Monday, December 15, 2014

WHEN CONFRONTED BY AN OFFICER .....

This will be a short piece for the blog because it basically deals with common sense.

Apparently, there are citizens who are not aware of how to act when a police officer approaches you.  Perhaps these people were not taught how to have respect for law enforcement.  Perhaps they don't think of how law enforcement will react if the orders they give to a person are met with something other than what they said to do.

I speak with experience on this matter.  I wrote about it in this blog back in the year 2010.  The entry can be found at http://wm-clark.blogspot.com/2010/11/sweeney-and-me-part-2.html where all the details of why, how and when are explained.  I am not going to take the time here to rewrite all the details.  My purpose here is to explain what my own experience taught me.

I was raised to have respect for the law.  For the police who are around to keep the peace, to protect and to serve.  I was taught to have respect for the judicial system that was set up by a little document called The Constitution of the United States as well as respect for the state constitutions.  These documents are designed to keep order in society and to be sure that justice is served in a fair and meaningful way.  If there is a question of whether something is unjust, then we make available an appeals system that goes all the way from the local level to the federal level because sometimes injustices do happen and there needs to be a way to correct these injustices.

It was that respect for the law and for police that helped me decide how to react when the officer pulled me over that night.

When I was pulled over, I decided to get out of the car to go talk to the officer in order to explain what had happened, because I had been caught doing something illegal.  I stepped out of the car and the next thing I knew was that I was looking at a police officer, crouched down behind his open door with his gun drawn and pointing straight at me.  The next thing I heard was the officer yelling and the words he yelled were something like this:  "STOP!  PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!  TURN SLOWLY, FACE THE CAR AND PUT YOUR HANDS ON TOP OF THE CAR!"

Okay.  So this is apparently decision time.  There were several choices I could make.so let's review these choices and try to figure out what the outcome may or may not be.

Choice number one:  I could have put my hands up, but instead of turning and placing my hands on top of the car, I could continue to face the officer and start to talk to him about how he was over reacting and that this wasn't necessary. and continue to argue with him.  My guess is that he would slowly reach in his car and call for back up, then either wait for other officers to arrive, or to act on his own.  Either way the result would be that I would be wrestled to the ground and cuffed and the officer would not be too happy with me.

Choice number two:  About the same as number one except I don't even put up my hands.  I just stand there waving my arms at him and arguing.  The arguing would intensify because he would continue to order me in an attempt to keep himself safe.  No doubt he would wait for the back up to arrive in this case and I would have two or three cops hitting me to take me down.

Choice number three:  The same as above plus I possibly stick my hand in my pants, or turn around facing away from the officer while I continue to have a shouting match with him.  Same result if I am lucky, or he could assume that I have a weapon and possibly fire a round at me if I turn back around quickly because for all he knows, I could be grabbing a weapon.

Choice number four:  I could leave my hands down, continue talking, and walk towards the officer like I had nothing to fear.  I can almost guarantee that the officer would do what he needs to do to protect himself, which could including firing a shot at me.

Choice number five:  Either run or get back in the car and drive off.  Either way I would have many more policemen to deal with other than just the one and the outcome would not be good for me.  I would eventually brought down, dragged out of the car, and the police would do whatever they thought they needed to do to get me in a safe position for them.  I could be beaten, dragged on the ground, or possible shot depending upon the movements I meake.

Choice number six:  I could keep my mouth shut.  Raise my hands, turn slowly to face the car and place my hands on top of the car without opening my mouth one bit, just as the officer ordered.  This was the choice I made.  The result?  The officer holstered his gun, walked over to me and frisked me to be sure I wasn't armed.  Then he allowed me to turn around, keeping my hands in full sight during the whole time and he told me what he thought was going on and allowed me to answer his questions.  I wasn't thrown down.  I wasn't beat.  I wasn't shot.  WHY?  Because at this time the officer knew he was not in danger.  I had allowed him to establish that I wasn't armed.  He didn't have to have fellow officers arrive to help get me under control.

Common sense.  Do what the police tell you to do.  Don't argue, don't make movements that he isn't expecting.  Don't come at him in a threatening manner.  Let him do his job and the details can be sorted out later and both of you will be calmer when talking about the event that led to his stopping you.

Respect the police.  They aren't out looking for citizens to shoot or to have to get physical with.  They don't WANT to fight you, or wrestle with you and they certainly do not want to shoot you.  They want to protect society as well as themselves.

Now I know that people of races other than myself, will say I don't understand what it is like to be black or hispanic and have the police force hassle you all the time because of racial profiling or whatever.  Maybe I don't.  I can imagine that it could get very tiresome to be stopped and questioned because they see things from a certain perspective.

Have I ever been stopped for no reason other than the way I looked?  You bet I have.  My friend Larry drove an old beat up Chevelle when we were young.   One night we were driving in Kansas on our way to a friends house.  Now over in Kansas there are a few really upscale neighborhoods.  One of these small "towns" is called Leawood.  Leawood is very upscale, very rich.  This particular night Larry and myself decided that the shortest route to where we were going happened to be through the heart of Leawood.  We had not driven more than a few blocks when a Leawood policeman pulled us over.

Had we broke the law?  No.  We weren't speeding, we had not run a stop sign, we had done absolutely nothing to be pulled over for except for three things.  One:  we had Missouri tags on Larry's car.  TWO:  Larry's car looked rather rough, as there would be no cars like THAT in Leawood. And Three:  we were young.  Those were the reasons we were pulled over that night.

The officer came to the car and asked for ID from both of us and we complied.  We did not protest or talk back or anything.  We did as we were requested to do.  He ran a check on the car and both of us.  Nothing was to be found in the police data base.  After taking about a half hour to check us out, he came back to the car and handed us our ID's back.  He asked us what we were doing driving on this street.  We told him we were on our way elsewhere and this was shortest route.

He thought about that a second, then said okay ... you can go, but go straight to where you said you were going, and ... this is the kicker ... DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH LEAWOOD AGAIN .... It would have been real easy to spout off at that policeman at that point.  Did he not know what country we were in?  Did he not know that I can go anywhere I damn well want to?  Did he not just check us out and discovered that we were not trouble makers and no one was looking for us?  Did he not know that even while driving through precious Leawood, we had not once broken a traffic law?  BUT, we kept our mouths shut and drove on to where we were going.  (for some of you people who don't understand why I have a sour taste for Kansas, this is but one reason).

Bottom line of this entry.  Respect the police.  Do what you are told.  Do not mouth off at the police.  Again, do as you are told and I can promise you that you won't get shot.  You won't be beat.  You won't get wrestled to the ground by three or four officers.  Things will go a LOT smoother and perhaps, if you do this, the police in your neighborhood will get to recognize you and not "profile" you and hassle you for what you see as not a good reason.

Just something to think about from lessons I have learned during my life.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

FERGUSON: PART TWO

Ferguson, Missouri.  Who would have thought this little town, suburb of St. Louis, would bring so much attention and division across the country.

This is going to be short, because in my mind there isn't a lot to discuss here.

