Monday, December 20, 2010

As long as grass is green and the sky is blue…

There’s a line in the movie, Little Big Man , which sums up how government keeps promises. The movie’s message had to do with our Federal government’s treaties with the Indians as spoken by Little Big Man, a white man adopted by the Human Beings, “This land was promised to the Indians for as long as grass grows green and the sky is blue…”, as the U.S. Calvary massed its surprise attack on a snowy morning, the Human Beings peaceably secure on land promised them by treaty; “…but sometimes, the grass ain’t green and the sky ain’t blue”. It’s been a while so I hope the quote wasn’t botched; most folks would understand the meaning anyway, keeping promises ain’t a strong suit for government.

I joined the Houston Police Department in 1971 and agreed to the terms of employment which included a specific salary, health insurance and eventually retirement if I stuck around for a minimum of twenty years. The City would then pay 30% based on an average of the last 5 years of service upon reaching 20 years with incremental additions for each year of service beyond 20. Included in the package was the continuation of health insurance with a reasonable price tag for my spouse and any children living under your roof until they reached the age of 19.

Each time police officers went before the City to request a cost of living raise was a political battle. Sometimes we got a raise; but most of the time we ended up bargaining away a goodly portion as the City’s budget simply could not afford to keep up with cost of living adjustments. In return for being “reasonable employees” the City in turn promised to make up a small portion by adding to retirement benefits as they agreed a raise was reasonable; the City simply could not afford to pay its police officers a reasonable salary. Over the twenty years I served there were many raises which never came about; instead the 30% retirement figure originally agreed upon reached 55% of base pay.

Almost immediately after retiring from the Department in 1992 the cost of health insurance began to rise in leaps and bounds until most recently that figure has more than doubled along with our co-pay for each visit to our HMO. The city found ways to back away from their “fair share” and explained to retired officers that health care was never part of a “contract” as it is with active duty officers; that health coverage was a bonus rather than a promise, so much for grass is green and the sky is blue.

Bradley Olson’s article in this morning’s Houston Chronicle, Battle lines drawn over city pensions , raised the stakes and once again the political battle has been brought to my front door. Mayor Parker claimed she was working in the best interests of the City by asking for reductions in unreasonable retirement obligations.

“Voters elected me to make tough choices, and voters elected me to get the city’s budget in order,” Parker said. “We are hemorrhaging right now … in some of our pension costs. … There’s a difference between a fair pension and a gold-plated pension, and the citizens of Houston have to know that we can find a fair balance in there.”

When I hear things like, “it’s for the common good” or “everyone must make sacrifices”, it usually means those who have earned must share with those who haven’t; typical socialist dialogue to justify wealth redistribution. In this case Houston’s mayor wants to wheedle out of lawful contracts; not much different than her predecessor Bill White tried when he was mayor.

This is where my knee jerk reaction requires me to say, “Excuse me!”, loud and clear, enough that folks at City Hall will wonder if it hadn’t been a clap of thunder. At one time my words would have been less refined; but one of my supervisors instructed me to employ the term, “Male Bovine Excrement!” when reason and logic dictate a more harsh or common expression. I actually received an official reprimand for criticizing a junior officer who’d used poor judgment in dealing with the public. It never occurred to me a police officer would be disturbed to hear a fellow officer use the term, “Barbara Streisand!”; perhaps he’d picked the wrong profession, one can only wonder.

‘“Plans that allow people to retire after 20 or 25 years at the age of 50 or 55 and get 80 percent of your salary for life are just unsustainable in this day and age,” said Ramon Fernandez, a professor and specialist in government accounting at the University of St. Thomas.”

Maybe Mr. Fernandez is talking about some other police officer with inflated numbers like the ones pulled out of the blue; I’m still at the same 55% and don’t have any golden parachute. I had to put my staff on half salary; you know, the folks who polish the brass on my private yacht, the yacht my wife and I sail down to The Marina at Bimini Bay Resort on weekends. I had to let the bank take possession of my Lear Jet 60 with its interior done in HPD blue, custom mahogany inlay paneling and 24 carat gold embroidered executive package seating. It had been parked at Hobby Airport for months and I could no longer afford to pay a pilot to be at my beckoned call. Being retired just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

If the City of Houston declared bankruptcy they could void any and all contracts previously made; handing the checkbook and everything else over to the courts. City services would come to an abrupt and noisy halt, chaos and pandemonium would be the norm as garbage service, firemen, ambulance, sewer and water services ceased and police officers no longer were paid; much less those who’d reached retirement. Civilization as we know it would pack its bags for other pastures where grass grows green and the sky is blue.

