’s way of life, and elect our representatives who will provide a logical voice in the representative form of government we embrace. We believe in a strong defense and have no problem with a gun in every home. We leave it to the individual to determine how many guns and what kind they should be. Period.

Conservatives embrace “red” American cultural cues. Missourians believe in getting about in our own car as opposed to mass transit. We embrace country music and have no taste for arugula, preferring instead plain mustard, salt and pepper on real beef and not some God awful “meat” made from synthetic protein. There are a lot of pick-up trucks in Missouri because they are practical.

Conservatives have a disdain for American liberalism. In Missouri, we reject multiculturalism, identity politics, affirmative action, gender norming, welfare, European style social policies, and electric cars. We have an aversion to being stuck in a snowdrift with a discharged battery to keep us warm…one day maybe but certainly not today and at the direction of an inept government.

Conservatives believe that taxes should be lower and government smaller. In Missouri, we’ll throw you out of office if you do not hold to this principle. As I write, our Governor has convened a special session to study the return of excess tax revenue to the people, not find a new way to spend it.

Conservatives believe the budget should be balanced. In Missouri, debt is managed. If you cannot cover the costs, you do not put more cows on the ground. In Missouri, you do not buy an extra load of melons if there is little chance of selling them. We tend to be risk adverse and rely on conventional wisdom. We also tend to be fiscally pragmatic.

Conservatives believe in the value of skepticism, doubt and humility. In Missouri, we’ll ask you to show us what you are talking about and judge accordingly. There is a very small market for snake oil in Missouri.

In short, Missourians tend to oppose change for the sake of change. We tend to be moderate and cautious, much preferring subtle adjustment over rapid, unnecessary change, new concepts or things that have yet to be tested. We’ll attempt to fix a broken lawn mower rather than toss it for a new one, know the value of a gallon of paint and are quite content to live modestly and express skepticism. Finally, I must remind my readers that Ozarkians are a sub-culture of Missourians. The primary difference being in our tendency to outright reject bullshit artists like the current administration. In the Ozarks, bullshit artists fish alone!

Have a great week!


Familiar Feelings and Continuing Education……

No, this is not a piece on the latest survey showing that some 62% of Democratic college freshman would not room with a Republican room mate compared to some 70% of Republican kids who said it would make no difference. (This is an obvious indication that Democrats fear a conversion to reality and don’t want to take the chance.) Rather I am writing about another day riding with our Fire Chief Jamie Kilburn. This day I was being schooled in fire station architecture located in the districts surrounding ours in response to the tremendous development in our region.

The afternoon started with a quick lunch at a local eatery before setting out for a station north of us. As luck would have it, we drove up on a very fresh accident at a terrible intersection of two state routes. It was a two car, single fatality accident and we were there within minutes of the event. Those old familiar reflexes were awakened and I immediately hopped out of the Chief’s vehicle, evaluating scene safety as I hurried to the aid of one victim, thrown clear of his vehicle. The Chief was grabbing his medical bag, a matter of instinct for him. A quick check of the victims established massive, instantly fatal injuries to one driver and probable moderate injuries to the other. In a flash, my senses were heightened to a level not felt since my days in uniform, and a logical sequence of events was already in place mentally. Some things you will never forget to do in these circumstances.

After clearing the scene we headed north and I was able to tour two newer fire stations in the areas we had targeted. They both reflected ingenuity and efficiency, concepts that are essential in rural fire services. I was not disappointed and was able to glean much information both from the inspection and the fire fighters who assisted us. I continue to be very impressed with the folks who provide this critical service to the people within their districts. In one station, an old fashioned set of working car top red lights had been rigged up as a light fixture over the bar in the kitchen.This feature is a sure hit with children as they visit the station. Every time I am around these folks I come away stunned by the degree of commitment necessary to assume these roles in our society. Even more stunning is that many of these folks are volunteers, although that demographic is changing as political subdivisions recognize the necessity to maintain full time, on duty, emergency responders.

My final lesson of the day was centered around an older gentleman selling watermelons from the back of his pickup truck. He was parked in a service station parking lot and has been delivering melons for many years from this location. He was a true Missouri gentleman, replete with khaki pants and shirt while sporting a panama straw hat. He had stashed a couple of his melons in a cooler and retrieved one for the Fire Chief to take home to his boys. He imparted a lesson in Missouri logic as an additional service to us. He said it was hard to determine the quality of a melon until you cracked it open. He suggested to Jamie that his melons came with a guarantee of sorts. If, upon slicing, it was determined it was a poor melon, throw it over the fence into the neighbor’s yard and tell the neighbor it came from Walmart. Then said the old gentleman, return to his truck and he would replace it. This fellow would have made Will Rogers proud…..never underestimate the older man in khakis making change over produce. Not in Missouri anyway……

To some, a watermelon, to others, a lesson in marketing!

