Thursday, December 29, 2016

Was she an angel? A test from the Lord? The Lord Himself in disguise?

Breaking two mirrors at once had put me in a bad mood, so I was not happy when the woman came up to my car begging for money.

Let me back up a minute and explain before I get into the heart of my story.

In addition to writing, editing and photographing The Ozarks Almanac, I have two other jobs. My main full-time job is with a big-box home improvement store about 30 miles away in the next county. In the late afternoon and evening, I cover local government for the local newspaper.

At the home improvement store, I am a combination merchandiser/housekeeper, although the title is "product service associate." The team to which I belong puts up displays, hangs signs and resets bays of merchandise. And we do a lot of sweeping, dusting, sometimes mopping, cleaning off adhesives left by price labels and painting of the shelf beams. It's a lot of manual labor, so I like it.

On this particular day, we were hanging mirrored medicine cabinets in a full bay, putting them in rows from the floor on up to about 10 feet. Late in the day, when we were nearing completion of the hanging and getting ready to start cleaning up, I came down a ladder with a medicine cabinet on my shoulder. As I stepped off the ladder, I stepped on a cabinet that I had placed on the floor on an earlier trip down the ladder. I broke that mirror and started to fall, dropping the cabinet that I was carrying, breaking it. if I were superstitious, I would have been scared to death.

I am not superstitious, but I was angry--mostly at myself for being so clumsy.

I cleaned up my own mess of broken mirrors, and we finished up, cleaned up all the other leftovers and went home.

Driving home I stewed about breaking merchandise. I decided to stop at the Kroger and get a can of peanuts for comfort before going to the newspaper office, which I did.

As I got into my car, I heard a woman saying, "Sir, sir, sir!"

"What?" I said, obviously irritated at the woman coming up to my car.

By now, I was seated behind the wheel with my hand on the door to close it.

"My little baby needs diapers, and I don't have any money. Can you help me?" she pleaded.

Now, I have a real distrust of beggars. Our town of only 20,000 has a bad problem of meth and heroin, so we have some thievery and scamming going on. Begging is a favorite way of scamming. i don't give money to people. I have bought a breakfast for a guy claiming to be hitchhiking through, and I bought groceries for a guy who said he and his wife were traveling and had spent their money on a hotel room. But I don't give out cash.

"You'll just spend it on drugs," I told the woman. "So, no."

She said, "No, I will buy diapers for my little boy. He needs them."

"I don't believe you," I said. "And I don't have much cash anyway."

"OK," she said. "Well, you keep what you have. Thank you anyway." And she started to walk away.

I guess I was feeling a little bit guilty, so I said, "Here, take this." I grabbed all the change I had in my consule cupholder. There was a handful, but it wasn't much.

"No, you keep it," the woman said.

"NO," I said, lifting my voice. "You take it. This is all I have left in cash." And it really was, for I had paid for the peanuts with my debit card.

She reached out and took the money, and then walked away. I closed my door, and drove off. I wasn't out of the parking lot, and I was already talking to Jesus.

"Oh, Lord, I guess I failed you again," I said. "There was a woman who might have truly been in need, and I didn't help her. Not only that, I was short-tempered with her. She might have been an angel that You sent to test me. I go to church on Sunday and thank you for saving me from my sins and ask you to help me follow You better, and here you give me a chance to actually do something for someone who might truly be in need, and I respond like that. I am ashamed."

When I got to the newsroom, I told my three colleagues what had happened. I admitted I was wrong. My Catholic buddy said, "You should have gone in and bought her a box of diapers if you didn't want to give her money."

"I know, I know. You don't have to tell me," I said. It is irritating for a Baptist to be corrected by a Catholic.

That night I prayed again for forgiveness, and I prayed for another chance to help someone. In fact, I prayed for a chance to help that same woman.

For weeks, I kept an eye out for her. One night, my wife asked me to stop at Kroger to get something, and that's when the guy who was traveling with his wife stopped me at the door on the way in and asked for help. He asked for money to buy some bologna and bread. I told him to go in and get what he needed for supper and meet me at the cash register so I could pay for it.

He did as he said. He got bologna and bread. I had told him to get some chips and cheese if he wanted. He had done that, and he had a package of cookies. "Do you mind if I get these for my wife?" he said. "If you do, I'll put them back."

"No, go ahead and get them for her," I said, and paid for his stuff.

I thanked the Lord for an opportunity to help someone, and I thanked Him for giving me the sense to help someone without complaining. I asked Him to let me help that woman again, if it were His will.

More weeks passed, and I backslid in my attitude. I wasn't looking to help anyone, and I had forgot about the woman at Kroger.

I was filling up with gasoline at the MotoMart across the street from Walgreens, when I heard a woman on the other side of the pumps talking to another motorist.

"Can you help me buy my little boy some medicine?" I heard her ask. And then I heard her say, "OK, thank you anyway."

Then she came over to my side of the pumps, and said, "Sir, sir, could you help me? I need to buy my little boy some medicine. He has a prescription waiting at Walgreens, but I don't have enough money to pay for it."

You're not going to believe this, but I recognized it as the same woman. And you're not going to believe this either, but after weeks of praying for an opportunity to help that same woman, my thoughts were this, "Well, good grief, I was right all along. She's just a scammer, after all. She's begging again, this time with a new approach. I don't feel so bad now."

Aloud, I said, "I'm sorry. I don't have any cash. I'm paying for this with my debit card. Don't have anything else. Sorry."

"OK, thank you anyway," she said, and walked off toward Walmart, and she was out of sight around the corner of the Motomart as I finished fueling.

I got in my car and was immediately stricken with guilt.

"I'm sorry, Lord," I said, and I drove off to catch her. By the time I got to her she was at the bottom of the hill at the corner. I pulled over, rolled down the window and said, "Listen, I don't have a lot of money in my account, and payday isn't until Friday. If it isn't too expensive, I'll go over there and pay for your boy's prescription."

She said, "It's only about $10."

"OK," I said. "If it is more than that, I won't be able to swing it. I am way down to the bottom of my bank account, and I'll still need to buy some stuff later in the week. I'll go on over there and pay for it if it's just $10."

I left her there, because I don't let women into my car with me unless my wife is with me.

She had told me the boy's name, and I told the pharmacist that I was there to pay for it, and that she would come and pick it up. The price he gave me was closer to $20 than to $10.

"Well, I guess I won't pay for it after all," I said, and I walked away from the counter.

Well, of course, I was again stricken with guilt.

"OK, Lord, you win," I said. "I'll pay for it, but You'll have to help me make ends meet later this week."

I went back to the pharmacist and said, "I'll go ahead and pay for it. The Lord has kicked me in the butt."

He laughed as I slid the debit card through the reader.

He gave me the receipt, and I said, "Now, let me make sure. Is that prescription for a baby?"

He said, "It's not for an infant, but it is for a small child."

Well, I figured that was close enough. After all, it had been several weeks, months even, since I had chewed the woman out for begging in the Kroger parking lot. The kid likely wasn't an infant.

I met the woman at the door on my way out.

"How did it go? Were you able to help?" she said.

"It's paid for and ready for you to pick up," I said.

"Oh, thank you," she said.

I  haven't seen her since..

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mark you calendar for Aug. 21, 2017

There will be a total eclipse of the sun in Augut 2017, and according to the map that you can find on earthsky.org, we ought to be in a good position to watch it here in the heart of south central Missouri. 