In essence Ramon Fernandez and Mayor Parker have made another statement, one which anyone can understand, reading between the lines. “While the City has entered into valid contracts with employees for retirement benefits, sometimes the grass ain’t green and the sky ain’t blue.”

Houston has joined many other cities across the nation, discovering their lack of fiscal responsibility. The liberal left’s entitlement programs have been instituted at the expense of necessary expenditures without a care for the eventual bill which always come due. As with any political football, police and fire employees are thrust front and center as a whipping boy, their salaries are the cause of all our ills and when they retire they live like kings off the backs of hard working citizens. Sorry Madam Mayor, I’ve heard this same song too many times; keep your hands off my retirement as long as grass grows green and the sky is blue!

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”.

Rotate Key Every 3000 Miles

Every now and again you find a customer with a key story worth sharing; like the fellow who drilled a hole in the head of his key to make sure it wouldn’t fall off his key ring, drilled smack dab through the transponder of his key and wondered why his car wouldn’t start. I found another interesting key/story the other day.

“You have to jiggle the key up and down a bunch before it turns the ignition”, that’s exactly what the man told me. He’d heard from a friend that a good locksmith could replace a worn key by reading the pattern made by the cuts, even a severely worn key.


I looked at the key and winced at bit, tilted my head enough to ask the question without having to say a word as I wrote down what I thought were the proper cuts.

“Oh, that;…I pulled it out of my tire after it accidentally got run over.”

Judging from the wear and tear that key had to have made it past at least one oil change before he noticed a loss of tire pressure. Maybe he wanted to try the new “hide a key” tire by Goodyear, “Never get locked out”; don’t think Goodyear has such a product. Sure you can unlock the door; but who needs to if you’re sitting on a flat? Besides; “You have to jiggle the key up and down a bunch before it turns the ignition”.

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”.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Simon’s Cat Video Cartoon

Here’s a tip of the cap to TMH at The Noisy Room for sharing an accurate representation of a cat's reaction to Christmas.

Going Postal?

In a world of uncertainty most folks understand the term “going postal”. It means the last nerve snapped and the person in question has returned to work with some form of firearm to get even with co-workers, supervisors or anyone who happens to be in front of his rage. The U.S. Postal service may not deserve association with such a term; then again it might. According to a story out of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin this morning one delivery worker decided to “post-all” for the public.

“A Wisconsin postal carrier says he simply wanted to cheer up a woman on his rounds who seemed “stressed out” when he decided to deliver mail in the buff.”

“But upon further review, the worker told police that delivering mail while completely naked probably wasn't a good idea.”

That last line could easily have read, “Butt on further review…”; a little too graphic perhaps? As Ray Stevens would have warned, “Don’t look Ethyl…too late; she’d already been mooned.”

Maybe he wanted to work for TSA and was trying to get “a feel” for the job. (bada bing)

It’s the middle of the week, “hump day”; is it any wonder the local paper doesn’t print my stuff? Okay; I’ll try to behave, not easy being me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Obama’s EPA Goes After Coal Fired Energy

Do you remember Obama’s pledge back in 2008 when he was running for the Oval Office, a pledge to bankrupt the coal industry? At the time he threatened to make it too expensive to operate coal fired electrical plants via Cap & Trade legislation mandates in order to force Americans into “green” forms of energy production.

“Under my plan of cap and trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Businesses would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that cost onto consumers.” (January 17, 2008 speaking on Cap and Trade, San Francisco Chronicle as recorded by Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit )

Cap and Trade legislation never made it past the floor of the House or Senate after Climategate brought about public outcry; the shady dealings and lies which are “man made global warming” had been exposed. Has that stopped the EPA from imposing their rules, rules built upon false and misleading data? Maybe I should have asked a different question; if you fail to pay income taxes  the IRS won't come after you, right? Same answer and neither one is very pretty.

Jim Hoft continued documenting the administration’s assault on coal on October 15, 2010 when Obama’s EPA shut down one of the largest coal mining operations in West Virgina; their permit was cancelled.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took courageous action today to protect the people and waterways of Appalachia when Shawn Garvin, the agency’s Region 3 Administrator, recommended the withdrawal of the mining permit for America’s largest proposed mountaintop removal coal mine site, the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia.”

You might wonder why I keep referring to the Environmental Protection Agency as “Obama’s EPA”; a worthwhile consideration. The EPA was created under the Nixon administration, a tool to be used by the executive branch of government. Each president has implemented various policies through enforcement, or lack of enforcement of EPA rules and regulations in order to bring about “change” or keep the status quo.

