Sunday, August 26, 2012

WALKING ON THE MOON WITH LARISSA

The world sat on the edge of their seats in July of 1969.  They filled Times Square in New York City as the ticker scrolled around giving updates.  The trees and plants must have been starved for Carbon Dioxide as breaths were held all in unison for a few minutes.  Then the words came from the lunar surface finally, "Houston, Tranquility Base here, The Eagle has landed." And breathing resumed on the face of the Earth.

The United States had landed two men on the surface of the moon.  NASA had spent the last ten years working towards this one moment in time.  The newscasts were glued to NASA over the next several hours.  Finally the lunar landing module opened up the camera that was attached to one of the legs of the module.  The first picture from the Moon's surface appeared.  It was grainy black and white and hard to tell what was what without the newscasters pointing out the various features of the picture.

It was a few hours later when our attention was returned to the camera mounted on the Lunar Module.  We watched as slowly the figure of a man in a space suit made his way down ladder to one of the land feet that rested on the surface.  He was finally standing on the landing foot and the words came over the television. "Okay, I am going to step off the LEM now.  That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." and with those words Neil Armstrong firmly planted his foot onto the surface of the moon.  History had been made.

Soon Armstrong was joined by his fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface.  They were on the surface but a couple of hours and they had business to take care of.  The world watched as the men collected samples from the moon's surface.  They planted an American flag on the surface.  They read a plaque that was mounted onto the base of the landing vehicle.

While they were doing their chores, I looked out the front door.  It was a full moon and I walked over to the door and looked up at it.  I couldn't see them but right now Armstrong and Aldrin were walking around up there.  It was hard for me to wrap my head around.  Dad looked at me looking outside and asked me what I was doing,  "Nothing" I answered and went back to watch the astronauts answer a phone call from the President while they were still on the surface.

It was over too soon.  Before long the two men had returned inside the module and prepared to leave the surface of the moon.  They were able to launch from the surface and dock with the command module and head home to a heroes welcome.  This had been a night I would never forget, and still haven't.

I grabbed the newspaper the next morning and after reading everything there was to read about what had happened, I put the paper away with other important items that I kept as I was growing up.  The next weekend, the Kansas City Star put out a full special edition of the paper entitled, "TO THE MOON AND BACK"  I bought a couple of these and put one in the box with my other moon papers.

This special edition not only dealt with Apollo 11, but also gave the history leading up to the moon landing and gave predictions as to what the future held.  Among the "future" items was a space ship that would look kind of like a plane.  It would be launched into space and then return home as a glider plane where it could be used again to go up into space.  A reusable space module.  The sketches of the futuristic space plane would become a reality with the launching and development of the Space shuttles. At the age of twelve, those few historic hours had made an impact on my life that would never leave.  Science, engineering and doing the impossible would lead me into a career filled with much of the same.

Forward to early 1981.  I had been working for Dit-MCO International for two years.  We made cable testers and printed circuit board testing machines that was mostly for use in new military weapons and vehicles.  We also had a vast amount of equipment at NASA to help test out the Space Shuttle before it made it's maiden voyage.  It was exciting work and we felt like we were producing very important equipment for the country.

During this time, the company was growing at a very fast pace and we were hiring new engineering personnel on a consistent basis.  One of these new hires was a Russian immigrant named Larissa Vainstien.  She and her family had immigrated to the United States in order to work in the engineering field that was far more complicated then what they were use to in the Soviet Union.

Larissa knew almost nothing about the United States other then the history that she would need to get her citizenship.   We took it upon ourselves to teach her American culture.  We introduced her to some of the sports history of our country and to the basic rules of sports.  We taught her the basics of baseball so she could watch it and understand it a little bit.  More difficult was teaching her American football.  She eventually came to understand it enough to discuss a little of the games the Monday after they were played.  We taught her western music from Sinatra to the Beatles.  She was given recordings of different kinds of music and she decided she really liked the Beatles.  She had never heard the Beatles before.  She had never seen a baseball or football game before.  But there was much more she was not aware of.

One day, as the launch of the first Space Shuttle was coming upon us, we mentioned the moon walks to her.  She laughed at us when we told her we had been to the moon.  She thought we were joking around, pulling her leg.  She had never heard of such a thing.  We tried to talk to her about it, telling her when we had done it, told her that Shepard had played golf on the moon and that we had actually put a car on the moon and driven around, among other things and she just laughed.  No one had been to the moon.  There was no way in which we could convince her that the United States had sent several men to the moon.

We were stunned when it dawned on us that she was really serious.  She had no idea of any moon landings.  The Russian Government had apparently hidden the fact very well from their people, especially those in the engineering field.  She would not believe anything we said about the moon landings.

I went home one night and I dug out from my history box everything I had on the moon landings.  It is important to remember that even though the internet was being developed, it was not accessible to the average person so we could not just get on a computer and look it up and show her.  I brought in newspapers and records and pictures of the moon walk and showed them to Larissa.

At first, she thought the papers were just lies.  Maybe it was because she was use to that being the case coming from the Soviet Union.  We spent a lot of time with her going over the newspapers with her.  Slowly she began to think that maybe it was true.  She kept the papers for a few weeks and you could find her reading every word of the whole NASA program from the Mercury program, through the Gemini and Apollo missions.

One day she came in to work and told us that she and her husband had gone to the public library and had done research there just to confirm what we had been telling her.  She told us that they had come to the conclusion that perhaps it was possible that the United States had indeed been to the moon.  She never came out and said that she actually believed it, but admitted that it could be possible.  That was good enough for us.

Looking back on it, it still amazes me at how well the Soviet Union was able to control information back in those days.  The internet has changed all of that now though but back when Larissa was just learning about these historic things, it took a leap of faith on her part to acknowledge that something had happened that had never been mentioned to her in her entire life.

