What Happened To God……

A big day for Christians

I watched a reporter on a big city street in America stop folks and ask a few fundamental questions about Christmas and the Lord. It was sobering to say the least with a good number of folks not having a bit of knowledge about the origins of Christmas and Christianity. As a career police officer and combat veteran, I have seen folks embrace the Lord virtually every time a death has or is occurring. Unfortunately, for many, it is their only association with Christianity. It is Christmas Eve and I think it is fitting to comment on the state of Christianity as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ…….in an age where the significance of our faith is being relegated to second or even third class status. Why, you ask, is this happening?


Trumps victory was driven in large part by white Christian men who overwhelmingly supported his candidacy. Some 85% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump, who championed “Religous freedom” in his platform, really a cover for a large segment of the electorate. He and his followers have been under perpetual attack from day one of his Presidency, bruising both entities significantly. A recent poll of pastors across America showed that churches are riven by political conflict within the congregations, resulting in shrinking memberships. Crime across America is a Christian concern as is abortion. The latest push is to change the wording in old Christmas hymns to reflect a woke perspective, which is not playing well with Christian Conservatives. Politics, in general, do not lend themselves to Christian principles and we, as a people, exist in a very political atmosphere. Churches across America are splitting as a result of disturbing trends related to homosexuality, same sex marriage and abortion up to the moment of birth. Each of these issues has figured prominently in recent elections. The indoctrination of very young children into the world of gender change politics is a decidedly anti-Christian concept.

In 1980, nearly 90% of Americans claimed to be Christians. Today, 43% of Americans claim to be Protestants, and some 20% adhere to Catholicism. To illustrate the trend, in 2009, the numbers were 51% and 23% respectively. The big drop, according to Pew Research has occurred since 2012 as professed Christians have declined by some 12%. It should be noted that over this same period, the number of “nones”, folks who have no faith, has increased by some 12%. In the world as a whole, Christianity trumps all other religions, claiming some 31% of the earths 7.3 billion people. Christians still have the numbers but their influence is shrinking. There are many factors with politics being only one of them.


Another influence in the decline of Christianity is our media, which openly disdains organized religion, often explicitly ridiculing the concept. The influence of today’s media and social discourse is incredible. This power is particularly destructive in the younger generations. Our so called silent generation, those born before 1945, is comprised of 84% Christians. Next up, the baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, are comprised of 76% Christians. Generation X, from 1965 to 1980 see a 67% Christian population with Millennials, 1981 to 1996 enjoying a 49% grouping of Christians. The older populations saw a favorable view of Christianity fronted by the media with the youngest group seeing a generally unfavorable image of Christianity portrayed by the media. The youngest generations are being immersed in the political world as well.

It is Christmas Eve, a joyous time in America with family and generosity taking center stage. As we approach the big day, ask yourself what it all really means. It matters not if you are a saint or a sinner, we mustn’t lose sight of what this Holiday really represents. It is not just another day off with food and revelry taking center stage. It represents a celebration of a way of life that is falling out of favor. We can’t keep sliding away from the Christian tenets of honesty, caring and commitment that has shaped this country from the beginning. This piece is a thumbnail sketch of where God lies, generally speaking, in the business of living in America. Don’t be a household that fails to even mention the Lord on this most Christian of holidays. Most importantly, do not be one that ridicules those of us who are, indeed, Christians. History has shown that we should not be trifled with…….

Merry Christmas!


Don’t Let The Old Man In……..

It’s getting ready to get Montana cold here abouts, with an even chance of snow over the Christmas holidays. The end of another year is at hand. It seems that lately I have buried a number of friends, guys that joined me in a feeling of immortality just a few short years ago. Toby Keith, singing an old Willie Nelson classic, said it best when he sang……

“When he rides up on his horse…..and you feel that cold bitter wind….look out your window and smile……..don’t let the old man in”