Obama’s administration has gone for American’s free market system’s jugular vein by plotting to destroy the energy sources most commonly used, oil and coal. Obama’s moratorium on oil drilling is no fluke as it follows an agenda. It won’t be long before the masses riot in the streets as industry grinds slowly to its death, the price of basics commodities skyrocket or become unavailable entirely. At that moment in time “change” can be implemented; the last bricks of the free market system will have tumbled and the new socialist/Marxist/totalitarian/utopian (call it what ever you want; but it won’t resemble anything constitutional) restoration of order can take its place.

One of the lies Obama told was he was for “clean coal” as a source of energy; however, that claim doesn’t match up with statements made by Vice President Joe Bidden as recorded on a transcript of the Rush Limbaugh talk show.

“…back on September 17th during a rope line visit, he’s shaking hands with people, there’s an environmentalist wacko in the line, Carolyn Auwater, and she says, “Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio so why are you supporting clean coal?” and old Biden goes, “We’re not supporting clean coal! We don’t want clean coal. Let the Chinese build clean coal.” The Obama campaign has done its best to hide its intent from everybody.”

The State of Texas recently challenged the EPA’s expansion of rules and regulations forced on coal burning electric plants which go into effect January 2, 2011; but lost a temporary bid holding off implementation until the case had run through the courts.

“…the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the request to freeze the new regulations while the lawsuit is pending, ruling that the challengers failed to show that the harms they allege are certain, rather than speculative.”

“The decision of the three-judge panel clears the way for the rules to take effect Jan. 2, as planned. The federal rules require new controls on emissions from vehicles and industrial sources, such as power plants and refineries.”

Did you catch that, “the challengers failed to show that the harms they allege are certain, rather than speculative”, as if the whole global climate warming scam was a certainty. Shopping for judges must be an art; find the right judges and the earth could be ruled flat because a computer generated model proves we’re all living on the edge.

“Scott Segal, a lobbyist at Bracewell & Giuliani, which represents utilities, refiners and manufacturers, said the court ruling is “unfortunate” because regulators will not be ready in time to impose the new permit requirements.”

‘“The court may have ensured an effective construction moratorium for industrial and power projects," Segal said. “Given the state of the economy, the decision is certainly not a welcome holiday present.”’

William L. Anderson, an associate professor of economics at Frostburg State University, recently wrote an article, Is the EPA Necessary , where he covered some of the deplorable practices used by the EPA in order to impose their will on industry. He then offered a pondering question:

“One wonders how much economic growth would have taken place had the EPA not existed. Obviously, that is a calculation no one is able to perform, but I suspect that some readers of this site who have had to deal with EPA bureaucrats can tell a few horror tales.”

The EPA’s goal isn’t to help the economy; no, just the opposite. The Obama administration is using the EPA to collapse industry, intentionally putting folks on unemployment in order to bring about “change”. When enough financial strain has been put on America’s suffering free market system those on the left “hope” it will snap and provide them with the opportunity denied them for so long; to usher in the new socialist/Marxist/totalitarian/utopian (call it what ever you want; but it won’t resemble anything constitutional) restoration of order can take its place. To answer William Anderson’s question, Is the EPA necessary; those following the Cloward/Piven strategy to destroy our economy would have a resounding, “Yes!”.

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”.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stop the Presses – Music to my Ears

The hills are alive with the sound of music, silence. Printing presses which have been diluting our money supply with an additional billion dollars in hundred dollar bills had to be shut down and at least a third of the hundred dollar bills printed will have to be destroyed because they printed improperly. That means our government's agenda to destroy the value of own money has had a monkey wrench thrown in the gears of progressivism. The article appeared on Fox news website on December 6th and credit was given to Reuters as having contributed to the story.

“1.1 billion high-tech hundred-dollar bills have been printed by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve -- and may never see circulation.”

The silence made by printing presses sitting idle is music to my ears. The glitch in production means it will take a bit longer for the Fed to devalue what little money I have left after having redistributed a good percentage of it for programs only a progressive could love.

“When the release of the bills was announced, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stressed that both the current bills and the new ones will both be legal tender.”

What you won’t hear Bernanke say, at least not while any microphone is handy, “These new hundred dollar bills will look great when used as wall paper in your bathroom or favorite empty closet. They will give contrast to old German Rhichmarks or Zimbabwe’s worthless currency .”

