Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm In Love With The Butterball Lady

                                                                   

Every year since 1981 the Butterball Lady has been around to coach turkey newbies on how to best prepare a turkey. And she doesn't even ask if the turkey is Butterball...she just asks a few simple questions; how many pounds, what cooking method you're choosing, and how crispy and brown do you want that turkey breast to be. 
Butterball started out in 1981, hiring 30 Home Economists to answer a telephone hotline for folks cooking their first bird. That staff has now expanded to 100, with each of the staff having a manual at hand to refer to if they can't answer the most exotic of cooking questions. The Butterball lady opens her help line about the first of November and is available throughout the holidays to handle your questions. She always shows up on the Today show during Thanksgiving Week, usually with an uncooked bird and a fully cooked magnificent roasted turkey, just to show you how it's done. When she reaches over to fondle that golden brown breast I have to admit to getting a little excited! (I never tell my wife about this!) 
Well, before the turkey lady came along my Asian wife and I stumbled through Thanksgiving with mishap after mishap. We would just throw the frozen turkey in the oven and crank up the heat and cook it until the outside resembled a sun-browned 85 year old retail heiress from Scottsdale, then take it out, slide it off on a platter, then cut into it only to see blood pouring down the sides and chunks of frozen turkey parts flying all about the the table. Once we didn't bother to remove the string or even the neck and gizzards hiding stealthily in the chest cavity. We might have done okay if we'd just bought a Butterball with that little button that pops out when it's done but we usually opted for "cheap" and took the free turkey our grocer gave you if you purchased a hundred dollars worth of groceries. 
Once I decided we'd have our turkey cooked on a Weber Grill. Of course i didn't bother to read the directions, or even ask how one cooks a 25 pound turkey out on the grill. So I just threw in a 20 pound bag of charcoal, threw a quart of charcoal starter fluid on the briquets and waited for an impressive high wall of flame to blossom, then lower the turkey on to the grill. As the rest of the family began preparing all the pies and side dishes, my ineptitude was beginning to concern them and they began to throw sidelong glances my way as they stared as our turkey, partially blackened began dancing around the grill in sizzling splendor, promising the likelihood that they'd be putting an ugly and undercooked turkey on the family table once again. 
Finally, my wife came out with the phone in her hand and said "call for you". When I put the phone to my ear I heard a nice lady ask "Butterball Kitchens, how can I help you today?" In desperation I described what I was doing to a perfectly good turkey and the nice lady began to calmly "talk me down". She had me take the turkey off the grill before I could do any more damage, then explained how the charcoal briquettes were to be strategically placed around the four points of the grill pan, then allowed to get glowing hot, while keeping the cover on. Butterball Lady then explained how I was to feed the fire with a few briquettes every half hour or so to keep up a consistent grill temperature. Only then did she give me permission to put the turkey back on the grill. 
Happily the turkey was roasted on time for Thanksgiving Dinner and as I carved and served I began to hear oohs and ahhs about how good the turkey was this year! I kept thanking our dinner companions over and over, finally stopping from basking in the glow of triumph when I looked over at my wife and got that "I saved your ass, buster" look that she's so good at.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

We're Getting Better At Saying "Goodbye"

                                                           

We Americans are getting better at saying "goodbye" in recent years.  Last week here in Phoenix we said goodbye to little Callie Griggs.  Callie was two years old, just old enough to express her wish to live till Christmas.  Suffering from adrenal cancer, her doctors had given her no more than three months.  That was back in September.

Callie's parents wanted to grant her wish...a visit from Santa Claus, opening a bright and shiny gift, and to walk in a winter snow.  So the word spread; first in her neighborhood, then in her home city of Glendale, then to all of Phoenix, and finally to all of Arizona.  

So, last week the wise men came bearing gifts.  People from all over bought gifts; stuffed toys and Christmas goodies, and a Christmas tree, and good spirits, and even a white blanket of snow out on the front lawn.  Callie, possessing the magical strength of a child, let her joy override her great pain and was joyous to celebrate Christmas with so many smiling people. 

Sadly, little Callie died just a few days later.   

We've done this before in Phoenix, so we know how.  We've brought early holidays and birthdays to children with brain cancer, with leukemia, will all manner of deathly ills.  Perhaps we learned it from those folks up in Utah who first brought an early Halloween, and an early Christmas to a little four year old boy who wouldn't live to see Christmas.  No matter, each joyous party is a celebration of life and a denial that death can only mean sadness.

For several decades now America has had their Make A Wish program.  It is our small way to bring some few joyous moments to those who have only precious moments left.  It's a way to say a final goodbye, a way to let our loved ones know that there is still much good in life..."let us show you!"

Admittedly, we would have a better world if this spirit of love, of giving, existed for the living as well as the dying.  We could be far better at saying "hello" than we are.  But let's be grateful that we are getting better at saying "goodbye."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Ghostly Gab"

                                                             

Silas Turnbo was most likely quite a lazy fellow. 150 years ago he traversed Ozark Mountain trails, and old Indian trails, carrying with him a single change of clothes and a journal. The journal would land him a small place in posterity for Silas filled his journals with tales told to him by folks who lived in those Ozark mountains. 
A century and a half before the internet was invented, and before newspapers found their way to the remote mid-western outbacks, the Ozark people were blessed to see Silas coming down the road. In exchange for a meal and a bed for the night, Silas brought the news of what was happening around there and about. And, in bringing the news, he would fill a few pages of his journal with whatever his hosts found worthy of mentioning. After many years of life on the road Silas had filled several journals with a living history of folks in the Ozarks. 
And years after Silas was gone his family retrieved those journals and published them under the title "Turnbo's Tales of The Ozarks". I found old Silas years ago while doing Friend family ancestral searches. Happily, his journal was online and searchable. So, one night, more than a dozen years ago, in Saudi Arabia, the most unlikely of places to be, I found a "searchable" version of Turnbo's Tales and extracted 13 stories about the pioneering Friend family down there in the Ozarks; scraping out a living on their farm and celebrating babies being born and old ones dying, and 4th of July celebrations, and bear and panther hunts, and who fought for the Blue and who fought for the Gray, and all manner of human history in the mid 19th century. 
Like any good story teller, Turnbo would precede his tale with a bit of background. Of the tales about the Friends he would boast of old Captain Charles Friend, friend, neighbor and Continental Army comrade of George Washington, trading his veteran's land grant for a chance to settle in Jefferson's spanking new Louisiana Purchase territory out west. So I learned that old Captain Charles was one of the first pioneers (1807) in the Missouri territory. Already old, Charles brought his wife and a whole passel of sons with him. 
Almost immediately his sons began moving north, up the White River and would settle along its banks at a place they would call Theodosia. And all along that White River some member of the Friend clan would settle and find their names mentioned in other histories, one by a federal cabinet secretary who led an expedition down the river. 
But old Silas's tales were more personal and therefore more endearing to me. I read a tale of my great, great great grandfather being mauled by a buck deer and my ggg grandmother coming to his rescue with an axe. "I never loved her more" said my distant grandfather. Another tale spoke of the tragedy of a distant teenage aunt who would drown in that White River, along with her fiancé, the spring ice breaking up as they tried to walk across, bound for town to pick up the wedding license! From old Silas I puzzled out how my own grandfather acquired the middle name of "Marmaduke", his name honoring a Union General who put up a grand fight at a battle in and around Springfield, Missouri. 
So old Silas may have been lazy, he may have been thinking himself an artful scrounger of meals and a bed back there long ago. He surely could not imagine that his journals would fill hearts with gladness more than a century later; folks who sought our their roots and found them, thanks to old Silas and his Ozark journals.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday Morning Musings