Have a good week!


A Day With The Chief…..

There are no gaps in my commitment to emergency services. My years in the Highway Patrol have delivered many opportunities to work with various emergency responders, whether it be fire, medical, or unsung heroes like towing services and even railroad derailment specialists. America is a nation of wealth, most often modest and hard earned and sometimes incredible and inherited. Our emergency services are responsible for the preservation of life followed by property. Yesterday was another training day, with a familiarization tour of the Brookline Fire District, assets and a number of our firefighters who man the equipment and respond to our most trying circumstances. I can’t tell you how fortunate we are to enjoy the umbrella of dedicated emergency responders, both volunteer and professional.

A few months ago I was approached by Brookline Chief Jamie Kilburn and asked if I would consider a position on the District’s Board of Directors. It was an appointment to fill a vacant position, for a prescribed term at the end of which I would be required to run for the position in an election. The District is recovering from a rather colorful near history the centerpiece of which was a chief convicted of various nefarious activities and jailed. The Board selected Chief Kilburn to lead this fine agency, tarnished by the scandal, back to respectability. They made an excellent decision when they handed this task off to Jamie Kilburn, a native of this area with a long history of involvement in emergency services, both fire and medical. I visited with the Board, offered my management philosophy and a summary of my professional experience and they voted to accept my offer to join them. This District is big, our assets are very good, our people outstanding and we are benefitting from a recent levy that is facilitating our role in fire service and emergency medical response exponentially. I am already proud of my association with these men and women as well as somewhat awed by their expertise in this business. Make no mistake, it is a business with the fortunes falling on the point of the spear, out in the district in emergency response as well as the back of the house where numbers are crunched and strategies formulated.

Chief Kilburn on the right with some of the fire fighters he commands. It would be a mistake to underestimate these folks…….

Like most districts near major metropolitan areas, our geographical boundaries are nebulous and scattered. Emergency services are centered around response times and our task is complicated by the rapid development in our area and increasing responsibilities. There are a number of districts that we interact with. This interaction demands a solidly cooperative attitude among the various services and an absolute reliance on the heart of rural fire protection, motivated and sincere volunteers. The exposure to the parameters of our district was eye popping. As a previous police administrator, my mind raced with the various possibilities for improved efficiency in our region beginning with the actual location of stations and distribution of assets. There is a long history and much tradition in this region that can be preserved in a cooperative approach to improving response times to the citizens we serve. The possibilities are endless.

Fire in an occupied residence. I gained immeasurable experience in the dissection of why and how this fire developed thanks to two fire professionals at the scene. Thanks, guys!

During the day, we stopped at a recent residential burn just outside our district but one that required our response in a mutual aid capacity. We happened to catch an insurance investigator at the scene and between him and the Chief, I was introduced to fire scene investigation 101. My mind immediately jumped to criminality (there was no evidence of any intent). Like most professions, fire fighting has it’s own language, and I am learning “fire speak”. Riding with the Chief, listening to the chatter on the radio and the rush of controlled excitement as the services in our region responded to routine matters reminded me of my earlier life in a Patrol cruiser. Until your ox is gored, most people don’t dwell on the nature of emergency response by fire and medical services, but these services are busy behind the headlines. I am looking forward to contributing to the smooth and timely response to folks in trouble. My association with these guys provides that opportunity.

Have a great week!

Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine….

When it is hell hot, the politicians are either licking their wounds or chortling triumphantly at their victory’s and the overdue rains are providing a respite to your lawn, it is a perfect time to slip away and indulge in the wonders of Missouri. So it is that we spent a week at Echo Bluff campground celebrating Tazzy’s 9th birthday with daily jaunts to Sinking Creek where the old men spent time enjoying it’s spring fed coolness, oblivious to the rest of the world.

