Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stem Cell Research - An Island of Lies

The world of Sci-fi is an interesting place to visit; all you need is your imagination to start your voyage. I’m not a scientist, not even a good student of current events; but one of the issues of our time, one that is hotly debated is stem cell research. The one side wants to cure the world by leaving no stone left unturned; adult stem cells, embryonic research and fetal stem cells. The other side is more than a little squeamish about dabbling in areas that involve the rights of individuals; to include the rights of the unborn. So there in lies the division of thought; not much different than the sides taken on the abortion issue. Does a society, one that esteems itself civilized, consider their actions as morally acceptable in the sight of God when contemplating the abuse of even one solitary mortal soul?

I watched a movie the other night, The Island ( website link: http://www.theisland-themovie.com/ ) which took those arguments to an extreme. The sci-fi technology leap which we were asked to accept was that the rich and shameless, those with enough money could purchase an adult clone as an insurance policy to provide replacement parts for accidents, old age degeneration and even child birthing. The clones were kept isolated from the world living in a fabricated delusional state to prevent them from the realization of their actual purpose.

The entire system was founded on lies. Those who purchased the “insurance policies” were told that the magic material that would provide them with replacement limbs and organs was a lump of specialized tissue without a conscious, without feelings or thoughts, without the sensation of pain and without a soul; not a human life form. The “product” was told a series of lies starting on the premise that the entire world had been contaminated and they, the survivors, could only exist within the limited facilities provided. Each clone was provided with a set of false memories, lies if you will, of former family events, of homes they’d lived in and all was done to maintain the illusion and keep order among those destined to be “reclaimed” when the policy came due.

The “carrot” before the cart lie, the hope of all hope for each clone, was called the lottery. The winner’s picture would show up on screen as each individual dreamed of his/her chance to leave the limited confines and live in luxury on The Island. The winner of the lottery would never have to put up with the mundane existence provided as visions of white sands and palm trees blowing in the wind provided escape. Unfortunately for the winner of the lottery, that was a way of saying that an insurance policy had been reclaimed, that it was time to harvest kidneys, heart, lungs, or even a full term pregnancy by proxy. Their friends would never suspect that it was a one way ticket away from the land of the living; all is well, they went to The Island.

We have a system that is well on its way to becoming such an island of lies. The way it works is to pull the wool over our eyes a little at a time until we accept the entire lie. It starts with creating doubts about basic truths and goes on from there at a tedious pace which chips away relentlessly at those truths, truths that have been accepted from generation to generation up to the present, until they are no longer accepted as truths.

Stem cell research may be the only way to provide a better quality of life, a means of reducing suffering and might even cure some devastating diseases. Are we going to let some blob of useless cells that some fruitcake religionist group calls “human life” stop this great work? If we had to kill just one living being to save the human race wouldn’t it be worth it? ( Never mind that his name was Jesus Christ or that He has already been sacrificed for us all )

Do we really believe that our country was the result of a loving Creator, God? Why would the founding fathers have used such vague language when referring to His desires; that His children be uniformly obedient to His commandments when they worded our most important documents? Do we really believe in the concepts penned in the Declaration of Independence where it refers to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

God, the Supreme Being, Father in Heaven, Lord and Creator, the Author of Liberty has been a topic of debate ( link in title bar ) rather than the Great Arbitrator for quite some time in our society. I’d venture to say that He’s been officially banned from being associated with the running of our country.

The next step comes so easily; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness must man made or government issued privilege since it has already been determined that they couldn’t have come from something that is not, that “God in Heaven” crutch the weak minded Christian community keeps clamoring about.

Life is, now, whatever the government claims it is or isn’t. Abortion isn’t murder because the government has defined that point in time when a formed group of cells within the womb is a life form unto itself. The lie which the pro-choice folks would have us believe is the same as in the movie; that an embryo or fetus is without a conscious, without feelings or thoughts, without the sensation of pain and without a soul; not a human life form. It is no different than a hang nail being discarded and you certainly would have no qualms about clipping a toe nail, well, would you? Life must not be all that sacred since to be sacred automatically requires a belief in a Supreme Being. Murder is a made up word that accidentally got tied with abortion and euthanasia. If a person is worn out and taking up space, valuable space in an over crowded world it would be so much the better if that person simply checked out quietly to make room for another.

Liberty is a privilege granted by the government, there is no such thing as inherent rights; remember, we’ve already covered that issue. Only a divine being, God, could have such power and there is no such being running our show here in the good ole’ USA. Property rights; gone, they never were so how can you say you lost them by virtue of the Kelo SCOTUS decision? You have the government’s permission to pursue any endeavor your heart desires as long as you can obtain a permit, a license and can afford to pay the taxes and fees associated with such extravagance.

We are well on our way to making The Island a reality. May we see the error in our ways is my humble prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Unbelievably Sloppy Weapons Inventory Control

The Houston Chronicle has an AP story by John Heilprin, “Report: Weapons to Iraqis can't be accounted for” ( linked via title bar ) which attempts to explain why 1 in 25 weapons sent to Iraq are missing. It might be easy for the armchair observer to come up with excuses for lost weapons during the heat of combat, something which would be expected in a war zone; however, sloppy inventory control practices should not be on the list.

“The missing weapons will not be tracked easily: The Defense Department registered the serial numbers of only about 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it provided — less than 3 percent.”

This can’t be the same military I was a member of. Near the end of my stint in the Army Reserves my responsibility was the armory; a collection of worn out 45 caliber semi automatic pistols for our Military Police unit and an equally worn out collection of M-14 rifles. My sole reason for showing up once a month was to make sure that each weapon’s serial number matched the inventory sheet. I was under the impression that the rest of the Army worked pretty much the same way; so much for that assumption.

Did the United States military hire the folks responsible for the Enron demise, those who use “creative accounting practices” instead of reliable and proven procedures? Three Percent!, they only registered Three Percent of the weapons? Maybe the folks from FEMA have the contract on weapons issue too, the ones who were handing out money down in New Orleans as if it grew on trees, maybe they do the same with M-16’s, grenade launchers and machine guns. “Hey, just take what you need and enjoy!”

Could we get these same people to work for the IRS? When it comes time to show receipts for all the expenses over the year all I’d have to do is show 5 or 6 to the auditor and explain, “I never bothered to keep the other 97 percent; take my word for it, I spent all that money on legitimate expenses. I’m following the example set by the military.” Do you think that would float. . .neither do I.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Should City Employees Receive Incentive Pay?

The Houston Chronicle has a thought provoking article ( linked via title bar ) written by Matt Stiles, New audit questions city bonuses. It focuses on questions brought up by the District Attorney’s office on whether or not “Some pay for extra hurricane work may have inadvertently broken the law.” Other items mentioned, while not illegal, might also raise some eyebrows when spending taxpayer’s money.

“’These irregularities concerned the payment of taxpayer money to employees that did not appear to conform to city of Houston guidelines," wrote Smyth, who declined to comment for this article.”

Where is the line drawn when it comes to rendering incentive pay, that which is over and above an already agreed upon rate of payment?

“The Chronicle reported in March that one in six city employees had received some incentive pay during White's tenure, totaling about $4 million.”

Four Million dollars of taxpayer’s money was paid to either reward employees for doing their job better or more efficiently; better than what? It could be said that the bonus was in actuality recompense for working more than had been contracted in a salaried position in which case it’s not a bonus at all. What should be of no small concern is how such a poorly defined system of payment, or payoffs could easily lead to corruption and abuse ; after all, four million dollars was spent, not exactly chicken feed.