Here is how I see it.  The Prosecuting Attorney went beyond what would normally be done in such a case.  He took it to a Grand Jury that was already seated when the terrible events unfolded last August.  They let anyone who wanted to testify to tell what they saw.  They spent weeks, months on a case that ordinarily would be taken care of in a day or two.  The charge to the Grand Jury was to see if anything rose to the simple bar of reasonable cause to indict Officer Wilson in his shooting of Michael Brown.  It is as low of a bar as can be set.  If there is any ... ANY ... indication that the officer may have done anything improper they would indict him.  They charges they could indict him on ranged from involuntary manslaughter to first degree murder or, if they found no reasonable cause, not bring an indictment.

After all of the testimony and evidence was gathered, including forensic evidence, autopsies from three different medical examiners and the testimonies of dozens of witnesses, they found nothing that past the level set for indictment.  Nothing.  Personally I was expecting at least an involuntary manslaughter charge just because of the political and public unrest that the case had caused.  They couldn't even come up with that.

The Prosecutor went a step further by doing something that is hardly ever done by releasing transcripts of all the testimony, the results of the forensics and autopsies to the public as a show of good faith that the situation had been completely studied and that the public could understand the reason the Grand Jury came forth without an indictment.  It was an extraordinary measure to try to keep peace by being totally 100% transparent.

Still, Ferguson burned.  They rioted.  They looted.  They burned businesses that had absolutely nothing to do with the case.  It was shameful as far as I am concerned.  Agitators from outside Ferguson came in to take advantage of what was surely to be a powder keg waiting to explode so that they could take advantage of the anarchy that followed the announcement.

Here's the thing.  The system worked.  Let me repeat that.  THE SYSTEM WORKED.  They set the bar as low as they could to get an indictment on Officer Wilson and the evidence did not rise above that bar.  The step father of Michael Brown went out and stood on top of a car and urged the crowd to burn the place down.

A few players on the St. Louis Rams football team came out with hands raised to protest the decision of the Grand Jury.  Again, shameful.

Now it seems that in spite of all the evidence gathered by the Grand Jury, in spite of the Grand Jury working hard to come up with the correct decision, Officer Wilson is still evil and Michael Brown is a victim.  It is almost surreal.    Where were all these protestors when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty even though the evidence screamed his guilt?

Major steps were taken by the Prosecutor to ensure that there would not be another situation like what happened after the Rodney King trial in Los Angelas.  THAT was a miscarriage of justice just as much as the O.J. case was.  The Ferguson case was not.

THE SYSTEM WORKED.  If we want to continue making sure the system works, then we, all citizens, should respect and accept this Grand Jury's finding that there was not enough evidence to even bring up a small question that the officer acted in a criminal way.  Not even involuntary manslaughter could be brought.

THE SYSTEM WORKED.  In this country, the system works very hard to bring the guilty to justice.  There should never be a situation where a man who a Grand Jury and a Prosecutor would put on trial a man that none of them thought was guilty of anything.  That isn't the way it is supposed to work.

If charges had been brought against Officer Wilson when no one involved int he process thought that he was guilty the system would have failed.  If that were to happen, then not one citizen in this country would be safe from false imprisonment or being put on trial for anything that someone said they committed.

THE SYSTEM WORKED.  If ever there was an example of how the system worked, it was this case.  The total transparency of the whole system proved that.  It is best, at least in this case, to accept the Grand Jury's decision and be thankful that the system did work.  Just because the outcome was not what you wanted, doesn't mean the outcome was wrong.

Accept the decision and be thankful that all of the evidence was made public and know that in the future, the system will continue to work so that any of us, all of us, have the freedom that is given to us in the Constitution.

There have been times when the system did not work, but this isn't it.  Pick your battles carefully.  Don't work to destroy the system that protects all of us.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

PEACHES

The wife and I had just returned from an evening of taking her to the walk in clinic at the hospital for a terrible illness she has been fighting for almost two weeks now.  Turns out it is bronchitis and she is starting to feel better I think.  They had given her a breathing treatment at the hospital and after dropping her off at the house I had gone out to pick up her newly prescribed meds at the pharmacy.  It was kind of late in the evening when I finally was able to sit and relax unwinding from the day.

The television was on because the WE network shows Law and Order reruns all night long and I am truly addicted to that show.  I simply love it.  I am to the point now that when I watch an episode of any of the various Law and Order originals or spin offs, I talk the characters through the plot.  For example last night, when in the court room, Hang em high McCoy, as Kevin Smith refers him as, was about to push the guilty party over the edge on cross examination.  The defendant had a machete in his hand and McCoy was trying to get him to show how he had held it when cutting his wife into pieces.  The guy was about to break and I knew that Jack had to be careful, because at any moment the man would lose it and stand up raising the machete in his hands and I didn't want McCoy to be too close.  So during the "Jack Attack" as I have come to call it in every episode, I would tell McCoy "Don't turn your back..... back off a little... he is going to lose it ..." and so forth.  You have no idea how many times I have saved Jack from getting in trouble with the judge or other lawyers or how many times that Jack and I would agree that when Shiff says "Make a deal ... move on" that we could get this conviction done without the deal.

After the "Jack Attack" of that episode and before the next episode started, a commercial came on.  I am not sure what the product was that the commercial was pushing but I did notice the song the ad was using.  It was a cover of an old Robert Palmer song called "Addicted To Love".   When Palmer released the song off of his "Riptide" album in 1985 it shot up the charts so fast that it seemed like it was closing in on the number one spot before it even hit the airwaves.  It was upbeat, and it rocked.  The lyrics were catching as well and the song was an instant classic.  The video he released with the song (it was in the old MTV days when MTV was REALLY Music Television) became an instant classic as well.  It featured emotionless women in black mini dresses pretending to be his back up band while he rocked the song out.  I encourage you to check it as it is one of the true classics of the MTV generation.  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcATvu5f9vE )  .

What caught my attention in the commercial is that it was a complete opposite version of the song that Palmer did.  It had a female vocal singing with an airy vocal and was being played at a deliberately slow and steady beat.  I listened to it for a a bit and told the wife that I wasn't sure if I approved of that version or not.  I have this thing that there are some songs that should never be covered by anyone because the original was about as good as it would ever get.  I hold this theory on all Beatles songs, except a few of the Ringo tunes, and a lot of the Rolling Stones songs.  As far as I am concerned, once Frank Sinatra has recorded a song, it is hands off for the rest of history.  "Addicted To Love" falls into that category as well as a couple of other Robert Palmer tunes.

Barb asked me why I wasn't sure and so I told her that the Robert Palmer version was, well, it was a classic, and I don't think this stacks up to the bar that Palmer set with his recording of it.  Barb thought for a bit and then asked me What Robert Palmer had died of.  Barb and I both liked Palmer a lot when we were younger and the day that the news broke that he had died and been kind of branded into our collective memory.  I did a little googling on Palmer to refresh my memory and it was sad indeed.  I remember thinking when he died that he was young, another of those artists who were just too young to leave the world when they had so much more to offer.  Palmer had died in France of a heart attack in 2003 at the young age of 54.  His heart attack wasn't brought about by hard partying and drugs, he was pretty much on top of things in his life.  He gave the world of music so much more than we realized at the time.  He would record anything from reggae to the blues, to pop and throw in some good rock and roll to big band covers, truth was you never knew what Palmer would come out with next but you knew it would be good.  He was extremely talented and did leave this earth far too soon.  I thought about that song for a bit and the original version began to play in my head as I headed for bed.  Seems odd, but even though I have some Robert Palmer recordings on my MP3 player, I didn't go to sleep listening to Palmer last night, choosing to listen to some Boz Scaggs instead.