According to earthsky.org:

On August 21, 2017 a total eclipse of the sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses the United States. The path of the moon’s umbral shadow begins in the northern Pacific and crosses the U.S. from west to east through parts of the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. The moon’s penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering most of North America.


Here's a link from earthsky.org with more information than you can handle at one sitting: earthsky.org resources.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A dazed and confused visitor

One Saturday before Christmas, thinking back I believe it was the first Saturday of the month for I was leaving the house, I spotted him on the top step. He was a brilliant red cardinal, and he did not move when I stood looking down at him. Yes, he was alive, but he did not fly away. He just sat there.
I pulled out my cellphone and called my wife. She was just inside the house, of course, but there's a feral cat or two that wander around here, and I didn't want to take the chance of one of them finding him while I went inside to get her. She's the bird expert.
"I've got an emrgency out here," I said.
She came right out.
"What is it?" she said, a little breathlessly.
"Come and look," I said. "He won't move. I guess  he's sick."
She reached down and picked him up. As I said, she's the bird expert.
He didn't try to fly away. She caressed him.
"Maybe he just flew into the window and knocked himself out," she said. "He acts dazed."
"I've got to go," I said, for I had two photo assignments from the local paper that day, a Christmas parade in one town in the morning and in another town in the evening.
I snapped a picture of her hands holding the bird, and I left.
That was mid-morning. When I got back in the middle of the afternoon, the first thing I asked her about was the bird.
"He's all right now, I think," she said. "I hear him moving around in the box. Take him outside and see if he'll fly away."
I took him outside to our bird sanctuary, the space outside the kitchen window where we set several posts to hold bird feeders next to the bird bath. They are between the house and the hedge that separates our side yard from the lot next door. Birds love the sanctuary.
I sat the box on the ground and pulled the flaps apart. He burst out and flew up and landed in the top of the hedge and looked around before flying off.
With some time before I had to go do my evening photo shoot, I filled all the seed feeders and the suet feeders. I put fresh water in the bird bath.
Later, when they came back for the eveining feeding frenzy, I saw several cardinals, both male and female. I presume that one of the brilliant red males was our earlier visitor.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day. I hope it has been a wonderful Christmas season for you.
This year has been a quiet Christmas for The Ozarks  Boy and The Ozarks Almanac. It's given me time to reflect on a few things.
One, I hear about a war on Christmas, and I suppose there is such. Just today, I read about some atheists in Texas demanding that a Nativity scene be removed from a Courthouse lawn. It's sad to think there are atheists. It's sad that there are atheists in Texas, a state I have grown to admire. It's sad that they have to try to ruin something many of the rest of us join. Why not just let things run their course? I read about a book that foresees the end to Christianity, especially white people believing in Christ, over the next eight years. Atheists should just wait eight years.
To combat the removal of the Nativity scenes in public places, I set up 11 of them in the small-town newsroom where I work part-time of an evening, covering local government meetings. They are sitting on a desk, an empty and unused desk, next to the office Christmas tree. They're quite visible, even to customers. No one complained about the Nativity scenes. The publisher made me remove my desk-size Confederate flag this year, but he hasn't done away with the birth of Christ. At least not yet.
I also have been reflecting on the actual birth of Christ. What a preposterous notion that the Creator of this vast universe became a baby so that he could live a perfect life and then die on a cross as a sacrifice to himself for our sins. I don't get it, but I don't have to get it. I only have to believe it. And I do. Because of that other holiday we observe in church, the Resurriction Sunday.
I hope you have been thinking about Jesus, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, God's love, and other wonderful ideas this day.
Merry Christmas from the world headquarters of The Ozarks Almanac.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Persimmon seeds lied to me last fall, so should I trust them this year?


Three on top are definitely knives. Five below may be spoons or ladles or large knives. Not sure which.

I've written many dumb headlines over the years, but I can't take credit for this one.
The persimmon seeds I gathered from the tree in my side yard last fall predicted a cold, wet, snowy winter. They were wrong. It turned out to be quite mild. Flooding was more of a problem than were snowdrifts or ice.

Of course, I am not complaining, but I was thinkng about skipping the folklore weather forecast this year.

I couldn't resist it, though, and a couple of weeks ago, right after the first frost, I picked up seven persimmons from beneath the tree in my yard. I picked out the seeds from those seven fruit, and I selected 12 of the thickest seeds. Seven is the number of days of creation, counting the day the Lord rested from that burden. Twelve is the number of Hebrew tribes; it is also the number of the original disciples.
I split the 12 fat seeds in half, and I was fortunate to find eight of the 24 halves legible. Eight is the number of people on the Ark, counting Noah, during the Flood, a weather-related incident.

You can see from the photo of poor quality at the top of this post that three of the halves were definitely knives. That means some cold, cutting temperatures. For back-up to that forecast, see the headline in the local newspaper that was printed a couple of weekends ago. We are definitely going to  have some cooler temperatures when winter gets here; it's right there in the paper.

I have not run across any woolly worms to see what they have to say.

The five seed halves on the second row are not clear to me. They might be spoons. They might be ladles. A couple of them might be big knives. I just don't know.

But there are no forks! Forks mean a mild winter. Once again, the seeds seem to be telling us that we are going to have a bitterly cold and wet, snowy winter. Maybe that will just be in my side yard where the tree is.

On a related note, I got this letter from reader Martha Furman Kojro, of Doolittle, Missouri, who has followed my writings about folklore weather forecaasting for many years.

Dear RD,
In the Farmers’ Almanac  daily newsletter I came across another way to predict the severity of winter.
It seems that the color of a goose’s breastbone can be used to foretell the future weather events. A red or darkly spotted bone means that winter will be cold and stormy. A light color or lightly spotted bone indicates a mild winter.
If you publish this advice I hope that there are enough geese available at our local grocery stores to meet the demand of folk scientists in the area. The few wooly worms that I’ve seen this year in my part of  Phelps county indicate a mild winter.
I  might  be cooking a goose for Sunday dinner in order to further folk science research!
Yours Truly,
Martha Furman Kojro

I told Martha that if she cooks a goose to let me know what she found. She told me later that she could not find a goose in our little town.
I guess we'll just have to rely on persimmons and the local paper.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Buy Nothing Day supported by economic ignoramuses

If you are reading this over your morning coffee, getting ready to leave for your office soon, I will be looking forward to my first morning break. I've been on the job since 6 a.m., and I wasn't the first person to get here. The stocking crew has been here since 4 a.m.

We are in retail. We work for a Fortune 50 big-box store, and we, most of us anyway, like it. We get a good wage and we full-timers have good benefits. And the seasonal and part-time workers who want to work hard usually get bumped up to full-time. You hear all kinds of crap about evil corporations. Maybe there is such a thing; this isn't one of them.

To hear some people talk, though, our company and so, I guess, we loyal employees, too, are the epitome of evil. We are so evil, in fact, that the self-righteous crowd encouraged a boycott of us, and others like us, on Friday, known as Black Friday, one of our most important shopping (revenue-producing) days in the year.

Buy Nothing Day is what the I'm-better-and-smarter-than-you crowd calls Black Friday. According to USA Today, Buy Nothing Day has been around since the 1990s. I had never heard about it until last year when I was reading a tweet from that twit Shane Claiborne, who is some kind of halfway preacher and book writer in the social media, who was encouraging people to stay away from stores on Black Friday because of their evilness. I wrote back to him sarcastically thanking him for trying to harm the people who employ working stiffs like me and others. He did not respond.