Tom T. Hall’s old dog………our Tazzy

Years ago, Tom T. Hall penned the song that is the title of this piece while sitting at a bar talking with an old gentleman about life. The old man opined that old dogs, children and watermelon wine constitute the most important triumvirate in life. The old man was right, and Tom’s genius captured the moment set to music. You can see the years in Tazzy’s face, the white cast around his eyes and the magic in taking his time walking down to the creek as opposed to sprinting. Mind you, when taken off lead, there is no evidence of age and he still crashes the water with gusto before easing into a slow, steady cadence against the current. When I am standing waist deep in the cool water, watching him carefully scrutinize each leaf that passes in the current, I am reminded that I am fortunate. Too many of my contemporaries are gone, never to enjoy a Missouri waterway again, and the list is growing, seemingly daily. Tazzy and I have learned to take the path of least resistance these days, the key to survival in our golden years. Each passing leaf, soon gone from our view represents a friend also gone in the current of life. The passing leaves all have a story, having seen manny things over their short time on earth, a story that means little to those watching them pass, but a story never the less.

Waiting for the next leaf to pass……

This is the time of the year when the kiddos are on high alert before returning to the classroom. They were buzzing by on various wheeled devices called “razors”, boards and scooters within the campgrounds. We were up early every morning, tackling the creek before the floaters and funeral tent folks set up on the banks with a chest full of adult beverages to enjoy the finest air conditioning in existence, cold water. Their kids are in the creek too, oblivious to the passage of time that old folks are all too aware of. They are convinced there is no finite number of trips to the creek and the Master’s plan is of little concern to them. I wanted to tell them to enjoy every minute of every day………soon enough the realization will set in for them. It would be cruel to paint a picture of aging for them.

Now we are down to watermelon wine. I have enjoyed watermelon wine on several occasions in years gone by. I find it sweet but burdened with a nasty aftertaste. Today we prefer a good Moscato, preferably bubbling, ice cold with a chunk of cheese and crusty bread. If it gets any better than an iced bottle of Marco Negri, wedge of mild cheddar and loaf of french bread with a slice of apple and a few grapes thrown in for color, I have yet to experience it. While indulging in the wine, add a chorus of children laughing and splashing, an old Labrador who is oblivious to the kids and you have a great song. I can see why Tom wrote this song…..

Summer is winding down, going out with a flourish that midwestern summers often do. Soon the fairs will be under way and the kids will be suited up for another tour in the classroom. Teachers are already preparing for their next set of kids and another cycle of life repeats itself. Thank you Tazzy for another great outing and we hope you enjoyed your birthday celebration at Sinking Creek. God willing, we’ll be there again next year with a bottle of wine, watching you charge the creek bank….alert for those passing leaves.

Have a great week!


The Lottery, A Tax On Mathematically Challenged People………

It might have been you. A single winning lottery ticket was drawn in last night’s Mega Millions lottery and now someone is wealthy beyond even their wildest fantasy. The C-store that sold the ticket stands to receive a healthy half million dollars, a tidy sum for an average of 35 seconds of work (per lottery transaction). Unless already fabulously wealthy, life is going to change for this person……..a lot. The odds (some 300 million to 1) are such that winning exceeds fantasy level thinking, so exercises in the distribution of such suddenly acquired wealth are without merit. So what, we are happily retired and travel a-lot, so we enjoyed a spirited conversation about our reaction to such an event during a recent road trip. This is our take on the distribution of our winnings that we, most likely, will never see. Secure in the knowledge that many previous lottery winners have died poor, in legal trouble and unhappy, we dove in.

The key to a big check….a really big check!

Sharon and I first agreed this kind of money needs to be put to work. We both would enjoy seeing the impact of sudden wealth on our family members and would convene a meeting to distribute a hefty share to them, with an emphasis on those that have remained loyal over the years. The little guys would be the owner of tightly managed trust funds guaranteeing a top tier education or vocational training at the finest schools. Next we would develop a list of 20 or so friends that we know would answer the call if we needed a helping hand. We would convene another meeting and make them winners, so to speak, of a lottery!

Next up is the care of dogs. We would endow the damndest clinic for the care and research of dogs that exists today outside of a veterinary college someplace. A place that would become the Cleveland Clinic of the dog world with an emphasis on nutrition and cutting edge clinical care. We would then make a substantial donation to the afore mentioned Cleveland Clinic for use in their world famous heart program. We agree that I would not be here writing this if it were not for their exemplary cardiac expertise. On the charity circuit, first up would be the Salvation Army. Despite what you read, they are committed to the idea of helping folks who need help the most. We have a number of non-profits that we support and the change would be in our ability to offer greater financial aid. The various veteran organizations would also benefit greatly from our goodwill.

