A sage old Highway Patrol Sergeant, many years ago, imparted a lesson in leadership that I will take to my grave. I had just entered the challenging world of police supervision. Police service is a quasi-military business with a structured chain of command, with the Patrol’s lowest unit being a zone which may encompass a single county or several depending on the population density. Patrol officers in these zones are commanded by a Zone Sergeant. The old Sergeant stated that “as the Sergeant goes, so goes the zone”. His meaning was clear, the officers would emulate the Sergeant in their roles as officers of the law. That axiom is true today, on every level of our society where structure exists, including the political world. It is however, being rocked by defiance at every level. No good will come of this. I also worked as a staff officer for a Superintendent who made the statement “why should I follow a (particular) general order when the order is stupid”, stunning the staff with this proclamation and defiance of a Patrol rule that he had the sole authority to issue. The staff disagreed with his position and told him as much. If we do not change directions, it is defiance, not the economy, not energy and not climate change that is going to bring America down.

This morning we are reflecting upon 3 officers and a police K-9 being gunned down in Kentucky. This is an ultimate act of defiance. We also awaken to a new law in New York created out of defiance in regard to their unconstitutional handgun law being struck down by the Supreme Court that ruled New York could not create their own set of standards to preclude folks from carrying a gun to protect themselves when their leadership will not. The new law stipulates that to be issued a permit in New York, you must submit 3 years of data from all social media accounts, prove your character, judgement and temperament, and provide 4 character references. You must undergo 16 hours of training and withstand constant background checks. You must submit the social media account information for those living in your home for approval. Guns are banned from all businesses unless the business explicitly states otherwise and bans certain bulletproof vests. The Governor and legislature has said, in affect, to hell with the Supreme Court, we can write laws all day long that defy the court. Lori Lightfoot, the unbelievably incompetent mayor of Chicago, in a rally said “F—K Clarence Thomas“ in reference to the Court’s decision to return abortion rights to the states. She is preaching defiance in a city rocked by a disregard for the law.

Defiance, in living color.

Then there is the failed leadership of one President Joseph Biden. He defies authority every day apparently believing himself to be omnipotent. He refuses to enforce the laws at our borders, refuses to enforce the law relevant to protecting the Justices of the Court and openly disparages the Supreme Court because he doesn’t like their interpretations, and now embraces removing another rule that gets in his way, the Senate filibuster rule. Like New York and guns, he is considering defying the Supreme Court by establishing abortion clinics on federal park lands. When top level leadership is openly defiant, is it any wonder the hordes will emulate their behavior?

Defiance is at the root of our problems as a country. It is one thing to lie, in the political arena, as is sadly done every day of our existence, but quite another to defy the law of the land. The example we are setting is forming the basis for the behavior of generations of young folks who are being schooled, literally, in the art of defiance. It is why folks are cavalier in regard to police shootings and why we insist on emasculating our police forces. Laws are rapidly becoming inconveniences. Pity the generations to follow who live life by the iron clad rule the old Sergeant imparted, as leadership goes, so goes the city, county, state or country. We are putting fools in office and fools beget fools. Defiance is spreading like a virulent cancer.

Defiance will be our death knell, and we’ll riot, pillage and burn until there is nothing left to challenge. Law, order and the authority behind them will be a mere footnote in the history of a Democracy brought to it’s knees by folks who despise these very concepts.

Have a great week, be safe and obey the law, a rapidly fading privilege in a country of laws.


A Layman’s Guide To Surviving In A Democracy……

Whew! What a week. As I write, America is responding to two decisions handed down by what some are calling an unelected, meaningless Supreme Court. I can’t imagine being so irrelevant in life that you are reduced to printing stupid slogans and ignorant rankings on poster board, venturing forth in this heat and challenging decisions that are in print by a thoughtful high court. I am so moved by the hordes that have taken to the street that I thought a simple guide to help folks cope with things that annoy them would be in order. Disagreement is a wonderful part of a Democracy that is also plagued by profound ignorance.

They have spoken

Conservatives have lived (and still live) with challenges to the 2d Amendment and the effects of Roe for many, many years. In spite of their trepidations, they have chosen to not burn things down and take to the street with chest beating verbal commentary such as “To hell with the Supreme Court, we will do as we damn well please with our bodies”. Such is the utter ignorance of alligator mouthed folks like Maxine Waters. Don’t worry about Maxine, she slipped off the track many years ago, instead worry about the handful of idiots that listen to her and, God forbid, vote for her.