It was when I finally settled at my desk after an early morning meeting on a new product that I decided to revisit some of my Robert Palmer music while I worked.  As I listened to those tunes I remembered a store I use to frequent on a regular basis.  The store would have these huge paintings of the covers of the current albums at the time mounted on the outside of the store.  These paintings were, oh I am guessing between 6 ft square and 8 ft square. They would have five or six album covers depicted on the outside of the store and would put up new ones about every two months or so.  One of the album covers that I distinctly remember was one of Robert Palmer's albums.  I can still see that handsome face and soft smile that Robert Palmer always seemed to carry with him.  As I thought of that album cover of Palmer's on displayed, I remembered other album covers that the store had mounted on display over the years.  I use to gaze at those things in the parking lot as I walked into the store.  They were wonderful and gave a person an idea of how important of a music store this really was.

It was the mid-seventies to mid-eighties and so it was the big hay day of the huge shopping malls.  It seemed that every mall had at least one record store, Musicland, if not two or three record stores.  Now, you have to understand the fascination I have with music.  Actually music and books.  If I went to the mall you would no doubt find me in a bookstore ore a record store.  These two things fascinated me and my mind would soak in all that it could.  I could easily spend between an hour to two hours in either of these places.  I would go to a book store and just walk up and down the aisles look at the binding of the books and reading the titles of them.  Every once in a while I would pull a book out and open it and read a little before continuing with my stroll among the written word.  Chances are I knew I wasn't going to buy a book, but I just loved looking at them, the different topics and titles and make a mental note of a book that I would buy in the future.  It was the same way with record stores only worse. 

Musicland was what I guess you could consider a fairly large record store in the days when the small record shops were slowly disappearing.  I would walk into that store and just start at the first rack that I came to and start thumbing through the records.  Seldom were there records that I hadn't look at hundreds of times before but I looked at them again, one after another after another.  The old LP 12 inch records were special.  The jackets that housed that precious vinyl was a work of art on each of them.  In essence, the jackets were as much of the over all product as the groves that contained the music.  I learned what songs were on what album.  I learned the producers of each album and the track order of the songs on each side of the album. I knew what year they were released, what label they were on, the length of each song and who wrote the songs contained within.  Even after absorbing all of that knowledge, I would still walk into Musicland and thumb through the same albums, never tiring of the magic that they held for me.  When I went to Peaches, you had might as well write my whole day off though.

If Musicland was a fairly large record store, then Peaches was a mammoth record store.  It was the Sam's Club of record stores.  Imagine going to do a little shopping at a Walgreen's versus doing a little shopping at a Target.  There is no way I can describe the magic of Peaches.  It was in Kansas, but that was okay with me.  Peaches could be anywhere they wanted to be and I would go.  If I remember right it was on the corner of 75th and Metcalf.  That is quite a ways from where I live so I didn't get there as often as I would have liked but once there, I was there to make the time worthwhile.  It would take literally most of a Saturday from the time I stepped foot in that store until the time I left, and I usually left with something new in tow.

Peaches was large enough and dedicated to the music enough that there were albums in those racks that you would not see anywhere else in the city.  Many times I would come across an album that I didn't know existed from groups that I thought I knew their discography fairly well.  Peaces was the one place that you could go and find recordings from someone you never knew existed.  It was where I was introduced to the fabulous blues talent of John Mayall and the various bands that he fronted.  It was where I bought my first Willie Nelson album and where I discovered a little band who called themselves the Electric Light Orchestra.  The inventory of Peaches was so varied and so new that I dare not miss going through any of the racks looking at every single album that was there.  Going into that store sent excitement coursing through my veins and, on occasion, would make me dizzy from all of the new groups and records that I was discovering.  It truly was like being on a big game hunt, looking for just the right game to spear and take home with pride.

I didn't realize what a big part of my life a store could be until I started thinking about Peaches this morning.  It was so special, so magical.  Peaches was like a museum of sorts with the new music of the day sitting along side albums of a by gone era. Peaches was a temple dedicated to the art of music.

In this day and age of downloading music in digital format, i am restricted to just browsing through Amazon.com looking at pictures of albums.  Not quite the same as flipping through thousands of records, holding them in your hands, reading all the information on the back that was in tiny print that I probably wouldn't be able to read these days anyway.

I loved the book stores and the record stores.  Deep down inside me, I really miss them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

JUST FACTS, NOT A "WOE IS ME" ENTRY



I don’t push people away …. I have got to be the most misunderstood person around.  Misunderstood or not known.  People don’t me.  Not the real me, the me that is deep inside, the me that they hurt without realizing it, the me that is taken advantage of constantly, the real me.

Sometimes, a lot of times, I just want to disappear.  I don’t like people.  I don’t like noise.  I don’t like being told what to do by ungrateful people.  I don’t like being ignored until it is convenient not to ignore me for a few minutes.

But it is ME that is at fault.  I don’t get it.  I do whatever I am asked and more.  “It is what it is”.  Things are what they are.  I didn’t see things evolving with people the way they have turned out to be.  It isn’t my fault that things are the way they are.  It isn’t my fault but I pay the price as though it were.

But I push people away.  I am there at the snap of a finger whenever anyone snaps their finger at me.  Is the fact that I really don’t ask anyone for anything mean I am pushing them away?  No.  It means I want to live and die on my own.  On my own conditions, time table, and where I want to.

“I ain’t asking nobody for nothing if I can get it on my own.  If you don’t like the way that I’m living, you just leave this long haired country boy alone.” (Charlie Daniels)  What is wrong with not enjoying getting my hair cut?  I have ALWAYS hated to get my hair cut.  Not because I want it long or am trying to make a statement, I just do not like the feeling of getting my hair cut.  It means nothing more than that.  I don’t like to shave.  Does that make me a mountain man or something because I don’t like to shave?  It simply means I do not like to shave.  Hate it.

Who am I kidding, they won’t miss me one bit.  No one will. And I don’t care if they do or not.

“From now on all my friends are gonna be strangers.  I'm all through, ever trusting anyone.  The only thing I can count on now is my fingers,  I was a fool …” (Haggard)

Is it strange that I use music to do a lot of my talking for me?  Probably is, but I don’t care.  I can relate to some of these songwriters, philosophers …. They say some pretty honest things in their songs.  Brutally honest.  So honest it makes you think … “wow .. oh man … he knows me …”  The people that seem to know me best are people that don’t know I exist, and I mean they actually don’t know I am around, not like those that know I am around but until they need something, don’t know I exist.   The people that know me best … let’s see… Hank of course, Haggard, Willie, Paul Simon, Dylan, Lennon, Seger, Chapin, Kristofferson, Kooper,  the boss, Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson,  David Gates and James Griffin,  Billy Joel to a degree, Cat Stevens, Neil Young,  McLean, Don Henly, Greg Lake, Clapton,  Jackson Browne,  Mellencamp, Leon, Zevon … list could go on forever.