                                                                   


One day, many years ago, my creator mixed up a batch of Swedish, German, Irish and Cherokee Indian...and made me. And I was so fortunate to have been born in America where I could breathe free and dream big. I was free to choose my bride and raise my children in a land that gave them the freedom to dream big too. 
I have a warm home, enough to eat, the freedom to choose my religion and my church, and believe in God or not. I can go to the sink and run myself a glass of clean water to drink and I know that my food supply is cleaner than anyplace else on earth. If I wish, I can get up this morning and drive down to a lovely park; to take a walk, to listen to the birds sing, or just sit on a park bench and rest. 
But sometimes I wake up in the morning and I seem to be all "nerve endings". It's like my antenna has been raised and all of a sudden I can pick up the vibrations of a world full of misery. I know that 3,000 little children will die today simply because they don't have clean drinking water. 
Another 10,000 will die from a communicable disease that could have been prevented with a minimally healthy diet and a vaccine. There are 6.5 billion people living on the earth and half of them will go to bed hungry tonight. Before the clock strikes midnight tonight 10,000 people around the world will have died by violence. 
Unlike the atheist and agnostic, I do not place the blame on God..not even for one minute. God gives us the tools and talents to build a better world and, if we fail, we own that failure. I can't even question the death of innocent little children, or innocents anywhere; who am I to judge whether this world is better than the next? What does man do with all those God given tools and talents? 
Well many do good, many hearts are tender and loving. But, just in the last century, man's wars have killed at least 75 million people! If you can't get your head around the idea of 75 million war victims, narrow it down to just the children! Or if that is too difficult, just imagine those 3,000 children who will die today for want of a clean cup of water. 
And yet, today, there are millions of Americans who cry poverty, even as they enjoy clean water, an abundant array of government benefits, who cry poverty even as they drive a late model car and entertain themselves with gaming systems and big screen television and type gibberish in text code on their smart phones! Fifty years ago 80% of America lived in homes that weren't air conditioned and now if the poorest are without it, some relief agency will come in and install it and subsidize your electric bill to run it! 
And rather than being grateful an impressive number of Americans cry and moan over their lot. Some cry racism in a country that is the finest on earth for accepting diversity! In Africa this week they were killing their enemies, then cooking and eating them for God's sake! 
And we have jobs that go begging because some business is not hiring Gender Studies or Psychology or Women's Studies graduates. Those studies won't get you a welding job, or a manufacturing job, or entry into a science lab or internship in a hospital! And many more are not even seeking jobs...a warm blanket of government benefits has proven more profitable than a job!
And no one seems to realize that our heard working ancestors built this country, and this wealth, by the sweat of their brow and on the strengths of their backs. And we have now spent their inheritance and now live off of a huge government credit card with no spending limits!
Sadly, we have ventured far from the Republic our founding fathers established for us. They pledged their lives to winning us a freedom that has never existed ever on earth before. They wrote a Constitution that for the first time deemed a citizen's rights to be god-given and not guided by the generosity of government. They declared that we all have the same opportunity to achieve happiness but did not guarantee it...that should depend on our own individual efforts. 
During the early days of this Republic America faced enormous struggles. But our creator blessed us because we blessed him. He performed miracle after miracle to bring this nation to life, to bring our freedom to fruition. Perhaps, on July 4th, 1826, God sent us a great message, a warm hand on our shoulder. That was the day that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson passed on, only hours apart. Perhaps he was letting us know back then that we had done well and would do even better in the coming centuries if we would only continue to embrace Him and the divine document that he inspired.
Our children are not dying by 3,000 per day. Few in America are hungry. But our minds and hearts are being poisoned by sloth and lack of purpose and an abandonment of the principles that caused this country to grow and prosper like none other in the history of man.
God Save America....the last best hope for man on earth.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Sour Puss"

                                                                

When my mood is this sour I know I should just stay home, drink shots of pickle juice and crawl back into bed.  But I didn't.  So I found myself standing in the checkout at a Sprout's Health Food Store.  For those of you not familiar with Sprouts the place is a haven for health nuts.  A quarter of the store space is taken up with thousands of vitamins and herb blends that will strengthen your heart, give a sixty year old man impressive erections or insure a smooth and steady bowel movement.   Organic eggs, organic meat and soy milk products take up another quarter of the store.  I just frequent the store because the veggies and fruits are cheap.

But the problem with going into this store is that you are surrounded by eighty and ninety year old people who live on alfalfa sprouts and kale and haven't had a single bite of ground round pass their lips since 1968.  When feeling devilish they might party on an ounce of salmon or raw sushi, but nothing else shall slow their quest to achieve centenarian status.  

I've my own thoughts about how long I want to live.  When I was younger and sassier I loved to cite the often offered saw that death from a massive coronary while between the legs of a 21 year old would be the ideal way to go.  Now, with far less piss and vinegar, I'd settle for a nice quick heart attack in the middle of sleep.  I do not want to live so long that someone is coming in daily to change my diaper and chew my food for me.  

But today, in the most sour of moods, I'm swimming in a sea of octogenarian health food nuts here in the Sprouts store.  Sadly, the alfalfa sprouts and kale has done nothing to preserve the mind so too many of the old ones walk around in a mental fog, a spring in their step while the spring in their mind has already sprung.  