Here is how you handle this dreadful news if you don’t agree with the decisions of the Court. First, sit down, draw a deep breath, take a long pull from a bottle of your favorite Napa Valley wine and accept that there exists absolutely no relationship between 2d Amendment issues and abortion. Firearms are protected, specifically, by the Constitution and abortion is not. (Read Ginsberg) The court interprets the Constitution, it’s primary function in life. It does not make laws. Laws are made by legislatures, in the abortion case, state legislatures. The genius here is the court recognizes that folks tend to congregate in like minded enclaves and can make laws either supporting or denouncing abortion or anything for that matter that doesn’t run afoul of the Constitution. On an elevated level, these enclaves are called “states”. Missouri is chock full of Conservatives, so our state will be a very long time approving abortion. The answer. Move to the West Coast. Don’t risk melanoma carrying a sign with a meaningless slogan on it because you have time on your hands. It appears that cash strapped California is on the cusp of providing financial assistance to Missourians who “need” an abortion. Give ‘em a call if you get in a jam because you do not understand contraception.

About guns. Missouri is loaded with folks who carry and own guns. So is Chicago. The difference being that we carry lawfully and gang bangers in Chi-town do not. If you are concerned with the probability of being gunned down in the Windy City on your way for a great deep dish pizza, move to Missouri where you at least have a sporting chance of shooting the asshat that is attempting to kill you. If you do not like the literal interpretation of the 2d Amendment, move to the West Coast, or New York. The disarming of law abiding citizens in those locales has been ever so effective in reducing violent crime on their streets.

Here Joe Biden shows us an “assault” rifle……

Let’s wrap this up. There are 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each views social rule a little differently and is free to establish any (Constitutional) law it wants to. The legislatures are placed there by the people and in a Democracy, the majority have the final say. If you are sickened by your state’s posture, feel free to relocate to a state that mirrors your belief. The alternative is to hang on until your view becomes the majority view and and then change the rules. In fairness, you’re going to be waiting a long time in Missouri to change our position on either of these issues so be careful in the sun carrying that ridiculous sign. Melanoma is nothing to mess with….

Have a great week!


Parenting, A lost Art…….

I am not a professional educator, however; I live with one. Her experiences and mine as a behavioral monitor have led us to the inescapable conclusion that we are experiencing a decline in the fine art of parenting. I can see the sadness in Sharon’s eyes when we are confronted by children who defy their parents, and parents who see themselves as simply facilitators for their children who, more than ever, are in control. What kind of parent are you? Here is our take.

Children are watching. If you habitually drive over the speed limit, roll through stop signs, curse other drivers and rely on the universal gesture of disrespect when displeased behind the wheel, all while your children are in the car with you, you are providing a blueprint for your kids when they climb behind the wheel. Yesterday, I was fortunate to find one of only a couple of parking spaces left at the gym where I regularly work out. We have a dedicated parking lot across the street from the pool in Republic. The lot was full of soccer moms and dads, delivering their children to the pool in defiance of a sign that designates this lot for gym patrons only. Our lot is a precious few steps closer to the pool entrance than their designated lot that had 28 vacancies in it at this point. Why? Because lazy parents, in the presence of their children, were reluctant to add 20 or so steps to the walk to the pool from their cars. Lesson for the children? To hell with the sign and courtesy, we do what is convenient not what is directed. Rules don’t matter. Terrific training for “attitudes” that are being shaped.

A mere suggestion. Or is it?

We watch, transfixed as children dominate their parents in restaurants. On oh so many occasions, direction provided by parents becomes mere suggestion that is abandoned in the face of defiant children. We have watched children actually strike parents while defying them and parents quickly conceding the point to the offending child. We were raised differently. Our parents seldom delivered mere suggestions and defiance came with a price that discouraged us from making the same mistake again. Those same children find themselves in the classroom, equally defiant to the authority vested in the educator or coach. Today, teachers are hamstrung by such foolishness as allowing children (K-12) to identify as animals and being required to bark or meow to satisfy the child’s silliness. This is ceding control to the child in the face of authority. The outcome? Folks who burn, loot and break the law with impunity.

