Friday, December 02, 2016

Dangers of Requiring a Loyalty Pledge


While finishing off the day, going over entries on Facebook, there was one particular link which immediately caught my attention.  Someone had established a page imploring folks to ‘Pledge your Loyalty to Donald Trump’ as we enter this new era for America.

There were T-shirts with this logo pledging loyalty to Donald Trump splashed across the front, symbols of our undying devotion to the man who has promised to “Make America Great Again”.  The way they see it Donald Trump is our hope, our one and only hope to save the country.

My thoughts instead turned to a much darker period of time; pre-WWII Germany when Adolph Hitler promised to restore Germany from the brink of bankruptcy into a nation all could be proud of, make the Fatherland great again.  The Hitler Youth saw him as a father figure, god-like and worthy of the title Fuhrer.

The rest of the world didn’t share Germany’s blind obedience to the Fuhrer; instead they saw him as a threat, something to be dealt with, even if it meant going to war.  Far too many died to stop a nation willing to do the bidding of a narcissistic ego maniac who grabbed the reigns of government and captured the hearts with promises of national pride and greatness.  No, this kind of loyalty must be avoided.

Our loyalties are to the Constitutional Republic which protects our individual God given rights from power seeking men who achieve high office.  Our Flag is a symbol, a means of displaying all that is good about our country.  It isn’t a banner declaring any particular party or individual as supreme leader; but some folks can’t understand or get their arms around the idea of nation that relies on self governance, instead looking for a great leader to guide them and rule over them.

Sorry; but my allegiance is limited to the concept of individual liberty and is given to no man.    


This article has been cross posted to The Self Educated American, a publication whose banner reads, “Standing Fast By the Judeo-Christian Heritage, Limited Government and the U.S. Constitution”. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gratitude and Thanksgiving



This morning London, my granddaughter, came over to greet me as I reviewed the latest headlines in the news on the internet.  She pointed to an umbrella which is stored in the corner behind my work-station; a serious look took over her face as she reminded me not to ever open the umbrella in the house.  A couple of days ago London got in trouble playing in the house with the umbrella and she wanted me to know she understood how important it was to follow the rules.

I nodded in agreement as we reviewed how silly it would be to have an open umbrella in the house since its purpose was to keep rain from falling on us.  I looked up at the ceiling and explained how blessed we were to have a roof over our heads to protect us from the rain.  London looked thoughtfully at the ceiling and smiled.

It’s also nice to have a house for when it gets cold outside; again she smiled and pretended to hug herself as if being warmed by an imaginary heater.  And in the summer we have air conditioning to keep us comfortable too. 

London may have taken these conveniences for granted up until this moment; but as she considered the light rain falling outside, that she was enjoying the comforts provided by the house which she lived in, gratitude for all these blessings was evident by the look on her face.

May we all have a similar moment of appreciation for what ever blessings have been provided in our lives.   

If you watch much television, the advertisements tend to make a mockery of Thanksgiving; a not so subtle way of redirecting our thoughts.  Instead of getting down on our knees and thanking the Lord we’re being desensitized and programmed into accepting this time of year as a spending orgy, a chance to prove we have more money than brains as we go about going into debt for items we really can’t afford.

Black Friday with its door buster sales has, for far too many folks, become more important than sitting around the dinner table with family in quiet thanks for what has been provided and prepared. 

This nation was founded under the direction of wise individuals who understood our relationship with God, Creator of all we have, to include Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Our blessings come from above and we are showered with them in great abundance; consider what we have been given, not what you don’t have. 

London is correct, you shouldn’t open your umbrella in the house, let God’s blessings fall all around you and be grateful, truly grateful; that’s why we celebrate Thanksgiving.  

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Thanks for the Memories





I went to the Spring Creek Village assisted living center where my dad spent his last days to make sure our account was settled up, no loose ends.  We’d been double charged for a ‘one time only’ fee on the second month’s billing which we were told would be subtracted on the following month’s rent; but dad never made it to the next month.

My father died October 25, 2016 and we made it a point to remove all items we’d provided for his comfort the very same day, leaving the room as it was when he first arrived. 

Today I looked over at their ‘occupancy availability board’; they had a large white board in the manager’s office showing new move ins and those who’d moved out.  There was dad’s name showing he died October 25th along with his move out date of….Nov 7th…?

I pointed out the discrepancy to the manager and reminded her that we’d made sure to remove dad’s personal items on the same day he died.  Her response was, “That’s in the contract”. 

There is a clause in the residency contract which states the assisted living center can charge up to 10 days rent after the death of a renter.  Apparently we could have left dad’s body in the room for another week; not that the health department would have approved.

I reminded the manager that we’d been over charged by $1500.00, expecting a refund for that amount and perhaps a refund for the last five days of October since dad didn’t occupy the room that last week of the month.

