Family Heirlooms . . .

Wikipedia defines Family Heirloom as: “Something, perhaps an antique or some kind of jewelry, that has been passed down for generations through family members” and then goes on to say: “the term originated with the historical principle of an heirloom in English law, a chattel which by immemorial usage was regarded as annexed by inheritance to a family estate. Loom originally meant a tool.”

There has never been much of that passing-down of family heirlooms in my family’s history.  It seems that each generation pretty much consumed what it managed to acquire.  There is one exception to that is in my family’s history and perhaps the day may come when I will write about that.

I suspect that many American families are much like my family.  My pal, Walter, certainly made a rare discovery about one local family that had a family heirloom . . . but just didn’t know it until he happened along!

Walter loved garage sales and junk shops.  He had an amazing knowledge about old and rare items and their value, and was constantly on the prowl for such items.  I once accompanied him in a junk shop in West Texas and was impressed as he rambled around talking with the old fellow who owned the store.  Finally, he bought an old fishing lure and we left.  As we got into my suburban, I asked him why he bought that old lure and chuckled that it was pretty old and that no self-respecting fish would dare hit that thing.  He grinned and said, “That lure is worth $2,000 by itself, but it completes a set which I have and makes my collection worth about $15,000!”  He went on to tell me about the man who had hand-carved the lures and how famous he had become in the late 1800’s. Well, duh . . .

The local family that he helped educate was having a garage sale one Saturday morning and Walter happened by the sale.  As he browsed around, he spied a wooden duck decoy sitting on a table.  As he made his way over to that table, the man of the house made his way to the table, and asked Walter if he needed any help.  Walter picked up the duck decoy and it had a piece of masking tape on it offering it for sale at $12.00.  Walter asked the guy if he could possibly lower the price, and the guy said $10.00 was the lowest he could go.  Walter chuckled and said, “Dude, it would be quite an accomplishment to buy a decoy worth about $25,000 for only $10, but I just can’t do that to you.”  The guy’s mouth fell open and he asked Walter what he meant.  Walter showed him some markings on the decoy and told him the decoy had been carved about the turn of the century (1900) by a famous carver in Maine and that all of his work was now considered art and worth quite a bit of money.  Walter asked the guy where he got the thing and the guy said his uncle had given it to him 25 years earlier.

Walter asked him, “Now that you know about its value, what are you going to do with it?” The fellow smiled real big and said, “The first thing I am going to do is remove that $12 price tag and the next thing I am going to do is display it on the Mantle!”

It Seems to me . . . that is what one ought to do with a family heirloom!  There is simply no telling how many times Walter helped different people learn about the value of things . . . the value they never knew before he taught them.  You can put it in the bank that he always told folks, too.  There simply was no selfishness in Walter . . . that had all had died long before I met him.

I sure do miss my dear friend.  He was so much fun . . . he was so wise . . . he was just great to hang out with . . . and he had so much on the ball.  No one has ever made me laugh, or think, like Walter did.


The Roller Coaster

On February 3, 2014, Janet Yellen was sworn in as the only female Chairman of the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history.  She succeeds Ben Bernanke.  She remained silent through the swearing-in ceremony.  I am thinking she is concerned about the roller-coaster she is about to try to take control of . . . knowing that the Dow Jones has fallen more than 1,000 points since the first of the year!  Business reports are in the tank as business struggles with new government imposed and sponsored health care, and investors are quickly losing confidence and selling off.

In the midst of all this, there is increased talk about raising minimum wage from $7.25 up to $10.00 per hour. That move will have an overwhelming impact on business, the economy, and a bunch of low-level workers will be laid off and will hit the dole!

I am hoping her Nobel-winning economist husband, George Akerloff, will be offering her suggestions as opposed to the White House.