Congress is rightfully concerned about the lack of parental guidance today. They lament the lack of male presence in the parental scheme. We suggest they be careful what they ask for as in many cases the wrong parental influence can be more dangerous than no parental influence. Parenting involves both facilitation of healthy activity and denial of unhealthy activity. We are doing a tremendous disservice to our children by permitting them to come to school, self identify as a cat, and being required to meow in their presence. My father would have deftly handled any desire I had to self identify as anything other than a male whose activity was age appropriate.

Many parents, more than ever, are pulling their children out of public education, opting for private or home schooling. They see no advantage to exposing their children to the narcissistic environment that is being offered in schools today. Irresponsible parents really aren’t all that concerned and are pulling their kids because they, too, dislike discipline and control. They will continue to model defiance to rule, discipline and expectation in the presence of their children and the results are obvious. My message this week is simple. Happy Father’s Day to those who still participate in the appropriate nurturing of their children. To the other fathers out there, buck up and provide a positive influence to your kids. How you drive and your respect for rule and law is a part of that education. The results of your efforts will certainly be felt in the years to come. We do not need more drag queens and “furries” (yes, this is a thing today) in our classrooms. We need common sense, the will to deny, a “trip to the car” or “the look”. You know what I mean…..

She means it……guaranteed!

Have a great week!


When Terrific Technology Becomes A Regulatory Nightmare………

This Thursday past, I hopped in a friends vintage Skylane for a short flight from Ozark to The Hanger, a small airport eatery in farm country just northwest of Springfield. The air was calm, cool and visibility was unlimited. It was delightful and provided me the opportunity to handle the yoke and set up for landings on short strips. While eating we were immersed in airplane things, watched a covey of ultralights depart and then jumped up for a hop to Aurora for fuel. As luck would have it, the radio threw ace-deuce as we entered the pattern at Aurora that was busy with two other airplanes, so we cut and ran for home. Three airplanes at a small town airstrip prompted this writing. Are we ready for the future? We’ll soon know as the future is now.

A new phase in aviation is upon us. When you look up, it would appear there is plenty of room for additional aircraft in our skies. Pilots, however, know that it can get crowded in a hurry, and they fly within a set of rules designed to keep airplanes from hitting one another and the ground when not intended. Three airplanes in a small airport pattern are easily managed, even without a radio, but it is damned inconvenient when you are not talking to one another. Within the next few years we are going to intensify this concern dramatically with the eVTOL concept which is rapidly maturing. The acronym eVTOL stands for electric vertical take off and landing devices, kind of like manned drones. They will allow the pilot to roll one out of his garage and buzz off to the grocery for bread and milk. Seriously. United Airlines has committed a billion dollars to a California company to develop these things. All that stands between reality and dream is time and money and the checks are being written. Prototypes are flying today. Sleek, fast and highly maneuverable, they will soar in popularity among the public. Honda is spending big bucks as is Stellantis (Chrysler to us old dogs). Embraer, the Brazilian giant in airplane manufacturing is also ponying up big dollars on this concept. It is happening today.

California based Archer Aviation eVTOL in it’s first hover completed in December 2021

Pause and consider that we spend millions of dollars on paint, road signs and engineering to promote the safe flow of vehicular traffic. We also spend to police the movement of vehicular traffic with devices (stop lights) and Human Resources. Still, we kill some 35,000 folks annually in spite of these enhancements. There are no lanes to paint or shoulders to erect signs on in our airspace. In my wildest dreams I cannot imagine a couple thousand of these things buzzing around our cities and countryside relying on common sense and whatever rules the FAA might conjure up. The enforcement of these rules is going to be a hoot and I only hope that I am around to see it. As I write, there are already a number of conventional airplanes that are battery powered and have been certified by the FAA. The technology is getting better every day, but the limitations are virtually the same as in today’s vehicles. Folks are going to fly these things into power lines, water towers and thunderstorms with predictable results. Mobility is an American tradition, and they are going to be popular, dangers notwithstanding.

Remember George Jetson (1962-1989) the patriarch of the futuristic Jetson family? His mythical birth year was 2022! George, my high flying buddy, the time is nigh. We are going to see it happen and it is going to be a treat. The limiting concern, of course is money. With a new 2 seat Light Sport airplane today starting at north of 100K……you have to wonder. That being said, there are thousands of 100K bass boats on our waters today, why not eVTOLS in the skies above?

Have a great weekend!


Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons……

It is a spectacular day in America’s real heartland, the Ozarks. When you are under the care of an orthopedic surgeon who has demanded you place your arm out of service until a normal feeling shoulder heals properly, it would be easy to become discouraged. Folks are wandering around the farm across from our house, a conservative local politician is wandering our streets drumming up support while our President, in name only, is relaxing on the beach as pleased with himself as he can be. This isn’t a political piece, though, it is a reminder about how good things are, when things aren’t good at all!

This week, Sam’s Club put out a case of beautiful pork loin roasts for under 2 bucks a pound. Pork loins and butts get our attention, to be expected from a carnivore whose roots surely go back to brontosaurus steaks over a fire. Come to think about it, about anything that has been finished over hickory smoke is pretty damned good. Somewhere along the way this week, I found where an enterprising smoker (hickory, not tobacco) discovered that carefully slicing the roast and braiding the strips resulted in a heavier smoke taste to the loin finished on one of the many great smokers out there. Don’t have a smoker……it is a beautiful day to buy one.

A braided roast. Gotta be a treat……I’ll report later.

Between my shoulder and diesel prices that are horrifying, our RV is lying in state in it’s storage building. Sharon is accomplished in every aspect of setting up and breaking down the trailer, but there are a few things that take a testosterone boost to accomplish (she is a triple rotator cuff surgery survivor) so we are busy finding other ways to enjoy the seasonal warm up. We were back in the theater this week to see the much ballyhooed Top Gun Maverick movie, a tub of warm popcorn and ginger ale in hand. The movie was pure Hollywood schlock, with some neat flying scenes and just the right amount of nostalgia as it bridged the gap from the first Top Gun. It is a reminder of the talent it takes to plant a jet on a carrier deck, master the electronic envelope in todays weapons systems, and what America can do, even though the technology was ancient by today’s standards. It even had just a smidge of chick flick stuff in it, although Tom is getting a little long in the tooth to be chasing the dollies. What a million dollar smile and great hair won’t do for you.

Optimism in the face of pessimism is not always easy. It is a mental state, compounded by a dollar that won’t buy much these days. We will pull out of this dive, level off and fly on. We always do. Center your sights on what is right for you and your family, find alternative sources of pleasure and excitement (our great outdoors remain a tremendous bargain) and be patient. A political worker just knocked on my door and when I answered he immediately asked if I was a Veteran, acknowledging the flag out front. He thanked me for my service and asked for my support for a conservative local pol. I smiled……..that won’t be a problem and he left smiling. Between the roast and this gentleman……we’re off to a great start. Bring on the lemons, I feel the need for lemonade.

Have a great week!

Oh dear Lord…the braided loin was succulent! Our new go to recipe….


A Damned Tough Week….

This week I have been absorbing all that I can relative to the Vietnam War, trying to understand the political realities that led us into and out of that quagmire and reflecting on the names on a wall in our nation’s capital. My respect for our military is bone deep and has been nurtured by an early life shaped by the confines of existence as a military dependent living in “quarters” on an Army post. It was to be expected, I suppose, that I would follow in my father’s footsteps and climb into an airplane for a year in Vietnam. I expect no reward from folks that I walk or drive by in a truck bearing the Vietnam Service ribbon or announcing my specialty in those days as a field artillery fire direction control specialist. Sometimes I actually feel guilt that I have enjoyed an America paid for with the blood of my contemporaries that we honor this weekend and was able to walk to the airplane bringing me home. If you are a combat veteran, no matter the conflict, you know what I am talking about. This weekend, I will honor the sacrifice of those that died fighting for something that America deemed or deems important.

Remembering those I served with, whose names are on a wall in our nations Capital.

The horror of the shooting in Texas has left every American possessing an ounce of compassion and a measure of civility with a desperate need to do something to positively impact the situation. When you see something that is profoundly wrong, you want to correct it. As a career police officer, that is precisely where I am at this moment. It appears that errors in judgement, perhaps with catastrophic consequences, may have been made. America is hanging her head in shame. If the horrible loss of innocent life is not enough, we have well meaning leadership lashing out pushing their version of a fix for such events. In times of unspeakable horror, we expect our elected leadership to respond methodically and reflectively in addressing the lack of spiritual grounding and morality in a country that is obsessed with violence. On a far lesser scale than this killing, I have witnessed violent and tragic death over the course of a long police career. If I had all of the answers in addressing the lack of morality that is gripping our younger generations, I would sit at the right hand of the Lord. I do not, but can assure you that we have never been able to legislate morality and we aren’t going to do it now. There was a time when every pickup truck on high school parking lots had a rifle or shotgun prominently displayed in the rear window. The trucks were also mostly unlocked. What has changed? People have changed. Mass killers are not interested in a law review before they begin their depraved slaughter of folks, usually ending in their own demise by their own hand or those of the police. Please listen to this old trooper, these shootings are going to continue until such time as we address the mindset of the sociopathic individuals who walk among us, mostly undetected, or deny them access to our children. Sociopaths cannot kill what they cannot get to. There has been a fundamental shift in morality in this country, manifested in the younger generations raised in a culture of graphic violence and a new law is not going to impact this.