We can only hope the printing presses remain silent for an extended period, that our lame duck Congress adjourns early for Christmas and Santa finds the note I sent detailing how I’ve tried very hard to behave most of the time. What’s that song by Meatloaf, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad? I’ll take two out of three in a heartbeat. Right now I’m just enjoying the silence.

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, December 09, 2010

Senior Cat Moment

Our inside the house senior kitty, Bubba, puts up with the outside Hobo Kitties; well, mostly. As long as they keep their distance, don’t come in the house and walk on her floor, breathe her air or eat her food she puts up with them. She especially doesn’t like Silver Bubba and will chase her down just to beat her up; must be something about them both having a short fuse. Bubba’s` turned a blind eye to Head Buttr’ coming in the house; go figure.

Bubba stays to herself most of the time; sleeps on the massage table or at the top of the stairs depending on the time of day. When I get out of the shower she’s learned that being covered with a towel serves as her own private cave. She’ll stay under the towel for hours, an invisibility cloak that helps her forget that there are nine Hobo Kitties outside her house sleeping in her garage.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Gingerbread Cookie Time

Around our house the aroma of gingerbread cookies is a sure sign Christmas is around the corner. Lucy put all the dry ingredients in a bowl the other day and had to wait until she had fresh oranges so she could grate the peel into the recipe. Once all the ingredients were assembled, the whole mess had to chill in the refrigerator over night prior to rolling out the dough.

This morning the cookie assembly line was in place; dough being rolled out, cookie cutters of every variety lined up, cookie sheets to go in the oven and cooling racks where cookie monsters can sample the finished product. This year’s dough is a bit darker and Lucy was concerned; but having tested several cookies for texture and quality, they taste just fine.

We have a handful of “hand me downs”, cookie cutters my mom gave Lucy when the family gingerbread recipe was entrusted to her. These require flour applied to the cutting surface or the dough sticks to the fancy detail work. We’ve added Santa, reindeer, gingerbread men in different sizes and Christmas trees along with Chinese Throwing Stars (Snowflakes, as I’ve been corrected), one-bite gingerbread men and a huge Texas A&M cutter.

“Cookie, cookie; give me cookies!” What would we do without Sesame Street characters to awaken the child within? I may have to taste test other batches as they hit the cooling rack; but only to make sure the gingerbread formula is up to long established standards of this family tradition.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

“It’s the end of the world!”

The other evening a classic Hitchcock movie was on, The Birds; terror perched upon every power line as millions of birds descended on the frightened townspeople of Bodega Bay. Remember the scene at the diner where the little man kept remarking, “It’s the end of the world!”, his mind having absorbed one too many drinks?

I watched another movie this past week, Knowing ; a page of seemingly random numbers which apparently listed every major catastrophe in the past 50 years sets up the movie’s theme. There’s a site which covers actors and movie scripts, enough to get an idea of any movie out there.

“In the fall of 1959, for a time capsule, students draw pictures of life as they imagine it will be in 50 years. Lucinda, an odd child who hears voices, swiftly writes a long string of numbers. In 2009, the capsule is opened; student Caleb Koestler gets Lucinda’s “drawing” and his father John, an astrophysicist and grieving widower, takes a look. He discovers dates of disasters over the past 50 years with the number who died. Three dates remain, all coming soon. He investigates, learns of Lucinda, and looks for her family. He fears for his son, who's started to hear voices and who is visited by a silent stranger who shows him a vision of fire and destruction.”

Nicolas Cage played the part of the astrophysicist and might want to find better scripts in the future; however, on a chilly Monday evening with limited entertainment options available, the New England Patriots beating the snot out of the New York Jets; the movie wasn’t that bad. If it were a better movie I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending; but in this case, “It’s the end of the world!”

Wouldn’t you know, this morning had a Sci-Tech piece on the Fox website, Immense Plasma Blast Erupts From Sun ; maybe they watched the movie and accidentally fell for the movie’s limp ending. They had a neat looking picture of Solar Prominence worth grabbing so now you can save a couple of bucks at the movie rental store, “It’s the end of the world!”

Send in the Clowns

Maybe elephants dropped a load on Main Street as Ringling Brothers came to town; while that isn’t the case, don’t take your brown shoes off just yet.  Here in Houston, Texas, Harris County District (Activist) Judge Kevin Fine will hold hearings on the constitutionality of the capital punishment prior to a murder trial in which the defendant could face the death penalty.

The problem with a District Court judge holding these hearings; he has no authority to do so, the State Court of Appeals and Supreme Court having already ruled on this issue. (Activist) Judge Fine’s job is to rule on the admissibility of evidence as pertain to a particular case, not the constitutionality of laws already established.