What a sad, weird, and tragic event

I am a Corvette guy and I taught Chris to be a Corvette guy, too.  That dude took it seriously and knows all things Corvette.  He is actually a walking encyclopedia on Corvettes . . . history, design, the differences between years in engine sizes, transmissions, colors . . . all things Corvette.  In fact, he is always the first one (in any group) to notice a ‘vette on the street.  It is fun to just listen to him ramble on about ‘vettes.

My love affair with Corvettes started when I was a 7-year-old kid walking down the street carrying my shoe-shine box and I looked up and saw a ’57 rolling down the street.  It was love-at-first-sight and I vowed that “ONE DAY” . . . of course, I had to find out what it was before I could buy one!  It was much like the old TV commercial (done by a dude with a heavy British accent), “This isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile”!

Chris texted a message yesterday afternoon which carried a link to an article in USA Today; the byline for the article read, “Sinkhole swallows 8 Corvettes at Museum.”  DUH……The story reported that a sinkhole had formed overnight under the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The tragedy occurred in the early morning hours and set motion detectors off and the local police department responded.  Security cameras actually caught the event and there is a video on-line, but I am unable to watch it.  The sinkhole is reported to be 40 feet wide and 25- to 30-feet deep.  

Like Jimmy Dean said in the closing of his old song, “Big John” (well, with a bit of a paraphrase), “At the bottom of that hole lays some big, bad, and once beautiful automobiles” . . . the thing of young boy’s dreams!



Three Men in History . . . Each with a Decision to Make

Over the past few weeks, our Sunday school lessons from the Gospel of John have been leading up to the Passion Week and the Emancipator of Humanity and Hero of Heaven’s appointment at that lonely place known as Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.  I have been trying to expand my natural thought process in my preparation to teach, so that I might more fully and deeply understand the events, the dynamics and people involved as God’s plan of redemption became a reality.  I am thinking that I will do a series of blogs over the days ahead and try to focus on various parts of this great event.

Today, I am writing on the roles played by three misguided and foolish men who were present and played a role in God’s Plan.  It is important to remember that each one of the men had free-will and could have done differently than he chose to do.  It is also important to remember that the choices made by each man had an impact on his life on earth and throughout eternity.  Some would argue, I know that none of the men had any choice . . . that what each one did was simply fulfilling his role in history as he was destined to do . . . but, of course, that is nonsense.  We know that it is nonsense because the Scripture clearly says that “God commands men everywhere to be saved,” and he would not make such a command while at the same time predestinating (literally Programming) a man to do something totally opposite.  The line of thinking that has God predestinating folks to do wrong things, fails to consider that redemption was God’s idea . . . not man’s.  That redemption was totally and completely accomplished and offered to humanity . . . absolutely free by God.  It also fails to acknowledge that God is not a respecter of persons . . . the truth is that God loves all people!

  1. Judas – one of the Twelve, who used the infamous kiss to betray Jesus.  Judas did not have to do what he did.  He made a choice and acted on it. The choice became easier day- by-day as he stole money out of the purse and his senses became more and more calloused.   The truth is that Judas, like the other Disciples, wanted Jesus to provide a political Kingdom which would remove Roman domination and control and thus, reestablish Israel to the place she had been under David’s rule. But that was not the Kingdom Jesus offered. Jesus offered a Kingdom on the inside (a Kingdom in which his throne was the hearts of humans).  Judas accepted the 30 pieces of silver, believing that his agreement would force both God and Jesus to “Do” something.  The sad truth is that most all of us have tried to play that very game with God.  It goes something like this, “Ok, Lord, I will do this . . . if You will do that.”  What a silly game . . . and how selfish and silly we are when we try to play it.  I have an old preacher friend who says, “We can’t do any horse trading with God, ‘cuz He has all of the horses.”


Afterwards, Judas went out and hanged himself from a tree; another foolish decision and action by Judas.  He decided on a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  I would argue that just as Peter found forgiveness for his denials over those breakfast coals, that morning with the Risen Savior, the same forgiveness would have been available for Judas.  Before you get your head set to argue this point, perhaps you ought to look back and consider how many times you have betrayed Jesus.