Here is the assignment for this week. Hug your kids and grandkids and thank the Lord they have been spared the machinations of folks bent on terror. Honor the sacrifice of those who have died in the service of this country. Watch the politicians that serve you. You can get a feel for the depth of their reasoning as they address the Uvalde shooting. This is no time for screamers and chest beaters. We need good judgement and reflection, not a stage show.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Where Are They………..

Sometime ago, I resolved to not rely on my blogs to craft political hit pieces, although the fodder for such is scattered about ankle deep in our country today. My question is not rhetorical, I genuinely wonder where the 30% or so of Americans are that approve of Joe Biden’s job performance. Pollsters provide us this number. My musings are prompted by Elon Musk’s discovery that fully a third, if not more, of Biden’s followers on Twitter are actually bots. They don’t exist. Does Biden’s third exist…..or are they also bots? Who among us can name a single program or event masterminded by this administration that is widely accepted as beneficial and constructive?

Joe, waving to his BOTS, that form the basis of his 30% approval rating.

I watched an interview recently with a Hispanic commenter who suggested one of the reasons for Biden’s record low approval rating among his demographic is the disappointment they feel with the Hunter Biden saga, reminding them of the corruption that immigrants are trying to leave behind in their countries. His is an excellent point. Where are the folks among us that don’t grasp the significance of the Afghanistan horror show and the message it sent to the rest of the world? How in the name of all that is sacred can anyone accept the current economic crises as okay? Biden has grandiose economic plans that involve spending trillions (with a “t”) of dollars on dubious give aways, like paying off college debt at the expense of millions of hard working American’s earning a living while relying on the many options that do not involve a degree for the sake of having one. I cannot wrap my mind around the acceptance of opening the southern border, much less the blatantly dishonest denial of this event. The situation on our border is another horror show and we are to believe that a third of Americans approve? The latest revelation that stores of baby formula exist on the border, earmarked for alien infants at the expense of of our babies at home, is an affront to the sensibilities of anyone who genuinely cares about this country. I am not anti-electric as an alternative energy source, however anyone with a smidgen of common sense can see the concept is not ripe and we must continue to rely on fossil fuels for years to come. Fossil fuel drives our economy. Where are the 30 percenters who are okay with the current energy policy?

I could go on, but it isn’t necessary. Allegedly, there exists a sizable number of folks who think the above realities are the essence of “a good job” by this President. Why can’t these same folks see the challenges the world is tossing our way with this feckless man at the helm. Russia is making it’s move and we are in a war by proxy with them in the Ukraine, likely to be a trillion dollar war before it is over. China is challenging us on every economic level, as they sense now is the time with this administration in the left seat. Countries are queuing up to join NATO so as to place themselves under our economic umbrella, even though they have contributed little if anything to the NATO budget. Did Vietnam or Afghanistan teach America anything? You be the judge………

So, where are these folks? I do not believe they exist. I am also confident if you can locate one of these challenged folks, he or she can’t get two words deep in their justification without mentioning Donald Trump. They have resoundingly made their point. They prefer Biden to Trump, but do they honestly think he has done a better job? Please. Sometime ago a prominent politician said that Joe Biden was wrong on nearly every foreign policy decision he was involved in. Folks, leopards do not change their spots and Biden hasn’t changed his. If you are one of the thirty percenters that approves…….sit back with a cup of coffee, a yellow pad and pencil and jot down why you feel this way. I don’t think you exist….instead I think you are one of Elon Musk’s bots.

Bots are easy to count but impossible to locate. We may have just solved the problem!

Have a great week ahead!


Driving Mr. Daisy……..