For me it started in 1985 when I realized I had lost a step or two on the softball diamond. When I worked wood with a chainsaw, gone was the sun-up to sundown energy that delivered a chord of split and stacked hardwood for the stove in anticipation of the wood heat and aroma of burning oak. I always maintained conditioning with an active lifestyle, chasing bird dogs, working wood and flying up and down Truman lake in the latest fiberglass water rocket in search of a few bass or a limit of crappie. The outdoors are best enjoyed at my age with a casual, not too long walk through the woods or slow float on one of our magnificent rivers. My conditioning today is now courtesy of regular trips to the gym and miles on an indoor track, pushing and pulling on devices designed to replace the challenge of living large. My love for fast cars still exists but I find myself falling into the BMW rather than strapping it on for another highway adventure. The quick reflexes of a road trooper have long since been replaced with a more sedate driving style. I recall my last crappie trip vividly. After a day filling our limits and cleaning the fish, my hands were shot, courtesy of old “Arthur”. When I pulled the boat out, a very nice couple stopped and admired it, asking about our luck that day. I shocked my partner when I asked the couple if they liked the boat enough to buy it and sold it to them 3 weeks later. The “old man” had taken this wonderful pastime from me, smiling when he reminded me that enough pain can trump pleasure. Three hand surgeries and another on the horizon in January are signs the “old man” is gaining ground. This same “old man”was grinning when the doctor told me that I would never need another colonoscopy. He was looking over my shoulder when I picked up a steel post driver at a local hardware store and quietly cussed it for the hell it’s predecessors had dealt me in years past. That was, I am sure, my last contact with this damnable tool.

The “old man” was waiting when I tackled this wonderful pastime

As if it was yesterday, I remember climbing off the Harley in the parking lot of the of Steak and Shake in Lebanon and handing the keys to it’s new owner. You do not throw around a motorcycle with bad hands and the “old man” knew it. I am reminded of encounters and confrontations that I easily handled 30 years ago that I have doubts about today. I wear trifocals, wear hearing aids and fight with a memory that is geared to long term happenings and embarrassing when recent events get lost in it. The “old man” is relentless but needs patience. I have outlived the vast majority of the men on dad’s side of the family and have no intention of throwing in the towel. Stupidity and ignorance are becoming intolerable for me so if I seem abrupt, well, it is the “old man” again. I have little patience with folks who don’t get it.

Next week, Sharon, Tazzy and I are going to defy the “old Man” as we ring the bell at the main entrance to Bass Pro for the Salvation Army. We’ll be there from 10 AM until noon Tuesday. Stop in and sweeten the pot……

If you see the “old man” anytime soon, tell him to not bother with old Johnson. He (Johnson) is not afraid of you……and will fight you to the very end.

Stay warm this week….



It’s was a beautiful late summer day and I had put a 4 to 1 mixture of water and sugar on the stove in one of Sharon’s best stainless steel pots to bring to a boil. I have an affinity for birds, especially Hummingbirds, as they flit around a couple of feeders strategically placed in our yard. I was making nectar for the Hummers. Seems simple enough until you walk out back, leaving the mixture to cook down, burn into the bottom of the pot and emit the most God awful, acrid smoke imaginable. The smoke alarms activated and our alarm system notified our Fire Service, all before I could get the pot out of the house and call off our Fire Department. As they say, “don’t do this at home”. A day or two of moving fresh air through the house and an hour of diligent pot scrubbing brought things back to that magic state “like it never happened”. Since then, I’ve learned a few things about fire where you do not want it.

Since 1980, house fires in America have dropped by half. Is it time to reduce our fire service budgets? Hardly, as deaths from fire have risen steadily since 2010. Simply put, today’s houses are less safe in many critical respects, in spite of improved detection technology. Here is why. In house fires 40 years ago, the occupants had an average of 17 minutes to vacate the home. Today they have an average of just 3. You can credit the preferred open house plans of today as well as the proliferation of synthetic materials. These materials burn hotter and faster as well as emit deadly gases that can knock you down with the efficiency of a gas chamber.

A 7 year old child died in this fire

There are more culprits. The current love affair with lithium batteries is another factor, particularly when charging. The consideration here is a phenomenon called “thermal runaway” resulting in the battery producing it’s own oxygen, necessary for virtually all combustion. Do you have these batteries in your home? Think cordless tools, scooters, hoverboards or your brand new electric car. These appliances should not be left unmonitored when charging……but we do it all the time. My experience with the Hummingbird food reminds us that about half of all home based fires result from cooking. Do not do as I did and walk away from the stove. Period. Only foolish people do not have functional smoke detectors in their home. Despite the obvious advantages of having one, many homes do not have an operating fire extinguisher in their home. (I have two, one in the garage and one in the great room/kitchen area.) Live in an older home? Are your sockets “tight” meaning do they firmly grasp a plug thus reducing the chance of arcing. Do you have GFCI circuits? Do you even know what these are? A thought for those building new. Sprinkler systems, depending on your insurance carrier, can result in a 10-60% reduction in premiums. Check into this as these systems cut the death rate in fires by nearly 90%, a very big number.