 Annas – what a wicked, mean old man he was! The son of Seth was appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman providence of Judaea in 6 AD.  He actually served as High Priest for ten years.  At the age of 36, he was deposed by the procurator Gratus.  In spite of having been officially removed from office, he continued in power, influence and social status by way of five sons, and a son-in-law who each was his puppet High Priests.  In the Gospel of John, we are told that upon his arrest, Jesus was first taken before Annas for questioning prior to being taken to the home of Caiaphas (John 18: 19 -23).

 The truth is that under Roman law, the trial of Jesus was a mockery of a fair and well intentioned legal system which was designed and intended to offer justice to any and all who were charged with a crime (much of our legal system today was taken from the old Roman system).  The truth is that God had a plan and even if every man-made law had to be broken, God would bring that plan to pass.  That, plus old Annas being such a crafty and seasoned politician, such a great manipulator, who was successful in putting Pilate on the horns of a dilemma.

 Secular history testifies to the fact that Annas was one of the most brilliant, clever, and ruthless high priest in history.  It was likely he who plotted the arrest, the charge, the trial, and the crucifixion of Jesus.  In his cleverness he knew that Pilate would not be concerned about a charge that Jesus claimed to be the son of God, so he pushed the charge that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews, thus alleging a serious threat against Caesar. 

 Consider the debate over the sign that Pilate had made, “The King of the Jews.”  The religious leaders tried to persuade him to change it to read, “He said he was the King of the Jews,” but Pilate had been so manipulated through the entire process that he found a political victory in saying, “What is written is written!”

 In Acts 4:6, after Pentecost, we still find old Annas involved and presiding over the Sanhedrin when Peter and John are brought in for questioning. 

 The Scripture testifies that some of the Pharisees believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior (in fact, two of them lovingly and publicly removed his body from the Cross and delivered him to the tomb).  Annas could have received forgiveness . . . he could have made a different choice , but by this stage of his life, his attention was so greatly focused on himself, on his status, and his identity before the nation that he became blinded to whom he actually was and the important things of life.  He had clearly forgotten (if he ever knew) the true role and responsibility of the High Priest . . . which, of course, was to represent the people before God.  By the time Jesus’ earthly ministry began Annas was so cold, crafty, indifferent, and cunning that he was unable to do something that a simple, demon-possessed man living in a grave-yard was able to do . . . and do it from a long ways off . . . to recognize God . . . when he saw God.

 Pilate – As Jesus was delivered to Pilate by the most religious people on the planet, Pilate certainly saw the stark contrast between religion and the person of Jesus, the Messiah, the one who had come to fulfill the Passover.  On one side stood a howling mob of religious fanatics who insisted on remaining outside of his home . . . so they would not be defiled, and thus prevented from eating a religious dinner later.  The contrast was so clear that any qualified judge would have seen it . . . they were willing to call for the death of this good man, but unwilling to enter the Governor’s home.  For all practical purposes, we can know that Pilate did, indeed, see the contrast, as the lengths to which he went to try to escape the burden of doing his job.  Here is a brief account of how he fidgeted:


. . . “Pilate then went out” (John  18:28)

. . . “Pilate then entered into the judgment hall again” (v 33)

. . . “and when he has said this, he went out again unto the Jews” (v 38)

. . . “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and had him scourged” (v 19:1)

. . . “Pilate therefore went forth again” (v 4)

. . . “and went again into the judgment hall” (v 9)

. . . “he brought Jesus forth again” (v 13)

 Pilate knows something is wrong and tries to get off the hook.  He tells them to judge Jesus themselves.  They wanted the death penalty . . . but were forced to acknowledge they had no authority to carry that out.  Surely, Pilate picked up on their boast in 18:33, “We are the seed of Abraham and have never been in bondage to any man” . . . and then proclaim, “We have no King other than Caesar.”  Don’t you know that any judge would have seen how bi-polar they were?