When life hands you a bag of lemons, make lemonade! It helps to have a cute, energetic lemonade maker at your side, preferably one with just a smidgeon of drill sergeant coursing through her veins. These are precisely the circumstances I find myself in after punching my dance card awhile back with one of Tazzy’s dog blankets on a slick vinyl floor. Out of adversity comes opportunity, and I have used this down time to become acquainted with the nuances of a torn rotator cuff and the healing process. Dr. Tim Galbraith, my surgeon, said it would not be easy, elevating him to the master class of understatement. Please feel free to benefit from my experiences here and avoid, at all costs, falling on a otherwise perfectly good shoulder. If you do, see Dr. Galbraith and thank the Lord for his talents and pray for the commitment of a caregiver like Miss Sharon on this beautiful Mother’s Day.

Torn tendons in the rotator cuff

Our conservative, middle class abode has been modified to approximate a physical therapy unit. We have a nice recirculating ice water machine that cools the shoulder down to about where you hold beef while it is aging at a local abattoir. The center piece is “the chair”, a nifty little electric chair that is engineered to provide a full range of motion for your arm with absolutely no effort on your part. The surgeon and I have have entered a pact whereby I won’t tear his engineering up in exchange for a precisely controlled recovery process. The first few days are in the books and I can attest to the desirability of avoiding this mechanical creation at all costs. It hurts as you sit in this chair, pretending to watch the latest Netflix series while you chew your lip in an effort to avoid peeing down one leg. The latest in designer narcotics are available, but as many of you know, you trade the usefulness of your alimentary canal for pain relief, not an entirely desirable swap under the best of circumstances. I should point out that Sharon is a veteran of THREE shoulder surgeries and, typical of the female persuasion, sailed through the recovery process with little if any complaint. I’ll say it and get it over with, men whine and complain, women grit their teeth and bear it. Once again, I doff my hat at the resilience inherent to she class of folks.

“The Chair” Notice the assistant physical therapist, Tazzy, carefully watching my progress.

Yesterday, Miss Sharon saddled up the “Orange Crush” and drove us out to our local strawberry patch for a neighborhood run on these delectable little berries. The fresh air was wonderful, the berries just coming into season and her role as a chauffeur handled with grace and just a touch of road rage. It was a perfect Rx for me after spending the required 6 hours in the chair. This is to be my daily routine for a minimum of 6 days, three two hour sessions per day. I dare not show weakness in her presence lest I bring out the drill sergeant in her. Complaining is not in my best interest, rather a smiling commitment to the torture necessary if I am to slide a shotgun to my shoulder next spring to end the suffering of a forlorn Turkey venturing about looking for love.

Strawberry time!
The Orange Crush, pre-flighted and ready to roll

It promises to be a warm week with plenty of sunshine. Get out and enjoy every minute of it but do so from a firm two point stance on terra firma.


Aging Ain’t All Bad…….

Yesterday we had a garage sale, more to show solidarity with the neighborhood than out of the love for folks who frequent these events. It was kind of fun, bartering over something worth a quarter takes me back to shooting 9-ball at a military pool hall for a dollar a rack. The event also reminded me of the benefits of aging that often go unrecognized. This week I go under the knife again for the 10th time in my lifetime, this time to repair the shoulder that I sacrificed to the God of stupidity when I tangled with a dog blanket on a slick vinyl floor. Rather than mope around, damning my bad luck, I decided to take stock of the good things inherent to being around to meet a new surgical team. Here are a few things the garage sale and the prospects of the knife have taught me.

The good life!

First is associations. Rather than deal with insufferable folks because of professional circumstances, I get to choose who I hang with for extended visits. This from a individual whose career path forced associations with most unsavory folks as a matter of course. Your self esteem is a reflection of those you associate with and I am proud of my friends. Next up has to do with brain power. Your vocabulary actually increases during the golden years, a necessity with all the techno-speak we are forced to endure. Your ability to manage this vocabulary is the result of increases in actual neurons in our brains. Young folks think our brains are draining down our necks, so don’t let them in on this secret. We tend to hide our mental gains from them, less we threaten their fragile protected egos. The golden years are about establishing new and personal priorities. This alone is worth the price of admission into the old dude category. The trappings of today’s culture, cars, flashy clothes and such matter to us far less than the person behind all this stuff. Emotionally, we have gained immeasurably. We shed the image armor in favor of tears when the dog dies or a child is successful or at the sight of a beautiful sunset or sunrise. Speaking of children, we now understand Gore Vidal when he advises we skip having children and go straight to grand-children. Why are they so different than our children? Who knows and who cares, we just love them differently.