Finally, have you managed your property in order to reduce the threat of fire from external sources. I am not defending the climate change folks when I suggest it has been a prolonged hot, dry spell in much of the country. Wild fire is a growing threat, resulting in a number of calls for our fire service each year. Have you created a space around your home where combustibles are eliminated or mitigated? Did you know that burning embers from neighboring fires can easily travel over a mile and ignite secondary fires? (This is known as “firescaping’.) Where do you store the can of gasoline for the mower? These types of fires are becoming a greater event as developers push out to the fringes of our suburbs to build. Not sure about the fire safety aspects of your home, your local fire service will gladly help with an evaluation.

It is the Christmas Season and many of us, particularly those of us long in the tooth, are mucking about trying to buy gifts for each other when we really don’t need anything. Consider fire prevention/protection when making your list. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are obvious choices and may be the gift that guarantees Christmas together again next year.

Thank you Chief Jamie Kilburn, Brookline Fire and Rescue, the US Fire Administration and Consumer Reports for the information in this piece. It is called “fire science” for a reason and in this business, an ounce of prevention can prevent unspeakable tragedy.

Have a great week!


The Death Of The Roadmap……..

I am old school. On a number of occasions over the past year, I have reached for an old fashioned road map to help establish a route to somewhere, perhaps within Missouri, more often than not, outside of Missouri with a RV in tow. Our trips to the visit the kids take us through a Rest Area on I-44 where I seize the opportunity to keep our rolling stock equipped with the latest edition of our state map, a convenience offered at rest areas throughout the country. Today’s sophisticated satellite navigation systems are replacing the ubiquitous road map with button push or screen touch convenience, relegating paper to an era of the gasoline powered, big block behemoths that fairly seethe through an old troopers soul.

Emblematic of a wonderful era in driving

Back in the day, I handed out hundreds, if not thousands of our state’s official roadmap. It was not at all unusual for motorists to ask for directions to something or somewhere, and I kept a case of these paper treasures in the patrol car’s trunk. When queried, I would happily offer directions (in our day the initial training at our academy resulted in your memorization of every county, county seat and major road intersection in the entire state) and a paper map to reinforce my directions. We could offer advice on rough stretches of road and scenic detours alike so that motorists could avail themselves to the beauty of our state. I often marked the map, as some folks are map illiterate, and required very specific turn guidance to just get out of the parking lot.

Today, in our Ram equipped with the very latest in “big screen” technology, I can tell the damned thing the name of a restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas and it will churn out turn by turn directions to the eatery, with an optional route or two thrown in, as well as a multi-color map to visually guide you. You need no mathematical acumen, as the computer will also do the time/distance computations, indicate road closures or construction and identify fuel stops. Stop for a coke and it will adjust the arrival times for you. There was a time when you carefully computed your mileage, with help from little, map edged graphs denoting distances between major cities and towns, did a time calculation and carefully folded your roadmap so as to reveal the geographic area you were traveling through. Today you can use a zoom feature and do the same thing with a couple of touches to the screen. Truth be told, I find the smell of a new state map to be cathartic, generating memories of times past, just as the jotted notes on the map itself are reminders of places and travels past. A roadmap is emblematic of America, in all it’s marvelous engineering, industrial and agricultural splendor, soon to be lost on the generations of young people who look at a map today and ask, “what is that”? If you are training a child, grandchild or anyone for that matter in the science and art of driving a car, take time to spread a map out on the dining room table and begin a lesson with “this is a road map…….and here is what you can do with it.” Other wise, they may never know.