The lady in front of me at the checkout is one of them.  She's got a bag of steel cut oats, a single banana and a quart of prune juice.  Her cash register total is $5.87.  She waits until the cashier has bagged her goods in the environmentally appropriate cloth bag before she even begins to think about paying for her purchases.  So, as the cashier announces the total and stands waiting, the old lady, seemingly startled that reimbursement is required, finally begins digging into her purse to retrieve her coin purse.  And I'm waiting.  The old lady takes an interminable period of time to drag five one dollar bills out the coin purse, then pauses and stares into the coin bag to assess whether she has enough change to avoid proffering a paper dollar.  She pulls out a quarter and stares at it longingly, perhaps contemplating the date on the coin and pondering if that was some good year in her long life.  She then reluctantly places the quarter on the counter and begins fishing for more change.  Another quarter magically appears and she repeats the grudging sacrifice and finally places it too down on the counter.  She then puts her purse down and begins digging into it and finally retrieves a pair of reading glasses.  She dons the glasses and begins again the slow dig for more change.  She then begins the quest to rid herself of the smallest change in her coin purse.  Her bony fingers begin seeking out all available nickels.  She's got enough five cent pieces to bring her up to .80 cents, at which time she begins pinching the little coin purse for pennies.  By this time my carton of milk has begun sweating down the sides and my pound of ground sirloin is warming nicely.  The old lady is still checking the dates on her pennies before surrendering them and now even the cashier is sighing hard enough to send her bangs flitting about her forehead.  

At last, the transaction completed, the cashier offers remote thanks and begins dropping the coins into their various slots in the cash drawer.  But the elderly customer is not yet done; she is now complaining that last weeks kale went bad on her too early.  The cashier asks if she'd like to talk to the manager whom she's sure will replace, gratis, any defective kale the old lady had suffered to buy.  By this time I'm right on the edge of saying something really nasty.  Thankfully,  Ms. Penny Pincher purses her lips, declines the offer and walks out with her oats and banana and prune juice.

I quickly pay for my purchases and vow to go home and beat my little dogs, just for giggles.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Homework"

                                                             

At this late stage of my life I'm still not sure what life is all about.  Oh, I've learned the easy stuff...that living a life of shallow superficiality is prescription for misery, or that loved ones enrich us, that the moments of sorrow makes the moments of joy so much finer.

But, really, how are we supposed to navigate ourselves through this crazy, mortal world?  Are we supposed to laugh our way through it?  Is every day of our life Saturday night?  Is every night prom night?  Are we happy if the beer is cold and the girls are hot?  

Or is there supposed to be a little homework?  Are we here to serve others?  Or at least exist to make our love ones happy.  Has our creator assigned us the task of looking inside ourselves, find what's there and sand down and polish off the rough spots?  And what are we to expect in the afterlife if we skip the homework and content ourselves with being buffeted about, going wherever the winds of change carry us?  

It's hard as hell to look for others for help!  Trying to discern what's spinning around in someone else's heart and mind is nearly impossible because most folks just aren't giving it up for you.  Oh, you'll find out what their favorite foods are, or the kind of car they'd most like to drive, or what movie they like most...but if you're looking for substance, or frankness and honesty,  far too few are willing to share with you what keeps them up at night...if any.  Instead everybody lives like life is a Facebook page; they share the latest joke, the place where they're eating lunch, the quality of the hamburger and how so and so cracked them up with they fell on a banana peel.

When they do talk about something that has meaning they borrow from an old poem, a snazzy saying, a gob of sarcastic irony, and that has to suffice for you to guess what's in their soul.

So we make strangers of ourselves...even many of those far too old to be wearing disguises, lest someone see them in a naked moment....lest someone discover who they really are.  At this late stage in the game why in the hell care about someone learning who you really are!

Oh, but we are not a bit reticent about savaging those whose opinions don't jell with our own.  We have become quite adept at keyboard savagery as we place those we disagree with in a small, confining box of which there is no escape.  

But, perhaps even a little savagery is more admirable than the cold stone silence one inflicts on those they love the most.  It is a practiced art, as refined as good table etiquette...where the butter knife goes and where to place the salad fork.  Those that we love, and those that love us, deserve more.

So I guess food fights in the cafeteria are fun, as are trips to the beach, and snow boarding, and dinner parties, and movie night, and the raucousness of a ball game, or water cooler gossip.  But I believe we need to take the time to do some homework too.  We need time to be alone with ourselves....to figure out who we are, then honestly share that truth with those in our life who matter.

And, for our own good, we need to find out whether what we believe in is right or wrong and steer our life course accordingly, regardless of what others think about it.   That course can be vibrant with love and laughter and fun...but we need to do a little homework on ourselves once in awhile...lest everything else become chock full of lies and empty promises.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Donuts In Heaven

                                                           

There's a donut place about three miles from my house.  It's owned and operated by a Cambodian couple who have been making people happy now for about ten years.  The husband makes the donuts out back and the wife serves them up at the counter...and there is only a counter...no tables, just that one counter where six or eight early morning reattributes sit and stuff donuts in their mouths and drink endless cups of coffee.  

The location of this donut shop is lousy.  The place itself was probably once a tiny fast food joint before it became donut heaven.  Forget foot traffic.  Across the street, far across a huge parking lot, sits a thrift shop.  Further down is an auto parts store.  In fact the entire area surrounding donut heaven resembles Detroit at its ugliest.

Yet this Cambodian couple are doing just fine in the donut business.  They open at 6AM and close no later than 2PM...or earlier if the donuts sell out.  They have no drive-thru so you've got to go in and sniff the donuts being made out back...that heavenly scent seemingly never fails to generate a doubling of your donut order.  Customer service?  Think a slightly nice version of "soup nazi."  The couple don't smile much; they bag or box your donuts, take your money and even sometimes say thanks.

I try to avoid this place like the plague.  I'm so glad that it's three miles away and wish it were located even further out.  You have to taste their donuts to understand this.  Their glazed donuts are light and airy and just melt in your mouth, the glaze resting on your tongue and leaving you lusting for the next one.  The cake donuts are light and fluffy and their icings are creamy and not sickeningly sweet and their apple fritters are to die for.  

Once a month or so, usually on a Saturday morning, I'll stick a glass in the freezer so it will ice up really nice, then jump into the car and drive out to the donut place and cop a bag of six of these heavenly delights.  Even though it is cheaper to buy a dozen I don't trust myself with a dozen, so I won't buy the dozen.  Three glaze, two apple fritters and a buttermilk donut and I take them home, pull out that frosted glass and fill it with milk and scarf down three glazed donuts.  Then I spend the rest of the day hearing those last three donuts calling out to me.

When we all get to heaven we'll get to eat all the donuts and cold milk we want and never have to worry about gaining weight, or cholesterol.   For now I'm trying hard to keep my distance from that Cambodian couple.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Class of '66

                                                           
                                                                  Senior Prom 1966

Yesterday I came across a Facebook "friend request."  Not being adept at navigating my way through Facebook, the request may have been sitting there for months.  Well, I clicked on the friend request and discovered that it was from a high school classmate who has been toiling to herd the remainder of the class of '66 on to our own special Facebook page.

So I clicked on the "confirm request" and was soon navigating my way through my old high school days.  Well, I could never have anticipated the impressions that the two hour visit to yesterday had on me.  