“The payments came under scrutiny this spring when the Harris County District Attorney's Office began investigating city practices after the four employees were fired for getting $143,000 in bonuses.”

I went back through the Chronicle article looking for statements from elected officials to understand the views and opinions which would explain why some employees are being paid bonus money while others are not.

“(Mayor) White said mayors historically have deferred to council members on decisions about pay for their employees, including bonuses.”

{. . .}

“White strongly encourages one-time incentive payments for city employees, based on set performance criteria, as a way to reward hard work and improve service.”

“He has approved plans for employees at the 311 Service Helpline, for example, to receive extra pay when they meet their productivity goals.”

“The Houston Police Department also has an approved program that rewards mechanics with extra pay if they repair vehicles faster than industry standards. The Chronicle reported in April that those payments cost almost $1.8 million between January 2004 and March, but police credit the system with improving the rate of available cruisers for patrols.”

Having worked for the City of Houston as a member of the Houston Police Department I’m familiar with “productivity goals”; or, as we called them, traffic ticket quotas. There must be a very fine line drawn on that imaginary chalk board those in the ivory towers use when trying to explain the difference between traffic ticket quotas, something which has been established as illegal, and productivity goals. The same must hold true when determining productivity goals for each and every department within the vast and ever expanding work force of the City of Houston.

I remember having been told that the reason I was driving an old worn out patrol car, rather than one of the brand new vehicles that had been given to an officer with far less seniority, was because my traffic ticket productivity levels were not up to the standard which had been set; sounded like a quota to me. I really had no beef since I had a car to drive and there never was any agreement established which granted me the right to drive a new patrol car regardless of my performance or seniority; those things were decided by my supervisors. The fact remains that a quota system made a mockery of what should have been real supervision based on all levels of productivity; something which is nearly impossible to define in police work since the simple act of being seen in uniform represents minimal crime prevention.

Productivity goals have been toyed with at the police department ever since the first blue and white patrol car rolled off Noah’s Ark. “Take two and call it a day” eventually became the standard traffic ticket quota as a means of determining minimum work levels; sorry, I meant to say productivity goals.

My partner and I would joke about how asinine the idea of establishing equal values to the tally marks on our work cards. A traffic ticket issued for running a stop sign was viewed to be just as productive as one issued for an expired vehicle inspection sticker or for arresting a bank robber; each tally mark registered as one arrest, regardless of the quality or esteemed value of the efforts. The whole system would be reworked from time to time, arbitrary values assigned to reports written, traffic tickets issued, calls for service, traffic tickets issued, actual arrests of criminals; and of course, traffic tickets. The idea that the City can fill a budget without traffic ticket money having been built into the budget is preposterous. Traffic tickets are for bringing in money; oh, I forgot, they remind drivers to obey the law, to protect the pubic too.

“City payroll data shows Councilman Ronald Green gave $6,500 in incentive payments to his staffers last year. He said Friday he believes payroll officials coded the payments incorrectly. "We never considered them bonuses. I considered them merit raises," he said. "We obviously did what was the practice at City Hall. We only gave raises based on merit and nothing else.’”

Why couldn’t the City of Houston give incentive bonus pay to energetic police officers for having issued traffic tickets proportionally higher than the average “productivity goals”? I can see the line of officers picking up extra traffic ticket books and hitting the street. “Sir, your tail light bulb is out, you changed lanes without properly signaling, the windshield wiper blades are worn and no longer meet with standards set by the Department of Motor Vehicles and I observed you talking on a cell phone without a hands free device; sign here so I can be eligible for that trip to Acapulco.”

Is that any different than handing out merit pay to salaried employee staffers for doing the job these folks were hired to do in the first place? Somewhere in the book of logic, that book that was checked out of the library and never returned, there must be a section that covers how city employee’s productivity is to be gauged. That should be enough to think about for now. Thanks to Matt Stiles for bringing the magnifying glass out and placing it over city hall; now, all we need do is wait for the sun to come out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

There is something wrong with our fuzzy thinking, reading from an article written by Deb Riechmann, AP, and posted on AOL’s news site (linked via title bar).

Bush Signs Bill for Fence on U.S.-Mexico Border
Barrier to Combat Illegal Immigration Will Stretch 700 Miles

“WASHINGTON (Oct. 26) -- President Bush signed a bill Thursday authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, hoping to give Republican candidates a pre-election platform for asserting they're tough on illegal immigration.”

Thinking out loud, “Gee, that’s interesting; I thought the fence was to help define our border, to help defend our county from those who would enter illegally, now I find it’s all about electing Republicans?”

Silly me, now you’re gonna’ tell me that the truck I bought, the one in my driveway that has all the tools of my trade ( my “profession” for those who have to have letters behind their name ) and the inventory to provide those services when and where I’m called; all that is just secondary to providing a job for some fellow in Michigan? The transportation afforded by that truck is incidental to the Democrats I helped to get elected since, as I’ve been told, union workers support and always vote for the Socialist Party; pardon the slip, for the Democratic Party.

Logic dictates that I really didn’t need a truck; what I really did was support union workers so I bought an expensive item that supplied a job that pays a better hourly rate than I get with full medical and retirement benefits, which in turn supplied union fees to help elect folks who can’t stand the capitalist system that provides all the nice things we want to give away to those who refuse to get off their lazy butts while watching Oprah and making babies out of wedlock while pretending to be victims of oppression by the Republicans led by that idiot Bush. Did that about cover my rant?

I’ve got a word or two for the politicians; build the fence and quit talking about how much safer we are now that it’s been approved and monies have been provided for that fence. Build the damn fence, none of the King’s new clothing garbage, build the fence with real cement, real bricks, real barb wire, real electricity to zap those who touch it, and real bullets for those who try to get past it illegally.

This isn’t about being kind and gentle to those seeking to improve a lifestyle that is unavailable in their own country; it’s about securing OUR lifestyle from those who detest and despise us or those who have no concept of having to earn those rights legally. Build the fence means just that, not five years from now, not next year, build it now; yesterday if possible.

My son said we should put land mines in undisclosed areas while we construct the entire fence, not just 700 miles of detour. Wow, that’s a neat idea, something that could be accomplished in a matter of days or weeks. That would make it more interesting too, kind of like those video games where just when the bad guys think they made it through your defenses; Kablam!, blood and guts all over the place. We could have some of those heat seeking laser blasters that pop up out of the ground and only go active when they sense movement or body heat; Zap and Sizzle! So we accidentally blast a few goats or cows, big deal; fajitas anyone? If, per chance, an illegal gets “neutralized”, well, as the young lady in Fried Green Tomatoes said, “The secrets in the sauce.”

The younger generation has some good ideas. Let these young people show us how, give them the tools and get on with the project. Within the month we’ll have the third world thugs at the UN begging us to build the wall; just the wall, please, no land mines or laser blasters!

Here’s the link if you want to read Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I saw this headline on the Fox website as the AP story (linked via title bar) went on to explain that Putin plans to “retain influence” even after leaving office. In plain English that means he has control of the military; or, I wonder, does that mean Hillary will be appointing him to a cabinet position? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Just a Penny

I got this from my friend Steve Sanders and thought it was worth sharing.

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.”