Again the manager explained, “That’s in the contract”, as she handed me a due bill for  $186.50, the difference between the $1500.00 we’d been over charged and the ten days which the assisted living center considered an opportunity to extract additional money from the deceased’s bank account.

Spring Creek Village provided exceptional care while my father was in their facility and I would recommend them to anyone looking for an assisted living facility.  That said, they have an unusual way of interpreting their lease contracts.

I pointed out that this was morally wrong and as a business practice was no different than gouging the dead.  I know, “That’s in the contract”.  But the contract indicated that the assisted living center ‘can’ charge up to 10 days following the ‘move out’ of a resident; it doesn’t say that it must charge the full ten days. 

I suppose they were only honoring the memory of my dearly departed father as they hit the Enter Key on the cash register, or as Bob Hope used to say, Thanks for the memories.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scattering of Ashes


While visiting with my dad today I brought up an awkward topic, having to write everything down on a tablet since his hearing is all but non existent.  I wrote down, “Where do you want your ashes scattered”, not a normal question to ask except dad’s in hospice now and heaven only knows how long we’ll get to visit.

Back in August when my mother died she’d left very specific instructions; she wished her ashes to be scattered among the Mangroves that were found along the river and so that’s what we did.  Dad is rapidly getting closer to the ‘dropping off place’.  He hasn’t given such a request, only that he wants to be cremated.  I’ve no intention of placing him on the mantle place in a Biscotti Jar or putting him in the closet on the top shelf next to an old worn out pair of blue jeans.

He took his time reading the question and shrugged his shoulders with the universal answer, “How should I know”.  I wrote some more...“How about on a golf course?  Maybe we can put you on a fairway; or in your case, the rough or in a sand trap?”  Again he read the tablet and smiled back at me while nodding his head.  He hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

So if you read about some fool getting arrested for trespassing on a golf course please remember I would be carrying out my father’s last wishes.  It’s difficult saying goodbye, very difficult, a lot like dad trying to stay on the fairways.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Background Checks and Fingerprints



Recently the State of Texas altered the requirements for the renewal process licensed locksmiths must complete in order to continue applying their skills in what used to be a free market system.  The Department of Public Safety/Private Security Bureau, (DPS/PSB) working under their interpretation of HB 4030 passed during the 84th session, has determined that locksmiths must have yet another set of official fingerprints submitted along with a complete background check in order to maintain a valid locksmith license.

While visiting my father, holding his aging hand as we watched some insignificant golf show on the television, I noticed his fingers were a bit discolored as his circulatory system no longer functioned at peak efficiency.  It’s just a guess; but you could bet the farm the fingerprints on his hands would be the same ones he’s had since birth, the same ones he had when he signed up with the Navy in WWII and the same ones he’ll have when he meets St. Peter on the other side of the veil.

Some where in Washington, as the singer Arlo Guthrie would point out in his tune, Alice’s Restaurant, there’s a study in black and white of his fingerprints…   

These identifying marks don’t change all that much over time so it’s beyond my thought process as to why the State of Texas considers it necessary, requiring locksmiths to furnish a fresh set of these prints simply to renew a license... a license which has that very same set of fingerprints already tied to it and filed away collecting dust. 

About the only thing such a requirement does is add $25.00 to the cost of doing business for each and every locksmith while accomplishing absolutely nothing towards the State of Texas’ goal, “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”

Then there’s the requirement of another complete and thorough background check in order to maintain an already issued locksmith license; that bothers me too.  Actually, the veins in my neck are pulsing and may explode while thinking about this.

The State of Texas conducts a complete and thorough background check of each individual prior to issuing a locksmith license.  If the State wants to find out whether or not a licensed locksmith has committed a noteworthy criminal act since the last time he/she went through the licensing process then all the State’s investigators would have to do would be to bring up a standard criminal check on their computer, not much different than the way police officers are able to find out the same information while on patrol; it takes only a minute, sometimes less.

If someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths…locksmiths who’ve already been fingerprinted, had their background checked six ways to Sunday and then issued a license…if someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths a threat or danger to the public...  Could you hand me my blood pressure medicine; those veins are swelling some more.

Yesterday I received an email from the DPS/PSB letting me know my latest renewal efforts were finally accepted and that my pocket sized wallet card would be sent in a timely manner.

Do you see why the updated renewal process bothers me? 

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dealing with bureaucrats



My locksmith license is up for renewal, something which happens every other year.  Lucy decided to use the new easy and convenient on-line service provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety/Private Security Bureau (DPS/PSB).  Locksmiths in Texas were forced into being licensed in 2004 and we have submitted to our masters ever since, paying the state for the privilege to apply our skills. 

On August 30th, while I was out of town on family business, Lucy attempted to use the State’s internet forms so that my locksmith license would be updated in a timely manner.  The internet forms had some ‘glitches’, at least that’s what Ryan Garcia of the DPS/PSB explained as he reassured us the licensing renewal process would eventually work as planned.