Larissa and her husband did become citizens of the United States while she was still working at Dit-MCO.  We all went up to the courthouse and witnessed her becoming a citizen of this great country.  We had taught her a lot while she was preparing to take that oath.  It wasn't the kind of stuff and facts that the Immigration Service taught her in preparing for citizenship, but I think what we taught her as far as the culture of western societies was just as important to go along with the required history taught her by the immigration service.

We all were very proud of Larissa when she took that oath.  We also thought that we had helped her understand her new country much better and so we gave ourselves a little pat on the back s well.  She soon quit working at Dit-MCO and moved to Florida.  Those times of teaching her about her new country was a very proud moment for us though.  We had taught her things she never would have known and gave her the Beatles as well.

What brought this memory to my mind to write about is hearing that Neil Armstrong had died.  Neil Armstrong was an American hero that we had introduced to Larissa.  So I guess this post is dedicated to the memory of Neil Armstrong and what he accomplished for this country.




Monday, August 20, 2012

CARPEL TUNNEL HANDICAP

I started my career because I wanted to be an artist but had no talent at all.  The only way I could draw was to go into drafting, which I did at the age of seventeen.  It was great for many years.  I was drawing with ink and pencil and had triangles and straight edges to make nice clean lines while at the same time making a drawing that was producing metal parts that would go into products.

I was able to see my art come to life in a way as my dad took my drawings and made physical parts that you could hold in your hand.  My "art" was being created in three dimensions parts that I could hold in my hands.  It seemed like the ultimate art project and it was fun.

Time went by however and technology began to speed up.  Before I knew it, they were replacing my drafting board, triangles and pencils,  with some of the first personal computers.  I had to relearn how to draw using a computer.  Soon I was using the computer eight hours a day, if not more and found myself with a personal computer at the house.

It was while the internet was slowly coming out and so I began using a computer almost all my waking hours.  The idea of using computers in the early days did not raise a red flag about it actually causing harm to the person over using the computer.  It wasn't too many years before an injury began showing up from using a computer keyboard too often.  After many years of working with the computer that I began to show symptoms of the new syndrome.

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, from what I understand, inflames the tendons that the nerves to your hands slip through.  The inflammation begins to squeeze the nerves making the nerves not so nervy.

The first symptom is pain in the wrists.  When I was younger I could hit a baseball pretty solid with a good grip that didn't shake my wrists and arms every time I made contact.  When I first noticed the pain in my wrists I was playing golf about two or three times a week.  I still had a good grip on the club but every time I hit a golf ball the wrists would sting a little.  I started noticing numbness in my fingers, very light at first but steadily getting worse. I didn't think much about it until one summer Saturday morning.

We were painting the house, something that had become a father and son project over the years.  Brett was beginning to get older and was doing a better job, but still not big enough to get on the ladder.  The ladder  was my perch while Brett stood below me doing a fine job.  As I continued to move the brush back and forth my wrists began to hurt.  not unusual for this kind of activity and so I continued to paint.  Then it happened.  The brush fell out of my hand and nearly fell on Brett's head just missing turning his blond hair barn red.

It was a strange feeling.  I tried to grab the ladder rung to start climbing down and found I had no grip at all.  I leaned forward on the ladder and slowly made my way down.  It took about three hours before I could grip anything.  It was serious now.  The carpel tunnel was restricting my ability to do things with my hands. 

I decided to see if the condition could be filed under workman's compensation since I was on the computer for over eight hours everyday and computer use had been recently linked to carpel tunnel.  I ended up going to a clinic for workman's compensation claims to determine if it would qualify or not.  After waiting several hours I finally saw a doctor who ran me through some test on my hands, including electric stimulus in my hands to see if the nerves were reacting properly.  They weren't and so I was approved for being injured on the job.

I went to see a surgeon who specialized in  hand surgery and he ran the same test over again.  He took an instrument that looked like a boot spur and ran it down my fingers.  I could feel the pressure but no pain.  More electricity was run from my fingers to my elbows.  Even though the test came back as positive for nerve damage, it still is not a fun test too go through.  It re-enforced my dislike of electricity on the human body if anything.  Finally the surgery would be set up.  I would have both of my wrists operated on at separate times. 

The first surgery went okay.  While I was waiting to be wheeled into the operating room, an old man was brought back to prepare for his own surgery.  The nurse gave him a gown, told him to take his clothes off and put the gown on.  When he came out of the room he had indeed taken his clothes off and put on his gown.  However apparently he did not consider his long thermal underwear as part of his clothes as he was still sporting them under his gown.  It took the nurse a while to explain that he was to have nothing on under his gown.  Unfortunately I was wheeled off to the operating room before seeing the result of the nurses lecture to the old man.

They did not put me out for the surgery but used a blockage on my arm to numb it down while the surgery was taking place.  When my nurse brought me in a warm blanket I fell asleep almost instantly and do not have any recall of the surgery.

My hand was bandaged up and it would be six weeks before my next surgery would take place.  Meanwhile I learned to work without the use of my right hand and saw my production at the office go down.

Six weeks later I went in for my second surgery.  This one did not go as smooth.  While they were applying the block to my left arm, they were removing the stitches from my right wrist.  So far so good.  Then they began the surgery on my left wrist.  The block was not working as well and it hurt.  It hurt very bad.  I was screaming while they continued to fix my left wrist.  Soon it was over and I went home to wallow in self pity and pain.

When I went back to the surgeon for follow up he ran tests on the strength of my hands.  They were a lot stronger then before the surgery.  He then took that spur thing out and ran it down my finger and it was a totally different feeling then before the surgery.  It hurt like crazy.  He then pronounced the surgery successful and I was sent on my way.

I then went to the negotiator who would determine how much loss in my hands I had suffered because of my job.  We agreed on a certain percentage that was worth so much money because I had loss partial use of my hands.  I was satisfied and things began to go back to normal.  I could hit a baseball and a golfball again with out pain.  I could feel what I was touching and holding.  I felt like it was worth going through the surgery to regain my hands once again.