This year he wrote, "Draw something. Sew something. Cook something. Sing something. Build something. Make something. Buy nothing." I wrote back and suggested people not buy his books that he is constantly advertising on the social media.

I don't know what kind of weird world Shane lives in, but apparently he thinks people can draw, sew, cook, build or make things without buying any materials to do so. And buying on Black Friday or other days when prices are reduced makes good sense.

Let me tell you about the sane world I worked in Friday, Black Friday. My corporation marked down prices on lots of merchandise. We had a good day with lots of customers. It seemed to me we had more customers for this Black Friday than we have had since our first one in 2007. I waited on a lot of customers who were looking to buy tools for a loved one. In other departments, they were buying appliances and snow blowers, all kinds of things to make lives easier and homes safer, cleaner, prettier and more convenient.

We didn't force anyone to buy anything. We offered it for sale at reduced prices, and they responded with gratitude. We workers were glad to see all the customers, for without them, we have no work. Boycotting our store on Black Friday would hurt us workers. They Buy-Nothing crowd doesn't understand that. Preachers (like Shane), academics, bureaucrats and politicians, none of whom work in the sector of the economy that generates revenue, understand that we are what keeps churches, schools and the government afloat with our taxes and tax-deductible donations.

Even those of us poor working people who get here at 4, 5 or 6 in the morning while the preachers and teachers and bureaucrats are still sleeping understand business and economics a lot better and a lot deeper than someone like--oh, say--Shane.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hope: It's the first Sunday in Advent

We lit a candle in the Advent wreath at church this morning.
I don't know a lot about the celebration of Advent, for I grew up in small Southern Baptist churches in the Ozarks back in the Fifties and Sixties. Advent was a Roman Catholic church tradition and ritual, so we stayed far away from it. I didn't know what it was, why it had that name or what it meant until I had children of my own and was taking them to church in the late Seventies, maybe early Eighties. By then, we lived in a small town and went to the First Baptist Church where the preacher had a longing to be a high church priest or bishop or grand poobah or something.
On a Sunday, I guess it was in late November, he came prancing to the pulpit wearing something like a graduation gown without the cap. He said it was Advent season and we would observe the ritual. I did a little research later to find out what in the world Advent was all about and found out it was a time to prepare your heart for the arrival of the Christ Child. A graduation gown is not required, but I guess it made the preacher feel higher up and closer to the Lord, so more power to him.
It turned out to be a meaningful little ritual, so I guess the Roman Catholics had a good idea. Well, we left that First Baptist Church and took up with its missionary church plant over on our side of town, and we did not participate in any more Catholic rituals.
Then we moved to another town and found another little church to attend, and took part in no Advent ritual again for years. I go to that same church now, some 30 years later. It is out in the country, the only church I've found that makes me feel welcome and comfortable, in spite of my deep-seated redneckery.
They surprised me this morning with an Advent wreath and a reading about hope. It was a nice little ritual. I liked it.
Now, our church a few years ago under a different pastor introduced the Hanging of the Greens. That's what they called it in the bulletin, so that's what I called it in the church page notice of the newspaper I was sort of editing at the time.
Hanging of the Greens.
It's another Catholic ritual, and I did some research on it. Come to find out, it's the Hanging of the Green. Singular. Not Hanging of the Greens. Plural. Next Sunday we'll be doing that. No collard, mustard or turnip greens will be involved.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Remembering, honoring our history

Top, center, below, the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard.

Rolla, Missouri, being a city that hosts the state's technological university, keeps its eyes on the future, rather than the past.

History is not so important to most Rolla folks, who are looking ahead, doing cutting-edge research, preparing for the world of tomorrow.

We're not preservationists here. Old houses have been razed for new business buildings. Old business buildings have been razed for new university buildings or parking lots.

Such is life here.

There are some individuals, though, who work on remembering and celebrating history. A few years ago I covered for the newspaper a well-rooted Phelps County family's dedication of a new gravestone for one of their ancestors who had settled and died here; he was a Revolutionary War veteran. Couple of summers ago, I covered a memorial service for some Confederate sympathizers who had been massacred by Union militia shortly after the War for Southern Independence (War of Northern Aggression). A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans set that memorial service up.

And Sons of the American Revolution came from throughout Missouri Saturday, Nov. 12, to help their Ozark Patriots chapter dedicate a monument to the war for independence, the American Revoluation, at the Rolla Veterans Memorial Park with prayers, a wreath and musket fire. I covered that for the paper, too.

The park holds monuments to all the wars fought by the United States, but the Revolutionary War monument is unique among all others, said P. Darrell Ownby, president of the local chapter.

"The dedication of this monument the day after Veterans Day is significant since all of the other monuments in this park represent continuing efforts to preserve and retain the liberty and freedom from tyranny that were won in this founding conflict from which our great nation was born and that we honor today," Ownby said in his dedication comments, emphasizing the word "continuing."

All the monuments, though, are important, Ownby said, for they "provide a touchstone for us, and also for the rising generation, and for future generations yet unborn."

Studying history and honoring the people who lived it are important roles for everyone to perform and to make sure are continued, Ownby said.

"Remembering the sacrifices of our Founding Fathers and Patriots is the critical task of each generation to maintain our liberty and the ideals of the Revolution," Ownby said. "The opportunities that we provide for our youth to educate themselves and internalize these founding principles are key to their understanding and remembering."

The local Ozark Patriots chapter was helped by national and state officers who attended. They were Russell Devenney, registrar general for the National Society of SAR and a winner of the National Minuteman Award; John Wayne Merrill, first vice president of the Missouri Society; James E. Osbourn, second vice president of the Missouri Society, and Bill Grote, assistant commander of the Missouri Society Color Guard.

Also helping with the dedication was Becky Anne Osbourn, of the Louisiana Purchase chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The ceremony included color guard with a musket firing of three rounds.

Francis Chandler Furman, secretary of the Ozark Patriot chapter, led the pledge of allegiance.

Columbus Craft, chaplain of the Ozarks Patriot chapter, gave the invocation: "Almighty God, we give thee our humble praise for the gift of the United States of America, for the vision of our patriot ancestors, and for thy continued preservation. Guide and direct the leaders of our nation that we may have peace at home and show forth thy glory among the nations of the world. Give us a sense of all thy mercies that we may declare thy loving kindness from generation to generation. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."

Milan Paddock, historian of the local chapter, led the SAR pledge.

Ownby recognized the visitors and thanked the contributors: the Noah Coleman chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Missouri State Society of the SAR and James and Becky Anne Osbourn.

Ownby also offered the prayer of dedication: "O God, the Eternal Father, we remember before thee today, with grateful and humble hearts, the men and women of our embryonic country who risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, that freedom, liberty and independence be firmly established in our beloved land.

"We are grateful, Heavenly Father, for the cooperation of the individual states and Thy Divine Providence guiding and protecting the outcome of their deliberations and battles.

"We thank thee for the technology that allows us to find digitized documents to trace our lineage to these patriots.

"We dedicate this monument in remembrance and for the pleasure and inspiration of all those who come to see it.

"We thank thee for the faith that we have inherited from our patriots.