This sounds like a “Woe is me..” thing.  It isn’t.  It is fact.  Pure logical fact.

The time that I feel I can be truly me, without judgment from others, when I can find that solace that I crave, is late at night by myself either reading, watching a documentary or a movie, or lying in my little bed with the earbuds on.  Most times I listen to music, but a lot of times I listen to Supreme Court Arguments, or Kevin and Mosh, or TESD.  I love documentaries and I love movies and something by Charlyne Yi or an episode of House or one of the Law and Orders.  It is sad to think that Bruce, Carlin and Hicks are gone.  They were able to use fact, logic, and tell the truth about how crazy this world, or life can be.  A lot of the things that those three said are funny on the surface, but if you really break it down to what they are saying, it is kind of sad in a way.  The truth seems to always be sad.

My grandfather.  Oscar Laclede Hill.  The closest thing to perfect as a man can be, right?  We all look up to him and his life and what we knew about him and his wisdom.  He was far from the picture that we paint of him in our memories.  He once told me that even as much as we talked, there were things in his life he was ashamed of.  Things he would never tell another human being.  There were a lot of things that I would never know about him and that was just the way it was going to be.  I often wonder about the afternoon he told me that.  Why he told me that and what some of those things could be.  I don’t have a clue, and that was how he wanted it.  Doesn’t mean he was a fake or lived a lie, he still was a very good man, but there was that part of the REAL Oscar Hill that nobody knew, or would ever know.  I wonder if his wife even knew.

As I get older, there seems to be less and less people to look up to.  When I was a young boy, I looked up to my grandfather and my dad and a host of baseball players that I knew only from watching them on the field.  They were classy men, these ball players.  Dick Green, Campy Campanaris, Carl Yastrzemski, Brooks and Frank Robison, Hank Aaron, Noland Ryan, Roger Maris, Curt Flood and Bob Gibson, Al Kaline and Bill Freehan, Rick Monday and again, the list could go on and on.  I don’t look up to sport figures anymore.  I admire their ability and talent and the way they act on the field, but over the years the reality that they are just ordinary people that has a part of them hidden away that no one knows, has come to be reality for me.

Now who do I look up to … well, my grandfather and my father.  Some those song writers mentioned earlier who had the guts to post about reality as they saw it.  I don’t look up to politicians and especially Presidents.  Everyone is hiding something.  Nobody is fully themselves.  Nobody really knows anybody.  I suppose that is one way we all get along.  Hide a lot of ourselves so people only see the best we can put out there.  Sometimes, for some of us, even the best we can put out there is pretty bad.

I’ll tell you who I look up to.  One person I look up to is Rachel Gibson.  A fine young lady who left this world far before the world was ready for her to leave.  She was brave.  She was strong.  She kept her faith. And she comforted those who she was preparing to leave behind.  I admired that young lady long before she entered into the last phase of her life here on earth.   Now I am sure that Rachel had her faults just as all of us do, she was human after all.  But her being human was surpassed by her ability to be humane.

Another person I look up to is Caleb Hill.  Caleb is my cousin’s son.  Caleb was born with Down Syndrome which is what makes Caleb even more of a person to look up to then he would have been if he had not been born with the syndrome.  Caleb is intelligent.  Caleb is caring and loving.  Caleb is honest.  Caleb looks at life with thankfulness and lives life the way life should probably be lived by all of us.  Caleb has found inner strength to bypass the syndrome as best as he can and he does a great job of it.  Honesty like Caleb’s is something all of us could strive for, but we don’t and we won’t.

I look up to my niece Kimberly Porter, her husband Shawne and two wonderful kids that they adopted from China, Joshua and Mei.  The challenges that happen on a daily basis for Kimberly and especially Mei, would wear the normal person out and have an urge to just give up.  Not Kim though.  She is unbeatable when it comes to raising her kids and helping them face each day on a day to day basis.  Shawne is just as strong as Kim and just as dedicated to those two kids.  I admire both of them.  All four of them.

There are other people out there that I could say I look up to for various reasons.  One thing they all have in common though is that there is a part of them the world will never ever see.

Okay.  Stop and re-read what I have written so I know how I got to where I am in this thing.  Took a HUGE left turn back there somewhere.

Well, it turned into a bunch of rambling.  People do not understand why I feel or think the way I do.  I don’t either.  I try to be a good person, I try to live up to the ideals I see as making a person good, but I fall short.  We all do.  We all will.   I am not a happy person.  I find less joy in life than most people and I don’t understand it.  When something bad or not so good does happen to me, it seems to affect me a lot harder than it would other people.  I don’t understand it.  I feel it.  I know it is there.  But I don’t understand it.

There are times, many times, when I just want to go to my bed and just sleep.  Sleep more, and more and more.  Just sleep so I don’t have to deal with anything or anyone. Just sleep and let time flow by without me being aware of it passing.  Forever.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

BASEBALL - DO OR DIE

Baseball.  The game has been a huge part of my life.  As proof of that statement take a look and see how many entries on this blog are about baseball.  There are writings of times I attended old Kansas City Athletic games with my family.  Tales of arriving at the stadium before batting practice and staying until the last out of the last inning.  Stories of staying up late into the night as the A's or the Royals played extra innings to determine the outcome of a game.  It tells of my wife whose life was baseballess until we started dating and how she learned to appreciate the game and then to understand the game and get excited about it when our son Brett was playing all those years.  She almost hated to see Brett come to the end of of his time with baseball as he grew into a man and went out to the world to begin his life as an adult.

It seems baseball has been in my life in one form or another since the day I was born and it still is to this day.  I have played the game, walked away from the game and returned to the game.  I have coached little league games.  I bought my son an OFFICIAL Wiffle ball and bat when he was around two years old.  It wasn't the big red plastic bat with a ball the size of a softball, but the long skinny yellow plastic bat with the ball the size of a baseball.  Before long he was hitting pretty well with it and I believe it was learning with that skinny bat and small ball that made him a threat at the plate through out his baseball time which lasted from five years old until he was eighteen.

In all of my years associated with baseball, I have never witnessed a no-hitter either in person or on television.  I have never captured myself a foul ball except for one time during a little league game that Brett was playing in, and that doesn't really count.  I have seen exactly one inside the park home run but have never witnessed a triple play.  On October 2, 1968 I was sitting in school and missed watching Bob Gibson strike out 17 batters in game one of the World Series.  That was before they played the World Series at night.

What happened on September 30, 2014 here in Kansas City almost makes up for all those things I have missed in baseball over my life.  It was a game that may not go down in history as THE greatest game (certainly that belongs to Don Larson and his perfect game during the 1956 Yankees/Dodgers World Series) but it will definitely go down as one of best games ever.