Thank you God. Among the many blessings you have allowed me over the years is the pleasure of turning over an internal combustion engine in a hunk of Detroit iron, perusing a road map and beginning a day on a road trip across the country. In the beginning of a rewarding career underwriting the safety of the motoring public, life was uncomplicated. A ticket book, accident notebook and handful of road maps constituted the essence of my tool chest. The satisfaction of leaving a motorist with a look of relief on their faces, secure in the time/distance issues facing them at that moment, was reward enough when I turned back out onto the highway. The next time you have the opportunity to grab a map or two, do so. Inhale the unique fragrance of a vestige from the past, close your eyes and smile. You will be taken back to the day when this map represented one of the first opportunities in life for you to have a blue print for the future, even if it was for an hour, day or long road trip. The computer in your dashboard can’t do that……….

Have a great week, and safe travels.


A Scotch and Drambuie Kind Of Thanksgiving……

In 1962, my family lived on the island of Okinawa, now a part of Japan. The US Military still occupied this sliver of Pacific coral, having paid for it with the blood of 12,000 dead sailors, soldiers and marines in June of 1945. In 1962 it was still home to a large contingent of US military personnel, with a sizable garrison of Special Operations troops and Air Force folks. Dad, an Airborne officer, shuttled back and forth between the the newly formed 173rd Airborne Brigade and 1st Special Forces, units he loved. I was a 12 year old kid, trying to grow up in the unique environment of military dependency. Thanksgiving in the Armed Forces is always a big deal and November 22, 1962 was true to form, a Thanksgiving I will never forget.

As was the custom in military units back in the day, the officers and senior cadre were permitted to bring their families to a military mess for Thanksgiving dinner. As I recall, all dependents were welcomed, but few enlisted folk’s families were on the island. We lived in military quarters in an area named Kishaba Terrace in the Sukiran sector on the island. The quarters were of concrete slab construction to fend off the typhoons that frequented this region. Dad was a Battalion Commander back then, and dinner with the troops was an automatic for our family. We dressed accordingly, which for me meant a bow tie, creased trousers and a whitewall haircut. Life was good, however; I had no idea what was in store for me on this holiday.

Seasoned combat veterans are usually no strangers to strong drink. Dad did not, as I recall, have a drinking problem, but I can assure you he did drink and could hold his liquor with the best of them. On this Thanksgiving, several of the officers and the Battalion Sergeant Major had begun the festivities at our quarters where dad polished off a couple of, number unknown, drinks called a Rusty Nail. The Nail was comprised of scotch whisky and a liquor named Drambuie, a heather honey infused scotch whiskey jazzed up with spices and herbs. We were driven to the big, appropriately decorated, mess hall and seated at the head table with the other officers. It is also customary for a unit Chaplain to deliver the blessing, but our Chaplain was not present, for reasons that escape me. It was up to the Colonel to deliver the blessing and dad stood, slightly out of kilter and brought the several hundred troops to their feet. Mom and I exchanged knowing looks, as dad had not entirely bought into Christianity, as a result of his combat experience. The troops were silent and dad was trapped between scotch whiskey and a lack of preparation. In a style befitting a man used to dealing with trying circumstances, dad turned and passed the honor of blessing the meal to his son……..me.

The Colonel and his Rusty Nail

When I, in turn, looked at dad, he was smiling. I am not sure if it was the scotch or his confidence in my ability to pull off my first public speaking event. Strangely, there was no panic. I had a few seconds to organize my thoughts, bowed folks heads and gave thanks for the following things. Our President, John Kennedy, who I knew that dad adored, the “soldiers” all around the world who kept us safe, our families, military family and finally the food we were about to enjoy. It was far from a barn burner, but I had made it without passing out.

After the meal, the Sergeant Major shook my hand and suggested I had done well and had just made a life long memory. I have not nor will I ever forget. So it is that I thank God for our country, the military and anyone who wears a uniform in the name of peace and prosperity. Blessings at Thanksgiving are not simply a part of the ritual, they are an opportunity to thank the Almighty for what we have and for those who lay it all on the line for the common good. Dad and Christianity? Later in his short life, he got it together. If anyone deserved the opportunity to make amends, he did. Thanks, dad.

Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless you and your families.


Softly Walking With A Big Stick…..

A damned good, retired, Highway Patrolman died a little over a week ago, his passing as unobtrusive as he lived, a gentleman hailing from the river country of southwest Missouri. Howard “Bub” Mease was a fine officer who left a legacy of kindness cloaked in a gentle veneer that one would be advised to respect. Bub was 79 years old when he died, a nuclear submarine veteran and career officer. I am at that age when folks who I worked with are slipping away, leaving ever smaller gatherings to celebrate their lives and work on earth. Sgt. Mease graced our presence from May 14, 1943 to November 8, 2022.