Since that time my carpel tunnel has returned.  It is worse than it was before.  Carpel tunnel has been taken off the list as being workman's comp eligible and so I am stuck with my hands the way they are or are getting.

My wrists are effected by vibration meaning I have a rough time cutting the yard, trimming bushes and holding onto to anything for very long.  My fingers are numb again.  Golf and baseball are gone from my life.  After a hard days work on the computer my hands are tired and they ache.  It's as though I never had the surgery to begin with.

Now a days, the surgery isn't as invasive.  They don't slice open your wrists to get to the tunnels.  It doesn't take six weeks to recover but just a few days.

My wrists and my hands are weak and they hurt.  They will for the rest of my life.  I am good with that.  I have grown use to it and it has all become a part of me.  I don't think I will get them fixed again.  I am of the age where I probably won't be around long enough for it to be worth it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

JESUS MADE ME FUMBLE

I can't remember who the comedian was, but he had a bit about a football game being played.  The scene takes place in the winner's locker room where a player is thanking God for the win, the key play being a fumble by the opposing team on the last play of the game.  The player kept thanking God for leading their team to victory.  Then the comic shifts the scene to the losing team's locker room and an interview with a player on that team.  When asked what happened, the player responded with "Jesus made me fumble that ball at the end of the game."

A question was brought up on facebook the other day asking "What do you think of athletes praising God?"  When I read that question my mind went immediately to the aforementioned comic bit.  The point that the comic was trying to make was that if God is for one team, then he must be against the other team for some reason.  It should be a two way street if God is in the business of deciding who wins the Super Bowl or the World Series or a collegiate National Championship.  The losing team never blames a higher power for their loss, and it seems to be rather presumptuous to assume that God prefers who wins as opposed to who loses.

I think that athletes need to be careful what they say at the end of a competition regarding getting outside help in winning or outside interference in keeping them from winning.

In some sports, such as the more physical and dangerous sports like football and auto racing or soccer, might thank God that no one was injured or at least seriously injured.  There are cases however when people do get hurt or even killed during an event.  Dale Earnhardt died on the last lap of the Daytona 500 one year.  Joe Theisman's career as an NFL quarterback ended on a Monday night nationally televised football game when his leg was severely broken. Necks have been broken in sporting events leaving the competitor paralyzed from the neck down.  I have witnessed all of these while watching events.  Both Earnhardt and Theisman were good Christians that never hid the fact that they were.  I had heard Earnhardt on several occasions thank God that no one was hurt during a car race, yet he himself died on the track.  Did God forget to look out for Earnhardt on that fateful Sunday afternoon?

Now, I don't claim to know answers as to why Dale Earnhardt died that day or why Theisman broke his leg in so many places he wasn't able to run again or any of the other terrible injuries that have occurred over the years in all different kinds of sports.  I imagine that a lot of those injuries and deaths happened to athletes who were Christians.  Did God have a hand in these terrible accidents?  I believe, to an extent, the yes God does have a reason for these things to happen,  but it is awful hard to give God the glory for taking Dale Earnhardt's life.  Then again, I do believe that God has a plan for all of our lives and if his plan for Earnhardt to leave this world at that time in his life, then so be it.

However, I do find it difficult to believe that God has a vested interest in who wins a ballgame.  In 1986 in the World Series, Bill Buckner was playing first base for the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox were playing game six against the Mets in New York and were poised to win the Series when a ground ball rolled through Buckner's legs costing the Sox not only the game, but eventually the Championship.  Buckner received multiple death threats and eventually moved his family out of the Boston area.  To some, it would appear that for close to a century, God had something against the Red Sox keeping them from winning a world Championship until recently when apparently the Red Sox worked their way into God's good graces.  The same cannot be said of the Chicago Cubs who have gone over a century without winning a World Series.  Is God more of a Cardinal fan than a Cubs fan?  I really don't think so.

I believe that God gives these athletes the ability and the talent to participate on the highest levels of their particular sport.  What the athletes do with these God given talents determines how successful they may or may not be.  It is no different than God giving each of us a talent and ability that we should use to glorify God.  He gives some the ability to play music or to sing.  Gives others of us the ability to see things and to help fix things.  Some of us have the God given ability to be able to talk to people and to help them in difficult situations.

Roger Staubach, a former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, after many victories as well as tough losses, always thanked God for giving him the talent to be out on that field, win or lose.  That is how athletes should thank God.  Thank Him for giving an individual talent and providing them a way to use that talent in order to be a witness for their beliefs.  If an athlete loses a big game and still comes out and thanks God for looking over him and thanking God for the ability he has been given, it goes a lot further as a witness for his beliefs than thank God for letting them win a game.

The question should be expanded though.  What do you think of an athlete if he thanks Allah for victory or talent?  What if they thank Buddha  or a VooDoo god for their good fortune?  There are plenty of god's that are worshiped around the world that athletes could give credit for victory.

My big question is how should Christians react to these athletes that thank a god other than the Christian God?  The reaction of Christians to those athletes that thank, what Christians deem as false gods, can be as much of a witness for God as their own thanking of God for the abilities they have been given.I don't have any answers to any of these questions.  I am not a religious scholar, not even close.  The answer is out there though, and I think God will lead us to respond appropriately.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

To President Clinton: This is what true character looks like - Part 2

President Nixon's farewell speech to the White House staff
August 9, 1974
(WHC: in my opinion one of the great speeches of American history and politics)

Members of the Cabinet, members of the White House Staff, all of our friends here:

I think the record should show that this is one of those spontaneous things that we always arrange whenever the President comes in to speak, and it will be so reported in the press, and we don't mind, because they have to call it as they see it.

But on our part, believe me, it is spontaneous.

You are here to say goodbye to us, and we don't have a good word for it in English -- the best is au revoir. We'll see you again.