If you have kept up with this blog over the years, you know that one of the basic foundations of my personal philosophy is that"Baseball is like life".  I won't go into all the details that make that statement true, but I believe it as a solid way to look at life.  If anything, the game played Tuesday night proved it better than I could ever write it out.  I am not that good of a writer to show it better than the real thing unfolding before your eyes.  It was truly an example of baseball imitating life.

This year, Major League Baseball unveiled a new playoff format.  The three division champions in each league would start the playoffs in a best of five series to determine who would play in each leagues championship game.  There would be a fourth team added to that picture, a team that would be designated as the wild card team.  To become the wild card team and play against a division champion in a best of five series, you had to accomplish one little task.  The two teams with the best records that were not a division champ would play one game to decide who went to a best of five series and at least a shot at going to the World Series.  One game.

One single game.  Winner take all, all being a trip to a playoff series against the leagues team with the best record.  One game.  Do or die.  Either win, or go home because your season just ended based on one single game.  That alone is a lot like life.  One chance to make a statement and a chance to move up the ladder another rung.  One game.

It kind of seems unfair to place the whole of a season on one game, but then life is like that.  You get a chance and you either grab it and take it, or you make a slip and don't advance.  Suddenly it is over and it was all because of that one game.

This year, 2014, found the Kansas City Royals having a great season.  A bunch of young kids with a few veterans, mostly names unknown to the rest of the baseball world found themselves entering September with a shot at winning the Central Division of the American League.  The fact that Kansas City even had a shot at the division was more or less a miracle in itself.  The Royals main competition for the division championship were the Detroit Tigers, a team that has owned the American League Central for most of this decade.  The Tigers are experienced, they are good and they are use to winning the division.  Now they found themselves battling down to the last day of the season for what had become rightfully theirs in their eyes.  The young Royals were pushing them and when the last day of the season was over, the Detroit Tigers had won one more game than the young Royals.  One game.  One more win for the Royals and one more loss for the Tigers and the Royals would be division champs guaranteed a spot in a best of five series.  One game.  That one game difference between the Tigers and the Royals meant that the Royals would have one game to prove themselves worthy to play with the division champions in a best of five series.  That game was last Tuesday night, September 30, 2014.

The game would be played in Kansas City that night.  It was the first time since 1985, when the Royals won a controversial World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals, that the Royals had played any games after the season was over.  Twenty nine years since they had a shot at making a run towards The Series.  The city was abuzz.  It was exciting leading up to the game and the closer game got to be, the more nervous the city seemed to get.  This was it.  Do or die. The Royals chance of further advancement depended upon this one night in Kansas City.

Their opponent for that shot were the Oakland Athletics, or the A's as they were commonly known as.  The Royals and A's had played each other several times during the season and for the most part, the Royals had bettered the A's each time the met.  Still there were those games that on certain night the A's would beat the Royals.  The concern in Kansas City that night was what kind of A's/Royals game would it be?  Would it be like the majority of them during the season with the Royals coming out on top?  OR would it be like those other nights when the A's would slip in a win over the kids from Kansas City.  There would be no second chance.  It was do or die time.  of all the games the Royals and A's had played during the season, this one was more important than all of them.

Tuesday night arrived and the battle began.  The A's scored two runs in their half of the inning off of a home run.  Before the Royals even got to bat, they were down 2-0.  It seemed that it was a sign that this was going to be the A's night.  The kids in blue though were undaunted.  After the first inning was over, the Royals had managed to push a run across the plate and the score was 2-1.

Neither team scored in the second inning but in the bottom of the third, the manager of the Royals, Ned Yost got the kids to be aggressive on the base paths and the Royals scored two more runs.  After three innings, the mood had changed.  Perhaps this was going to be one of those Royals nights against the A's as the Royals had a lead of 3-2.

The game was pretty quiet during the fourth and fifth innings.  Neither team was able to score and fans of the Royals began to feel a little more comfortable as inning went by and the Royals still held the lead.  Then came the sixth inning.

Oakland exploded in an offensive barrage that had the whole city of Kansas City believing that the end of the dream season had finally arrived.  Oakland pounded in five runs in the sixth inning. The Royals made a threat in the bottom of the inning but were unable to score.  After six innings it looked hopeless as the Royals found themselves behind the A's 7-3 with only three innings to go.

Baseball is a game that is structured to favor the defensive side of the game.  Coming back from four runs down in nine innings is extremely difficult.  Coming back from four runs down in three innings seems almost impossible.  No one counted on the determination of the young Royals though.  After a quiet seventh inning with neither team scoring and the top half of the eighth finding Oakland unable to score, the Royals cam to bat with only six outs until their season would be over as they were still down 7-3.  The Royals dug deep into their souls though and fought for runs in the bottom of the eighth and came up scoring three times in the inning before Oakland could get out of the inning.  Suddenly with one inning left to play in this one game the Royals were only down by one run.  It was 7-6.  All Oakland had to do was get through one more inning and they would DO and the Royals would DIE.

The A's did not score in the ninth and so the Royals came to bat only three outs from the season ending.  Yost kept up the aggressive offense that the Royals had been showing during the whole of the game and it paid off as the Royals were able to get that single run across that would tie the game at 7-7 and stretch this one game into extra innings.  The game had now become a sure classic that would be remembered for years to come, no matter who won.

Neither team scored in either the tenth or eleventh innings setting the stage for the twelfth inning.  The A's got going and worked their way into earning one run in the twelfth before acquiring their third out.  Now the Royals would have one more chance.  If they could manage just one run, it would lengthen the game further.  The fans in Kansas City were trying their best not to give up on their team.  It was difficult to do though.  The kids had already make an astounding comeback from being down four runs, did they have it in them again?  I think even though they put on brave faces, deep down most of the fans thought that the Royals ride past the regular season was finally over.

The Royals were determined however and they weren't going to just let the season end.  They would fight to the death and fight they did.  The A's were unable to get three outs on the Royals in that inning.  The Royals dug deep, got hits including a triple by Hosmer.  By the time all was said and done, the Royals had scored twice in the twelfth inning and suddenly the game was over and the Royals had won that one game that they needed so badly.  Now tonight they begin what they earned.  They play the Angels, West Division Champions, in a best of five series to see who goes to the American League Championship Series.

One game, do or die.  Yes baseball is a lot like life.  One game, one shot, one chance to advance further than where you are now.  Sometimes you have to dig deep inside yourself and do whatever it takes to make the most of that one chance.  Sometimes you have to fight hard for that one chance.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, how good you are, the chance slips away from your grasp.

One game.  One chance.  Do or Die.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

FERGUSON, MISSOURI

Missouri is not use to what is happening in a suburb of St. Louis over the last couple of weeks.  We are usually the ones reading about such events from other states in the union and being thankful that Missouri does not have to deal with situations like we have now.  This is not normal for Missouri.

No one really knows what went down in Ferguson.  There are witnesses who give testimony to the events but a lot of the testimony does not agree with the other testimonies.  What we do know is that a police officer, who was Caucasian, shot and killed a young African American young man and I think we can put to fact that the young man was not armed.  As of this writing this is what we know as facts.  The rest of it is rather hazy.