First of all, those people are so damn old!  Let me explain.  When I joined the military in the summer after my graduation I unwillingly severed the kind of continuity one enjoys when living in the same town in which I grew up.  Oh, I had received disparate news and notes through the pipeline of a few old friends.  Sometimes I caught a timely news item in the home town paper.  And I did attend the 20th reunion of the Class of '66.  But those people were still recognizable....perhaps a receding hairline here and there, perhaps a slight thickening of the waist, but still my dear recognizable classmates.

And, because I have not enjoyed the continuity of friendship over these many years, these ghosts from the past were starkly different beings than the ones who wrote in my yearbook.  Like those open-faced doll houses that a little girl will play with...little daddy and mommy figures all attending, my memories of my classmates came from propping open one of my yearbooks and gazing into youthful, fresh faced 17 year olds with the world just opening up to them.

And every single one of those sweet faces remain frozen in time, vibrant and alive.  And so yesterday I gaze into the faces of these senior citizens and, at first, simply see them as strangers.  And, far worse, like a punch drunk fighter, I begin to absorb the blows at those postings that refer to the deaths of these dear hearts who, until yesterday, still lived..who still held their place in my memory banks.

A dear girl who was my first pre-teen crush had died in an auto accident.  A lovely girl who shared singing the musical scales with me in choir brutally murdered.  Several who died in their 20's and 30's, leaving us to wonder why we were graced with long life while others were taken so early.

My god, it was heartbreaking!  In 1966 even the occasional auto accident, or one of our own dying in Vietnam seemed not to shake our sense of immortality!  I sat there yesterday and mourned the fact that I had not taken a moment in 1966 to tell those people how much a kindness meant to me, how a joyful moment made my high school life a bit easier.

Then I thought about what a wonderful thing indeed, if we could go back to 1966, taking all of the richness of our life experience...to enrich the lives we might have touched back then.  Having learned that having the nicest car, or the best clothes, or being most popular was no assurance for happiness..how much kinder might we all have been?  

And then I realized that all the light hearted comments, all the heart felt sentiments being posted on this Class of '66 reunion site was accomplishing that very thing...we were at last sharing the things that are most important to us.  We were, from the relative comfort of a computer keyboard, or with the occasional informal dinner reunion, at last communicating about who we are and what we care about.

And suddenly all those old faces became dear to me...every crows foot and every wrinkle, and every laugh line,  testament to the hard life challenges we've faced and defeated.  

So I can put away the yearbooks, pausing to say a prayer for those who have passed, and celebrate the lives of those of us who are left, laugh lines and wrinkles and all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Top Shelf Of Your Closet

                                                               



If the heart is the “home” to all of your fondest memories
I’ll settle for the top shelf in a bedroom closet
Just to be remembered; to know I touched your heart
On a day when, perhaps, my soul shined brightest

Perhaps, on some rainy day you’ll find nothing else to do
But take me down from that dusty shelf, and recall a time
When I made you laugh or cry, or...remember
A day when I helped you to feel “not alone”

Sometimes, when all the words are said
Maybe the only thing that matters is a smile, a gentle touch
Or even a pat on the back to let you know I care
That you delight me just by being you

One can never say “I love you” often enough
For we never know when it may be the last time we say it
So let me say “I love you” again this day
And pray I live to say it again on the morrow

And when I leave this world, and am no more
May the legacy of the love I offered, and voiced
Rest gently in some back room in your heart
To be taken out, and cherished, on some dark and rainy day

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bribes For Jesus

                                                                   

When I was a kid the church bus would roll up in front of our house every Sunday morning...hauling our sinful asses off to Sunday school.  It would not have been so painful had we not had one of those fire and brimstone Sunday school teachers.  She was the minister's wife and she seemed to delight in telling us about just how hot hell really is, and what we need to do not to go there.  

This teacher was especially adept at relating how current early 60's era events pointed to an end of the world scenario, hinting that we had damn little time to repent and get our selves right.  Israel was her favorite subject...whatever was going on over in the Middle East surely portended the end of days.  She'd open up a chapter in Revelations and just scare the beejesus out of us.

Well, we came out of Sunday school sweating like little hogs, having barely eluded Armageddon, then climbed back on the bus to be taken home.  In winter the bus driver closely guarded a box of Snickers bars, and as we got off the bus he'd pass us a Snickers as reward for coming to Jesus.  In summer he kept a cooler next to him and passed out ice cream treats.  

Well, I can tell you that, back then, as compared to now, we were well educated about religion.  I read the bible off and on and could usually relate to it when anyone wanted to talk about religion.  And damned if I didn't say my prayers everything night and pray "if I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take".  That Sunday school teacher had me plenty scared.

As I remember, about 80% of Americans back in my day, attended church.  From stats I read now it's about half of that.  And getting a kid to come to church is a tough thing, indeed these days, so many Sunday diversions being what they are.  I doubt highly that a Snickers bar or Eskimo Pie would seal the deal.  

So damned if I didn't read of a stepped up "Bribes For Jesus" campaign going on with some of our local churches.  A prominent church over in Surprise plans to build skate parks to try and lure our modern youth to at least come near a church.  Perhaps they believe if they can just get them close they can pull a few of the retributes into the church proper.  Perhaps then they can build a gaming center in the now nearly empty Sunday school classrooms!  And speaking of gaming centers, why hasn't some entrepreneurial Christian came up with some Christian type video games.  

How about Moses parts the Red Sea, then drowns the Egyptians in mid-stream?  Moses just might score big, what with transforming staffs into snakes and turning rivers red with blood.  How about a video game where David slays Goliath?  You get kids into Christian gaming you just might hook them on a little fire and brimstone, and getting them to say their nightly prayers, and we might, just might have a better class of kids.  

Bribes for Jesus, baby!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Charlie Brown & Lucy

                                                           
He met her at a church picnic.  He was the other half of a duo who sang for $5 bucks and a free picnic lunch.  As he sang of life and love his eyes kept drifting over to the auburn haired lass who thought he was singing intimacies that she had kept to herself.

So they spent a Sunday afternoon getting to know one another under a canopy of summer shade trees.     They took a walk along the river and skipped stones across the water and exchanged Reader's Digest Condensed versions of their lives and hopes and fears.

The following week she would be ferried off to Apple Valley, to the grandparents house, thus forfeiting a summer month to share...time that could never be recaptured.  And he felt a loneliness as vast as a canyon.  Then, in his mailbox came Charlie Brown cards, with personal messages about old folks and golf carts and early evening dispatches to bed.  She had decided that he was Charlie Brown and she was Lucy.

Indeed she was.  Given three hours on one golden Sunday and then she was gone from his life, from his world....how could such a brief encounter bring on such lust just to gaze into her blue eyes for a single moment.  She had shown him the football and then jerked it away so swiftly!

While she was away the military came calling.  He raised his hand and swore an oath and promised to show up in September to join the million man ranks destined to fight a war in Asia.