I just met with the members of the White House staff, you know, those who serve here in the White House day in and day out, and I asked them to do what I ask all of you to do to the extent that you can and, of course, are requested to do so: to serve our next President as you have served me and previous Presidents -- because many of you have been here for many years -- with devotion and dedication, because this office, great as it is, can only be as great as the men and women who work for and with the President.

This house, for example -- I was thinking of it as we walked down this hall, and I was comparing it to some of the great houses of the world that I have been in. This isn't the biggest house. Many, and most, in even smaller countries, are much bigger. This isn't the finest house. Many in Europe, particularly, and in China, Asia, have paintings of great, great value, things that we just don't have here and, probably, will never have until we are 1,000 years old or older.

But this is the best house. It is the best house, because it has something far more important than numbers of people who serve, far more important than numbers of rooms or how big it is, far more important than numbers of magnificent pieces of art.

This house has a great heart, and that heart comes from those who serve. I was rather sorry they didn't come down, We said goodbye to them upstairs. But they are really great. And I recall after so many times I have made speeches, and some of them pretty tough, yet, I always come back, or after a hard day -- and my days usually have run rather long -- I would always get a lift from them, because I might be a little down but they always smiled.

And so it is with you. I look around here, and I see so many on this staff that, you know, I should have been by your offices and shaken hands, and I would love to have talked to you and found out how to run the world -- everybody wants to tell the President what to do, and boy, he needs to be told many times -- but I just haven't had the time. But I want you to know that each and every one of you, I know, is indispensable to this Government.

I am proud of this Cabinet. I am proud of all the members who have served in our Cabinet. I am proud of our sub-Cabinet. I am proud of our White House Staff. As I pointed out last night, sure, we have done some things wrong in this Administration, and the top man always takes the responsibility, and I have never ducked it. But I want to say one thing: We can be proud of it -- 5 1/2 years. No man or no woman came into this Administration and left it with more of this world's goods than when he came in. No man or no woman ever profited at the public expense or the public till. That tells something about you.

Mistakes, yes. But for personal gain, never. You did what you believed in. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong. And I only wish that I were a wealthy man -- at the present time, I have got to find a way to pay my taxes -- and if I were, I would like to recompense you for the sacrifices that all of you have made to serve in government.

But you are getting something in government -- and I want you to tell this to your children, and I hope the Nation's children will hear it, too -- something in government service that is far more important than money. It is a cause bigger than yourself. It is the cause of making this the greatest nation in the world, the leader of the world, because without our leadership, the world will know nothing but war, possibly starvation or worse, in the years ahead. With our leadership it will know peace, it will know plenty.

We have been generous, and we will be more generous in the future as we are able to. But most important, we must be strong here, strong in our hearts, strong in our souls, strong in our belief, and strong in our willingness to sacrifice, as you have been willing to sacrifice, in a pecuniary way, to serve in government.

There is something else I would like for you to tell your young people. You know, people often come in and say, "What will I tell my kids?" They look at government and say, sort of a rugged life, and they see the mistakes that are made. They get the impression that everybody is here for the purpose of feathering his nest. That is why I made this earlier point -- not in this Administration, not one single man or woman.

And I say to them, there are many fine careers. This country needs good farmers, good businessmen, good plumbers, good carpenters.

I remember my old man. I think that they would have called him sort of a little man, common man. He didn't consider himself that way. You know what he was? He was a streetcar motorman first, and then he was a farmer, and then he had a lemon ranch. It was the poorest lemon ranch in California, I can assure you. He sold it before they found oil on it. [Laughter] And then he was a grocer. But he was a great man, because he did his job, and every job counts up to the hilt, regardless of what happens.
Nobody will ever write a book, probably, about my mother. Well, I guess all of you would say this about your mother -- my mother was a saint. And I think of her, two boys dying of tuberculosis, nursing four others in order that she could take care of my older brother for 3 years in Arizona, and seeing each of them die, and when they died, it was like one of her own.

Yes, she will have no books written about her. But she was a saint.

Now, however, we look to the future. I had a little quote in the speech last night from T.R. As you know, I kind of like to read books. I am not educated, but I do read books -- and the T.R. quote was a pretty good one. Here is another one I found as I was reading, my last night in the White House, and this quote is about a young man. He was a young lawyer in New York. He had married a beautiful girl, and they had a lovely daughter, and then suddenly she died, and this is what he wrote. This was in his diary.

He said, "She was beautiful in face and form and lovelier still in spirit. As a flower she grew and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine. There had never come to her a single great sorrow. None ever knew her who did not love and revere her for her bright and sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure and joyous as a maiden, loving, tender and happy as a young wife. When she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun and when the years seemed so bright before her, then by a strange and terrible fate death came to her. And when my heart's dearest died, the light went from my life forever."

That was T.R. in his twenties. He thought the light had gone from his life forever -- but he went on. And he not only became President but, as an ex-President, he served his country, always in the arena, tempestuous, strong, sometimes wrong, sometimes right, but he was a man.

And as I leave, let me say, that is an example I think all of us should remember. We think sometimes when things happen that don't go the right way; we think that when you don't pass the bar exam the first time -- I happened to, but I was just lucky; I mean, my writing was so poor the bar examiner said, "We have just got to let the guy through." We think that when someone dear to us dies, we think that when we lose an election, we think that when we suffer a defeat that all is ended. We think, as T.R. said, that the light had left his life forever.

Not true. It is only a beginning, always. The young must know it; the old must know it. It must always sustain us, because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.

And so I say to you on this occasion, as we leave, we leave proud of the people who have stood by us and worked for us and served this country.

We want you to be proud of what you have done. We want you to continue to serve in government, if that is your wish. Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.

And so, we leave with high hopes, in good spirit, and with deep humility, and with very much gratefulness in our hearts. I can only say to each and every one of you, we come from many faiths, we pray perhaps to different gods -- but really the same God in a sense -- but I want to say for each and every one of you, not only will we always remember you, not only will we always be grateful to you but always you will be in our hearts and you will be in our prayers.

Thank you very much.