New "facts" that have not been verified come out almost everyday.  They include that the policeman shot the young man at least six times bringing about his death.  Another "fact" that has come to light is that the young man had just been involved with the robbery of a convenience store just a little bit before the shooting.  At first the city officials said that the officer did not know that the suspect had been involved in the robbery, then a couple of days later they said that the officer was aware of the tie in of the robbery with the man.  This was an unfortunate turn of events.  Now the latest that I have heard was that the policeman ordered the young man to stop and the suspect started charging at the officer making threats and coming fast explaining why the officer took the shots.

That event I just described is disturbing enough, but it is what happened after the shooting that is really the bad part of the situation.

Soon after the shooting, word spread through the community of what had just happened.  The members of the suburb were understandably upset and came out to see for themselves what was going on.  They set up a small protest that was peaceful yet aggressive in getting their message across.  If it had been left at that we probably would have more facts by now and the move towards justice would be a lot further along down the road than it is now.  Agitators were on there way to Missouri though, and the somewhat peaceful, although angry, demonstrations and protest would turn into a scene from Los Angeles or Detroit.

Arriving in Missouri was the Reverend Al Sharpton who brought his special brand of preaching to the crowd in Ferguson.  His special brand is one that, in my opinion, smacks of a racist philosophy.  The good Reverend does not get involved in anything much unless it is a situation of black against white, or more accurate, a situation in which a white is involved in an unlawful act against a black.  You never see him when the situation is turned around or if it is black on black crime.  He only shows up when a white person has injured a member of the black community.  Sharpton's goal is to rile up the community until they are more than angry.  He organizes marches and makes speeches from courthouse steps about the evil of the white man and how whites seem to get away with everything as long as it is against a black.  Other than the view that Sharpton throws out about racial inequality, his message is not exactly true.  The justice system we have works better than any system in the world and is treats everyone the same ... innocent until proven guilty.

From what I have observed over the years is that in cases like what happened in Ferguson, Sharpton does not hold to the philosophy of innocent until proven guilty.  He is charismatic and whips his listeners into an angry frenzy that leads to actions being taken by the citizens that are violent and unlawful and soon the streets are not safe.  What was once a not too bad neighborhood is suddenly a war zone.

The good people of Ferguson seem to have let their anger out and are back to just protesting and not causing much trouble at all.  Unfortunately Reverend Sharpton's damage had been done as hundreds of his followers flooded into Ferguson to keep the fires burning ... literally.   While the citizens of Ferguson want their community to come back to some semblance of order and safety, the outsiders that not only came from other cities in Missouri but came from other states as well ot riot on a nightly basis.  The people of Ferguson are seeing their suburb burned to the ground.  They are seeing local business being looted and are hearing gunshots coming from the site of the riots constantly.  They are seeing their community slowly being destroyed by people who do not have any stake in getting things calmed down and start to sort out what the facts are about what happened on that fateful day when the situation occurred.

This is not Missouri.  This is not how the citizens of Missouri react to situations.  I firmly believe that the people of Ferguson and the surrounding suburbs as well as St. Louis itself wants to get things settled down and find out and sort out the facts about what happened so they can move along with the justice system doing what it is meant to do.

My request is simple.  Reverend Sharpton ... wait until the facts are out before reacting in an imature way that causes loss of property and safety in an area where you do not have to come home to everyday and where your future is not dependent upon.  If you can't wait until you have some facts, please stay out of Missouri.

All of the out of state thugs that are rioting without fear of loss of property or loss of the safety of your homes .... go home.

The people in Missouri are more than capable of getting the facts, sorting them out and taking the appropriate measures that need to be taken.

Governor Nixon, let's take Ferguson back from these outsiders and bring the town back to being a good old Missouri town once again where justice is served fairly and quickly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ROBIN WILLIAMS - DEPRESSION

I didn't think I would be writing another entry here this soon but I feel I have to after learning of Robin Williams alleged suicide last night.

A lot of people think they deal with depression.  Chances are you don't.  Depression, and mental illness in general, is too often misunderstood and pushed aside.  Depression is one of the worst kind of mental illness.  It is dangerous.  I don't know what Mr. Williams was going through, all I can do is relate what depression is to me.  What true clinical depression is.

I have read people who have written that they have been there ... once in a while.  Once in a while.  Depression does not leave you.  You learn to live with it.  You learn to hide it because people will not understand and will tell you that it will pass, things will get better, pull yourself out of it.  Depression does not heed those words, it doesn't even hear those words.  Depression stays.

Depression stays and drags you down.  Drags you down deep until you don't think you can go any deeper/  It is indeed a dark place but unlike any darkness you have ever known.  You feel totally alone and in a way you are, because nobody knows where you are in that darkness.  They don't see that darkness and so you continue down the road of what they call life all alone and so sad.

Depression grabs a hold of you and won't let go.  There are medicines that can help ease the grip but they don't make the depression go away.  After spending a certain amount of time in this darkness, and getting dragged down as low as you can be dragged, a strange thing begins to happen and this is when depression becomes dangerous.

You get so use to being alone.  You are alone even in a crowd of people.  You are alone even with a group of people who know you well, and care about you, you are alone in your family and they don't have a clue what is going through you mind, what this depression is putting in your mind.  Then things start to change in a way.  The depression starts to bring thoughts into your head and convinces you that these thoughts are logical.  Taking your life is logical.  It makes sense.  It is the right thing to do for everybody around you.

Sometimes it is SO logical you actually think that your friends and family will understand that you did the right thing.  You did what you had to do and they will be happy for you.  This is the danger of depression.  You make plans, you chart out a timeline, and you make preparations to do what is the logical thing to do.

Confusion starts to creep into your head but the depression allows you to justify your thinking.  All of a sudden you feel like you are getting better when in reality, the depression is pulling you down ... down to the end and you think you are right and everyone else isn't thinking the right way, they aren't thinking logically the way you are.

Then, if you are lucky and people pick up on subtle signals that the depression has got you and you have given in to it, they stop you and they put you away.  They lock you up to keep yourself from harming yourself or others until you can get out of the feeling better stage of logic and are brought back up to the level of knowing you were wrong and you find yourself once again in that lonely dark place trying not to fall back into the logical part of depression ... or the part of depression that makes you think you are being logical.

You begin again to fight the depression and you begin to be alone and you start to hide it once again but it is always with you.  You fight to go on, but every single day, EVERY SINGLE DAY you wake up to start the fight anew. and when the day is over and you have survived once again, you fall into a sleep that isn't too restful because you know you have to wage the fight once again the next day.

THAT is depression.  Depression isn't feeling low or blue for a few days or even a week or month.  Depression is there always.  Depression becomes a constant companion and for some that suffer from this horrible disease, depression will win and the logic of taking your own life will take over and no one else will see it coming.  Then the people you know will be dismayed and shocked while all the time, you were doing the right and logical thing.

I know.  I have depression.  I have depression every single day.  IT may ease up at times, but it is always there.