"Help us, O God, to sacrifice our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to further the great work that you began in our blessed country, we pray, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

James and Becky Anne Osbourn laid a wreath on the monument.

William Silleck, treasurer of the local chapter, led the recitation of the SAR recessional: "Until we meet again, let us remember our obligations to our forefathers, who gave us our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, an independent Supreme Court and a nation of free men."

Craft closed the ceremony with the benediction: "Heavenly Father, grant us thy mercies as we part. In the coming days, help us to reaffirm our roles as citizens of the United States. keep before us the privations and sacrifices of our ancestors, who freely gave themselves in the cause of liberty and democracy. Endue us with their resolve. Strengthen us as we pledge ourselves to the preservation of the freedoms bestowed by thy hand. Amen."

That service, for me anyway, magnified the distance our country has traveled from its original Founders' values.






Monday, November 7, 2016

Lack of integrity is what is wrong with society today

It was when I was in fourth grade, I think, that I wrote my first major composition. The assignment was an essay about "The Man I Admire the Most." As I had just read a book about famous crime fighters, a Christmas present, I chose to write about J. Edgar Hoover, who was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I was thrilled to read, and subsequently write about, Mr. Hoover's turning an ineffective, corrupt and unprofessional law enforcement agency into a highly trained, professional organization of law men with integrity. That was what I focused on the most, I think, in my essay, the integrity of the men who worked so hard to "always get their man."

J. Edgar Hoover, according to the mainstream media, turned out to be not so heroic. He is reported to have been a crossdressing homosexual who gathered information on government officials and used it as blackmail to get the budgets he wanted for his agency.

Bad as that is, I don't think it is nearly as bad as what current FBI Director James Comey has done. He has ignored reams and boxes of evidence against a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, and quickly cleared her. In fact, he has now cleared her twice.

His description several weeks ago of what she did indicates that she would have been arrested and tried and thrown in jail,  had she been a person of a lower station in life.  I work with many retired veterans, and they all have told me that if they had handled classified government email texts as casually as she did,  they would have been court-martialed. One veteran, a career military policeman, was especially distraught at the betrayal of the law enforcement profession. I cannot imagine the J. Edgar Hoover I admired in fourth grade doing what Comey did.

Our nation is on the brink of disaster. Every institution, every facet of society, everything we have trusted, has become corrupted. All I know to do is to pray and have faith that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the Great God Almighty in the flesh, will work out his plan and purpose.

Meanwhile, I am sure in today's corrupt nation, some fourth grade kid is writing an essay about his admiration of FBI Director James Comey. I shudder to think it is possible, but I am quite certain it is.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hillbilly Tupperware

When I call the assorted containers I use to carry food in my lunch bucket Hillbilly Tupperware, I mean no disrespect to either hillbillies or Tupperware.

Tupperware is the benchmark for quality food storage, so my catchy nomenclature is an homage to that product.

As a hillbilly myself, I use the term as one of pride. In this case, I'm proud of us hillbillies for our frugality.

We rural Missouri hillfolk have been practicing recycling a long, long time. We were reusing stuff long before it became trendy.

Take a look at the picture. You'll see that my wife stored some meatloaf in a CoolWhip container for freezing. It doesn't fit in my dinner bucket, so I transferred the meatloaf to a cottage cheese container. I have two sizes of cottage cheese containers. I'll use about anything. You'll also see in that picture a container that once held cake icing or frosting. That little container in the front held, I think, some cheese from Taco Bell. I'll use it to carry Italian dressing to add to my salad.

We hillbillies recycle and reuse all kinds of stuff. One of my grandmas had coffee cans (they used to be metal) full of screws, nuts and washers that she had collected from various places. My other grandma used and reused paper bags, cardboard boxes and every kind of plastic container. Both grandpas were also users and reusers of materials.
My parents, too, are adept adapters of reusable materials, so I guess I am carrying on a family tradition, when I arry my dinner bucket.full of oddball containers.



Monday, October 31, 2016

Somebody has been signing my concrete

Somebody just had to sign my concrete.
Last weekend, I dug a hole and set a 4x4 post to hold large bird feeders. By that, I mean large feeders for birds of any size. I set the post in Quikrete, leveled and propped the post and then left it for a week to cure. When I checked it Saturday, I noticed someone had "signed" the concrete. Here's a picture.

That's the distinct impression of a little kitty cat's paw. We don't have any little kitty cats ourselves, but we've seen some hanging around the neighborhood. I don't mind them; they help keep the mouse population down.

I also don't mind the signature in my birdfeeder post concrete. I hope the cats just leave the birds alone and eat all the mice.

While I have your attention, let me encourage you to put out some food for the birds. I replenished all the suet feeders today, too.

And I put fresh water in the bird bath, something I do freequently each week.

We try to keep the birds fed and watered year around. Especially watered; we have a small heater for the coldest days of winter. The main birdwatcher in Rolla told me that keeping the birds watered in winter maight be more important than feeding them. It is difficult to find water that isn't frozen sometimes.

So do what you can to keep a supply of water that isn't hard as concrete on the coldest days of winter.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Taking time to worship the Creator who cares for me

This is the front of today's church bulletin.
Owing to work and sickness, I had not been to a church service for about a month until this morning. I had been to Sunday School for a couple of sessions, but I had to leave afterwards and did not attend worship service.

It was good to be at both Sunday School and the worship service today. Those are the best times of the week. I enjoy Sunday School immensely. There were 10 old men in the little classrom today. There are so many of us good ole boys that they are going to take down a wall and extend the classroom to give us some room.

The appeal of the Sunday School class is that we all talk freely. We give our own interpretation of the lesson, and while we may disagree, no one judges and no one gets angry. We laugh a lot in that class.

We are a small country congregation. About 50 of us attend the worship service each Sunday. We have a traditional service with singing of the good old hymns from the hymnal, accompanied by a piano player and an organist. Today, we sang the third verse of "Worthy of Worship" as the call to worship. We also sang "Trust Try and Prove Me," "Take the Name of Jesus With You" and "Wherever He Leads I'll Go."

In between the songs were the welcome to visitors, announcements, a brief presentation on the Christianity of the nation's Founding Fathers," praises and prayer concerns followed by our morning prayer, the children's sermon, the offering, a special vocal from one of the women of the church and the sermon.

The preacher preached about the prodigal son and his father, based on Luke 15. I tell you honestly that I did not listen carefully. That happens a lot to me. I have three jobs counting this one, so I have a full schedule. I should read the Bible studiously each day, but I don't have or make the time. I look forward to worship services so I can sit an meditate on God. Sunday mornings, I listen to the sermon a little and then my mind wanders toward God.

Today, I sat and wrote a little prayer while the preacher preached. Sometimes, just thinking about God and talking to him in my thoughts makes me feel better than a sermon does.

After the sermon, we had the Lord's Supper observance. We don't do that at every service; we have the Lord's Supper quarterly. It is always a moving experience for me to partake in the bread and grape juice as symbols of our Lord's body and blood.

I have heard lots of reasons for not going to church, and I think they are all good reason. I am not judgingyou for not going to church; that is between you and Jesus, who will someday judge you himself. If any of you reading this are compelled as I am to regularly join other sinners in worshipping the Savior, I recommend you find a good little country church.

Daily weather data for Oct. 30

Rolla (Missouri S&T) NOAA Co-Op Weather Station

Here is the Rolla weather data for the 24-hour period ending at 7:30, Oct. 30, 2016.