Missouri Highway Patrol Sergeant Howard “Bub” Mease

I met Bub while attending the Highway Patrol’s supervision school back in the early 80’s. Bub was quiet in class but quickly assumed the role of a spiritual leader with his disarming style and ability to read people. In 1989, I was assigned to Springfield, and made the move from the Kansas City area to southwest Missouri. Troopers, especially those from other areas of the state, naturally illicit caution among the established officers when they are transplanted among them. Patrol officers form their own judgements, part of the “Show Me” thing with Missourians. Bub made his presence known on the first day of my Springfield assignment, stopping in headquarters to invite me to lunch at his parents home in Reed Springs, down in the deep hollows, where I was treated to a wild game and fish lunch topped off with one of the best gooseberry cobblers I have ever eaten. Bub wanted me to know that I was welcome in the new Troop and I never forgot his kindness. I still have a home made gooseberry picker that was gifted to me by Bub’s father, a White River guide for the legendary Owen Guide Company. Bub came about his love of the outdoors honestly.

Bub was a terrific officer. He was unflappable, reliable and a superior supervisor earning the respect of both his fellow senior officers and the newer troops. We shared a deep appreciation for hunting and fishing, and spent many days on Table Rock Lake, taking advantage of his knowledge of the lake. Bub was also an excellent float fisherman and we spent numerous days on the James and Finley rivers where I gained an appreciation for both his skill with a rod and vast knowledge of river lore. Bub was a tall guy and his tales of life in the North Atlantic, in a cramped US Navy submarine, were hilarious. It was a wonder he could still stand upright.

Bub Mease was not overly complicated. He was perfectly content to take care of his officers, drive an old Chevy pickup and drink a cold beer while standing over a gallon or two of hot peanut oil frying crappie for his friends. He was a joker, strong as an ox and blessed with those big hands that accomplished pistoleros all seem to have. He was a trooper’s trooper, the highest praise you can receive as a patrolman. He was a enduring part of the Patrol’s legacy in southwest Missouri.

While fishing with Bub late one evening, I personally watched him smoke a cigarette, hold a can of Coors, pee over the side of the boat and still manage to set the hook on a fish…..all at the same time. The Lord called home a good one and I could not be prouder of our association. You left a wake Bub, on the water and in life. God bless you.

Have a good week!


A View From The Street……..

It has been an enlightening week, politically speaking. Our pollsters have again failed to grasp the realities of group think and America is once again living with razor thin political majorities as we finish choosing our leadership for the next two years. This writing is intended to capture the view from the street as seen by an old trooper who relied on pragmatism to guide his response to the many challenges of lending dignity to the chaos that represents human behavior. I usually avoid entering the political arena in my weekly missives, but I have seen enough. The chicanery that is the backbone of the Biden administration is beyond the pale and I am tired of being treated by his mob as if I am a weak lemming, defenseless as I march to the sea.

First up is the motive behind the current Democratic political ambition. I could end here by simply suggesting a one word summary, “power”. Power is job one. It is their way or hit the street. When queried about his response to the current finding that 70% of America thinks we are on the wrong track, Biden says he intends to change nothing as he goes forward. He does not care what America thinks, he believes he is right and the vast majority of Americans can go to hell.

Why should I give a tinker’s damn what you think?

The current strategy on our southern border is simple. Under Biden’s laughable border strategy, at least a half million illegals have dispersed into our country. With congressional political races being decided by mere hundreds of votes, these folks represent a critical voting bloc that can be expected to vote for the individual and political party that has welcomed them in, illegally. He is relying on executive orders to shape majorities in any number of close races which determine the balance of power in DC. Along with their votes these folks are contributing to the 134% increase in Fentanyl seizures in FY 2021. In their quest for power, a few deaths as a result of this scourge is a small price to pay. Our Border patrol made over 1.6 million arrests in FY2021 alone, and the number has since increased dramatically. Great job, Joe. Form your very own pool of dedicated voters.