You always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I’ve ever heard this twist on the story; gives you something to think about.

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen manypennies before! What was the point of this?

“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says.”

She read the words, “United States of America”.

“No, not that; read further.”

“One cent?"

“No, keep reading.”

“In God we Trust?”



“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, “In God We Trust,” and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message. It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient...

That's the whole gospel message simply stated. Take 60 seconds give this a shot! Let's just see if Satan stops this one. All you do is :
1. Simply say a small prayer for the person who sent you this, (Father God bless this person in whatever it is that you know he or she may be needing this day.)
2. Then send it on to five other people. Within hours five people have prayed for you, and you caused a multitude of people to pray to God for other people. Or. . .
3. I’m not into the “pass this along to 7 unsuspecting folks and your will find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” or “If you don’t share this with 25 people in the next two minutes your children will all grow up to be cowboys and spit tobacco on your new BMW”. So, I will share a good message by publishing it on my blog.

Good Thing Art Didn’t Have a Gun Handy

I got a call some years ago from the used car manager of a large car dealership that was well out of my service area. I’d known the man for many years, having serviced his account when he was here in Houston. Art explained that he’d fired one of his salesmen and on the way off the car lot shouted, “If I can’t sell cars here then nobody else can either!”, as he took off running with a box containing the keys to every car on the front line. I’d known Art long enough to visualize his reaction; in his earlier years that would have been one heck of a foot race followed by a knock down drag out scuffle.

Art asked if I’d consider driving a few extra miles seeing as how he was in a real bind; explaining how the local locksmith wasn’t up to the task of doing so many cars all at once. I begged off at first; not wanting to drive quite so far, taking me away from my regular service area and being out of pocket for my regular customers. Art pleaded and finally twisted my arm to where I agreed to help him out.

“What kind of discount are you gonna’ give me since there are so many cars involved?” I really didn’t want the job to begin with, wondering if it might cost me one of my regular accounts while I was so far away and couldn’t respond in a timely fashion. The fired salesman had taken the keys to fifteen front line cars; Art’s voice was stressed as the veins in his neck constricted his vocal chords, I could visualize his hands wringing the phone as he swore, “I’d ‘ave shot the no good son of a “%@$%!” if I’d had my pistol handy!!”

“Art, your discount is that I’m coming.” I went on to explain how I was gambling I could hold off any calls from my regular customers and keep a lid on things until the next day.

“Well, alright, come on then!” Art was between a rock and a hard place and had sense enough to know it. I drove the distance wondering what I’d be up against; what kind of cars and the level of difficulty associated with each. Normally when a call for service comes in I can picture in my mind how I’m going to complete the job; this would be a little more involved.

I walked down the line of cars making a mental note of which cars would be the toughest challenges as the angle of the sun forced me to decide the order I would attack and conquer. I started with the foreign cars and was able to finish them all before dark; the rest I could do under the lights. This was before the advent of transponder keys keeping things fairly simple by today’s standards.

I finished up a couple of hours later and handed Art the bill; making sure he hadn’t found his pistol as a precaution, anger sometimes being directed at the messenger. Art let out with a string of insults implying that I’d taken advantage of the situation while checking around one last time to see if the rotten no good son of a “%@$%!” might be still be close enough to get a shot off and save some other car dealership the trouble.

John Kimble, one of my locksmith friends, gave me a chance to help out on a similar situation several years later. Some fool of a thief walked off with an entire key board, several rows of a large used car lot, many with transponder technology. I happened to be sick with the flu bug and really didn’t want to get out; but the idea of starting out the year with a huge check prevailed. The weather was ugly by Houston’s standard, cold and damp with a mild breeze; January.

John pointed to a row of cars and trucks, mostly newer Fords and asked if I’d start at one end and do as many as I could. Are you familiar with the line, “Oh, please, don’t throw me in the briar patch.”?

I had two programming computers and they were both going as I worked my way down the line, staggering the start times so I’d be able to program each car without interruption. I still felt like last weeks warmed over stale muffins, my nose running the whole time and wondering what kind of fool I must be working myself into an early grave as a light rain fell.

I ended up doing one entire row of cars and half of another that afternoon before my body told me it was time to get back into bed; “I was feeling poorly” would be an understatement as I begged off and went home. John had enlisted the help of some other locksmith; more of a locksmith “wanna-be”, as I noticed that I’d completed fifteen or so vehicles and the other fellow had just started his third. Why couldn’t that call for assistance have come in when my body was up to the challenge; that would have been some kind of start to the year, not that I wasn’t grateful as it was.

When someone asks me who my friends are I like to explain that I have a few close ones; but that my best friends are confused or disorganized used car salesmen who can’t remember where they put keys, topped only by those who just got fired and are determined to make a statement as they hurriedly leave the ranks of employment carrying as many keys as they can. “Oh, please, don’t throw me in the briar patch!”

Monday, October 23, 2006

October 23, 2006

The day was very busy for both Lucy and me. I don’t think we ever had a chance to glance at the calendar. On this day back in 1980 we went to be sealed as a family for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. Bonnie was two and a half and Jennifer was not quite a year when we flew up as fairly new converts to the Church.

One of the Sisters in our home ward here in Houston arranged for her father, a Sealer in the Salt Lake Temple, to perform the ordinance. We had diner at his home that evening and it were as if we had been family friends all our lives the way they treated us. One of the Elders who’d been involved in teaching us the Gospel had completed his mission and returned home to California. He took time out of his life to join us at the temple, awesome.

My eyes are fogging over I’m so tired; but I wanted to post this before going off to bed.

We have some great pictures of the girls wearing hand made white dresses on the grounds of the temple; from back in the days when cameras used film. I know, that sounds so weird in this digital age. Some of you may have to look “film” up in the dictionary to figure out what I’m referring to. The picture you see was taken when we went up for Jennifer’s wedding; my, how time flies.

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Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

A tip of the hat goes to my friend Richard Sutton for sending this to me. It’s signed Trudy at the bottom; don’t know if she wrote these or simple passed them along. In either case, thank you Trudy.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on "THIS" side of the road before it goes after the problem on the "OTHER SIDE" of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his "CURRENT" problems before adding "NEW" problems.

OPRAH: Well I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DONALD RUMSFELD: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

ANDERSON COOPER/CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am for it now, and will remain against it.

JUDGE JUDY: That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain. Alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it the "other side. Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media white-washes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side." That chicken should not be free to cross the road. It's as plain and simple as that!

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life-long dream of crossing the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together - in peace.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2006, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet explorer is an integral part of eChicken. The platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^( C \..... reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lunch with God

Here’s something to contemplate while you’re going about your day to day routine. What if you got a phone call telling you that God wanted to have lunch with you? Where would that happen, how would you dress, how much time would lunch take from your already busy schedule?

I was just wondering; no, I didn’t get such a phone call. You can bet that if I had I would have checked my Caller ID and done a double take. I liked the movie, Oh God, with John Denver and George Burns. Maybe God takes off every now and then, kind of like going undercover as He travels among us just to have something different to do, something other than taking care of “worlds without end” and that kind of stuff.

I thought at first that maybe He’d want to eat at a fancy place, real ritzy and then I got to thinking that He’s not out to impress if He’s gone undercover. That would take the fancy restaurants off the list. He does have a plenty to do so time, if that means anything at all to Him, would be at a premium. He’d want something quick and easy, like the hot dog vendors that you see all over New York City or a fast food place that serves hamburgers and fries; “super size that” would take on a whole new meaning.