You’ll notice that Christianity has not been mentioned to this point. We are deeply concerned with the decline in traditional Christian values, values this country was founded upon. We likely would assemble a forum of true, conservative Christian leaders and discuss the avenues that would best preserve our way of thinking. This discussion was lengthy and vexing as we see the current decline gaining strength in our narcissistic culture. Money alone, even a lot of it, is useless in the face of changing moral values. This is a problem that has us stymied.

We would have to move. Folks with this kind of money need security and a middle class neighborhood does not provide it. Suffice to say, Missouri is where our hearts are and our permanent home will always be here. Materially, I’ll still drive Cirrus the Ram, keep the little BMW and Sharon will continue to get around in SUV’s. Health permitting, I would acquire a LSA airplane, likely a Colt, manufactured in Hondo, Texas by veterans. We can’t think of a thing we want that we cannot currently afford and I would still wear Hoka shoes every day whether in a coat and tie or jeans.

As we continue to age, we would give much of the fortune away to folks we identify that need a hand. They would be conservative, law abiding and hard working. Seeing their gratitude would be our reward. We, in this case, would be happy to redistribute our wealth and would love to see our money put to good use. There would be many additional lottery “winners” benefitting from our good fortune. We would set aside a healthy “reserve” and place it in our existing trust.

The lottery is a tax on folks who should know better……but there is a person in Illinois who says otherwise. To him or her, the winning ticket was anything but a useless tax……… can’t win if you don’t buy one!

Have a great week!


Medicine, A View From The Bottom Of The Pyramid……….

America loves it’s doctors. As we age, we become exposed to an expanding group of these intelligent purveyors of care. In fact we place our lives in their hands, often following their suggestions and advice without bothering to become acquainted with the reason we are standing in front of them. In todays tightly controlled medical care environment, relationships are difficult to form in the insurance allotted 10 minute office call. The doctor is listening, of that you may be sure, but his or her other eye is on the clock. You should also know that all doctors are not created equal. Blasphemous you say? Read on.

When you get to our age, stuff wears out and breaks. Just like an automobile, maintenance is required, speaking of which I was once closely associated with a fine group of mechanics at the Highway Patrol garage in Jefferson City, our state capital. As good as they were, some were better than others within a specialty, and the supervisors knew who they were. We even had an “oil expert” on staff who had graduated from a specialized school where the nuances of motor oil were taught at levels far above multi-weights and brands. Our head mechanics recognized excellence and pursued it relentlessly. Back to medicine. As we age, our care providers must add a strategy to their bag of tricks in caring for us. Age related care requires adherence to the “4 M’s” of care. That is Medication, Mentation (memory and mood), Mobility and what Matters to us. These issues present far differently in older people as opposed to younger. They are also difficult to address in a 10 minute sound bite with the insurance company holding a stop watch when the doc walks in. Geriatricians are hard to find so as an alternative, seek a practitioner who adheres to the 4M approach.

Make this happen………..

I recently visited with an old Patrol friend that I have a very high regard for. He, like all of us, has a few nicks in his armor and a system or two that is not performing at an optimal level. He is under the care of a, presumably, good PCP who is helping him manage a problem with the electrical system in his heart. I know about these things as there was a time when you could not take my pulse accurately as a result of an excessive number of premature ventricular contractions. My PCP said that I needed the services of a electrophysiologist. Sharon and I sat down with a book entitled “The Top 100 Doctors In America”, scrolled through to the cardiologist section and located the top world ranked specialist in electrophysiology. We made an appointment with the doctor at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Cleveland Ohio. This is the top ranked heart care hospital in the world and has been for 20 plus years. We travelled to Cleveland, met this doctor who diagnosed the problem and two ablations later, my heart is purring right along with the best of them. He also diagnosed a pesky valve problem while I was there, and I found myself on the table for open heart surgery a few days later, without which I would not be here writing this piece. With all due respect to my home town cardiologist, he was throwing pills at a problem that was killing me. A center of excellence extended my tour of duty on Mother Earth. I queried my then local cardiologist and he replied, sharply, “we can’t all be the Cleveland Clinic”. Indeed.