Then Lucy came home and filled his summer evening with delights.  They rode merry go rounds like children, took long evening walks in the park, went to movies and concerts and spent hours exploring lips and lash and the far country that dwelled behind the eyes.

And Charlie Brown and Lucy fell in love.  They exchanged gifts across the table, over pizza and root beer...a "Happiness Is A Warm Puppy Book" to Charlie from Lucy and a heart pendant necklace for Lucy from Charlie.

Then Charlie Brown was off to Texas for basic training.  Nearly every day came a love letter on blue stationary, little blue lovebirds flitting around the top of the page, a whiff of Chanel to remind him what he was missing.

A ten day leave gave them acres of time to love, hours to embrace, kisses to last a season.  Then he was off again to his first military assignment...three thousand miles from her arms, from her lips, from her sweet endearments.

At Christmas he sent her a bracelet, she sent him a warm sweater and an engraved bracelet, ownership of him claimed in three words engraved in the bottom.

At Valentines Day a sweet card arrived, with a timeless pledge that she would be waiting no matter how long it took.  But two months later the letters from her dwindled from daily to weekly...and then to tortuous monthlies.

He wrote and begged for clarity, for an explanation and, when none came, demanded one.

Then came the letter that was the one he feared the most.  The "dear john"...the "dear Charlie Brown" that said waiting was too hard, that it hurt too much too need and not get, that Lucy had jerked the football away just when he needed it the most.

So Charlie Brown found Ten High and Southern Comfort and cheap gin and nearby fraternity girls could make the pain go away for a little while.  But he could not drive the love for Lucy and that football away for long.

When Charlie finally sobered up, he volunteered for Vietnam, hoping that time and distance would ease the pain in his heart.  
                                               

And the pain did ease, and he did find other joys in life and he managed his life as best he could.  And others took their place in his heart.  And Charlie Brown finally went away and he stopped yearning for that football.  But deep in his heart, hidden away in a shoe box, far up on the top shelf, Charlie still lives...and so does Lucy.


                                               

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Codicil To My Will; Doggie Care

                                                                 

Dear Future Rosie Pack Leader,

By mutual agreement you will assume pack leadership for Rosie should I pre-decease her.  To make the transition easier for both she and you I want to tell you a little about my Rosie.

She's five years old, healthy, and weighs about 7 pounds.  As with all of my dogs, Rosie was allowed to develop her own unique personality.  You should no know that she does not do "tricks".  Were you to ask her to sit, or lay down, or roll over she would look at you as if you were crazy.  And, I'm sorry to say she will not come to you on command....she comes to you when she wants to, and the more you are respectful of her, the more she will come to you and beg for lap time.

Rosie is very, very housebroken.  She will go to the back patio door and stir around to let you know she wants to go outside.  If you are otherwise occupied, busy on your computer, or wrapped up in a TV program, she will stare at you and bark aggressively to let you know she needs to go.  

Rose is nearly persnickety neat; she does not lick her privates and she likes having a regular bath, as long as you are gentle with her.  She will almost always show reluctance to get in the pool but once there she delights in a cool swim.  When she gets tired she climbs up on a pool float and veggies out until her pack leader is ready to leave the pool.

Rosie is not well socialized.  She has lived with an old person and she has not been around crowds of people except at family holidays.  She is slow to warm up to you but will more than compensate with loads of love once she has gotten to know you.  She is not a yapper, though she can be a barker under certain conditions.  When she goes into the back yard, that is her territory and she will always emit one bark to let the neighbors, and the birds know that she's out and this is her domain.  One bark.  When she is let out in the front, if someone walks by on the sidewalk she will bark at them...seeming to warn them not to intrude on her territory.  If someone does approach she will retreat to the garage for she is, at heart, a coward.  She will never bite, no matter the provocation.  She's just not a biter.

Unlike my other Chi, Rosie is not a big eater.  She extracts one small nugget from her food bowl, then walks nearly the length of the room to a rug near the door to eat it...then goes back for another nugget.  I give her one egg once a week and also give her half a small tin of sardines for her Omega 3 heart health.

Rosie knows that she's my baby and she loves playing the role.  She loves me to sweep her up in my arms, cradle her like a baby and say "you're my little stuffed toy, no batteries required...she always flicks out her tongue for a kiss at this.

Rosie loves to take naps with me but she will never voluntarily leave Ginger to share a nap.  When I bid her to come take a nap she just sits there.  However, as soon as I pick her up and carry her to the bed she is clearly happy about it.  She will sit on the corner of the foot of the bed until I have laid down on my side, then she will run up and give me a kiss, then plop on her back, legs straight up, to see if I want to play the game of rubbing her belly.  When she does this she looks exactly like a very small teddy bear.  I will then rub her belly and stage mock fights with her by running by fingers over her mouth and she will play "ferocious dog" for a minute or two.  Once I'm ready to nap she will turn and place her rump against my chest or stomach, nudge her nose under the covers, and sleep quietly beside me.  When I awaken she immediately sits up, anticipating leaving the bed.  If I just turn over in the opposite direction she will reposition her rump against my back and go back to sleep.  She will not leave the bed until I do, and when I do she will leap from the bed herself; she does not like being picked up and put down on the floor.

Like all dogs, if you allow Rosie her dignity, if your respect her and show you care for her, she will return that respect and love in far greater amounts than you could ever give her.  

So, future pack leader Brenda or Jennifer; I thank you for having such a great heart to offer to take Rosie into your family if Dam and I are not around to care for her.  I wish I could say Rosie is the lucky one but I know in my heart that YOU are the lucky one if Rosie should ever join your pack.

Friday, July 18, 2014

So Ashamed

                                                           

I am so very ashamed.  I'm normally what one would call a cautious consumer.  I'm a very skeptical fellow.  So when I bought my Honda Minivan in 2005 I checked out a number of dealers for the best deal.  I went on line and consulted Edmond's car guide and a number of other buying sites that told me what I should be paying.  Then I armed myself with steel resolve and went in and shucked off all the typical dealer bullshit and bought the van at the price I planned.

And so, in 2011 I did the same thing in planning the purchase of my wife's Honda CRV.  Checked out multiple sites on line and had a firm price in mind when I walked in the door.  I already had financing lined up and approved and all systems were go.

So after finding the CRV my wife wanted we went in and began that long suffering bargaining process...the one where you know you're going to get the price you want but must keep saying no to all the necessary dealer bullshit...the salesman wearing out a path between the customer desk and the sales manager's office, ad infinitum.  

Note;  both of these purchases were with Earnhardt Honda in Avondale, Arizona.

So we finally came to my already agreed upon price.  Then we weeded out all the extra stuff offered (at a fancy price), then we were ushered into the finance office.  Now, the finance guy looked like a church reverend; he had one of those good guy faces that you trust immediately....even old curmudgeonly and cynical and skeptical "me".  