What kind of chit chat would you have with God while you gulped down your hot dog covered with chili, sauerkraut or diced sweet onions? “So, how’s it goin’, Sir?”; no, that would sound a little too informal. “I don’t know what you heard; but I know I can make it right if you give me just one more chance” might be closer.

God would be enjoying the cool crisp Autumn air, the clear blue sky with the change of color, leaves rustling down the sidewalk as so many of His children scurried about their mundane schedules, not knowing they were in the presence of their Creator. He’d have ordinary clothing, not the “brilliant as the noon day sun” outfit; remember, He’s not out to draw attention to Himself.

Why’d he pick you to have lunch with anyway? Was it something you did, some great act of kindness, a reward for having provided that homeless guy on the street corner with some spare change or were you simply the one millionth person to cross the street and there He was to greet you.

What would God drink with his hot dog? Delaware Punch, Sprite, Pepsi, Dr Pepper or just plain water? You have to figure that He doesn’t come down too often, having so much to do and all; something that was fun, something to excite the taste buds maybe? I’d like a Dr Pepper with mine. It would be a little stressful trying to eat while standing next to God; wondering what would happen next.

Who foots the bill? Does God carry a few dollars around in His pockets when He goes off on one of His plain clothes jaunts? I’d be happy to reach down and handle the tab; a minor issue when you think about all He’s done for me. I know when I go to visit my folks I almost never get to pay for lunch; my father always wants to take care of that. My guess is Father in Heaven would have thought that one out long before He ever invited me to share a few minutes with Him.

What’s on His mind; I mean, is He about to ask me to perform some service, some difficult mission that He wanted to ask me face to face? What could I do that I’m not already doing? Is there any request that He might make, something over and above what has already been required of me?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt 22:37-40

Tell you what; the odds of God asking me to have lunch with Him are fairly small, downright unimaginable if you put a percentage to the odds. How about I enjoy the company of my family, my friends or even those strangers around me as I partake of the bounty provided; that’s about as close to having lunch with God as I’m going to get. Smile a little more often, tell them how much I enjoy being in their presence and that I love them; that’s what God would want me to do.

“I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”
Mosiah 2: 21

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Time to Clear Cut and Run

I might catch a little flak for grunting in public, “Sgt. Who?” (link via title bar for explanation). I was looking over the list of blog articles recently posted that show up on my side bar under the title, Life Liberty and Property, a loose knit association of free lance writers which I am a member. I saw a new listing, http://www.dobbsreport.com/ , which I’d never noticed as I clicked to see what they had to offer. I’m still not sure this wasn’t some kind of joke to lure me into a rant; a group of environmentalists with a life’s purpose to save a tiny fish no bigger than a mosquito living in the peat bogs of Southeast Asia.

“The mission of Paedocypris.com is not only to educate people about these species of fish, but to create an environmental awareness and prevent extinction of all animals. Paedocypris, being newly discovered, we are not sure of the current living survival rate of the Paedocypris fish. One thing for sure, as an old saying goes, "One once of prevention is worth a pound of cure". We, the staff of Paedocypris, believe educating people about our environment and endanger species will help prevent many animals from extinction. What I really mean is "We should try to do what we can (NOW) to save these animals before its too late".”

I have a better idea; one that might make me some money here in the land of clear cut the trees and build shopping malls. Let’s make it mandatory for environmental whacko’s to properly identify themselves when they’re out and about in public. I’d suggest they wear orange jumpsuits; but that’s reserved for inmates at the county jail.

I know; have them put on seasonal camouflage from head to toe. Hunting season is just around the corner and with a little luck some drunk with a large bore rifle will accidentally mistake an environmentalist with Bambi wandering around behind the bushes.

Rush Limbaugh has his line of Club Gitmo fashion wear; I could start up a new line of clothing, “Save the Fish Fatigues”. Each complete ensemble comes in natural North American forest foliage colors blending the finest cotton for a comfort fit with no guilt for having destroyed the planet ( no synthetic materials ). The matching head gear, while a bit heavy and difficult to wear at first, looks exactly like an eight point buck at distances from fifty to two hundred yards when viewed through most rifle scopes. Each “Save the Fish Fatigue” comes with an organ donor card to be filled out prior to taking long walks in the woods; a special section of the card designating how much of your life insurance is to be donated to the insignificant endangered species of your choice.

In the event of your sudden demise, five acres of land will be clear cut of all vegetation to make way for yet another strip center mall in your honor. Please write legibly so that the plaque with your name can be properly adorned on a permanent marker.

Human Art

I was reviewing the presentation posted on Fox’s “This Week in Photos” (linked via title bar); specifically the third picture. Two, maybe three things came to mind looking at the lady painted green from the waist up.

I thought how beautiful the human body is when viewed in its natural state and form, the image of God. There have been countless attempts to sculpt in clay, marble and bronze such an exquisite form; the goal of great artists in nearly every age. Museums on every continent are literally walled from one end to the other with oil paintings from the masters who captured, momentarily, the graceful design that our Creator gave us. I should add that there is a difference between admiring a work of art and lusting after the flesh; something which had perplexed mankind ever since the Garden of Eden.

“What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!” Hamlet quote (Act II, Sc. II).

I was reminded of the Sci-fi work of Robert Heinlein as he teased, using words rather than canvas, his readers with similar images. I’m sure someone with a better memory will be able to recall which specific book detailed the lady who would show up on occasion wearing only body paint, a ravaging beauty whether she was clothed in the finest linens, revealing silks or strategically painted; her desire was to be a pleasant distraction. It was a game to see if her efforts were noticed; yea right, and men buy the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue to see which team is going to the playoffs.

Last on my list of jogged memories was the original Star Trek television series. One of the episodes had Captain Kirk being tempted by a mysterious woman with green skin. The setting was something akin to a fancy night club; maybe more like a sultan’s tent with a dream like quality as the woman tempted Kirk to forget his responsibilities, to think of nothing but the charms she could provide him with. The Star Trek series was written as modern day morality plays, and so in the end, Kirk was reminded that he was already married; to the Enterprise.

What’s the old expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? This time it was worth only 423; but, you get the picture.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I decided to take it out of the closet; no, this isn’t that kind of statement for those looking for some gossip. I took the Keyman Costume out of the closet so I could take a photograph of it.

Lucy put this together for me back in the late 70’s. I also had her make a GM Ignition costume complete with key that she wore that year. The chrome “ears”, where the key is inserted into the ignition was where Lucy’s head came out; a piece of cardboard covered with aluminum foil. The body of the ignition switch was a simple piece of grey fabric that went down to her ankles. I even had the key code stamped on the fabric and the matching key to that key code. I have no idea what happened to that one; lost in some attic nook I suppose.

Having watched the movie, The Incredibles, maybe I should lose the cape. Bad things happen to Super Heroes who wear capes; getting sucked into jet engines and things like that, just a thought. I actually wore this get up while doing a couple of lock jobs and had some fun with my customers. I wonder why they never called back…
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Halloween Meme

Halloween Meme

I found this as shared by Mary A., By Study and Also By Faith ( linked via title bar)

1. What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?
The Rose Garden, a flash back movie about what went on in German prison camps.