When you look at the distribution of political power in America, it becomes apparent that major east and west coast cities are providing tremendous electoral clout. They tend to be lawless enclaves protected by woke prosecutors who refuse to hold the miscreants accountable. Biden’s temporarily halted scheme to pay off huge student loan depths constitutes a power grab by promising the proverbial “chicken in every pot” of days past. His scheme is contrary to the separation of powers as enumerated by the constitution. He knows this, but also knows the mere suggestion is welcomed by the millions of folks who have encumbered their educations and welcome the handout, irrespective of the fairness of doing. So, to hell with the millions who have covered their debt and/or sought another educational venue to prepare for their life’s work. The Democratic majority has bankrolled his magnificent schemes to redistribute the wealth of working America to those who are lazy and unmotivated. Another guaranteed voting bloc to help ensure the success of the party’s stranglehold on control of Congress.

There are three political parties in America. They are the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Media. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the media is hell bent on crushing every conservative aspect of our country. They are as dishonest as the masters they serve, the current administration. They refuse to acknowledge the inherent dishonesty of the Biden cartel, and are as skillful in manipulating the message as Joe and his crew. Only the people can straighten out this mess as the media enjoys the protections the freedom of the press guarantees. They are not to be trusted, however; could care less what we think.

Then, there is the matter of personal accountability. Joe Biden has none. His adoring press is careful to label his lying as “gaffes”. A gaffe is what happens when a dear, old, dementia ridden uncle distorts the truth without a hint of malice, eliciting knowing looks of compassion from the rest of the family. Joe Biden is a liar, has an agenda and has proven skillful at the use of executive order to guarantee his success at furthering his twisted goals. He hates conservative America with a passion and will stop at nothing to relegate us to a footnote in history. He may be an addled old man, but is the perfect foil for an administration determined to have their way or no way.

A final consideration is electoral accountability. The incredible inability of certain key jurisdictions to tally and report the vote is a national embarrassment. I suspect that both sides of the aisle are fed up with the current state of affairs here. The nonsense about so called “voter suppression” is just that, nonsense. When a conservative attempts to streamline the process they are racists, a label that is hard to shake irrespective of the integrity of the person accused.

I executed my professional responsibilities in a vacuum back in the day. I doubt that I could cleanly define conservatism or liberalism. I approached things right down the middle with the advantage always going to the people I dealt with. That is, I believe what the citizens wanted. I’ll be damned if I understand what they want today, but I know what they are getting. Lot’s of free stuff……until the money runs out.

Have a great week!



Puppies And Politics, Polar Opposites…….

We are about to make it. This week will mark the end of the current intense political season and most Americans can breathe a little easier. The lying, distortion, and threats will wane a bit, although we are now in an era of perpetual politics. In a moment of reflection, I considered what might be described as the opposite of American politics, something innocent, honest, beautiful to behold, a true gift from God. As close as I could get is a litter of puppies. Here is how I came to this conclusion.

Money, the greatest corrupter of all that is right, lies at the epicenter of politics. If you have tipped your hand in regard to your political persuasion, your mailbox has been stuffed with any and all manner of coercive pleas for money. You have been led to believe the world will end on Election Day if you do not pick up your checkbook and send as much as you can to a candidate who is going to single handedly save our Democracy. Puppies, on the other hand, only want a warm place to cuddle with their litter mates and momma.


Were you aware that 90% of congressional seat races are won by the candidate who raises and spends the most money? Would it surprise you to learn that a paltry .25% of Americans will donate 200.00+ on a campaign this year? Recent races have seen creative begging, you know, your dollar is going to be matched by an anonymous donor 25x or maybe 100x over. Are these real? The answer is sort of. Mega donors and super pacs are controlling the money flow these days, now outspending national party groups dramatically. This, arguably is match money. Families like the Adelsons, who contributed 123M, the Bloombergs who contributed 90M and Tom Steyer who contributed 70M, all in 2018, are your matches. Puppies, busy whimpering and squirming about in a brood box with their brothers and sisters could care less who worries over them, as long as a well fed momma is there to assure them with nothing more than a drink and cuddle.

Who sanctioned this runaway system of big money, effectively relegating political power to the wealthy? The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision, Citizens vs. Federal Election Commission, said groups, unions, corporations, etc. have a constitutional right to express their political preferences with……you guessed it, money. Does all this money buy influence? You would have to be very slow on the uptake to not recognize the tremendous impact money has on legislation. Very slow. Puppies don’t worry about corruption and social strata. They care about kindness, momma and their litter mates. Who cannot look at them and smile, and forget, just for a moment, the meanness in our world led by our political leaders?