So Mr. Finance offered us a finance rate that was something like 4.99 percent.  We declined, already having a 2.99% approved offer from my bank.  So Mr. Finance then begins offering mud flaps and sealant and all manner of extras that could be rolled right into the contract...and we spent a good half hour saying "no."  Then Mr. Finance offered us an oil change service for as long as we owned the car for $1,338.00.  We said no.  Then he said, how about I drop the finance rate to 1.99 percent if you take the service offer.  Well I mentally calculated the costs of ten years (our normal Honda ownership) of four times a year synthetic oil and filter changes and decided that the offer was reasonable, considering a one percent drop in the finance rate partly pays for ten years of oil and filter service.  So, I signed the contract.

So, blame it on the previous two hours of scouring the fine print on the car buying process, or blame it on the Norman Rockwell face of the finance guy, or blame it on a rare moment of extreme stupidity...but my wife went in this week for an oil change.  The service tech said no more free oil changes...that the goodies were only good for three years or 45,000 miles..which we had now exceeded.

So I take out the contract and, sure as hell, it says 3 years or 45,000 miles, not "Life time of ownership".  So go ahead and call me stupid.  Because I am.  $1,338.00 would have bought us 6 years of oil changes, not three years as we had with this.  

Not taking another ten minutes to scour that finance contract cost me dearly.  Taken in by a Norman Rockwell face cost me dearly.  

Yes, I posted my complaint on Yelp, perhaps helping someone else about this scam.  And no, I will never go back and buy another Honda from these people.  But my confidence is now severely shaken....the surety that I can always ferret out a scam has disappeared.   I'm likely to be kicking helpless dogs and cursing Mother Theresa for a time.  But, I'll bet you I'll read every one of those tiny lines in any contract I sign in the future.

Right now I am just ashamed.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Obama Not Answering My Mail

                                                               

Not having anything better to do, and with both foreign and domestic affairs in disarray, Obama has been busy with what he's best qualified to do; fundraise and campaign...and pass out our tax dollars.

Last week Obama travelled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to have dinner with a woman who wrote to thank him for her free taxpayer paid Obamacare.  Obama was so touched he had to fire up Air Force One and fly up to Milwaukee to receive the praise first hand.

This week Obama is going to Colorado and Austin, Texas (but not to the border, no..not that.  He's got a lackey in Denver who got a pay raise when Obama proclaimed women should be paid more, regardless of experience, time in position, or nature of the job.  

So Obama is traveling to Denver and he's going to spring for dinner at, quite appropriately, a Mexican restaurant.  After having his boots licked Obama will then find the nearest teleprompter and urge Congress to fork over another $4 billion dollars to feed, educate and medicate another army of Central and South American invaders.

But, before Denver, he's headed to Austin.  Someone at the University of Texas, Austin wrote the Anointed One and thanked him for forgiving some $750 million dollars of student loan debt, with the most important one being his.  Obama will hang out on the student quad and mix with naive college students who don't understand that, if they ever do get a job, they'll be paying taxes to cover that three quarters of a billion write-off.

Well, I don't need to tell you I'm a bit miffed.  I have written Obama no less than a dozen letters over the last year.  I included FBI stats that showed over fifty percent of all Phoenix murders were by illegal Mexicans.  I clipped newspaper articles about the runaway "hit and run" accidents and the ensuring mayhem created by illegals.  In one letter I offered to drive him down to the border at Nogales.  I promised to pack a picnic lunch and we could travel out to the open desert and witness the parade of Mexican drug and human smugglers as they work their way north to Phoenix, where they will either stay, or head out to the East coast where the perils of illegals has not yet been fully felt.

Obama hasn't answered a single letter, much less offered to buy me dinner.  Even after I promised to have Governor Jan Brewer greet him at the airport...  

Maybe I'm not writing the right kind of letter.  Perhaps my gripe about the Phoenix VA hospital threw him off.  Maybe I shouldn't have griped about my annual 1 percent military pension increase that doesn't begin to keep up with inflation.  Maybe my offer of hosting him overnight, and offering the use of a futon was unacceptable.

Or maybe my admonishment about no food testers allowed when I offered him a bowl of my home made chili made him a bit suspicious.  No matter, I'll keep writing him about my gripes.  Maybe he'll come and see me in a couple of years when all he has to do is make $200,000 dollar speeches.


Monday, July 7, 2014

"Stress Test"

                                                               

I must have read a hundred science fiction stories about aliens who come to earth and appear to have very large heads to accommodate their massive intelligence, but are handicapped with spindly little bodies so weak it barely supports the big head.

This morning I was driving around early, running some errands before the heat and humidity come up, and while driving I was listening to NPR.  They were running their Monday morning health segment.  Today's topic was middle class stress.  Well, I was a bit dumbfounded to find what causes our middle class to stress out these days.  Like those spindly legged aliens, Americans these days appear to be so weak-kneed that they can no longer tolerate the most minimums of stress.

One person complained that she was due to go to a birthday party, had, until two hours before the event, forgotten to bake the cake.  After quickly baking and icing the cake, that person entered their apartment elevator and broke down with the shakes, having to rush like that.

A soccer mom lamented that she was extremely stressed about ferrying the kids to soccer practice, youth yoga, little league baseball and ballet lessons.  Another poor soul was near tears about the demands placed on her by social media.  Having to answer phone calls and respond to texts and post what she's doing on Face book and Twittering her opinion about overly sexy prom dresses for her daughter was making her a nervous wreck.  

I don't know.  I can remember what use to stress my family out; it was when you opened the kitchen cupboard and there was nothing left there to eat.  Or having both the gas and electric bill fifteen days over due and threatening letters that the utilities were going to cut off your power and heat.

I spent three years in Vietnam and didn't realize I was wound tighter than a drum until I finally came home.  The stress was so constant that I had learned to suppress it.  When I started hitting the floor when the safe and secure stateside  noon base siren went off I knew some adjustments were in order.
Fatal illness will do the same thing to you.

And today, all over America, tens of thousands of people will begin lining up outside a homeless shelter and hope they got in line early enough to secure one hot and a cot.  I would think that's pretty damn stressful.  How about care giving for a loved one who can no longer care for themselves?  That's stress 24 hours a day.

So I guess I got to apologize for having so little sympathy for middle class folks crippled by their daily stress.  I'm sorry but I just can't relate to last minute birthday cakes and soccer mom syndrome or the woes of having to stay relevant with your social media friends.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gallus gallus Domesticus

                                                           

Happy National Fried Chicken Day!

How much do you know about chickens?  Did you know they originated in South Asia and were used  as cock fighting entertainment while both their meat and eggs were totaling ignored as a food source?