Maximum Temperature:                                                              82° F

Minimum Temperature:                                                               62° F

Present Temperature:                                                                 63° F

Precipitation:                                                                             0.00"

Precipitation for the year:                                                            36.33"

Precipitation for the month:                                                         1.98"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation:                                                     0.0"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the 2016-17 season:                   0.0"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the year:                                    9.5"

Snowfall/Frozen Precipitation for the month:                                 0.0"

Relative humidity:                                                                      72%


S.R. Fraley
NWS Co-Op Observer

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Thinking about Route 66

I grew up near Route 66, and I live today near Route 66. In fact, I drive daily to work and home on sections of Route 66, because I hate to drive in the traffic on Interstate 44.

What is called the Mother Road has interested me for many years, not enough to do any major research, but enough to make me stop and read whenever I see the phrase "Route 66."

And I was reading a list of birthdays for today, Oct. 18, and I saw that in 1918, Bobby Troup, a jazz pianist and composer was born. He is the composer of "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66."

Robert Wesley Troup, Jr. (who died Feb. 7, 1999),  was also an actor. Among his roles was Dr. Joe Early on "Emergency!" back in the Seventies of the previous century when I was in high school and college.

That is all it took to get me to thinking about Route 66. I remember when it was still Route 66, not Historic Route 66 or, as it was called when I was older, Missouri 266.


To get from our home in Moniteau County, Missouri, down to my grandparents' home in Greene County, Missouri, we had to drive south and then get on Route 66 at Lebanon. I don't remember much of those trips, but I do remember a trip when we ended up driving on rough road under construction, getting off and on the roadway.

We were driving on both sections of Route 66 and sections of its replacement, Interstate 44. At least that is how I remember it.

Eventually, we moved to live near my grandparents in Greene County, and I began attending Republic Elementary School. That was in school year 1963-1964.  Interstate 44 was still under construction in that area, for I remember a classmate in my new school who was named Stanley, I think, and he was the son of a highway engineer. He moved before the school year was over. I have not thought about that for years, and I am surprised I recall Stanley's first name. I hope that is not a sign of impending Alzheimer's.

We drove frequently on Route 66 to shop at Barnes General Store, a terrific place that had a mill, barber shop, grocery store all in one building and a gas station across the highway. Also, a hardware store was across the street.

When I was much older. in fact, when I was nearly in my 50s, I rode my bicycle twice on summer vacations from my home in Rolla to my sister's house on the old home place outside Republic. I rode on Route 66 as much as possible. That was a great deal of fun.

I like thinking about Route 66, and I'm going to have to do more of it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

I love cowboy music so much that I wish I had a horse

Pandora, the music website, is a most wonderful technology.
You probably know how it works, but I'll give a brief explanation. You type in a name of a song or an artist, and then the computer program will pick music that is close to what you started with as a seed. You hit a thumbs up or thumbs down symbol for each song, and the computer that programs your station will select music more closely akin to your preferences.
I use Pandora almost every day while I write, and usually I tap into my Don Edwards Radio channel. Don Edwards is one of my favorite singers. He is a western singer. You've heard of country and western music? Well, he sings the western part of that. I hit a thumbs up symbol on all of his music, so the computer gives me more songs like that, songs by Sons of the Pioneers and Foy Willing and Riders of the Purple Sage, Red Stegall, R.W. Hampton, Dave Stamey, Marty Robbins, all kinds of good music.
I listen to that music and wish I had a horse and Stetson hat and some boots. I'd like a rope, too, and a fancy saddle. Oh, what a life I could lead ...

Oh, I'm a-ridin' around this here big spread
on Ole Paint, herdin' dogies with big thoughts in my head,
enjoying the good life out here in the saddle,
dreaming of ways to build a herd of fine cattle.
"Ride around, little dogies, ride around kinda slow!
"I'll get you to market, whoopee-ti-yi-yo!"
Oh, I'm lovin' the cowboy life out here in the sun,
Ridin', ropin', whoopin' and having big fun.
Then my wife hollers , "Push that thing a little slower!
"Or you'll hit one of my babies with that dang mower."
OK, I confess, this is fun, just oodles,
but Ole Paint is my mower and I'm chasing our poodles
around the back yard of our modest home
in small-town Missouri, not where buffaloes roam
"Yes, ma'am," I holler. Well, what else could I say?
I'm herdin' doggies, not dogies, whoopee-ti-yi-yay!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Forgive me, Jesus, but I am going to vote

This is a brutal presidential campaign. Because I have said publicly and emphatically that I will vote for Donald Trump, social media users have called me a Hitlerian brown shirt and have questioned whether I am truly a follower of  Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Although, I see only two choices on the ballot, I have been told I am wrong.
Now, it seems that the politically correct choice for the vocal progressive Christians, progressive evangelical Christians and liberal Christians is Hillary Clinton, because she is a Methodist who is pro-abortion, approves of same-sex marriage and seems to believe cops are evil white guys who want to kill all black people. She has the mind of Christ, the progressive and liberal Christians say. They believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for reproductive rights and same-sex marriage.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a dirty loudmouth and a capitalistic adulterer who doesn't trust Muslims and wants to keep Mexicans from swarming across the southern border. The progressives say Jesus welcomes all, died for all and so we should lay down our lives and our children's lives for all. We should put Muslims, illegal immigrants and urban thugs ahead of any other interest we might have, including our children's future.
Then, there are the Never Trumpers, so-called conservatives, many of them conservative Christians, who are campaigning agaist Trump. They say they are not going to vote for either of the main-party candidates. They question the Christian commitment of any conservative who will vote for Trump, the Republican. The Never Trumpers would rather see Hillary elected, though they claim they won't vote for her directly.
Now, I will acknowledge that I don't think either one of those two candidates is worthy of my vote, but they are the only two candidates we have, and I must make a choice.
Why must I make a choice? Why can't I do the so-called true Christian thing and sit this election out?
Listen, I went to elementary school at California, Mo., and Republic, Mo. I have an eighth grade diploma from Republic Junior High School that I received in May 1967. I got a diploma in May 1971 from Republic High School. All through those years, I was taught the history of the United States, how the Founding Fathers, the Sons of Liberty, the Minutemen, the Patriots, all fought monarchy in favor of the people having a voice in their own government. I believed all that stuff, and I still do.
I eventually earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri, and that was back in a day when a student learned to think for himself. There were no safe spaces or baloney like that. Students would stand out on the commons and preach socialism or Jesus, either one or both. I had a professor in Southern history class who said slavery was not the main issue that caused the so-called Civil War. Back in those days, professors welcomed disagreement and argument and dialogue. I had an economics professor that demanded it, and you got marked down for not speaking out in the lab class.
I'm digressing and ranting. Let me get back on track. My educational foundation is this: We live in a democratic republic that people died to give us. We have a right to speak and vote because they shed their blood for us to have those rights. We continue to have men and women willing to die to protect our rights and to extend that right to other people.
For me to boycott this election would be a betrayal, in my mind, of those brave men and women.
Those courageous souls who fought for and founded this nation and those who continue to protect it believed in and continue to believe in the value of letting the people make the choice of who will lead them. They trusted people would make the right choices. Over our history, we've made some bad choices. I don't particularly like Lincoln, but he was the choice. My Southern people didn't like that choice, so they attempted to save the Constitution by forming their own nation. That failed, resulting in more power for the federal government, as well as more than 600,000 dead Americans.
Even after all that Lincolnite mess, we still have a right to vote, and through primary elections and caucuses, we have two choices. You might not like the choice, but I think you should, as an American, make a choice.
I have to vote. I'd like to secede, but that is a proven failure, so I have to vote just to have a tiny voice in the future of this nation.
Maybe Jesus doesn't want me to vote because neither candidate seems to be one of His followers, but I have done a lot of things Jesus doesn't want me to do. I'm sorry, Jesus, but I can't sit this election out. I am a loyal American and I am  going to cast a vote, and I am going to vote for Trump because I believe he has a better understanding of the value of our democratic republic than she does.
Call me a brown shirt, call me a non-Christian pagan if you wish. I think I'm a patriot.






Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tonight's full moon is super!

Tonight's Hunter's Moon is a super moon. November's full moon will be even more super.
Despite the poor quality of the photograph taken by my tablet computer, tonight's full moon is a super moon.
This is called the Hunter's Moon.
It is a super moon because it is closer to Earth than it was back in the spring when it achieved fullness. It was a micro-moon then.
Being super, it looks bigger, though you probably won't notice it. It will just look big and full and bright and neat, and that is all that really matters. If you are interested in more info, I suggest a visit over to Earthsky.org for a nice explanation of a super moon.
Or just do what I do: Look and enjoy and thank the Lord for a marvelous creation.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hardy red buckeye finally bears some fruit

This is the red buckeye tree last month.
After all these years, I have harvested some buckeyes off my buckeye tree.
Now that I've got four of them (and there are many more still on my small tree), I don't know what I'll do with them. Can't eat them; they're poisonous to humans. I guess I'll just carry one around in my pocket and save the rest of them for decoration or kids or something.
I really don't know how many years we've had that tree. My wife bought it because she knew I liked buckeyes, for I carried one in my pocket when I met her back in 2002. I guess she bought the tree a couple years after we got married in 2004, and I planted it in full sun in the front yard right close to the street.
The next spring, I mowed it off level to the ground. Wasn't paying attention.
Fortunately, it grew back.
A year later, maybe two, I hired a kid to mow the yard. "Don't mow down the buckeye," I told him. "This is the buckeye," I said, pointing to it.
He went right on and mowed it down.
It grew back, though.
Then, over the summers, I failed to water it regularly when there was no rain, and it looked like it burned up.
But every spring, it would grow back.
I finally learned to water it and care for it. Sort of.
Here is the tree Sunday afternoon. Notice the fruit husk splitting.
It bloomed in the spring, but it did not bear any fruit, for several years. Or maybe some critters ate them. I don't know. Last year, I saw some fruits, but they disappeared. I can't explain it, so don't ask me any questions.
This year, the tree bloomed and fruited. I thought I had taken a picture of those booms, but I could not find it, if I did. We had adequate rainfall, and that tree thrived. Today, while I was knocking down some brush and weeds along my driveway, I went over to the tree and noticed the fruit husks or rinds were starting to split on a couple of them. I picked them and easily removed the husks to get the buckeyes out. You can see them in a picture accompanying this article; I've put some coins next to them so you can judge the size.
Here are the red buckeyes.
Now, about this buckeye tree. This is not the native Missouri buckeye, the horse chestnut. This is a Southern tree, called the red buckeye or the firecracker plant; it's the aesculus pavia, a deciduous flowering plant.
The University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture says it can grow 16-25 feet tall, but the Missouri Botanical Garden says it will grow 12-15 feet tall. It will bush out about the same width.
Right now, my tree is just about as tall as I am. I'm going to take the advice of the Missouri Botanical Garden and mulch and water it regularly; maybe it will grow better.
It has red flowers in April and May, the same time that hummingbrids show up in Missouri. And hummingbirds like those blooms, so if you want to attract hummingbirds (and bees), plant a red buckeye tree.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

What I will do after the election in November

Sen. Ted Cruz
Any doubt I had that President Hillary will be sworn in next Jan. 20 was dispelled this past week when Sen. Ted Cruz said he would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Actually, I never had any doubt. That is just a play on words. It is going to be President Hillary, just as it was always going to be.
What solidified it for me even further, though, was the reaction of the NeverTrumpers. Nary a one could be found on the social media who said, "Oh, OK, well, if Sen. Cruz is throwing his support behind the Donald for all those good reasons, I guess I will, too."
No, the reaction was this: "Cruz is just another turncoat politician who lacks integrity and spine."
And they vowed never to vote for Trump.
I guess they are going to vote for Hillary, like President George H.W. Bush promised to do. That's a vote for integrity, in the view of the NeverTrumpers.
Or they're going to vote for the Libertarian candidate, because NeverTrumpers are hardcore conservatives who believe in Libertarian values like the elimination of drug laws, the opening of borders, abortion rights and the right for anyone to marry whoever or whatever they want.
Donald Trump, center
Or they're going to honor all the men and women who died in service to this nation and its principles, such as the right to vote, by not voting for anyone.
The NeverTrumpers will vote with the Millennials, the kind of mindless nincompoops who refuse to salute the flag or stand in honor of the national anthem.
The NeverTrumpers will vote with the Black Lives Matter movement, a communist bunch (read their website and tell me I am wrong) who have shown me that looting and burning have become the predominant feature of modern black culture, along with drugs and 'ho''s. It used to be that black culture meant (to outsiders like lily white me) family togetherness, good cooking, church, music and work. It was just like white Southern culture, except it may have been expressed differently. That's all changed. I don't like what black culture has become, and I'm called a racist because of that.
I'll tell you what. I am going to go to the polls in November and cast a vote for Trump. I hope I'm wrong. I hope he wins. He has given a list of good appointees to the Supreme Court and has pledged to use that list if elected. Once Hillary gets in, she'll pack the court with liberals who will be in place the rest of my life.
Then after I vote, and after the winner, Hillary Clinton, is announced, I will never vote for president again. I will vote only for local or district candidates. I'll probably vote for state candidates. I will probably vote for a congressman and senators. I'll be through with the damn presidency. I will cease being a Republican. I will identify myself only as a Confederate. I will continue to fly the battle flag. I will honor the great men of the Confederacy, most of whom were Christians and did not own slaves, for it is clear that I am now on the wrong side of history. And seeing the way the nation is today, I think it is a good side to be.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Honor the Muslims, submit to Obama?

The Sunday School class I attend uses a quarterly study guide in a series titled "Explore the Bible." This month we started a study of I and 2 Peter and Jude.

The lesson for Sunday morning is I Peter 2:11-20, and it is some difficult teaching for me to accept. I wonder what the other old men in the class will think of it. I am looking forward to some good discussion. It seems to me that it teaches Christians to be submissive and passive to our leaders and bosses in government and business. Taken literally, it even makes the Revolutionary War a great sin, it seems to me.

Here is the text in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (used by permission):

11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.

18 Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. 19 For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God.