To President Clinton: This is what true character looks like - Part 1

President Nixon's Address to the Nation
August 8, 1974

Good evening.

This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.

I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.

As I recall the high hopes for America with which we began this second term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 21/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Vice President Ford, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of America will be in good hands.

In passing this office to the Vice President, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Americans.

As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us, and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.

By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.

I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my Judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.

To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.

And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.

So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new President succeed for the benefit of all Americans.

I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your President for the past 51/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Congress, and the people.

But the challenges ahead are equally great, and they, too, will require the support and the efforts of the Congress and the people working in cooperation with the new Administration.

We have ended America's longest war, but in the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult. We must complete a structure of peace so that it will be said of this generation, our generation of Americans, by the people of all nations, not only that we ended one war but that we prevented future wars.

We have unlocked the doors that for a quarter of a century stood between the United States and the People's Republic of China.

We must now ensure that the one quarter of the world's people who live in the People's Republic of China will be and remain not our enemies but our friends.

In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy for nearly 20 years, now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that peace can settle at last over the Middle East and so that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.

Together with the Soviet Union we have made the crucial breakthroughs that have begun the process of limiting nuclear arms. But we must set as our goal not just limiting but reducing and finally destroying these terrible weapons so that they cannot destroy civilization and so that the threat of nuclear war will no longer hang over the world and the people.

We have opened the new relation with the Soviet Union. We must continue to develop and expand that new relationship so that the two strongest nations of the world will live together in cooperation rather than confrontation.

Around the world, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Middle East, there are millions of people who live in terrible poverty, even starvation. We must keep as our goal turning away from production for war and expanding production for peace so that people everywhere on this earth can at last look forward in their children's time, if not in our own time, to having the necessities for a decent life.

Here in America, we are fortunate that most of our people have not only the blessings of liberty but also the means to live full and good and, by the world's standards, even abundant lives. We must press on, however, toward a goal of not only more and better jobs but of full opportunity for every American and of what we are striving so hard right now to achieve, prosperity without inflation.

For more than a quarter of a century in public life I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believed in. I have tried to the best of my ability to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, "whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."

I pledge to you tonight that as long as I have a breath of life in my body, I shall continue in that spirit. I shall continue to work for the great causes to which I have been dedicated throughout my years as a Congressman, a Senator, a Vice President, and President, the cause of peace not just for America but among all nations, prosperity, justice, and opportunity for all of our people.

There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.

When I first took the oath of office as President 51/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment, to "consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations."

I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of America but for the people of all nations, and that all of our children have a better chance than before of living in peace rather than dying in war.

This, more than anything, is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the Presidency. This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the Presidency.
To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God's grace be with you in all the days ahead.

Monday, August 6, 2012

UNCLE MELVIN

Of all of my uncles on my mother's side of the family, Uncle Melvin was probably the one I knew the least.  I did come to know him a little better towards the end of his life, but while I was growing up, I have snapshots of him in my mind.

He was a handsome man and while he was growing up, he was one of my dad's best friends.  He grew up a boxer and a violin player.  Quite a mix there, but it shows how versatile  and intelligent he was.  He was the oldest of my grandparent's kids and so he had an effect on the lives of all of his siblings.  Of his history, I have only stories as opposed to first hand knowledge.

He married young and went to Seminary to become a Southern Baptist preacher.  By the time I got around to knowing him, he and my Aunt Eva had eight children.  Pete, Ellen, Jean, Judy, Jim, John, Jerry and Drew.  He raised this large family on a very slight income for the first several years.  I knew his sons better than I knew my uncle but by the impact he had on their lives, I have a little window as to how my Uncle was.

He was a good man.  He was a disciplinarian.  He didn't hold his discipline to his own kids either.  If you were under his roof, you played by his rules.  My sister found that out one day when we were visiting Melvin and his family one time.  We actually use to visit quite a bit thinking back on it.  Anyway, The girls, including my sister Elaine, were jumping up and down on the beds or something that kept knocking the slats out from under the mattresses in the girls bedroom.  Melvin warned them twice that if they didn't stop, he was going to do some spanking.  Elaine, always one to smart off when she was little, proclaimed to my uncle that he wouldn't be spanking her, because he wasn't her daddy.  Uncle Melvin walked right up to Elaine, put her over his knee and gave her a couple of swats.  I think there were a lot of lessons learned that day.

What I mostly remember about my uncle Melvin are a few things that I think can describe the man from my perspective.  The first thing I remember was that he was a very good preacher.  He had a soft and tender voice when he preached.  He was able to get his point across by, well, not talking down to his congregation, but talking on their level of understanding.  As a young child I even understood his teachings as well as I did when I was an adult.  There wasn't a lot of walking around, finger pointing, or anything like that.  Rather he stood still in the pulpit and would move his head side to side taking in the whole of the congregation with pauses in just the right places to let something sink in that he had said.  He was and still is the best preacher I ever heard preach.

Uncle Melvin had a sense of humor.  For a man that was rather quiet of voice, he could find humor in almost anything.  The best times that his sense of humor would come out was during the holiday season.  During this time he, along with his brothers and my grandpa, would gather together and talk after the meal in the dining room.  Melvin had a habit of continuing to eat by picking pieces of turkey while he was talking.  He would also have some pie but mainly he stuck to picking off the turkey.  They would talk politics, which never made sense to me since they all pretty much agreed on the subject, but then they would slowly get into telling stories about things that had been happening in their lives as of late.  Melvin loved his brothers and loved talking to them and his dad.  I loved listening to them.  More than once you could find me sitting on the window seat not too far away from them listening intently to what they were talking about.  They would all laugh at the stories but it was when the stories turned to jokes that Melvin really began to let loose.  If he was listening to a joke, and it was good enough which most of them were, he would laugh so hard his face would turn red and he would not be able to talk.  He always seemed to be the last one who got themselves under control after a good joke.  When Melvin would tell a joke, he would hardly be able to get it out.  He would start laughing the closer he got to the punch line and by the time he finished the joke, you would be laughing more at him then the joke.  He loved laughter and humor.  He loved the laughter and humor that his siblings shared with him as well as his children.