Here is my point. It is reliably estimated the mid-term elections this year are going to consume some 9.3 billion dollars. Remember my admonition? Money is both necessary and corrupting. When you want to forget the nasty, sometimes vicious dishonesty inherent to the end of a political season, consider a new puppy. Watch the baby as it responds to the touch of it’s litter mates and momma. Smile at the little noises and total contentment the little guy exhibits as it relates to it’s new surroundings outside the womb.

As a final thought. The only thing that reliably challenges money in an election year is more money, or, more precisely, a lack of money. By most estimations, we are not having a good time economically. The big boys and girls, with their deep checkbooks are not as influential as millions of Americans seeing their economic outlook through the prism of reality. We’ll soon see…….

Have a great week!

A Fascination With Forbidden Fruit…….

We can’t be sure, but it is thought the apple goes back to 6500 BC, a fruit that was forbidden by God Almighty, whose explicit orders were ignored by Adam in the Garden of Eden after a snake talked the hapless Eve into taking the first bite. She persuaded Adam to take a bite and all hell broke loose. Christians believe the persuasive traits of a woman and the weakness of a man are the genesis of today’s state of affairs in the world of Christianity. I wish the Lord would have chosen another fruit, as the apple deserves better. Here is my take……

I have always loved apple anything, pie, cobbler, stewed, crisp or a beautiful Jonathan in hand. How fortuitous that I was initially stationed in Lafayette County with the loess hills of the Missouri River forming it’s northern boundary. A small town on US 24, Waverly, is home to a good number of apple orchards that sold their apples in a variety of roadside markets along the highway. Apple season found then Trooper Mike Mulholland and I haunting the highways in this region, where we delighted in stopping in a orchard stand where the owner’s daughters would always have an apple or two for us, carefully selected from their stock for sale. These beautiful country girls, proffering an apple for the troopers, goes a long way in explaining Adam’s dilemma when Eve coaxed him into sin.

They grow ‘em well around Waverly, Mo.

The ancient Greeks and Romans, folks who lived large, loved apples as did the mighty Norse tribes that were noted for their ribaldry and fierceness. Deep analytical science did not exist in those days, but it was accepted that apples, in addition to their wonderful flavor and texture, contributed to a sense of well being and good health. These folks would not have known a polyphenol from a anthocyanin or a broad axe for that matter, but knew they were crunchy and delicious. Somehow they also recognized that apple skins were the source of most of the nutrients and eschewed peeling before eating. I must have Nordic blood (actually, I do) as an apple pie or crisp is complete for me when the skin is left on the fruit.

When a comely little lady at one of our orchards handed Mike and I an apple, the nutritional value of the fruit was lost in the moment. Apples are “nutritional powerhouses” sayeth today’s scientists, who tout the positive impact on red blood cells and nervous systems as well as digestive tract. A list of ailments that apples impact includes arthritis, obesity, gallstones, bronchial asthma, tuberculosis, anemia, insomnia, neuritis and halitosis. Apples promote hair growth and when chemically altered are helpful in treating dandruff. The farmer’s daughters that proffered the apples could have tempted us into eating rocks back in the day, a holdover from Eve, I am sure, and we really didn’t consider the health benefits. When you get older, the health benefits come into focus……..

A whole lot off temptation in Adam’s day……..

Let’s wrap this up. It is apple season, and our retail establishments have any number of varieties to tempt us. Green, red, pink and yellow. The Japanese, in particular, delight in grafting apple trees to produce the latest, greatest variety of apples. I am old school. Give me a bag of fresh Jonathans and I will pass on the other varieties save a plump Granny Smith, dipped into Sharon’s magic cream cheese and marshmallow concoction. It is apple season. While the apple was critical in outing the original sin, I think the Lord has moved on to the bigger problems of today. We just bought a sack of Jonathans from Peter’s Orchard in Waverly and I have been savoring their tart sweetness daily.

Being a trooper on US 24 in apple country was a wonderful experience, strongly imbedded in my memory. Fifty years of living since then has not diminished the beauty of life in those days. Thank you Lord, for the memories and the ubiquitous apple….