I’ll wrap this up. There are many fine doctors practicing in America and God bless you if you are associated with the best of the lot. Do not be afraid to seek care in centers of excellence when a new and potentially life altering malady rears it’s ugly head. Assemble a team of local talent. I would put my team of practitioners up against any team, but have worked through a number of docs to get there. My PCP is an excellent quarterback, backed by one of the best cardiologists in a four state region. I have an out of town urologist that is a wizard with old man issues and a nationally recognized hand surgeon to stand between me and arthritis. Is your team meeting your expectations? Do you clearly understand the maladies you are dealing with? Are you willing to travel to internationally recognized specialists to help with the big issues? Is your doctor practicing the 4 M’s? If you are in or near my generation, you have paid your dues. Seek and meet with the best available to keep you around to aggravate the younger generations with earned wisdom and opinion. In short…..take care of yourself.

Have a great week!


When Stubbornness Turns To A Sheepish Grin…….

Stubborn is a great quality……when it is called for. Examples include complex issues requiring manual dexterity, where experience will win the day, directing traffic at an accident scene and when confronted by a child that is reticent to follow your direction and accept guidance. It also takes a little humility to admit that stubbornness in the face of overwhelming opinion and evidence contrary to your opinion just might be dumb. I abhor the thought of granting a concession to the left, primarily because their Commander, Biden, is such a disaster. I will go to my grave (I am in no hurry) shaking my head at the woke culture that is becoming prevalent. Humor me a bit as I wander into the Climate Change arena…a concept where my stubbornness has shown it’s butt. Here we go.

Something is going on. We have lived with “hot spells” for as long as I remember. I have sat quietly through the heat of a South Carolina July with nothing more than a box fan in a window for relief. I have sweltered in the lush greenery of Vietnam where I solemnly swore that I would never again pass up the opportunity to sit quietly in an air conditioned environment. This past week, I agreed to cut and trim a new building that my daughter and her family are building at the Lake of the Ozarks, with the cutting being done under a little beach shelter set up outside to provide shade while we ran the saws. Before the day was over I referred to the tent as a funeral tent…….sure to cover our remains after we succumbed to a heat stroke. Another broken vow. Maybe the heat gets to me, but I am starting to consider what climatologists and now the American Medical Association are suggesting is climate change. Folks say dinosaurs once roamed the continent (dinosaur bones have been found near my beloved Truman Lake) and that rivers were formed by glaciers back, way back, before our time. There is ample evidence these things occurred. When I hit the road back in the early 70’s, we had snows that left snow banks on county roads well into early spring. The average temperatures in Missouri have clearly risen, summer and winter, over the last 10 years as opposed to the decade before. Just as the dinosaurs disappeared, we now have little critters called armadillos tearing up our lawns in Missouri on their migratory route into Iowa where the little hellions would never have been found 20 years ago.

NASA imaging of climate change

Consumer Reports, another outfit that I attach great credibility to, consistently cites folks who have spent years researching this phenomenon and reached the same conclusion……it’s getting hotter. In fact, virtually every scientist with a shred of credibility is suggesting we are experiencing climate change. So it is that I am checking my stubborn inclination to resist the acceptance of this happening and conceding that it is, overall, getting hotter. I am a proud hillbilly and rely on nature rather than years of study to arrive at this admission. I can see the armadillos moving north, the varieties of row crops being genetically altered to be drought and heat resistant, the morphing of great western lakes into mud holes, and the melting of the remaining glaciers for what they are……..

Less my readers think that I am giving up and throwing in with the liberals on this topic…..that is not the case. My problem is with how they attack it. In my lifetime, if I don’t succumb to a heat stroke, we will see alternative powered vehicles…..with enough range to visit our grandparents on Thanksgiving. You have to transition to these forms of energy, not jump in before you see how deep the water is which is what the current crop of ideologues is doing. Weather is cyclical, period. Only a denier would suggest the cycles aren’t changing. Something is up, no doubt, with greenhouse gases being a part of the problem. We need to adjust accordingly. How to adjust is a political problem and politics and nature do not get along.

I’ll end with this thought. A sheepish grin is my way of cancelling stubbornness. You’ll never see a Biden/Harris sign in my yard. Just because they have a point relative to climate change does not make them right on woke nonsense such as tearing down statues, unchecked crime, unisex humans and a free lunch for everyone. Their way of dealing with climate change is sickening……..destroying America by abruptly cancelling fossil fuel is abhorrent. The numbers over the past couple of decades do not support cyclical weather patterns as the source of our current discomfort and the changes in nature……it is warmer. When they build a hydrogen powered one ton Ram with the grunt of my Cummins, I’ll give it a whirl. Meanwhile, Cirrus (the truck) and I will continue to enjoy the fruits of MY labor……

Have a great week!