My Uncle Melvin was a very sincere and caring man.  He took care of the people in his congregation and they loved him for it.  How do I know?  I was lucky enough to have been a member of his church for awhile before he retired from the pulpit to become head of the missions program for our group of area churches.  He knew I had concerns about joining his church, you know, having your uncle as the preacher, but he came over to our house one night and talked to us about it.  He left me assured that he could be my pastor as well as my uncle and do a good job of both.  We joined his church and enjoyed every minute of it.  He was aware of when people were hurting.  He was aware when things were going good for people.  He was able to equally address these things no matter what the situation was and he did it with all of the sincerity he could muster.

Barb went to work for him when he moved to the missions staff and she observed the same caring and sincerity there that he had shown as a pastor.  It was a good job for Barb, one that she liked, until my uncle became sick and had to resign.

My uncle did get sick.  He developed colon cancer so advanced that there was really nothing they could do except make him as comfortable as possible during his last days.  Our family had seemed immune to death hitting us.  The the closest person to me that had died in the family during my lifetime, as far as I can remember, was my great-grandma Hill.  Now, I heard that I was losing an Uncle. An uncle that I treasured just as much as I did his brothers.  Everyone of my uncles were important to me and effected my life in one way or another and now I was losing one of them.  It didn't seem right.

I was in the habit of visiting my grandparents about twice a week since they lived so close to my office.  I would either drop by during lunch or after work.  I got out of that habit when Melvin was in the hospital.  Most times I would arrive to an empty house.

I wasn't given too many updates on how my uncle was doing.  I knew that he was gravely ill and where he was but that was about it.  I didn't know whether to go visit him or not.  The room surely would be crowded and the mood would be somber.  I knew that my cousins and my aunt needed to spend as much time with him as they could.  I did not want to interfere with their time as precious as it was.

Still deep inside I had  a deep desire to see my uncle for one last time.  He had been a lot of things to me.  He had been the source of humor, the source of philosophy (I still give him credit to this day for igniting my own love of philosophy), he was my pastor, and like all of my uncles, he was my friend.  One day at work, I took a deep breath and decided to go visit him after work that day.

I wasn't sure what kind of reception I would get that day.  I was fully prepared for the fact that he may be asleep and I would only visit with my cousins and my aunt.  That would be good enough for me.  I just had the need to let that family know that I cared, and that I did love my Uncle.  When I arrived, my cousin Jerry met me as I walked in the room.  He shook my hand and patted my shoulder.  I told him I was so sorry for the way things were going.  He then walked me over to the door, behind which his father was laying down.  I asked him if he was sure and he said yes, go see dad.

I walked into the room and saw my uncle lying there.  He smiled as I walked in and told me hi and said it was good to see me.  I walked over to his bed and asked him how he was feeling to which he answered that he had felt better, but was doing ok considering.  He took my hand and we just looked at each other.  He still had that sparkle in his eye.  After a bit, what seemed like an hour, I gulped and told him I was going to miss him.  He said he was going to miss me as well.  I leaned over the bed and hugged him very lightly and he patted me on the back.  The last words he told me were "It's going to be okay, Bill.  It'll be okay."  and I walked out of the room.  I had only been in there for a few minutes but it was a few minutes I am so glad I had.

I came out of the room and gave a few of the cousins a hug and gave my aunt Eva a big hug.  I didn't say much, just turned and walked out the door.  In my car on the drive home, I realized I would never see my uncle again and I began to choke up.  Then I thought of Grandma and grandpa.  I went over to their house and they were home.  I told them I had just talked to Melvin.  The pain that I saw in those two special peoples eyes hurt me to the core.  Grandma, as always, offered to fix me a sandwich and I did a very rare thing by declining.  I wanted to get home.  I had felt and seen enough pain for one day. About a week later at the office my phone rang.  It was my mother telling me that Mel had died.  I told her thanks and hung up the phone.  There was absolutely nothing I could do now.

I won't spend a lot of time on the funeral.  It was big, it was painful.  I don't remember much of what was said about my Uncle.  The people doing the talking probably didn't know him as well as me and all my cousins did.  It hurt to see my Aunt Eva hurting.  It hurt to see Melvin's kids hurting.  But it hurt most of all to see my grandparents and the pain they were in.  I had never seen them like that and I had been missing my visits with them.

After the funeral, we all gathered at the church and had food.  Grandma and grandpa were both in wheel chairs, not having the strength to move about I guess.  I sat next to my grandfather and visited with him.  I could tell he was hurting bad but the old man was trying to be strong and to at least keep himself together.

He was the first of my Uncles to pass away and although I didn't know him as well as I did a couple of his brothers, he had effected my life so very much.  I don't think my Aunt Eva realized that fact.  I don't think my cousins who had just lost their father realized that fact. But I can look back at all the times I watched Mel, and listened to Mel talk and preach.  I watched Mel take care of people, some family, some not.  I saw in Mel a natural love and caring for people.

Today is his birthday.  That is why I decided to write this memory, this good memory.  Like all my uncles, I have nothing but good memories of him.

Watching Melvin live his life, taught me a lot about how to live a life.  I have often said that I am SO very lucky to have had the uncles and Aunts that I have had.  Melvin was a big one on that list.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Way - Paul Anka (Frank Sinatra)

And now the end is near
So I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full
I've traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exception

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
Oh, and more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you know
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fails, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, no not me
I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has not
To say the words he truly feels
And not the words he would reveal
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Saturday, August 4, 2012

BREAKING A COUPLE OF DAD'S RULES

My dad had a lot of rules.  He had rules for almost every situation.  There were rules for how we talked to mom or to him, Rules for how to start the lawnmower, and rules for how to cut the grass.  Rules were in place for doing what it took to not be late anywhere.  There were the Saturday night rules in which shoes were polished and clothes laid out for church the next morning.  Rules existed for who sat where in the car when we traveled.  In short, dad seemed to have rules for almost every situation that existed, and breaking those rules always seemed to require a price to be paid.  Depending on the mood dad might have been in determined the severity of the price that was to be paid.