The Penitent Apostle Peter, Anthony Van Dyck
In verses 11-12, Peter refers to the believers in Christ as strangers and temporary residents. I presume what he means is Christians are not citizens of this world or any country but of the kingdom of God. They might be citizens of Rome, residents of one of the Near East or Asia Minor countries, but they are no longer really of this world. They are the Lord Christ's people. In fact, a few verses on down, he refers to them not as citizens of the kingdom but as God's slaves. As the property of God, they are expected to act honorably among the people of the world. Apparently, those non-believers were treating the Christians the way we treat the Muslims. They were suspicious of them, they spoke insultingly about them and figured the Christians were up to no good, likely worrying about what they would do as their numbers increased. Peter told the Christians to be good to those people and respect them and act honorably so they might be led to Christ. Maybe we need to treat the Muslims with a little more honor, give them the benefit of the doubt, in order to lead them to Christ.

In verse 11, he tells the Christians to refrain from fleshly desires. I  don't know what he means. I suppose he's telling them not to have sex outside of marriage, not to overeat and not to get drunk. He must have been the first Baptist or at least a member of First Baptist. (That's a joke, son. Just trying to keep it a little light.)

Now in verses 13-14, Peter puts up a real stumbling block for me. I despise the government, but he says I've got to submit to every level of the government because of the Lord! Because of the Lord? The trouble with this is, he was writing to people whose Dear Leader was Emperor Nero, or someone far worse than our own Dear Leader, President Obama, or our future Dear Leader, likely President Hillary, the way it looks at this time. It is awful damn hard for me to be submissive and accepting and uncritical of those two birds. Peter sees all government as good and from God because it gives structure to society. I wonder if he would have said the same if he were writing in Germany in the late 1930s and during World War II. I wonder what he would say to our Founding Fathers, who declined to submit to the authority of King George III. Would he say they were guilty of great sin?

In verse 15, he's saying that by being good followers of the Emperor and the government, the believers would lead the critics of Christianity to shut up. To top it off, he says it is God's will that they submit to the government.

Then in verse 16, he twists the meaning of freedom, it seems to me. He tells them that as the slaves of God, they can live freely SPIRITUALLY! He was telling the believers who were being persecuted for being believers that they were really spiritually free because of Christ, so don't forget it. And also, just because they were free from sin and sin's penalty (eternal death), they should not use that spiritual freedom to cover up their sins. I figure what this means is this: "OK, listen here, you are God's slaves so you belong to Him and that makes you spiritually free. Sure, you are being persecuted and life is hard, and you aren't really free now, but don't you dare get drunk to take away the pain of life under persecution. Trust in God. Eventually, it will be alright. After you are dead."

In verse 17, he says essentially this, "Honor and respect everyone, including the Muslims, the atheists, the abortionists, the married homosexuals. Everyone, whether you like it or not. Love all your fellow Christians, even the ones who aren't undergoing persecution like you are. Fear and respect God, for you are his property and he can do what he wants with you. Honor the emperor, the king, the president, the dictator, no matter who they are, because God put them in charge." Whew! That is hard teaching.

In verse 18, Peter tells slaves to bow down and submit to their slavemasters, no matter how much those sumbitches beat the slaves. And in verses 19-20, he says it is fine, mighty fine, to get whipped by the slavemaster as long as you are submissive and respectful, because that is a good Christian witness. It isn't a big deal to be submissive to a good slavemaster, but it is fantastic to say "Thank you, massah, I needed that beating" to the evil slavemaster.


As I said, that is some hard--to-take teaching.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A quick storm ...

...blew into the area last night around 8 p.m., and dropped 1.6 inches of rain on us. It also knocked out the power.
The sky is still cloudy this morning. There were a few stars visible at 4 a.m., but an hour later they were covered by clouds.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Another beautiful morning

At 5 a.m., the temperature is 71.9 degrees, and the relative humidity is 78 percent.
There is no measurable precipitation.
The sky is clear with some light haze on the horizon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An uncloudy day so far...

... but it is early. At 5 a.m. here, the stars are visible with no haze.
The temperature is 68.1 degrees, and the humidity is 71 percent.
The rain gauge is dry again.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Beautiful morning at 5:00

At 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12, here at The Ozarks Almanac weather station, the temperature is 61.5 degrees.
The humidity is 71 percent.
The sky is clear, and the stars are beautiful. There is no cloud cover or haze to obscure them.
I wanted to stand outside and study them with my star finding app when I took the dogs out, but I have to go to work.
May the good Lord bless us and keep us safe today.



Monday, September 5, 2016

A serious political poem

I have written a poem about the current campaigns for
the political parties' nominations for president. Usually I like to
write humorous poems, but this one is deadly serious.

YOU'RE A TRUMP MAN, AREN'T YOU?

The other day while talking,
a fellow said to me,
“You're a Trump man, aren't you?
You'll back him over Hillary.”

And I said in reply, “Let me tell you
what goes into the way I think:
When I go into the booth to pick someone,
I pick the one that has less stink.

Whenever it comes time to mark my ballot,
I find some candidates come up short.
I'm talking about one issue: Do they cherish
life in the womb or is it OK to abort?

Now, I'm not sure I trust the Donald,
though he claims to be pro-life.
But I know for sure Clinton's unbothered
about severing fetus limbs with a knife.

So, with your assessment of me
as a Trump man, I can't really concur.
It's not that I'm so much pro-him
as I am just anti-her.”—RDH

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I've just about had it with Republicans

GOP candidate for governor Eric Greitens speaks at a Rolla rally Saturday.
This could be the last election in which I vote for a Republican.

It depends on what happens in November.

My dissatisfaction with the party started back in 2008 and it reached a breaking point Saturday in Rolla.

What started it was when the party faithful, or base, complained in 2008 that Sen. John McCain was too moderate for them to support. Add to that, the moderates were embarrassed by his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. In sum, many of the Republican voters stayed home from the polls or voted a third-party choice. That is how we got Barak Hussein Obama, who offered hope and change. He fulfilled part of that promise; he gave us plenty of change.

Then in 2012, the Republican true believers were upset with the choice of Gov. Mitt Romney as their candidate. He was too liberal, having offered up a socialist medical plan for his state of Massachusetts. His vice-presidential choice, Paul Ryan, was lackluster. Also, Romney was a Mormon, and self-righteous conservative Christians just could not bring themselves to vote for a member of a cult. So we got a second dose of Obama.

Now, here we are in another similar situation, with the Republican moderates and the conservative Christians upset by the choice of Donald Trump. They have joined forces with the Democrats to begin a Never Trump movement. The Republicans say they aren't for Hillary, but if you aren't for Trump, you're for Hillary. The Republicans are going to fool around and hand the election over to the Democrats again.

The way things are going, I predict Hillary Clinton will receive 45 percent of the vote, the third-party candidates will receive a combined 15 percent of the vote, and Trump will receive 40 percent of the vote. President Hillary Clinton will be sworn in Jan. 20, 2017.

A similar situation exists in Missouri for the gubernatorial race, and it was illustrated in Rolla Saturday afternoon.

After an ugly primary, Republicans are not supporting candidate Eric Greitens wholeheartedly, because like Trump, he is a political outsider. The so-called establishment was against him, supporting people like the career politican, Lt. Gov Peter Kinder, instead.

Our Sen. Dan Brown was a Kinder supporter, but to his credit, Brown is now supporting Greitens. At least, he spoke favorably in support of him Saturday afternoon at a Greitens rally here in Rolla.

Sadly, I see Sen. Brown as an exception, for although there was a pretty good crowd for Greitens on a hot summer Saturday afternoon, I noted that there were no county Republican officeholders in the crowd. I admit that I don't know every single Republican central committee member, but I know a lot of them, and the ones I know were not there.