When reading my email each morning I’m greeted with a notification from the DPS/PSB explaining that my locksmith license renewal cannot be processed due to incomplete data even though Ryan Garcia assured us that my locksmith license would be reissued and that they had all the pertinent data already.

  
Looking at the required fields I found it odd that the DPS/PSB was requiring a DD 214.  I actually have one showing my honorable discharge from the U.S. Army back in 1971.  Not sure why the State of Texas considers military experience a requirement for obtaining a locksmith license; but I’ll send them a copy if they actually need it.

I’m a bit confused regarding their need for a Background Check seeing as how that should already be in their files; my having been licensed back in 2004.  Did they lose all that important data? 

Perhaps the DPS/PSB has been renewing my locksmith license all these years and never bothered to do the original background investigation; wouldn’t that be a hoot…

Hmmmm....  I started my business career delivering newspapers for Newsday at the age of 11.  My contact was a fellow named Bernie, sorry no last name; he drove the box truck that had newspapers bundled in batches of fifty for all the delivery boys.  He’d toss them on the ground behind the supermarket and we’d load them on our bicycles. 

Next on the list of jobs was Maber Egg Company here in Houston.  I might have been 14 at the time; but lied about my age, said I was 16 to get the job.  I got fired for getting into an egg fight with the boss' son, a fight I won hands down. 

Another of the ‘kid jobs’; Harry Martin Catering Company, where I started out as a vendor selling peanuts, popcorn and soda at the Astrodome.  Eventually I became a member of a commissary crew filling soda cups for the other vendors.  That’s where I met Lucy, the love of my life; she was the popcorn girl.

Add to the list, Sewell’s Texaco, Montgomery Ward, the Houston Police Department where I retired after twenty years of service and of course, T. F. Stern & Company, where I’ve been applying my skills as owner and locksmith since 1978.  If I’ve left off any jobs, chalk it off to old age; but it looks mostly complete.

Lucy’s locksmith license arrived in the mail yesterday, a license she has no need of since she’s listed as a co-owner of the business only and has never pretended to be a locksmith.

I’m still waiting for Ryan Garcia, a paid employee for the State of Texas to return our phone call.  Sure hope I pass the background check; either that or start work at my next job, Brain Surgeon, at least they don’t require a DD 214.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Creatures of Habit





The other morning when going to prepare a bowl of oatmeal I noticed there was only one “A.C. Elliot Bowl” in the pantry instead of two.  There had been six to start with; but as the years have gone by their numbers have dwindled. 

You might ask, “How is it the bowls have a proper name?”, a reasonable question…

When I was a police officer working in downtown Houston my partner and I would occasionally have lunch at a small Chinese restaurant near the Eastex Freeway elevated.  I asked the owner where I could purchase bowls similar to the kind they had and was told to go down the street to a place called A.C. Elliot. 

There was no place called A.C. Elliot, nothing close as I asked her to step outside and point to the store.  She shook her head in such a way as to say, “Stupid cop can’t see the nose on his face”, as she pointed two blocks down to a wholesale house with a big sign out front, Asiatic Imports.  How could I have been so dense…

I’ve grown accustomed to placing two packets of instant oatmeal in my A.C. Elliot Bowl each morning followed by just the right amount of boiling water and a lump of butter. 

What has this got to do with the price of eggs?  (Pardon the colloquial expression)

My mother died this past Monday and there are so many thoughts and emotions running through my head as to make it spin.  When I noticed an A.C. Elliot Bowl was missing an odd thought came to mind; that of a desperately sick young woman looking out her window to see if there were any leaves left on the vine.  She had imagined that her life would end the day The Last Leaf fell off. 

A winter storm was blowing hard and most of the leaves on the vine blew off as evening drew near.  There wasn’t much hope any of them would last until morning as the young woman went off to bed, the look of death creeping onto her cheeks.

Much to everyone's surprise, upon opening the curtain one lone leaf had somehow managed to survive the storm as it bravely held onto the wall; but upon closer inspection the vine was no longer attached to the leaf.

A clumsy old alcoholic was found dead in the alley the next morning half buried in a pile of fresh snow.  He’d spent the night on a ladder in the cold and damp as he painted his masterpiece on the wall directly across from the young woman’s window, a perfect replication of the last leaf on the vine.  He’d created the miracle of hope for another individual with his last efforts.

Isn’t that an odd thought to come up with while making a bowl of oatmeal?

I’ll figure out how to manage the mix of thoughts and emotions that have landed upon my consciousness; it might take some time.  While driving to a job I won’t be able to call her on the phone as we pass the miles talking about the weather, the Astros, cats or what ever; that’s something I’ve come to enjoy these many years. 

We are creatures of habit.  Right now there’s an emptiness where something familiar is missing.  I’m so glad there’s at least one A.C. Elliot Bowl left in the cabinet.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.