Our coping skills are refined. We accept the inevitability of death of all things important. We’re not wandering aimlessly, rather able to conjure up a mental road map, based on experience, for most situations in life from the catalogue of such maps in our brains. We have experienced many things in life, good and bad, and are able to lean on this experience when new problems arise. An example of this is flying an airplane. This pastime places great emphasis on experience behind the yoke and rewards us with a safer and more enjoyable flight each time the wheels leave the ground. We catch fewer colds (true!), enjoy guaranteed income (for most of us that have earned this perk), gamble smarter in life and at the casino, and have more mental endurance than at any time in our lives. We expend our resources in time and materially with a focus on improving the existence of those around us (volunteering, like ringing the bell at Christmas) and revel in the warmth of those efforts when we are successful.

This week, I will drag out one of those roadmaps I mentioned, greet the surgical team with a smile and thank them for rebuilding a shoulder that I am going to need for hopefully quite awhile longer, confident they will work their magic. If the pain isn’t prohibitive, I’ll attend the retirement festivities of my long time family physician who has kept me alive to see him finally decide to give up his practice, all while I am healthy enough to smile, laugh and embrace life. I am now offering him advice rather than the other way around!

Aging ain’t all bad, rather it is an opportunity. Now grab this beautiful spring day by the tail and give it a shake. We have far more to smile about than we might imagine…..

Have a great week!


Firefighters Matter………

Earlier this year I accepted a position on our local Fire Department Board of Directors. I have always been a strong advocate for emergency services of all kinds and welcomed the experience. Like the military, where being around it is not being in it, my knowledge relative to the fire service was limited to working with them at accidents and occasional traffic issues at really big fires. My appreciation for the services these folks provide has increased exponentially and is growing daily. Our district borders Springfield where their fire service is all career as opposed to our guys who are comprised of 14 career firemen (women) and 20 volunteers of which 18 are certified or close to certification.

A recent tax levy has enabled us to accelerate our efforts in growing, training and equipping our department. I was immediately struck by the sense of mission and dedication of these folks in providing this essential service. My respect is apparently not mirrored by the City of Springfield which has begun proceedings to annex the new county jail into the city thus removing us from providing fire and rescue coverage at this facility. The county, city or fire service in the city did not bother to involve us in the discussions relative to this annexation, which may be sound from a tactical perspective. Tactical considerations do not preclude courtesy or inter-agency communication. The failure of Springfield or the county to reach out to us should not be misread. Our department is fully capable of responding to the new jail if needed and we certainly know how to call for assistance in the unlikely event our response needed augmentation. Communication is the very soul of emergency response.

Our fleet also has two engines, a ladder truck and additional brush and rescue vehicles.

Let’s talk about the status of firefighting in America. In 2019 it was estimated there were 1,080,800 career and volunteer firefighters in our country, comprised of 358,000 career and 722,800 volunteers. It was estimated that 88,800 of these folks were female. These folks worked out of 29,537 organized departments nationwide. Missouri is home to 678 departments. Because of population density around our cities, 18% of these departments were either career or mostly career manned and protected 69% of the US population. Rural firefighting is no longer your grandfather’s drive like hell and attack a fire without benefit of fire science, tactical consideration and good equipment. Firefighting, just like policing, has evolved tremendously, and I am working hard to grasp the nuances.

Ready to roll……

Another consideration is basic life support. We also field a rescue component of trained professionals and volunteers who respond to accidents and other rescue scenarios. Their commitment is unsurpassed. I sat in on a class provided by a local ER physician as he educated our group on the strategies in handling the various overdose scenarios that are becoming quite common in a culture that is relaxing it’s guard against recreational drug use. In 2019, only 46% of fire departments offered basic life support and advanced rescue capabilities. My experiences is as a rural trooper, for the most part, and I can attest to the dignity these guys provide at scenes that were otherwise chaotic.

Let’s wrap this up. There are about 358,300 home based fires in America every year. The property damage is hard to estimate with today’s inflation but is believed to be well north of 12 billion dollars. The toll in human lives is north of 2600 a year. We lose an average of 80 firefighters each year, dying in the execution of their duties. My perspective relative to this essential profession has been altered from one of acceptance and appreciation to admiration and awe. Their commitment must never be underestimated and their thirst for increased knowledge must be fed. It is essential we continue to support our fire services, rural and urban. When you need them, you want the best available…….as quickly as possible.

Firefighters matter…..believe it!