Everytime somebody famous, like Robin Williams, take their own life, people say how horrible depression is.  Unless you live in that darkness, you don't have a clue.

I know.  I have been there.  I am still there.  And I will be fighting my constant companion until the day I die.

Rest in Peace Mr. Williams.  You fought a battle that in many ways is un-winnable.

Monday, August 11, 2014

POST NUMBER 400 - MISH MASH

Well I was just looking at some of the stats on this blog and how it has been doing since I quit writing in it regularly.  People are still reading it from around the world so I must be connecting with some people out there.  The United States still garners some readers but not as much as it use to.  The big surprise as I looked at the stats was the number of readers in Russia.

This set me back a bit.  As most of you know I am not a great fan of Vladamir Putin but I can't help but be amazed at the agenda he has worked through the halls of the Kremlin as he asserts his power not only there, but around the world.  Unfortunately, in my mind anyway, The United States has not had a leader recently that will, or could, stand up to the challenge of Putin.  Putin carries no respect for us Americans and I don't really blame him.  We have become a weakened power over the last several years.  We have a leader who talks big and then does nothing.  The current President in my mind is the real "wimp President", the moniker they hung on President Bush #41.  At any rate, Mr. Putin, I tip my hat to you.  In my eyes you have worked yourself into being the true leader in this world and you have brought Russia back to the forefront by using an aggressive foreign policy while the United States sits on our hands with what seems to be no idea of what foreign policy is.

Another stat that jumped out at me was that the last post I had written on here was my 399th post.  I am just OCD enough that the fact that it wasn't an even 400 started to really bother me.  So for my own sanity, of which there is little left, I give you post #400.

I couldn't figure out what to write about on this occasion.   Today marks the birthday of my late Uncle Melvin and my Aunt Sue.  It is also the day that the world entered the atomic age when the Enola Gay dropped that bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.  As horrible as that day in 1945 was, and as many lives that were lost, I still agree with President Truman's decision to take an aggressive step to end that War that had cost so many lives all over the world.  Take note those who see me as some sort of "noe-conservative" whatever that may be, that I just agreed with a Democratic President.   Of course that President WAS from the great State of Missouri, so take it as you will.

New day, continue writing on this, just so that you will know that I know that August 6th was the entering of the atomic age.  It is now August 7th as I write.  So to continue.....

Speaking of Missouri, I find myself with this inner distaste of Kansas.  I can't help it, I was influenced greatly by my grandfather on the matter.  The thing with Kansas is mainly one of collegiate athletics, i.e. KU vs MU.  It isn't like it use to be though.  Mizzou has joined the SEC while Kansas still calls the Big 12 home.  They don't confront each other on a regular basis anymore like they use to.  It was always the highlight of every athletic season be it football, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, track and field or frisbee golf, whatever the sport, if it was KU vs. MU emotions ran high on both sides of the State Line.  I live in Kansas City, MISSOURI (not Kansas) and not far enough away from the imaginary line that is known as the border between the two states.  I can leave my house and be in Kansas in about 10 minutes or so.   That is far too close for me.  Kansas City is pretty well divided between proud Tigers and rascally Jayhawks.  As you drive around the city you see cars everywhere you go extolling the virtues of one or the other institution.

Yes, I am a proud Missourian.  A true "Show Me" kid.  I believe in keeping my business and therefore my money in Missouri as much as I can.  There are times when I am forced to cross the border but only in extreme circumstances.  My grandfather use to say, and say it a lot, that "nothing good ever came out of Kansas".  I pretty much stick to that philosophy, although my grandfather's last born child was BORN in Kansas, we make an exception for my Aunt Sue.  If anything good ever DID come out of Kansas, well it had to be Sue.  Other than that, nothing good ever came out of Kansas.  Now it isn't only me that feels this way as there are plenty of Kansans that feel the same way about Missouri.  It goes back to pre-Civil War days and the actual war itself.  Missouri, while never succeeding from the Union did carry a strong support for the Confederate forces while Kansas, of course, had to do exactly the opposite of Missouri and support the Union.  I mean, Kansas wasn't even a state yet, just a territory out there beyond the civilized world of the United States, who at this time weren't so united.  Anyway, Missouri and Kansas fought our own little Civil War out here while the rest of the country was fighting back east with all the great battles and history making events.  It was okay with us.  It was a back and forth thing.  Some Jayhawkers would make a raid on Missouri destroying property and crops and do a little killing, then the next week some Missouri Ruffians would cross over and do a return raid in Kansas, doing some looting and destroying of property and a little killing.  The proudest moment as far as the Misourians were concerned was when they burned the town of Lawrence, Kansas to the ground.  Kansas got revenge by making the rebuilt Lawrence home of the KU Jayhawks.  Well played my Kansas neighbors ... well played.

Missouri was sympathetic to the south in the war for a reason.  Missouri was a slave state.  Not really proud of that part of my state's history, but it is a fact none the less.  There is a reason for this as the southeast corner of the state, known as the "boot heel" was and still is a huge producer of cotton.  The whole slave idea started down there and was taken up by the rest of the state because I guess they thought it sounded like a good idea.  The strange thing is, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas or Illinois doesn't really get the attention from Missouri like Kansas does.  It is Kansas and Missouri and even though the universities are no longer in the same conference and do not play each other on a regular basis, that little hitch will always be there I suppose.  It isn't the same since Missouri left the Big 12.  We don't have that rivalry that gets your juices flowing like we had with Kansas.  I mean, it is really hard to work up a dislike for Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, or South Carolina.  You just kind of, well, you kind of feel sorry for them being stuck in the south all these years, being the butt of a whole nation's jokes .... it really is kind of sad.  SO the SEC went out and recruited Missouri to the conference to try to give it some class.  Well, we do as much as we can for them, but there is only so much your shoulders can carry, and that is a lot of history that they are trying to class up by bringing Missouri into the fold.  An example of how we are trying to class up the southeastern United States in college athletics is this.  Louisiana State University has as their mascot the Tiger.  They have been the LSU Tigers forever and also forever, their colors have been purple and gold.  Then there is Auburn University in the state of Alabama.  They also use the Tiger as their mascot.  Auburn colors"  ORANGE and BLUE.  (as an aside, Auburn is even worse off then LSU as their battle cry is a hearty "WAR EAGLE".  I haven't made the connection yet between the eagle and the tiger, but .. well ... Alabama is all that needs to be said).  THIS is why they need Missouri University in that prestigious conference.  Mizzou also has the Tiger as our mascot.  THREE tigers in one conference, but you'll see why they needed the third tiger in the next sentence.  Mizzou colors?  BLACK AND GOLD people.  Kind of like a real Tiger is.  Who has EVER seen a purple Tiger or even worse, an orange and blue tiger?  A lot less people then have seen a black and yellow tiger, I can tell you that.  So really, bringing Mizzou into the SEC served as a sort of lesson, to show them what reality is.

(As an aside ... I am not really sure what a Jayhawk is.  Some fictitious  cartoon bird of sorts that someone made up while high on hemp and probably in a Lawrence dorm room.)