Apparently it was in India when someone got smart enough to figure out you could eat these birds!  This food trend worked its way westward and by the 5th century B.C. the Greeks were making omelets and eating chicken.

Today there are more than 24 billion chickens world wide; the most populous species on earth! Chickens are deemed highly social animals and thrive in flocks.  When the rooster wants to attract a mate he will do a fancy little jig around his potential mate and dip his wing that is nearest to the female....this apparently makes the female very horny and the two love birds go at it...at least for ten seconds or so.

I guess ten seconds of bliss is not so bad when your life span is from five to ten years max.  However, the Guinness Book of World Records document one old cock who lived to the age of 16 and died of heart failure (hopefully not during that "ten seconds of bliss".

Chicken "language" is not much to admire.  Hens will cluck to call their chicks and are known to cluck the loudest while laying an egg...but then wouldn't you if you had to eject something five times the size of the applicable orifice?  A Rooster crows at dawn, not because he wants to be your alarm clock, but because he wants to let everyone know that he's announcing this is his territory.

Chickens are not that smart and will lay their eggs pretty much anywhere.  Farmers often place plastic eggs  or golf balls in a nesting area to show the hen where he wants those eggs deposited.  And he would appreciate her not being so damned loud about it.

While chickens in North America primarily lay white or brown eggs, depending on their feather coloration, in South America chickens have blue plumage and lay blue-green eggs.

World wide chickens lay over 50 million tons of eggs per year so you can imagine the fowl squawking that those hens put out.  

Most chickens provide eight pieces per meal, two legs, two thighs, two breasts and two wings...unless your KFC....they'll give you half of half a breast and sell it to you at full price.  And McDonald's can mix enough mystery meat to produce enough chicken nuggets to feed an entire army airborne division.

Happy Yardbird Day, folks!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Monsoon

                                                             

Monsoon season in Arizona starts around the 4th of July and ends around the middle of September.  Last night we had our first one.  Don't confuse desert monsoons with those out in Southeast Asia.  Those monsoons can leave 20 inches of water in a single day.  By contrast our monsoons in Arizona normally last for two or three hours, then go away as quickly as it came.

Each year our first monsoon is such a drama queen.  It occurs after several weeks of intense plus 110 degree heat.  Then that heat hovering over the desert begins to meet moisture moving in from the West and the Gulf of Mexico and begins to stir things up.  The first thing we usually see is a huge, mile-high wall of dust and winds that come scooting across the desert floor.  Depending on where you live in the Valley of The Sun you may have to endure that dust storm before the coming gully washers of rain begins to knock the dust down.    We also have some of the most violent and spectacular thunder and lightning storms one is likely to see.  

Last night's first monsoon was no different.  In the late afternoon we could already see a wall of storm clouds encircling the valley.  Distant rumbles could be heard from outlying areas.  Then, about 8PM last night those things that go bump in the night began to appear.  Anything not secured begins swirling around the back yard, the ground shakes and the rumble of thunder makes its presence known.  

My two doggies noticed it first.  They began to bark at the noisy intrusion of the gathering winds.  I put them to bed early and opened up the front door watched bits of flotsam sailing down the street that runs past my house.  Then the skies opened up and poured a million buckets of rain onto parched desert.  Because the monsoon always overpowers a drainage system build for 10 inch annual rainfall, our streets become rivers within a couple of minutes or so.

The weather folks, (who were 24 hours late in projecting any kind of rain, and projected the chance of showers at less than ten percent) reported the winds topped out at 56 miles per hour.  Trees were uprooted and power lines fell and left some 25,000 folks without power.  

I always, unwisely in lightning storms,  grab a bar of soap and go out, stark, into the backyard and take my first monsoon shower of the year.  Those rains that pound the dust down are pure and wondrous and leaves your hair squeakily clean and shiny and tingling.  Then, once the most powerful winds have died down a bit, I open up my doors and windows and allow the cool breezes, sweetened by the desert creosote waft throughout the house.  After a time I button up the doors and windows and go to bed, refreshed and ready for sleep.

Our first monsoon of the year is always something of a miracle.  Those hundred plus degree temperatures drop by 20 degrees or so, humidity goes from 20 percent to 75 percent within minutes and, for a time, we are tropical.  I have driven into desert monsoons.  I inevitably have to pull off the road and wait for the storm to subside.  As hard as it is to believe, I have actually seen fields of desert flowers pop up within an hour after a desert storm.  They seem to have been hovering, immeasurably thirsty, just millimeters beneath the ground, only to burst forth with the first drink of rain.

The weather folks say we must expect rains throughout the day this 4th of July.  That's okay, we had our fireworks last night and life is good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Hate Jerry Carlin

                                                           

Okay, I was not going to post anything on either of my blogs this week.  But having gotten stuck on a short story about a drunken Santa Claus, I hit a Google Plus thing and saw Jerry's name, along with an attractive picture.  So I begin to be drawn into more nice pics, then find out the bastard has his own blog.

So I click on his blog link and learn a lot more about Jerry than I cared to know.  First of all, the guy's a master gardener, knows his way around a hammer and saw, and creates some of the loveliest metal works you've ever seen.  Then, to make matters worse, the bastard is an excellent writer as well....and that really pisses me off.

Yeah, he's still a bit liberal in some ways...I blame that on his years of teaching in the public school system.  Just as my ideology was formed around a life in the military, surely Jerry was influenced a bit by some of those unionized pin-heads running our school system.  Still, he presents well founded arguments, even if they are sometimes wrong.  And I don't like it a bit that he's so multiply talented.

Jerry is that rare fella who just happens to be a renaissance man, capable in so many different venues.  He can pick up a pen, or pound a keyboard and create an intelligent sentence, then go out nourish his 50 year old mulch pile, create nearly pornographically attractive pictures of tomatoes, build his own house and put a roof on it every ten years or so, then wander out to his shop and create artistic metalwork.  Sickening!

I am so jealous right now I'm about to boil!  Feel like I have to go out to my quarter acre now and create a nature oasis comparable to his...a hard thing to do with my limited gardening skills and a yard blanketed with landscape rock.  Hell, I have more trees than anyone in my neighborhood and still I couldn't create that garden of Eden Jerry's got in his back yard.

Well,  being the masochist I am, I signed up as one of his blog followers and now will be forced to see what Mr. Renaissance man has come up with this week!  

I gotta get back to that drunken Santa Claus...just now I find him a hell of a lot more agreeable than reading any more of Jerry's next project.  

Mad!  Damned Mad!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Poetic Justice?


                                                       
                                                      


   Billy Collins was poet laureate of the United States from 2001 through 2003.  He wrote the beautiful and eloquent "The Names" to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.  He's written hundreds of poems and is considered the most popular poet in the United States.