2. 2. What was your favorite Halloween Costume from childhood, and adulthood?
Every kid wanted a cape so he could be Superman. I still have my cape; only now I’m Keyman, complete with blue tights, picking locks faster than a speeding bullet. If it still fits it will be fun to see how my grandson reacts; maybe he’ll say, “Wow, Peapaw’s an Incredible!”

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your Fantasy Costume be for this Halloween?
One of the characters from a Harry Potter movie.

4. When was the last time you went Trick Or Treating?
When I was a little kid.

5. What's your favorite Halloween Candy?
The miniature Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bars.

6. Tell us about a scary nightmare you had.
It was a police related series of bad dreams that followed an actual incident. My partner and I had to draw down on a suspect with a pistol. In the dream we shot him only to find it was a toy, the second time he had a machine gun and we recognized him as having once been in the police academy and lastly all my bullets had been put in backwards and jammed my pistol.

7. What is your Supernatural Fear?
This might fit in with scary nightmares, being able to fly by just tilting my head back, except it happens when you don’t expect it, and then I end up going too fast or out of control.

8. What is your Creepy-Crawlie Fear?
Spiders; just talking about them makes my back tighten.

9. Tell us about a time when you saw a ghost, or heard something go Bump in the night.
This was a police incident also. My partner and I were checking out an alarm on a large repair shop; he going one way and I the other. I turned the corner and out of the shadows I heard “kathunka” and I went into a crouch aiming my pistol toward a large box in the shadows. I almost shot their old style time clock.

10. Would you ever stay in a real Haunted House overnight?
No; but I love the old Don Knotts movie, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

11. Are you a traditionalist (just a face) Jack O'Lantern Carver, or do you get really creative with your pumpkins?


12. How much do you decorate your home for Halloween?
I let the leaves stay on the yard; I know, that doesn’t count.

13. What do you want on your Tombstone?
Canadian Bacon, Mushrooms and Black Olives. (I couldn't resist!) ( I liked that too )

Now I'm off to find someone to tag; Bonnie, Jennifer, Tigersue, Ethne, and Al the Old Whig.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thank Heaven For Little Girls

I enjoy the music from the show Gigi; Thank Heaven, for little girls, Ah, yes, I remember it well and others. I had written about the Tip Jar earlier (linked via title bar) and I started to remember many other Primary related moments that I didn’t want to forget.

I joined the Church as an adult and so I missed out on going to Primary, at least as a child. They must have noticed how easily I fit in, being of a mindset somewhere between nine and eleven. My very first calling came a week or so after I was baptized. Bishop Nelson sat on his side of the desk and asked me a few leading questions.

“So, Brother Stern, how do you get along with twelve and thirteen year old boys?” I really had no answer, at least I had to think for a moment. Why would he ask unless he had something in mind?

“I don’t know what you may have heard, Sir; but they can’t prove a thing ‘til they find the body.” I smiled, having come up with a good line. The Bishop, I later found, was new to his calling; thought over what had been given and grinned back.

“You’re going to fit right in.” I was being called to be the Deacon’s Quorum Advisor and as the new assistant Scoutmaster. That really hasn’t got much to do with Primary other than these young people were just completing their stint in Primary.

Getting back on topic, I got to work in the Primary in a number of various assignments over the years; teaching the five and six year olds may have been the most challenging as it was my first time. I had 23 kids in that class, all very active and creative. The first day all the boys got together and exchanged names so I wouldn’t know who was who. It would have worked except I already knew some of their parents, the Bishop’s son, the Elders Quorum President’s son and a few others who were in on it.

I was a police officer at the time and had my pistol concealed under my suit where it wouldn’t be seen. Come to think of it, that may have helped with such a large group of kids. They did give me a door hanger that was shaped like a Stop Sign in case things got out of control I could hang it and hope a member of the Primary Presidency would see it. We had the classroom directly across from the Bishop’s office; when the seismic levels reached above 2.4 and the walls started to shake I could count on a visit.

There was one young man, his name will remain secret, who was more “active” than most. He was in on the name swap deal, not that it helped him since I knew his father. One afternoon during the middle of the lesson I was attempting to teach, all the while this energetic young man was bouncing off the walls. I decided that it would be in the best interests of everyone to have him sit next to me, a chance to put my arm around him to keep him in his chair, to corral him long enough to teach the lesson.

I had a pretty good grip on him as he struggled for freedom. All the sudden he stopped squirming, folded his arms and sat completely still; as if his father had entered the room and explained where the wood shed was.

“Is that a real pistol?” his quiet voice inquired as his hand gently pressed the side of my suit jacket where he’d felt a lump in the shape of a pistol. I nodded in the affirmative and gave him a weak smile as if to imply that I was only one step from taking it out if he didn’t behave.

I recall sitting in Share Time while my back was trying to go into spasms. I quietly excused myself so I could go out into the hall where I could press my back against the wall to relieve the muscles a little without disturbing the kids. I was standing there, my eyes closed as I forced myself to relax against the wall when the Primary President walked by from the other direction.

“Are you in trouble again?”, implying that I had been up to some sort of shenanigans; she knew my penchant for getting in as much trouble as the kids, the kids I was supposed to be setting the example for.

Some of my favorite times in Primary were the years teaching the eleven year old boys. During Share Time we sat on the back row directly behind the eleven year old girls. That’s an interesting age since the boys just want to play, talk about the latest computer games and act silly while the girls are learning how to dress up a little and have learned to flirt.

Several of them would wear butterfly ornamentation in their hair; butterfly hair clips, berets and things like that. I would tease them; mentioning that they had “bugs” in their hair. It got the desired reaction, indignant denials, “Those aren’t bugs, they’re butterflies!” This went on all summer and into the fall.

While shopping for Christmas gifts that year I ran across some Lady Bug hair pins at one of the discount stores. I bought all they had, enough for each little girl in Primary to get a Lady Bug that could be displayed in their hair; one for all the ladies in Primary too. They didn’t cost much; I just wanted to have the “tease” continue to its conclusion; an innocent token to remind them that it’s okay to have “bugs” as long as they’re Lady Bugs.

I can hear Maurice Chevalier’s voice in my mind as he sings:

Thank heaven for little girls

for little girls get bigger every day!
Thank heaven for little girls

they grow up in the most delightful way!
Those little eyes so helpless and appealing

one day will flash and send you crashin' thru the ceilin'
Thank heaven for little girls

thank heaven for them all,
no matter where no matter who
for without them, what would little boys do?
Thank heaven...

thank heaven...
Thank heaven for little girls!

The Tip Jar

I was reading Dave’s Mormon Inquiry this morning and his latest article titled, “The Mother of All Tip Jars” talking about posting advertising on blogs ( linked via title bar ). I have no problem with folks wanting to offset the cost of maintaining a blog or, for those ambitious and talented enough to capture a large following, generate sufficient income to become self employed writers. That’s not why I enjoyed the article; it was the title.

One of my favorite callings in church was working in the Primary teaching the eleven year old boys. We had a large group of kids and there was plenty of energy that was available for singing during Share Time.

On one particular Sunday they had put on a presentation about the pioneers who’d crossed the Great Plains, the hardships involved and some of the interesting items that had been packed into wagons or handcarts. What would you pack if you were leaving on a one way trip across rugged terrain? Flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt, clothing, a rifle with ammunition, knife and so on as you considered the limited amount of space and the unknown needs that might arise.