While we are on the subject of the southeastern United States, There is one thing I want to make perfectly clear.  It is truly beautiful country down there.  The southeastern United States has been blessed with lots of forest land, rolling hills to small mountains and coast lines that rival the Oregon Coast in my opinion.  I know that every part of the country is beautiful in it's own way and for different reasons (even Kansas has a beauty about it.  You have to look and drive for many miles before you stumble on it, but it is out there, or so I am told) but the southeast is really special.  Atlanta looks more the Emerald City in the OZ books than anything in Kansas does.  They also have a rich culture that continues to endure through the ages and all the changes that come with the passing of time.  The people who live in the southeast are among the friendliest people you will come across.  At the same time they are a very proud citizenry who are not afraid of speaking their minds about any subject.  For example, I discovered after I began to travel to the south with some regularity, that the Confederacy actual won the Civil War!  It is true.  They told me so.  After whipping the Union and teaching the northern states a lesson in how to whup-ass, they decided to let the union rejoin them.  As far as the south was concerned, mission accomplished.  All they required was that the south be able to return to the White House every once in awhile to keep things on the up and up, you know, make the war worthwhile.  So we got Presidents like Johnson, Carter, Clinton and daddy Bush and sonny Bush to keep things right.  They tried to get George Wallace in there but that was going a little too far for the northern states to agree with.  The southerners that they did send to the White House are not your typical southern politicians.  If you want an idea of a typical southern politician, look up George Wallace or Lester Maddox.  You'll get the point I am sure.  Actually now that I think about it, President Clinton was about the closest thing they came to as far as putting a real southern politician in the White House and he was from Arkansas, which isn't the heart of Dixie, so in some minds, he doesn't count as a southerner but then again, they don't claim Johnson or the Bush boys either.  It is what ti is.  President Clinton can understand what that phrase means now that he has had the definition of "is" explained to him during his Grand Jury testimony.

Upon entering my third day on this entry, I have decided that it will be the longest post in the blog.  It could have already reached that point but I want to make sure.

So let's talk tattoos.  The world has gone tattoo crazy.  I guess that all of the strange piercings in various body parts have lost the shock value so now people are turning to trying to squeeze as many tattoos on their bodies as possible.  When I was growing up seeing a tattoo was something that didn't come along very often.  You could easily assume that the man, and yes I do mean "man" as you never saw a woman with a tattoo, was one of three things.  He was either in the military, an ex-con ( or current one), or a biker or other gang member.  Even then the tattoos were not over done.  You could see see skin between them.  One or two tats on the arm and shoulder, maybe on on the chest.  That was about it.  I don't know what the situation is for my Russian readers, but here in the United States it is just about as far out of control as it can get.hae

I do not approach the subject of tattoos from a holier than thou position as I sport a tattoo myself.  Granted it isn't much of a tattoo.  I got it when I was in the seventh grade of school.  I gave it to myself, which I must say today's kids probably don't have the guts to do.  I wrote an entry on this blog about my tattoo.  It was an accidental tattoo.  I was in science class and somehow stuck my blue ink pen into the palm of my hand.  I am not sure quite Why or how I did it, but it got me a trip to the nurses office.  The tat still resides in the palm of my left hand.  It is a tiny tiny blue dot.  I would have to look for it and then point it out to you if you wanted to see it.

Today people walk around looking like human coloring books or comic books.  I just don't get it.  Okay a small tat in a not so obvious place, maybe an inch or two square, to make a statement about yourself or something you believe in, fine.  A friend of mine who's daughter died when she was fourteen years old had her name tattoo'd on his forearm.  Totally understandable to me.  This covering as much of yourself as you can and keep adding to it by getting even more tattoos to cover even more of your body seems to me to be saying something about ones self esteem issues.  That is just my personal opinion.  It seems that if you are hiding as much of yourself so that you can look like a coloring or comic book instead of who you really are, you may not think too highly of yourself.  Just throwing that out there.

Let's see now ... next quick topic....OH ... ok The Westboro Baptist Church.  Of all the hate filled churches or religions, Westboro has to be listed towards the top of the list.  According to their beliefs everyone is going to hell who is not a member of their church.  Not only your standard list of heathens that religion typical go after, like homosexuals, devil worshipers and Catholics, but everyone and anyone.  Members of the United States Military are certainly going to hell along with artists, movie makers, and virtually anyone else.

The leader of the church died earlier this year.  Fred Phelps was the driving force behind the church.  The vast majority of church members were members of the Phelps family.  It was like they would have heaven all to themselves.  Who better to spend eternity with than a bunch of hate filled holier than thou people who are all related.

After Phelps died, I wrote a blog entry on where the church would be going now that their leader was dead.  So far his death has been a good thing.  Third generation members of the family have left the fold, condemning themselves to hell of course.  I wonder how they feel not having to hold that hate in their lives on a 24/7 basis.  The church has been pretty quiet and I can't recall but one or two protests they have done since Fred Phelps' death.  The days of Westboro may be finally over.  We can only hope so.

Now a little bonus on baseball.  Not only on baseball but on two situations going on  in baseball right now.  First case: the Kansas City Royals.  While I am a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, I am just as huge of a fan of the Royals.  It has been 29 years since that great World Series in which the Royals beat St. Louis in seven.  That year, 1985, also marked the beginning of the downfall of the Royals as a consistent contender.  Now after 29 years, it is mid-August and the Kansas City Royals hold a play off spot for right now AND they are only ONE GAME OUT OF FIRST PLACE in the American League Central.  Mid-August and one game out.  They have to hold it together for just a month and half to be in the play offs once again.  To once again take that proud organization into the realm of being a contender.  No one really saw this coming but no one in Kansas City is complaining either.

The second situation: The Little League Regionals have begun.  This is a bunch of 12 year old kids who play for the right to make it to the Little League World Series.  If you love kids or if you love baseball, do your best to try to tune in and watch these kids play ball.  It has always been one of my favorite porting events.  These kids are GOOD.  Kids don't hide their emotions as well as the major league players do and so you get to see the true love of the sport on these kids faces when something goes good, or when things go horribly wrong.  Just take my advice and catch a game or two.  I promise you will be hooked on it and watch it through to the end of the series when a group of 12 year olds will be named the best in the world.  It is extremely exciting.

Well I think I am finally going to wrap up this 400th post.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.  Post number 401 won't be far behind.  I am taking a year off from writing in this blog to devote myself to another blog which covers something I have been wanting to do for a long time.  In the other blog, I am posting the lyrics to a song every day for a year.  The idea is for you as well as myself to understand what some of these songs are about, without being influenced by the melody or the name of the artists who do the performing.  It is just the words and in many songs, the words are very meaningful but we miss that meaning by getting caught up in the melodies or the talent of the singers and musicians.  It is out chance to find the deeper meaning of songs that we probably all know by heart, but never take the time to think of the words.

You can find the other blog at the following address:  http://wm-clark1.blogspot.com/  .

I do hope you will visit it and read some of the songs that have filled all of our lives over the years.

Take care readers ... especially my Russian readers.  Really glad to have y'all along for the ride.

Later.

WHC