However, poetry doesn't generate much wealth these days.  So the poetry world was shocked when Collins received a $200,000 dollar advance for his next three books of poetry.  I think that's pretty sad.  Poetry enriches our soul and makes us better people.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton was given a $14 million dollar advance for her 200 page book of political pablum.  Far worse, she pulls in as much as $300,000 dollars to orally attack Republicans in an hour long speech.  Husband Bill raked in $104 million in eight years doing the same thing....

Yet people were shocked that a Poet Laureate of the United States was paid $200,000 in advance for his next three books.  How sad is that?  Read the following poems and see if they are not worth a bit more than a Hillary or Bill political speech:                      

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--------------------------------------------------------------
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Pricey?  Or Priceless?  You decide.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Why I Love T-E-A-M Spurs

                                                           

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich once said that he feels sorry for some of the stars on his team.  He said San Antonio is not where you want to go if you're interested in generating dizzying personal stats.  That's because Popovich believes "team" will always win out in the long run against a group of superstars.  

And there is never doubt about whose running the show on the Spurs.  While I've seen superstar Lebron James stand up on the sidelines, overrule his coach and inject himself back into game action.  That would never happen in San Antonio.  Because they play as a team and "team" is more important.
Tim Duncan doesn't care if he gets 5 points or 25 points, as long as his team wins the game.

Speaking of Duncan, if you watch Tim Duncan in the course of the game, he's got this blank, dumb look on his face all the time.  Just from appearances you would think Duncan is just a dumb sports goon who just happens to be tall.  But watch and listen to Duncan in pre-game or post game interviews.  He is far and wide the most intelligent and articulate athlete I've ever seen in sports. And he is beloved by his teammates because of his selfless play.

With a 3-1 series lead it seems most likely that San Antonio will win their fifth NBA championship under Greg Popovich.  And this victory is no fluke.  Year in and year out the Spurs seem to always have one of the best won-loss records every season.  That's because Popovich keeps this only moderately talented group of players always on the same game page.

The Miami Heat has the big payroll, they have all those superstars.  They are the sexy "starlet" and the Spurs are just the guys next door that have been playing street ball together for years.  

Give me a choice between a group of pampered and selfish superstars and a group of humble boys who play unselfishly, I'll take humble every time. 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bait Car

                                                         

It must be true that idle hands lead to evil.  I was vegging out the other afternoon and started flipping channels and came across a show called "Bait Car".  Now, for the life of me I can't understand why La Causa and the NAACP aren't suing this show.  Talk about bad ethnic images!  

The premise of this show is that they take a car and rig it up to all kinds of controls and cameras and monitoring devices, then they leave it in some Black thugville, and wait for about sixty seconds for a thug to come along and steal it.  So stupid are the perps that the cops leave the car door open, thus saying "steal me, bro!", "steal me bro!"

So along comes some ethnic dregs, about 90 percent Black and ten percent Latino, and their addled brains convince them that they just got to have this ride, baby!  So the climb in, hit the boom box and boogie on down the road.  At some point cop control center shuts the vehicle down...and then the fun begins.  The thugs goes all wide-eyed like those submissive negroes in the 1930 movies, and then they desperately reach out and try to exit the car.  Of course the doors are locked and they are trapped.

The thugs then begin some form of frustrated gyration; slamming the steering wheel, wringing their hands, F-ing themselves, before finally putting their hands in the air as ordered by the arriving cops.
Oh...and then the tears flow...really big time.  And almost as fast the excuses begin to flow "Hey, someone just sold me this ride!".  or "I be standing on the corner, mindin my own business and this guy come along and forced me to drive this car away!".  or "Hey, this my sista's car and she tell me I can drive it!" or "Hey man, I just out for a test drive...fella down in the hood wanna sell it to me!"

Some of these thugs are so stupid they've been caught more than once stealing a bait car.  Thankfully, the second time around they are less talkative.

I suppose the target audience is a bunch of law abiding white folks that delight in seeing the Black Thug or the Latino punk taken down.  I think it's sad.   Based on his performance in office, anyone of these guys could have been Obama's son.

Maybe Barack will issue an executive order canceling the show.  Or maybe Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson will stage a protest march.  Either way, something needs to be done cause this is not doing much to advance race relations or sell the citizenry on spending $100 million dollar to bail out Detroit or one of the other urban ghettos.



Monday, June 9, 2014

"At Long Last, Love"

                                                               
For every dog that is rescued, and given a home, there are nine who won't be.  They will be the ones you see wandering the streets, foraging for food from garbage cans, making a home in the city dump, being abused by casual savages, slain by traffic on the side of the road, or are euthanized because the rescue facility simply cannot support the large number of dogs who are abandoned.

Happily, this is a story of redemption; the story of one little dog who, after living in the cruel streets for years, would get one last chance at love.

A fella named Cody Leightenheimer was working late at a flooring factory about a year ago.  He paused in his work to gaze down the length of the warehouse and spied a small dog standing in the large bay door of the warehouse.  After staring at the man for several minutes, the little dog began making his way toward him.  When Cody approached the dog, it showed no fear so Cody bent down to pet him and saw that his bones were protruding and he was covered in fleas.  So Cody went out and bought some chicken-based fast food and fed the dog.  Having fallen instantly in love with this waif of a dog, Cody began taking pictures with his cell phone and sending them to his wife.  He was hoping he could touch his wife's heart and be given permission to bring the dog home....which she did..and he did.

                                                         

They took the dog to the vet and the examination showed the little guy had been so malnourished for so long that growth was stunted.  Worse, he was losing his teeth, had cataracts that dimmed vision, showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head, has open sores in his mouth, had stomach ulcers and was completely deaf.  The vet estimated the little guy's age to be somewhere between 8 and ten years old and weighed only 7 pounds.  

So the vet did the best he could but advised Cody and wife Kasie that this little dog would have only a few months to live.  So of course they took the little one home and bathed him and fed him and pampered him.  The children would call the little dog "Toothless" and the named was embellished to "Toothless Rooster Cogburn"

So the family showered Toothless with love, and everyone from the vet to family friends to complete strangers fell in love with Toothless at first meeting.  And Toothless would bask in the glow of all this love and would learn to love eating well and taking warm naps and returned the love in kind.  

                                                 

And so the little dog, who had been given a few short months to live, stuck around a bit longer, not wanting to leave this harbor of love that he had sailed so sweetly to so late in his life.  But no matter how much he longed to stay the Rainbow Bridge was calling....

                                                   

Cody said the little dog just got too sick to grace us with his awesomeness for one more day.  So, last week, with  his adoptive mom and dad holding his paw he crossed over that Rainbow Bridge where all God's creatures go when their work here is done.

I have two of these "creatures of unconditional love"...or they have me.  I hand picked them.  But I swear, if I outlive my two current "children" I will never again "buy" a dog.  I will go and rescue one...and he or she will no doubt rescue me right back.