Have a great week!


When Hunting Turns To Killing…….

Last week, in the first of a two part series, I talked about the evolution of fishing, a pastime that is rapidly becoming the province of the computer age. I am blessed to participate in this transformation from the days of skill and experience to the days of enhanced catch probability relying on computerization and electronic wizardry to gain an advantage over the fish. Hunting has seen a similar evolution brought about by the age of electronics. Let’s have a look at the hunting landscape today as opposed to 50 years ago.

In Colonial America, we hunted in the name of survival. Virtually every part of a game animal was used in some form or another, from the skins to keep us warm to the meat to keep us alive. My how things have changed. Many folks legally go forth for the thrill of matching wits with an animal and killing it. Programs such as “Share the Harvest” provide a use for the flesh of the animals that sport hunters hunt who are simply in search of a trophy or kill. I am not being critical here, sharing perfectly palatable wild game as table fare with less fortunate folks is an honorable disposition of the critters we kill. That being said, it becomes the killing that takes center stage as opposed to the art of the stalk with a keen eye or time in a stand enjoying nature. (The evolution in stands alone is incredible, some with the comforts of home built in.)

The methodology is remarkably advanced from years past when a woodsman spent hours patterning the movement of game, relying on rubs, cuttings, scrapes and tracks to match wits with a big game animal. We religiously studied paper maps and the terrain to establish likely ambush locations to set up. While small game is still pretty much pursued along the same lines as the colonists relied on, big game hunting has roared ahead in the age of technology. Consider the advancements in weather forecasting, satellite imagery and very precise topological mapping, unheard of a half century ago. We now have various tables to predict feeding and high movement periods within a given day. These advancements are impressive, but pale in comparison to the use of game cameras to establish where the game is, when it moves and the density levels. Just as sonar greatly enhances the odds of locating fish, todays sophisticated cameras exponentially enhance the awareness of the movement of desirable big game species.

The Quarry………

Today’s camera technology is such that you can monitor your cameras through blue tooth applications, record activity for later analysis and monitor such movement on a 24 hour cycle. Sure, it takes a basic knowledge of the hunted species to know in which general area to set your cameras, such as funnels, saddles, crossings, breaks and elevations, however; the camera nails down game location with precision. Today’s cameras greatly facilitate the killing of trophy animals, an irrefutable fact.

Optic evolution

Next up is weaponry. Today’s rifles have evolved into precision shooting instruments, with superior ballistics and virtually weatherproof reliability in the field. The optics currently in use are vastly superior to years past, with ballistic tables and reticles built in, to include caliber specific reticles taking the “Kentucky Windage” aspect out of shooting accurately. Magnifications are light years ahead of just a few years ago when settings varied only marginally. Todays range finders will provide unbelievably accurate measuring to help guarantee shot placement and are fog and rain proof. The evolution in “primitive” weapons, particularly bows and so called black powder firearms is palpable. Today’s legal “muzzle loading” rifles are capable of center fire accuracy and superior ballistics with conical bullets and smokeless powders. Scent lock technology (clothing) certainly mitigates the likelihood of being scented by a deer that is working into range of your weaponry preference. Bows today, with cam technology are much easier to draw, hold and deliver precision arrows with unbelievable accuracy and speed. The cutting surfaces of today’s broad heads are surgical in nature.

Advantage shifting technology

I am a hunter, but an honest one. I acknowledge the shift in advantage from the deer to the hunter and accept this inevitable circumstance. Perhaps it is why I still enjoy a quiet stalk with a .22 after a limit of squirrels for the crockpot, or the howl of a beagle on a hot rabbit track. I still enjoy a light 20, a good German Shorthair, and a fence row with the promise of a late covey scattering in bean stubble. I carry a fine Finnish deer rifle, with the best optics in the world, but enjoy the peace and awakening deer woods as much as the pursuit of a deer. I can honestly say that I have thanked every deer that I have killed (I have killed many) for the hunt and the blessing they provide on the table, but today I pass on far more opportunities than I take when hunting these noble creatures.

Game cams…….

The game has changed. More than ever “hunting” has become “killing” and I thank God I was raised when it was the other way around and hunting took center stage. I guess it is an age thing…….but I make no apologies. The pursuit of fish and game is the noblest of all pastimes.

Have a great week!