In the middle of the presentation we got to see a family heirloom that had made it all the way to the Salt Lake valley, an old world cut glass pitcher. It must have meant more than its actual value to have been selected as “necessary” given the many options to fill that same space in a wagon. If you think about it, there would be a need for reminders of civilization and the refined life that many of the pioneers were leaving behind; more importantly, the life style they hoped to create when they arrived in their new home so far away.

The presentation came to its natural conclusion as thanks for the pioneers was expressed, thanks for all the efforts and sacrifices by those faithful ancestors willing to risk so much brought tears and smiles. The prized cut glass pitcher was placed on the top of the piano for all the children to see its lasting beauty as Singing Time came next.

My eleven year old boys were well mannered and sitting with arms folded, a pleasant surprise, as a brand new pianist was introduced to the senior primary. She sat down and began applying her skills in conjunction with the chorister leading the children in favorite songs.

The thought occurred to me that a little mischief was in order as I reached into my wallet and pulled out a dollar bill. I whispered in the ear of one of the more quiet boys that I wanted him to reverently walk up to the front of the class and put the dollar bill in the “tip jar”. The young man knew that it was pure mischief as a broad smile raced across his face, his eyebrows leaped at the idea of doing something inappropriate and yet not too far over the edge. He resisted, possibly worrying what his parents would say, and then silently walked towards the piano where he winked at the pianist and then the Primary President before putting the money in the tip jar.

I don’t think the younger children understood the mild prank; but the adults nearly lost it trying to contain their laughter as the young man walked back to his chair, arms folded sporting a huge grin. I know the new pianist had a chance to breathe and relax a little as she realized that it might actually be fun to work in the Primary.

Thanks to Dave for jogging my memory, even if it had nothing to do with your intended thought. Sometimes you just get lucky.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gosh and Oh My Heck

I posted my thoughts regarding the degradation of society after having read about the woman who was issued a ticket for a bumper sticker that included vulgarity (linked via title bar). If you’re familiar with the Paul Harvey Radio Show, this next part might be considered, “the rest of the story”
I need to place a cautionary warning prior to going forward; having been a police officer for twenty years, I might have incorporated some less than exemplary communication skills. I will include a police story based on my personal experience, not so much to justify my use of vulgarity as to identify myself to my readers. It is not my intention to offend while in that same sentence I wouldn’t want to appear hypocritical either; in short, I plead guilty to having profaned the English language. Professor Higgins would have me “taken out and hung for the cold blooded murder of the English tongue”.

While working night shift patrol late in the 80’s or possibly the early 90’s I was dispatched around midnight to transport a prisoner arrested by an off duty officer working for a large well known grocery/general store. The officer had followed a woman in her mid 40’s around the store as she stuffed various items away in her coat to keep from having to pay. The arrest was done properly as the woman exited the store and she was taken to the security office to be processed.

I looked over the items stolen; a little girl’s comb and brush, some jacks and a couple of other unrelated items totaling just over twenty dollars. I talked with the woman while the off duty officer was on the phone with the District Attorney’s office. It didn’t take long to determine that her elevator didn’t go all the way to the top floor; she may have been in her 40’s but her mind was 6 maybe 7 at best, she was “touched”.

“The DA said he’d accept charges; here’s my report.” The young officer was showing off in front of the store manager as if to say, “See, I did a good job and even the DA said so.” I wasn’t as impressed with his decision to place the woman in the county jail rather than turn her over to family for safe keeping and I told him so in an unvarnished way.

“This is pure bullshit!” I told the young officer; pointing out that you don’t have to take everything to the extreme regardless of the dollar and twenty cents over the arbitrary limit needed to raise the offence from municipal to county. I took out my traffic ticket book and wrote the woman a municipal court ticket, drove her home to family members who were worried out of their minds about where she’s wandered off and then filled out a supplement report explaining why I hadn’t taken the proposed legal route of filing county court charges and putting the “hardened criminal” behind bars.

A few weeks later I was called into my supervisor’s office and notified that the young officer had complained that I’d embarrassed him in front of his off duty employment boss by the use of the word “bullshit”. I was asked to justify my use of vulgar language, something which is specifically listed in the rules and general orders of the police department.

I wrote my formal letter of explanation via the chain of command, never once denying my use of those words and received a written reprimand for violating those rules and regulations. Nothing in the letter of reprimand was directed toward my decision not to toss the woman in the county jail and it was assumed that my actions were justified based on my field experience; only my use of profanity in a closed office away from the public was in question.

Formal proceedings are nothing to take lightly in the police department; all the same, my immediate supervisors were having to bite their tongues to keep from saying anything off color as they looked at the junior officer and shook their heads in disbelief. One Sergeant actually asked the officer if his ears were still on fire for having been in the presence of a swear word and asked if he’d chosen the right profession. I was instructed to use the term “male bovine excrement” in the future as the Sergeant attempted to muffle an irrepressible laugh.

I could plead “no contest”, being damaged goods and for having been corrupted by years of exposure to the dregs of society; but that isn’t what I said to start out with. I’m guilty and I admit it. Every now and again I slip backwards and police terminology takes the place of civilized conversation. I’m a work in progress and hope to one day eliminate, gosh and oh my heck; I should have chosen a different word than “eliminate”, such thoughts and words from my vocabulary.

How do you spell Obscenity? ACLU

I found a small article on the CNN website explaining the intricacies of a self destructive society. Each aspect of society must become diluted or perverted from a once grand desire to be righteous and pure in order to accommodate those of varied culture and diversity; this is the United States of America, land of the free.

“ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- A woman who was ticketed for having an obscene anti-Bush bumper sticker filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against a county in the state of Georgia and its officials.

Denise Grier, 47, of Athens, Georgia, got a $100 ticket in March after a DeKalb County police officer spotted the bumper sticker, which read "I'm Tired Of All The BUSH**."”

The case was thrown out because “the state's lewd decal law that formed the basis for the ticket was ruled unconstitutional in 1990”. I have to wonder; does that same ruling apply when reporting in newspapers or other media? I noticed that the most damaging part, the obscene words which “supposedly” were the focus of the original citation, were not printed in the AP article; instead opting for “**”.

It is possible that the officer who wrote the ticket was a Republican and might have been influenced politically. Then again he might have been a “*” and simply not liked vulgar language being displayed in public. I have some friends at church who vote “*” and they are the finest people you’d ever want for neighbors; some mighty strange ideas when it comes to how to run our country, but fine folks all the same.

“**” could mean Cheese Omelets for all we know. If it’s perfectly okay to spew profanity at anytime what’s wrong with “**”? Now you and I know that “**” most likely stands for Male Bovine Excrement or the more common terminology. Hearing or viewing “**” would destroy the development of any growing child here in the good ole’ USA. They might turn into mutants from the exposure to such debased language, language they would never hear at home from parents or family members, at school from other children or through other channels such as television or movies. “**” has become common everyday expression, unfortunately. I looked at the polling results offered along with the AP story and found that 51% of those expressing an opinion thought that vulgar language should be against the law while 49% did not; are we not a house divided?

Our society has settled for ever lower standards of behavior and expression as we spiral towards the depths of depravity. The Muppet Show had a character, Sam the Eagle if memory serves, who was written in as the moral overseer of their make believe society. Sam would get his feathers ruffled and show indignation over the slightest hint of impropriety, a rigidity of character contrasted by the laid back “anything goes" attitude all around him. It was fun watching Sam get all hot and bothered, knowing his efforts were being wasted as he stomped off and huffed. I feel like Sam, standing here on a soap box as the veins of my neck expand, my face turning red as I point out the obvious.