(Activist) Judge Fine wishes to open this circus with testimony from various groups which oppose capital punishment in order to justify his own anti- capital punishment leanings. I’d written an article last March when this first came to light and mentioned that judges are required to follow the law as written; not legislate from the bench.  This morning I read:

“The first witness called was Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based group that has been critical of capital punishment.”


“Dieter said his group’s review of these exonerations has shown that faulty eyewitness testimony, unreliable informant testimony and false confessions are some of the factors that have contributed to innocent people being wrongfully convicted.”

We might as well open the prison doors and let them all go; witnesses are occasionally unreliable, we shouldn’t trust informants and every now and again a suspect confesses to a crime he/she didn’t commit. Our entire judicial system should be scrapped in favor of a perfect system, one yet to be found; but one which guarantees Utopian results.

While we’re at it (Activist) Judge Fine can decide on other issues which don’t fall under his digression. Perhaps he can hold hearings on the oil industry and pretend to have an open mind on the subject; but stop all drilling for oil since one in a hundred might leak and destroy the world. (Activist) Judge Fine has plenty to do; send in the clowns.

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”.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Holly and the Ivy

Here’s a Christmas carol believed to have Pagan origins from over a thousand years ago. I found the lyrics here via Google search and then a version which pleased my ear as will be found below.

The Holly and the Ivy

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly and the ivy
Now both are full well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dream Act - A Chance to Pass Amnesty

The lame duck session fully intends to destroy America from within by passing the “Dream Act” ; taking advantage of an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House and Senate with a guaranteed signature from the White House. Harry Reid is determined to ram amnesty down our throats before the balance of powers is restored in January.

“A statement to put out by the Republican side of the Senate Judiciary Committee said all four versions have the same “fundamental” problems, but that Democrats’ approach causes unnecessary confusion. “Democrat leaders, in their rush to pass an unpopular bill during the lame-duck session, have completely bypassed the Judiciary Committee. They have introduced four separate versions of the same bill and, without any committee review, placed each and every one of them on the legislative calendar,” the statement said. “This unusual approach creates a chaotic situation, one that makes it more difficult for the public and their representatives -- as well as the press -- to review this deeply controversial measure.”’

It occurred to me that in order to accomplish the destruction of America from within, certain elements would have to align perfectly or such monstrous attacks on our senses could not be accomplished. How often in our history has such an imbalance of powers existed?

On an unrelated subject, I watched a show on the Planets the other night in HD; I think it was on the Science Channel. The narrator explained how the launch of the Voyager’s mission was reliant on the planets being in a certain alignment in order for their gravitational fields to slingshot the spacecraft on to each successive planet.

“It would be 176 years before the next planetary alignment would allow for a trip like this. As Tom Paine {former NASA Administrator and Planetary Society director} used to say –“The last time that {alignment} happened was when Thomas Jefferson was President, and he blew it.”’

With that in mind, Democrats intent on granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens against the wishes of the majority of citizens have a narrow window of opportunity to pass the Dream Act. The House and Senate are populated by a strong majority capable of passing anything their hearts desire without any possible defeat by the GOP until January when newly elected representatives will restore a balance of power to Washington. Hopefully it will be another 176 years before the planets align giving either party such a majority of power capable of passing legislation without a care for public opinion, plain and simple right or wrong. Maybe it will be said of Obama’s administration, “…and he blew it”.

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”.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kids and Snowballs

Today’s Sunday comic strip, Crankshaft, reminded me of childhood pranks regarding snowballs. I have two memories etched in my mind; neither will get me to Celestial glory, perhaps the proverbial snowballs chance in hell but not Celestial glory.

When my brother and I were fairly young we lived on Long Island and took advantage, with reckless abandon, when ever it snowed. We’d hide behind a row of shrubs waiting for the sound of passing cars; quickly tossing a couple of snowballs at the appropriate moment and then took advantage of natural hiding places provided; it was great fun.

One time we popped up from behind the hedge row and let fly our salvo only to recognize the car we’d randomly targeted turned out to be a police car, the officer’s window rolled down as he patrolled. The moment to run quickly passed; our legs refused to work. The officer put us in the back of his car, drove to our house and handed us over to the warden. Justice has an interesting way of churning out reward; I served twenty years as a police officer.

The other snowball story had to do with a snow fort/wall we’d built in our front yard. Vehicles slowed to turn onto the short street which connected our neighborhood with the adjoining one. It was perfect, a bottle necked canyon like in an old time Western movie; we had them coming or going.