Some of dad's most stringent rules involved what the procedures were when attending a baseball game.  They were fairly simple rules but were followed to the letter when we went to a ballgame.  The rules were as followed:

1.  Be ready to leave for the stadium in order to be there for batting practice, usually an hour and a half before the game actually began.

2.  One drink per ballgame.  You were expected to make it last through the ballgame because there would not be another one.  If you spilled your drink, too bad.

3.  Keep a scorecard during the game to make sure you were paying attention to the game and getting the full appreciation from the ball game.

4.  Go to the restroom before the game started.  There was no getting up from your seat once the game started and in the old Municipal Stadium the wooden seats would make your butt sore after three innings.

5.  Elaine always sits behind the pole.  It was bad for Elaine in some ways, but on the other hand, she didn't have to keep a scorecard because she couldn't see the game.

6.  Never leave until the last out of the last inning.  I have sat through sixteen to nineteen inning games waiting for that last out of the last inning.

The price to be paid for most of these rules were pretty much out of dad's hands.  For one reason, the only rule that dad really could enforce was the one drink a game rule.  We were kids so we couldn't leave until he did.  Those rules were set and were enforced.

It became a habit to follow these rules, except for rule number 5 which became obsolete when they built Royals Stadium which had no poles for Elaine to sit behind.  The habit of following these rules stayed with me even after I grew old enough to be going to games without dad.  The rules followed me after I was married and I had to train Barb to follow the rules of attending a baseball game, which was not an easy thing to do.  She had not been raised by baseball, at first she didn't understand the game and the importance of the rules but she eventually came around to accepting and following the rules.

Then came that fateful day at the ball park.  I do not remember who the Royals were playing but I remember it to be a good game.  It was back in the late seventies or early eighties when the Royals were a major force in baseball.  It was their glory years and the stadium always held large crowds at rather inexpensive prices compared to the rest of baseball.  It was on this day that I broke one of dad's baseball rules for the first time I remember.  Well, that isn't exactly the truth.  I did not show up for batting practice anymore and I occasionally had a second drink during the game, but not too often.

On this day though, I broke one of dad's major rules of baseball.  (almost wrote a "cardinal" rule that brings up images of St. Louis which I would rather not do.)  It was a long game with a lot of runs being piled up for both teams.  Each team was in double digits scoring so the game had gone beyond it's usual two and a half hour to three hour length and had been going on for well over three hours.  Since the game was so long I probably broke one of dad's rules by getting a second drink during the marathon.  Actually I am pretty sure I did have a second coke that day.

The price for breaking that rule was that my bladder filled up.  I wasn't expecting the game to continue showing runs crossing the plate every inning and so the bladder thing creeped up on me.  About the top of the eighth inning I began to feel the pressure.  I tried my best to keep the scorecard up to date to keep my mind off of the ever building pressure.  By the top of the ninth inning I was squirming in my seat doing my best to stay until the last out of the last inning.

Finally the Royals came to bat in the bottom of the ninth and they were behind by a few runs.  The bottom of the batting order was due up so it looked like the game would be over fairly soon.  The Royals, however, was a never say die team and they managed to get a couple of base runners on base while at the same time getting two outs.  It looked like the end of the game was imminent.  That is when I made the fateful decision to break another my dad's baseball rules.

Willie Wilson was coming to bat with two out, two on and two runs down.  Wilson was the Royals leadoff hitter.  He did not hit for power but depended on his speed to get himself around the bases.  My thinking went something like this.  Wilson would not bunt, not with two out.  Chances were he would be hitting away and with his power the chance of him knocking one out of the park were lean.  If he hit a ground ball there were two other bases where a force out would end the game negating Wilson's speed to first base.  If he managed to get a hit for a single it would score at most one run.  In short, the odds were against the Royals pulling this one out of the hands of defeat and my bladder was about to burst.  I made my decision.

I told a VERY surprised Barb that we were going to leave.  It would give me a chance not to have to wait in line in the restroom and get us to the car a little early.  So for the first time in my life that I remember, I left the game before the last out of the last inning.

We headed toward the corridor that would take us to the concourse and on to the restrooms.  There were a lot of other fans leaving at the same time, so the corridor was pretty crowded with people.  As soon as we cleared the corridor and stepped into the concourse, the crowd in the stadium roared louder than I can ever remember.  It went on for a while and I found myself fighting with dozens of other fans to get back through the corridor to see what was causing the excitement.  I started shouting "What's happening??" and I heard a reply.  A reply that haunts me to this day.  The voice said excitedly "Wilson hit an inside the park Homer!!"

I was stunned.  I forgot about my full bladder.  I don't mean to say I peed my pants, it just didn't seem to have the pressure that it did before.  An inside the park homerun.  I had never seen one.  To this day I have yet to see one.  But I was there when one was hit.  I had forgotten to take into account that Willie Wilson had more inside the park homers than anyone since the fifties.  During his career he hit thirteen of them and I was at the stadium the day he hit one of them, but I had not seen it.

The price to pay for my second infringement of dad's rules of baseball was to miss a small part of history and a Royals victory.  I walked slowly with the crowd and slipped into the restroom where I ended up waiting in line to relieve myself of the pressure that had been building for while.  I was quiet as I exited the restroom, found Barb and started to the car to head home.

Barb tried to soothe me as we drove home with me repeating to myself  "An inside the park home run.  I missed a Willie Wilson inside the park home run."  I think it was starting to get on her nerves by the time we got home.

So, along with all of my dad's rules for all different situations, there indeed was a price to be paid.  When I had broken some of dad's rules when I was younger, sometimes the price was painful but the price I paid that day for breaking two of dad's rules, hurt just as bad.