This sounds more like an agenda item that finally got a chance to come out, that perfect moment when the ACLU and a willing oppressed complainant whose constitutional right to swear and cuss in public had been violated by the ever looming police state. The rights of the down trodden must be defended at all cost, even if it means defending the right to sink into levels of perversion to do it. This is the same ACLU who has an endless supply of oppressed homosexuals, oppressed abortion seekers; oh, let’s not forget, oppressed lawyers defending terrorists intent on our destruction. I’m wondering how much we can afford to defend before nothing is left worth defending.

We have the right to wallow in the mire, to cover ourselves in “*”, to walk around and share that “*” at the top of our lungs, to place that “*” on billboards, in movies and television shows or anywhere else. The courts have proclaimed that “*”, “**”, “%#@&” and other “_______” words are not vulgar anymore; they were at one time; but that was before we raised the bar and became a more understanding, a more diverse society. We are the same shining beacon on a hill that our forefathers lived and died for, bright and polished; nothing different, as before our God we stand proud of our accomplishments, pleasing to His ear in every utterance and thought; nothing has changed, “**”!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Throw me a bone

It’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in the locksmith business for over thirty years. It started out as a hobby; showing up as an apprentice on Saturday, not even an apprentice since I was really just visiting a friend who happened to own a locksmith shop.

I’d watch and fiddle around all day learning what was inside different locks, tinkering with them or fitting keys. My payment came in the form of lunch; usually a Philly Cheese Steak Hoagie sandwich around lunch time. I had the benefit of learning from several locksmiths; picking their brains and learning techniques that eventually led to my becoming a locksmith in my own right.

A few months into my apprenticeship I’d learned enough to handle some jobs without having someone watching over my shoulder all the time. Near the end of the day if a call came in, one that wasn’t too involved, they would throw me a bone; I could complete the job on my way home and keep any money earned from that job. That was neat, seeing as how I’d have done the job for free just to gain extra experience.

I’ll never forget the first “paying” job. It was around four thirty in the afternoon and I drove several miles to make a replacement key on a Ford. I whipped out my impressioning file, filed the marks and turned out the key in a respectable time frame. I made a finished product key and handed it to the customer, not wishing to hand over the “art work” key which wasn’t as professional.

I was feeling pretty good about having done my first paying job as I was driving down the road, going over the entire job in my mind and smiling for having reached another level. I’d driven four, maybe five miles when it dawned on me; I’d never asked for the money. I’d been an apprentice for so long it never occurred to me that I’d accept payment for work I’d done, that’s what real locksmiths did. I guess I was still an apprentice, my next job would have to be the first “paying” job. I laughed at myself; what’s that line from Forest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does”?

I’d forgotten all about that until this afternoon. It’s been raining for the past two days, starting Sunday morning and dropping enough rain to where I was considering closing down for the day. Many of the freeway service roads were under water making travel to some areas downright impossible; or is that impassable? The first two calls that came in didn’t want to wait for the roads to clear and so I recommended they call some other locksmith. I wasn’t going to let my truck, my livelihood, get washed away just because I thought I could make it through high water only to find the water was too deep. No, they could wait or find somebody else.

I did run a call a little later when the rains let up a bit and in an area of town that normally didn’t flood too easily. The car was under cover, well, half way under an awning as light rain fell. When I’d finished programming the keys I held them up in the air; the lady was standing in the house watching from the window. She poked her head up and held out her hand, the one with the money, up in the air.

“You want to get paid, don’t ya”?, as if I’d forgotten to ask for payment. That’s what triggered the memory of that first “paying” call some thirty years ago. She had her title and driver’s license ready so we could complete the transaction.

The sun peeked through the clouds for a few minutes as I started to make my way back. The rain followed, lots of it, and hasn’t let up since. I couldn’t say how much rain we’ve received in the past twenty four hours; I’ll leave that up to the folks at the news station with their fancy Doppler radar, but it’s enough to where I might have trouble hearing my phone ring the rest of the day. Instead of a bone, maybe I should ask somebody to throw me a towel so I can dry off; it’s nasty out there.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Comics

My daughter loves to work the Sudoku puzzles. I found this one in the Sunday funny papers. Bill Amend’s Foxtrot has a dorky kid handing the puzzle to his older sister, “Like my Sudoku?”

“Are you sure you don’t mean Sudorku?”.

I’d have shown both panels of the comic strip but it wouldn’t quit fit on the scanner platen; cutting off half an inch on either end.
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

French Post Cards

I remember growing up, that’s a laugh; anyway while I was supposed to be growing up there was some kind of reference to French Post Cards. It was intended to imply that somewhere in a back room there were pictures of scantily clad women striking less than modest poses.

I came across this beauty while looking for a picture of a car similar to the one my mom used to drive (link via title bar) , The Renault CV-4, built for early self destruction in the early 1950’s. Mom was rather fond of her cute little cars and would give them French sounding names like Franswa; don’t have a clue as how that should be spelled. That’s a better name than I’d have called that POS.
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Bells and Whistles

Several years ago we had most of our kitchen remodeled; new flooring, new oven and some cabinets to replace the ones that caught on fire; I should back up and explain. Lucy and I were on our regular Saturday night date sitting down to enjoy a great meal when my cell phone went off. I looked at the caller ID and noticed it was my home phone calling; must be William, my son.

“Dad, do we have a second fire extinguisher?” Those kind of conversations make parenting a joy. Lucy and I hurried home to find that William had put out the fire caused by some wires behind the oven shorting out. William had sense enough to shut off the electricity at the junction box, empty the fire extinguisher and save the rest of the house. The area around the stove was a disaster and our insurance company sent a team of workers to do the repairs.

Lucy got to pick a new oven; the one that had been built into the fancy cabinets, the one with the loose wires had always been a mild source of aggravation. It was so small that her favorite turkey pan wouldn’t fit. We ended up at Lowe’s, Lucy carrying her turkey pan everywhere to qualify any purchase. Once those requirements had been met we picked out a matching microwave to go above; that had been damaged in the fire also.

That was some time back and I finally figured out some of the fancy features included with the oven and microwave. You’ve probably heard that the top of the line item will come with “all the bells and whistles”; well, that’s not too far off the mark.

I was turning off the light, the one that shines down from the microwave and casts a warm glow across a dark kitchen in the middle of the night when you don’t want to fry your eyes with a full blast from the regular light fixture. It had been left on well after the sun was up and I saw no reason to shorten the life of the bulb as I pressed the flat plastic pad covering the switch. A little “ding” went off as the amount of light emitted was cut in half. I pressed it again and it went off completely; another quiet “ding” alerted my ears that the light was off.

Why do I need a bell to go off, something to alert my ears that a light had been turned off? Isn’t that what my eyes are for? Maybe it’s one of the fancy models, made for blind people so they know the lights off too; but why would a blind person need the light on or off to begin with? Then I figured it out; it’s to alert the pets that a care giver is up and about, time to get fed. It’s a bit like the electric can opener sound that animals can hear half a block away.