We spotted a fellow slowing down on the slick pavement, his windows down trying to see past a set of windshield wipers that couldn’t keep up with the falling snow. We let a few snowballs fly and hit the mark; his brake lights flashed as he skidded to a halt. Most folks would have chalked it off as “just one of those things” and kept on driving; but when they hit the brakes and tried to chase you down the games got more interesting.

This fellow might have been fired that day, found out his wife was unfaithful or any number of things. He decided to get even with at least one of us as the door flew open, his car left in the middle of the intersection. We took off in all directions; he didn’t stand a chance catching us on our own turf. He was swearing and puffing, puffing and swearing with each belabored stride through drifts of snow while we hid in bushes along the fence line behind our house.

After a while he gave up and plodded slowly back to his car. We thought he needed a little second dose as we let a second volley fly in his direction. He should’ve been ashamed for using that kind of language in front of kids.

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”.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gratitude Expressed

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone; let’s hope our expressions of gratitude extend throughout the year. This morning we heard thought provoking talks which had us consider what our “legacy” would be; would we be valiant in sharing our testimonies, enough to merit the Spirit touching one soul or many? The closing lesson in today’s meetings centered on a talk given this past General Conference by Thomas S. Monson, The Divine Gift of Gratitude .

Gratitude was taught to me at an early age; a gift from my mother. I once wrote, in a collection of thoughts given my own children, “My mother has always elevated any gifts I ever gave her by the manner in which she received those gifts. If I gave her wild flowers picked from the side of a road they were placed in a prominent place in the house for all to see. If I wrote a short story she would praise me for having shared it so well. By her example she has taught me part of what God wants me to know, that to receive a gift properly is as important as the offering of that gift.”

During the week I’m fortunate to have telephone conversations with my mother, nothing earth shaking or of particular noteworthiness; but important none the less. Mom’s a “non-participating” Episcopalian, a very independent woman if ever there was one; all the same she respects my being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as we agree to disagree on certain doctrinal issues.

This past week our conversation naturally drifted toward being grateful for our many blessings. I mentioned that like Nephi in the opening line of the Book of Mormon , “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents…”; it brought tears to her eyes and her voice failed momentarily as my words found a tender place in her heart. In that simple sentence I’d expressed gratitude for the many blessings I’d been shown.

Our family didn’t grow up with an abundance of material things, we weren’t poor; just didn’t have much “stuff”. I was reminded of a time when things were tight and my parents had “too much month at the end of the money”. We children were asked to collect our meager savings; pennies, nickels and dimes from our piggy banks in order to make it through to the next month. Mom choked out her recollection of this event, reminding us that we were eventually paid back every penny borrowed; something which has humbled her to this day as we understood the need to unite as a family.

We were taught the miracle of pea soup; how one batch could last nearly indefinitely. The first night we’d have a small bowl and the remainder was placed in the refrigerator. Over night the miracle happened; the concoction would congeal, so much that large quantities of water had to be added prior to reheating. There would be at least as much pea soup in the container as had been the first day; providing additional meals without the need for additional substance. The scriptures unfolded just as with the loaves and fishes and we were fed.

My folks were products of the Great Depression, something which our own children may have to endure since the lessons of frugality have not been passed from one generation to the next. Each year for Christmas we send my dad a small can of Green Giant Baby Le Sueur Peas, something his family couldn’t afford when he was a young boy. It serves as a reminder; how much value was placed on such a simple commodity at a time when a simple can of peas was considered a luxury. It’s an expression of gratitude for having weathered tough times even when we are no longer stretched to our limits.

Thomas Monson’s admonition to us all:

“My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.

As I close this morning, it is my prayer that in addition to all else for which we are grateful, we may ever reflect our gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do our spirits go when we die? That gospel brings to those who live in darkness the light of divine truth.

He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved…

… Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His words. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.

My sincere, heartfelt prayer is that we may in our individual lives reflect that marvelous virtue of gratitude. May it permeate our very souls, now and evermore. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.”

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”.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Brother or Thunder

Thunder sat still long enough for me to catch him with the camera a while ago; even so, the photograph doesn’t do him justice. Thunder’s coat is fluffed due to the cool snap so it looks like he put on some weight. He’s already nearly twice as big as his little sister Lightning.

I went back and found a picture of Brother and about the only difference is Brother had a white blaze patch on his chest. Dinner time is still forty five minutes from now but the Hobo Kitties are already circling the wagons at the back door.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Time to Saw ‘em Off

This Thanksgivings Day afternoon most folks will be watching a football game cheering their favorite team. Our set will have the Texas Longhorns at Kyle Field where Texas A&M has a chance to finish off their rivals; Saw ‘em off! I never attended A&M, went to Sam Houston State so we didn’t have much to cheer about; but our daughter is a senior engineering student in Aggie land so we have a vested interest.