So it is clear to me that the Republican party has an intense discomfort for both its presidential and gubernatorial nominees. So much discomfort, in fact, that a bunch of them are apparently laying out this one.

Who can figure out a party that claims it wants to do away with politics as usual, but when the primary voters do just that, pulls back its support? Who can understand a party that claims it wants to run government on a business basis, yet turns its back on candidates that have leadership experience in business and other organizations outside politics?

I have never been a fan of the party of Lincoln, for I am not a fan of Lincoln, but I've always (at least since I became a parent and obtained a mortgage) been a conservative, and I've supported conservatives, who have been Republicans.

But if Republicans aren't going to support their own, and if they allow Democrats to win these two offices, then I'll quit them the way they have quit Trump and Greitens.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

If Rolla is blighted, how can we continue to live here safely?

Covering the Rolla City Council for the local paper, I often want to snicker, giggle or laugh. This past Monday night, I wanted to laugh uproariously at 6th Ward Councilman Steve Jung.
Wait,  I should have said I wanted to laugh uproariously WITH the councilman, not at, for I am pretty sure he was having some fun with yet another businessman standing before the council with his hand out, seeking the council's help in getting public money.
Here's the deal: Our town has an aging apartment building for low-income senior citizens. The Rolla Apartments project, according to the information presented by the city administrator at the council meeting, was built 37 years ago with federal money. It was owned from the start by a St. Louis union's charitable fund, and it has been managed all those years by the Sansone Group, a large family-owned outfit also based in St. Louis.
It has been tax exempt for all those years. All the other landlords in Rolla that I know of have to pay real estate taxes to the city, county, school and other funds, but the Sansone Group has avoided those payments for 37 years. The family outfit apparently has also avoided spending a lot of money on keeping the place up, because now they have approached the council for help in getting some state money to do about $7 million worth of repairs, upkeep, maintenance, retrofitting, replacements and beautification. All the other landlords that I know of in Rolla have to come up with their own money to do that sort of work.
I'll not go into detail about the process the city must follow to help this company out, but part of it requires the finding of "blight" in the property. At Monday night's council meeting, a consulting firm paid by the Sansone Group presented its blight report. Apparently, the more pitiful you can make your place sound, the better chance you have of getting some of that free, or at least low-cost, government money.
The blight report, if you read it through quickly and didn't think about it deeply, made the Rolla Apartments sound like the building was just about to collapse. There were hints that its condition posed a safety hazard and health hazard to the poor old people that live there.
In the public hearing, Councilman Jung asked one of the Sansone company reps a question that went something like this, "If the building is in this bad a condition, how can we even allow our elderly citizens to continue living there another day?"
That right there was the moment where I wanted to laugh. I don't know Jung at all, but he's no dummy. He knows the whole "blighted" finding for any project involving free, or low-cost, government money is a bunch of hooey and horse crap. He was just having a little jocularity moment.
The company rep quickly defended the living conditions and the facility, and he offered to give any councilman a tour. He acknowledged that the building simply needed some major remodeling, and a careful reading of the blight study bears that out.
In other words, the Sansones and the St. Louis union have their hands held out to the government for some free, or at least low-cost, government money, because they don't want to spend $7 million of their own money. Let the taxpayers pick up the tab. There's plenty of tax money. That's the way business is done nowadays in America.
Rolla loves doing that kind of business. The council has assisted a major department store company in building a retail site here. The council recently helped a shopping center owner build a new supermarket and give a complete facelift to the whole center. The council is in the proecess of helping another St. Louis company build a new shopping center with Menard's anchoring it. In all of those cases, there was blight found, lots of blight, so tax money is needed to help the developers get a good return on their investment.
Heck, the council has declared the whole city blighted, as a retired Missouri University of Science and Technology professor, pointed out in the public hearing on this funding request for the Rolla Apartments.
I guess you could say that blight is just our thing here in Rolla. It's what we do, or, as the young people say, it's how we roll. I look for the the other landlords that I know of in Rolla to figure out how to take advantage of this and get on board with this trend.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Democrat, Republican, or Southerner?


I did not write this. I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't. It came to me in an email from someone who did not write it or know who did. It is just another anonymous gem from the internet. Enjoy it. And if you are the writer, may God bless you.

Are you a Democrat, a Republican, or a Southerner?
Here is a little test that will help you decide.
The answer can be found by posing the following question:
You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children .
Suddenly, a Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you,
screams obscenities, raises the knife, and charges at you . . .
You are carrying a Kimber 1911 cal. 45 ACP, and you are an expert shot.
You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family.
What do you do?

*Democrat's Answer:*

   - Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!
   - What is a Kimber 1911 cal. 45 ACP?
   - Does the man look poor or oppressed?
   - Is he really a terrorist? Am I guilty of profiling?
   - Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
   - Could we run away?
   - What does my wife think?
   - What about the kids?
   - Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of
   his hand?
   - What does the law say about this situation?
   - Does the pistol have appropriate safety built into it?
   - Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does
   this send to society and to my children?
   - Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?
   - Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to
   wound me?
   - If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away
   while he was stabbing me?
   - Should I call 9-1-1?
   - Why is this street so deserted?
   - We need to raise taxes, have paint & weed day.
   - Can we make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage
   such behavior?
   - I need to debate this with some friends for a few days and try to come
   to a consensus.
   - This is all so confusing!


*Republican's Answer:*

BANG!

*Southerner's Answer: *

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Click . . . . . (Sounds of reloading)
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
BANG!
BANG!
BANG!
Click
Daughter: 'Nice grouping, Daddy!'
'Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or Hollow Points?'
Son: 'Can I shoot the next one?!'
Wife: 'You ain't taking that to the Taxidermist!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Band and something unusual


Here are some more entries in the Edgar Springs Prairie Days parade held Saturday, August 13.
The band was at the beginning of the parade.
Near the end was this truck from a local garage, carrying a car that needs drastic work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Allis Chalmers and Mahindra tractors in the Edgar Prairie Days Parade


Here are some more entries in the Edgar Springs Prairie Days parade held Saturday.



John Deere tractors in Edgar Prairie Days Parade






Here are some more entries in the Edgar Springs Prairie Days parade held Saturday.



McCormick Farmall tractors in Edgar Prairie Days Parade

Here are some more entries in the Edgar Springs Prairie Days parade held Saturday.





Just What the Doctor Ordered


Although I go to our regional medical center
for regular, primary care,
what that guy tells me every few months
doesn't seem very fair.

Back in December I visited,
and he said with a sigh,
“If you don't lose some weight,
you're simply going to die.”

“You're too dadgum fat,
your sugar is elevated.
“And the way you eat,
you're likely constipated.”

Well, I wasn't. Nevertheless, I gave up sugar
on January the third.
I quit candy, cookies, cake and pie.
Honest. I give you my word.

In May, I figured my main sugar number
would be way down,
but the doc looked over the report
and he gave a big frown.

“Your blood sugar level was 5.9 in December,
and now today it's up to 6.1.
You've lost a little weight,
but what else have you done?”

I told him about the sugar,
but he said that wasn't enough.
He said I should quit potatoes,
bread, pasta and other good stuff.

So I'm trying to cut starches
and hoping next time he doesn't say,
“Why don't you just give up
everything but water—and a One-A-Day?”

Monday, August 15, 2016