I had no sooner turned off the light when I heard a steady chorus of “meows” pleading from the other side of the window. Lucy called out from the other room, “I’ve already fed them.”; it only took five years to figure that one out. I’ll work on timed bake some other decade.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Going the Extra Mile and CYA

I attended a class on automotive locksmith work this past summer to keep my Texas locksmith license requirements up to date. Stacy Hetchler, an automotive locksmith specialist put on the class and showed that he had the necessary skills; to be honest, he puts most others to shame with his efficiency level.

One of the areas he touched on would fall into the category of CYA; if I have to explain that one you’re in over your head to begin with. Stacy said that once you’ve made the key, the one to replace the key that got lost, broken or stolen; hand it to the customer and don’t try to start the vehicle. There might be mechanical issues that are unknown prior to attempting to start the vehicle, problems that you want to remain “one step removed” from. What if the motor blows up right at the moment you try to start the vehicle? The customer is going to claim it’s your fault; something about the key you just made caused the transmission to fall on the ground. Stacy advised each locksmith not to start the vehicle to avoid problems and litigation issues; I can understand the logic which would lend credence to such an attitude.

I’m not convinced, at least not entirely, that with today’s electronic keys that we as locksmiths are afforded that extra measure of implied safety. Yes, we could hand the customer the key and let them do the actual starting of the vehicle; however, we are being paid to provide a “working” key.

The advent of transponder technology has provided locksmiths with additional income based on the ability to provide not only a mechanically accurate key that turns flawlessly in the lock; but one that includes the necessary electronic data, be it a VATS key with simple resistor values which can be verified by the module or a more sophisticated transponder system which works in conjunction with the mechanical key. Since both facets are integrated into the process and both are part of the established price which is being paid for by the customer it stands to reason that the locksmith has the responsibility to verify for himself and the customer that all aspects of the job have been accomplished.

In order to protect myself from stepping into pitfalls I’ve made it a point to ask the customer questions prior to working on any vehicle, questions that will clear the air of issues that existed prior to my arrival. If it’s a lock out I check to see if there are tell tale signs that someone has attempted entry such as marks around the windows which might cause damage to linkage rods, wiring systems or airbag deployment. The customer will, in most cases, tell you that a wrecker driver tried but couldn’t open the door, that his next door neighbor used a coat hanger or any number of explanations for the damaged weather stripping, the scratches to the window or paint job.

I say that in “most cases” the customer will be up front about what you, as an unsuspecting locksmith, are getting into. I have had occasion to find folks who want you to jump in feet first in order to take the blame for something which they know is already broken. They had tried to “Slim-Jim” the door and quit when they heard the noise of the linkage rods falling to the bottom of the door; hoping that as soon as you followed with your own opening attempt that you would then have to fix what they had broken.

On one call I’d looked inside the car to obtain the information from the keys hanging in plain sight, made a perfect replacement key only to find that the lock spun freely since the linkage rods had been unhooked prior to my arrival. The customer knew that I had never placed anything inside the door cavity; I knew it and they knew it as, upon being confronted with such facts they had to admit, “Oh, yea, I forgot to tell you my friend tried for a couple of hours and never could get it unlocked.”, a sheepish “you caught me” look took over. I fixed the linkage rod that he’d knocked loose, even bent it back straight since King Kong must have been living next door; maybe it was Mighty Joe Young, I never met him.

This morning I was following an older Mercedes 300D, spewing and belching clouds of soot out the tail pipe. I remembered having made keys at one of my dealerships while the manager was sizing up the value of a Mercedes parked a couple spots down. He started it up and I heard the mechanical racket from under the hood as I called out to him, “Good thing that’s a diesel or you’d have all kinds of problems.” He winced and all he could say was, “It’s not a diesel.” I almost felt bad for him as he tried to figure out a way to place a value on that one. Not sure how this fits in with Stacy’s advise on not turning the key; but it will come to me, maybe next week but it will come.

I had a customer call explaining that I’d replaced a broken ignition on his old F-150 several months back and for some reason he couldn’t get the key out. I drove over under the impression that it was going to be warranty related; my integrity was involved. I examined the lock and observed that the ignition wasn’t being permitted to return to the lock position but that it turned forward and started the truck easily. With the customer watching and my explaining what I wanted to check, I took a poke tool and removed the ignition switch. I had the switch in hand and showed the customer how it worked properly, the key came out the way it was intended as long as the switch was in my hand; but that upon placing it back in the column there was something keeping the switch from returning to its proper position.

I then drew out on a piece of paper the various components that were inside the column; the ignition and how the gear fits the rack with its rod all the way down so the customer would understand how the back of the switch turned a gear, the gear pushed or pulled a connecting rod that was down at the base of the column which had the electrical device which in turn was hooked to the wiring which made the whole thing work as one. I‘d removed the locksmith industry and my original efforts and responsibility from the equation, having shown the customer that the lock did function the way it was designed and that the problem would need to be corrected by a mechanic; my having knowledge of what was wrong but not being a mechanic myself. The customer was thankful, even knowing that additional expenditures would be required, thankful that I had taken the time to explain what was wrong.

I suppose my advice to automotive locksmiths would be along the lines of providing the customer with a working key, making sure the key actually starts the car; but only after having questioned the customer about any know issues which might surface prior to turning that key. If the whole job turns upside down, the car burns to the ground, pieces of motor go flying past your ears and oil starts pouring onto the pavement it would have happened anyway. If you did something that wasn’t by the book, something that another qualified locksmith wouldn’t say is proper or acceptable then you’re still on the hook for damages in a court of law whether you turned the key and started the motor or the customer turned the motor on makes no difference. I’d rather know that my work was satisfactory, that the mechanical and the electronic phase that I’m being paid for actually do work prior to accepting that money.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hezbo Toy Company

Catherine Donaldson-Evans of FoxNews reported in a story titled “Muslim-Themed Products Mimic Icons in American Popular Culture” ( linked via title bar ) wrote about how adapting Western pop icons to meet with Muslim tastes makes them sell better.

"If you adapt products, as all cultures do, to the local conditions, with a slight change of name and slight difference in the way they appear, then these products sell," said Akbar Ahmed, the chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C.”

It’s easy to see how such a statement is so insightful; just examine the adapted version of Mattel’s Barbie Doll. Hezbo’s Muslim version comes with a hijab ( shown in black; but available in many colors ), “Just like the one mommy wore before she blew herself up in the market place”. The loose fitting wrap easily hides detonator cord and wires. The “Jihad Joe Urban Warrior” comes with its own miniature strap on explosives and real C-4; no official uniform since blending in is important to infiltration. “Be the first on the block to take out infidel playmates!”, and remember, “Friends will always honor your memory as you await a reward of 21 virgins.”

The famous Mattel American Chatty Cathy doll has been refitted with digital technology; instead of, “Hi, my names Cathy,” the Hezbo Muslim doll spouts, “I’m Aasiyah, Convert to Islam or die!”, “Jemeelah proclaims, Death to all Infidels!”. This doll is selling especially well in the slums of Paris where second and third generation unemployed future terrorists reside.

Hezbo Toy Company is not affiliated in any way with Hasbro Toys. As a matter of policy, Hezbo Toy Company reserves the right to infringe on any and all patents associated with existing toys manufactured under different names by various legitimate manufacturers such as Mattel, Hasbro or Milton Bradley. Hezbo Toy Company, while acting independently and with impunity, is protected through the United Nations efforts to curry up with seriously deluded and armed militant organizations which stand against the evil empire of George Bush.
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