I can recall the thrill of watching the Corp when they came to Houston on game day against the Rice Owls. They were quite a sight to behold in their uniforms as they closed ranks and marched down the street playing their fight song. I decided to find a YouTube video, something close to match my memories and this is what I came up with.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for the Headbuttr’

Headbuttr’ has discovered she enjoys being inside the house more than outside with the rest of the Hobo Kitties. I find myself looking forward to her extended visits; sleeping with her head curled up to my hand while watching television or at the foot of the bed against my ankle. It was a year ago, almost to the day, when I snapped a few photographs of the close knit family; Brother, Headbuttr’ and Princess . At the time Princess was the one who’d learned that being an inside kitty had its perks while the others kept their distance.

Over the past few weeks Headbuttr’ has found opportunities to scurry inside; not to obtain treats or food, but to get personal attention and cuddles. We don’t call her Headbuttr’ for nothing as she snuggles against the back of our heads, steadily pushing and purring. Bubba puts up with her and has only pounced on her once to let her know who the real boss is.

We still see Brother from time to time when he comes over for a visit and to munch down a free meal; but he’s a true Hobo Kitty living around the neighborhood with no strings attached. Princess had only a short time with us before getting hit by a passing car almost a year ago.

Here’s the way things are with the rest of the Hobo Kitty crew. Pumpkin, formerly known as The Cat With No Name, likes to come inside but doesn’t feel comfortable letting us touch her; yet all the while she meows as if she wants to be petted. Lightning, Puddin’ Head and Jaws will come inside for treats; Lightning likes to be touched; but not picked up whereas Puddin’ Head likes to be cuddled. Thunder has turned into the most beautiful beast; full bodied male with a vibrant ebony coat; very much like Brother. Morris keeps his distance as does Shadow. Silver Bubba will come in occasionally; but for some reason Bubba is ugly toward her will chase Silver Bubba out of the house. We haven’t seen Mark Twain or Baby Silver Bubba in months; ever since there was a terrible thunder storm.

The weather has been warm and muggy going into Thanksgiving Day; but we’re promised a cold front sometime tomorrow afternoon which will drop temperatures from the mid 80’s down to the low 40’s. Headbuttr’ will have the advantage over the others as she basks in the comfort of central heating as the others huddle together in the garage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Goes Around…

We celebrate Thanksgiving later this week, a chance to express gratitude for the many blessings we’ve been given. I’ve heard it said the Lord is fairly busy and expects us to provide blessings in His stead. We’re to take care of those around us , feed and clothe those in need.

My wife and I have had a soft spot in our hearts for young missionaries going about sharing the gospel for two years without any recompense. We sign up to have them over for dinner when the opportunity presents itself. During table conversation we get their parents address or email and later send a note letting their parents know how grateful we are for the service being provided, that their young missionary is doing well and sometimes send a photograph taken while they were with us.

Our oldest daughter was on her mission and happened to be invited for dinner while serving in the Salt Lake City South Mission. During the course of the evening she was distracted by a framed picture on the mantle of the host family’s fireplace. “I know this is going to sound odd; but why do you have a picture of my house over your fireplace?”

There was no mistake; it was a picture of her missionary son standing in front of our house. He and his companion had enjoyed a meal and were taking turns, doing their best “Prophet Joseph” pose while in the front yard just as the sun was setting. In this digital age it didn’t take a moment to capture the images and send them along via email.

Thanksgiving isn’t for a single day each year; it’s an attitude which should be in our hearts daily. Express your gratitude through serving others; what goes around comes around.

Photo courtesy of Fox Creek Photographic .

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”.

The Ultimate Form of Wealth Redistribution

According to a recent AP story , the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of embryonic stem cells for research and testing on a couple of projects; spinal cord injuries by one company and a vision related problem which affects roughly 30,000 people called Stargardt disease. A dangerous president is being set; our government has decided to indiscriminately remove certain individuals who lack the ability to defend themselves from the gene pool in order to provide the potential for a better quality of life for others.

You might be familiar with a slogan for veterans, “All gave some; some gave all”. In the case of stem cell research the stakes are quite a bit higher, “All gave all”. I suppose you could classify embryonic stem cell research as the ultimate form of wealth redistribution, taking everything from some and giving it to others.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s mission statement reads:

“FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.”