There was ALWAYS a price for breaking dad's rules.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

GREAT DROUGHT OF 2012

I was driving home from the office last night when I noticed a large tree along the way.  It is a beautifully shaped tree and in the fall turns a brilliant orange.  It is indeed one of my favorite trees in the neighborhood.  As I neared it in my car it looked to me like the leaves were changing color which is improbably at this time of year.  As I came upon the tree I could see that the leaves on the outermost ends of the limbs were changing color.  The color wasn't that bold orange of the fall, but rather a weak brown tinge.  The tree was dying.  The tree is dying I should say.  This isn't a small tree either, but a large proud tree and it is beginning to give way to the heat and drought of this summer.

This drought actually started last year in the late summer and early fall.  It wasn't overly hot last year, but it was dry.  Then again, August usually is dry in Missouri and I didn't think of it as a drought back then.  The winter of last year and early this year then came upon us.  It was an extremely dry winter.  I did not have to take my snow shovel out of the garage once last winter.  The was not anything to shovel.  We had a few very light snows here and there,  but seldom over an inch at a time.  It wasn't that cold last winter either.

The rivers and farms and the general area of Missouri depends on at least a couple of good heavy snowfalls each winter to keep things going.  That didn't happen last winter.  It was nice driving all winter long not having to worry about driving in a snow storm or anything, but that lack of snow was setting us up for what we are now experiencing in Missouri.

In the spring of this year we had a few showers in late April and early May.  They were not the soaking kind of rains though.  Thunderstorms were few and far between. and while it stayed wet enough to have to mow the yard, it was like mowing in June or July rather than April or May.  The grass did not need a weekly mowing.  You could easily go two weeks without mowing and the yard would still not be too high.  That was the sign that things were not going well this summer.

June was dry.  I do not any facts or figures that I am going to throw at you, I am just going to give you how it felt from my perspective.  June was a little warmer than normal and towards the end of June we started to hit temperatures in the triple digits once in awhile.  As June drug on the over a hundred degree days came more often until by the time July came around, we were virtually in a non stop oven in Missouri.

The whole month of July has been dry.  Very dry.  It has also been hot.  Extremely hot.  We spent what seemed like the majority of June over a hundred degrees every day.  We have had some breaks in the high temperatures with the air cooling down to like ninety-seven or ninety-eight, but never much lower than that.  The rains still have not come.

It is now August first.  The official beginning of the Dog Days of Summer in Missouri.  August is supposed to be hot and dry.  That is just what August is here in Missouri.  Hot, dry and humid.  Today, being the first day of the dog days, the temperature is forecast to be one hundred and three degrees, the same as it was yesterday.  There is not much relief in sight as the forecast continues to show triple digits with a small chance of some very scattered rains around the state.  The drought is not ending.

While I usually walk out in my front yard barefoot most of the summer, this year has been different.  The yard is yellow and lays flat. the usual soft blades of grass are like small sticks that crunch under your feet as you walk.  The front yard looks like someone has spread hay all over it.  The soil that usually hugs my sidewalk and my house is slowly pulling away from them.  I need to start watering my house now to keep it from flooding when ever the rains do return, if they do.

I went out and looked at the wooded area across the tracks from my office.  I looked at them very closely.  The leaves on the branches of those trees are turning into a pale green to light brown.  Usually those trees stay a bright green until the middle of September.

The days of this summer have been pushing towards records not seen in this state since the Dust Bowl years.  It has been cooler in Arizona than in Missouri.  The entire state, every square inch of Missouri has been declared a natural disaster area.  We have been extremely lucky not to have any wild fires break out in the state.  Then again, there haven't been very many lightning strikes to trigger any fires in the state.

When a news reporter goes out to a scene of an accident or another newsworthy event, you can see the corn fields in the background.  They are not even close to green.  Corn that usually stands between six and seven feet tall are at best five feet tall.  For the Missouri farmer, the corn crop is finished and they are already starting to harvest the corn for feed for animals.  Very little Missouri corn will make it to dinner tables this year and that means the price is going to go up.

It isn't only the corn crop that has suffered but all the crops are suffering.  I am not sure about the cotton crop in southern Missouri and what it looks like but I am sure it is a smaller crop than usual.  Missouri depends on the farms to help fill the State's coffers.  That is going to be tough to do this year.  We have state elections this November and the politicians are trying to figure out a way to save the Missouri economy and the Missouri farmers from going under.  Right now from where I stand, it is a losing battle that they are trying to win.

August is just beginning.  The "Dog Days" have arrived.  July is behind us now and so we look towards the stifling heat, humidity and dryness that August always brings.  It is hard to imagine that things are going to get any better any time soon.  The best we can hope for right now is that the fall rains that usually start showing up in early October arrive as scheduled and we have a winter that returns snowfall to the region.

The Missouri River is very low.  Right now, an annual canoe/kayak race that runs from downtown Kansas City on the Missouri all the way to St Charles, a suburb of St. Louis, is being ran.  The river is so low that the usually wide channel of the river has narrowed somewhat, making it difficult to ride the river without getting into some low areas.

The state has been borrowing water from the northern Missouri River valley to try to help the farmers, but it appears to be to little too late.  If the winter coming up is dry once again, and spring turns into a mini summer again, and next summer is similar to this one,  another dust bowl is not out of the question..

The nature of the state of Missouri is dying.  It is a slow gruesome death.  The state needs relief.  Sure they need relief from the governments that over see it all, but they need relief that governments or men can not control.  Missouri needs relief from nature, or for nature.  The state and the people that live here, particularly the farmers, need provisions from God if He so wills it.

Never the less, whether relief is on it's way or not, the state of Missouri will survive.  It's citizens will survive and we will find a way to help each other through this terrible drought that has hit us hard.  We are tough here in Missouri.  We have proven that time after time over our history.  Still, we all would welcome a little help from God to help us get through this.