Maybe the FDA has turned a blind eye to protecting our youngest “potential” citizens. The debate over the sanctity of life draws heated discussion across our nation. Abortion in its many stages always ends at least one life and often takes the mother too depending on complications and a host of unconscionable procedures employed. America has now accepted the sacrifice of our most innocent life forms in order to bring about potential medical remedies, some of which could be acquired via other forms of stem cell research.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Thomas Jefferson penned the words of our Declaration of Independence, a set of basic concepts which encapsulate humanity and the desire to provide essential protections to insure the highest level of respect for all. As a nation we need to admit that we’ve fallen from the path, a nation where life was considered sacred and inviolate to one which discards the miracle of life as easily as one puts out a cigarette.

It won’t be long before other atrocities will be considered in the name of making life better for others. You’ve lived a long and productive life; it’s time to give opportunities to the next generation. We need your corneas, liver, kidneys, lungs and heart. You’re no longer useful and have become a drain on our single payer medical system; leave the keys to the house and car in the bowl on your way out.

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”.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Motor Trend Dolts Award

Awards mean absolutely nothing anymore; Motor Trend’s car of the year award went to the Chevy Volt. It’s hard to figure the litmus test for excellence. Was it the entry level price tag of $ 41K or its forty miles of service from batteries? Maybe the Volt’s 300 mile range sealed the deal, the first 40 green miles, Blue Birds chirping in the soft morning light via its technically advanced battery, while the rest is provided by a minimally acceptable gasoline powered engine?

“We expected a science experiment, but this is a moon shot,” Motor Trend editors wrote:

“The Volt delivers on the promise of the vehicle concept as originally outlined by GM, combining the smooth, silent, efficient, low-emissions capability of an electric motor with the range and flexibility of an internal combustion engine. It is a fully functional, no-compromise compact automobile that offers consumers real benefits in terms of lower running costs.”

Some folks have classified the Volt as an electric car: but if that’s the case how did they go the other 260 miles? The answer; smoke and mirrors! How did Motor Trend editors come to the conclusion that this car benefits the consumer with lower running costs? The average consumer could purchase 3 Ford Focus cars, VW Jettas, or similarly sized vehicles fully equipped for the price of just one Chevy Volt; lower running costs my Aunt Tilly! Maybe Chevy should have called it the Crock; at least it would have been truth in advertising.

It wasn’t long ago the Nobel Prize was awarded to Obama for his…; pardon me while I try to find something worthwhile Obama actually accomplished…, …; well he must have accomplished something or he wouldn’t have won the award.

“We expected a community activist, but we got a messiah.”

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”.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Five Month Cover Up?

Imagine my surprise this morning while reading the latest AP story by Dina Cappiello, White House tweaked drilling report . What’s interesting about it; Fox ran this story ran back in June and it was referenced on at least one blog . It took the Associated Press five months to break this headline story.

I think there’s an ethics rule among writers, something about not quoting an entire article; then again there are exceptions to most every rule. In this case I’m not quoting a news piece; it’s really a history article, five months old.

“An inspector general says the White House edited a report about the administration’s moratorium on offshore oil drilling to make it appear that scientists and experts supported the idea of a six-month ban on new drilling.

The Interior Department’s inspector general says the changes resulted “in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed.” But it hadn’t been.

Still, the report said the administration did not violate federal rules because it had offered a formal apology and already publicly clarified the nature of the expert review.

The Web site Politico was first to report the inspector general’s findings . The Associated Press on Wednesday obtained a copy of the report, which has not been publicly released.”

Five months ago Fox reported the Obama administration altered a significant report in order to make it appear as if the moratorium on drilling for oil had been the result of peer review when in fact it was just the opposite, quoting the Fox article which ran June 11, 2010.

“The seven experts who advised President Obama on how to deal with offshore drilling safety after the Deepwater Horizon explosion are accusing his administration of misrepresenting their views to make it appear that they supported a six-month drilling moratorium -- something they actually oppose.”

Silly me, I keep forgetting Fox isn’t really a news outlet and provides entertainment only. It makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy knowing the Obama administration “did not violate federal rules because it had offered a formal apology and already publicly clarified the nature of the expert review.”

Isn’t that the same as saying “We lied, altered part of an official government report and killed off thousands of jobs in the off shore oil industry; but since we were caught and offered a sincere apology we get a Mulligan”? The word “tweaked” covers a considerable amount of slop, or am I mistaken? A major news media closed its eyes for nearly half a year on a major story making it possible for the Obama administration to destroy America’s off shore drilling industry and all the AP can say, the report was “tweaked”.

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”.