 Moreover, his questioning of Jesus didn’t pan out the way he needed it too, either.  Prior to this experience, every prisoner brought before him had surely been nervous and afraid, recognizing his authority to render judgment.  Jesus was none of that and remained in absolute control.  He openly acknowledged that he did, indeed, have a kingdom, yet simply said it was not of this world.  He acknowledged that Pilate did have authority, but qualified it by saying only because it was an authority loaned to him.  Added to this, that very morning his wife had warned him against doing anything to hurt Jesus and told him of a dream she had the night before.

 Pilate thinks that his plotting and maneuvering had given him an out, and he said, “Every year at this time of your Passover, I release a prisoner to you . . . this year I will release Jesus” . . . He never imagined that the religious leaders could be successful in urging the crowd to cry out for the release of Barabbas . . . because the contrast between Jesus and Barabbas was just too great.

 One final attempt to escape . . . he had a basin of water brought out onto the balcony and poured over a basin as he ceremoniously washed his hands, declares, “I wash my hands of this good man.”  But there is no escape for him!  He knew it was all wrong . . . yet he lacked the . . . strength . . . snap . . . insight . . . confidence . . . to do the right thing, so he did nothing.  His “Nothing” . . . forever changed his eternity.  He walked through hell, wringing his hands asking, “Why did I do that with Jesus?”

 Can you imagine what might be Pilate’s place in history if he had fallen on his knees before Jesus and cried out, “My Lord, and my God” that morning?  Such action by Pilate would not have changed God’s plan . . . but it most assuredly would have changed everything for Pilate.  You know he wished every minute of every day that he had washed his hands of Rome and the Jewish people and cast his lot with Jesus.  He surely wished that he had walked away from the privilege and prestige of his earthly position . . . in exchange for the privilege and prestige of being in the family of God.

 As you look at the Cross . . . I am compelled to ask, “What decision will you make?”  Do you understand that it is crucial for you, just as it was for these three men . . . Judas . . . Annas . . . and Pilate?

 The stark truth is that your decision won’t change one single thing about God, Jesus, Hell, Heaven, death, or eternity . . . but you must know that your decision can certainly change everything for you!

 Be wise my friend!


Another One . . . Philip Seymour Hoffman

From time-to-time there are news reports that remind us of the truth of Scripture . . . that sin is serious and dangerous . . . and that there is a day of accounting ahead.  Such a report was made this week.

2006 Oscar winner, Philip Seymour Hoffman, was found dead in his New York apartment, lying in the bathroom floor with a syringe in his arm, along with glassine envelopes, believed to be heroin.  In addition, there were 50 heroin bags found in the apartment.

Hoffman was a talented actor and won his 2006 Oscar as Best Actor for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in the movie Capote.  He had battled with substance abuse earlier in his life, but was believed to have been clean and sober.

From where many people sit, it looked like Hoffman was at a very comfortable and fortunate place in life . . . and at a place of envy.  He obviously had fame, fortune, wealth, privilege, and station . . . but sin caught up with him just as it does with the poor, malnourished, fractured, frightened addict who dies on the street—and his death doesn’t even make the news. 

That is why we go to Charlie’s Place on Saturday nights.  There is a need . . . and we go hoping, believing that we might be able to perhaps, help some of them find the true light.  But it is not work for the weak, tender, or the meek.

On Star

Living in South Texas in the early 80’s, I purchased a new suburban and it was just the perfect vehicle for me.  It just fit my life style . . . I could pull my boat with it, I could carry several friends to the coast each week for fishing, I could load my bird dogs in their sky kennels and carry hunters, shot guns, and dogs to the bird lease, I could pull the hunting buggy trailer to the deer lease and have plenty of cargo space to take provisions, ice chests filled with ice to pack our game in, pull construction equipment and materials to the jobsite, and then to pull up to the Country Club for dinner and the valet was delighted to park it for me because it was as stylish as any vehicle in the parking lot.  If fact, about that time, Texas Monthly showed a new suburban on its cover and declared it “The Texan Mercedes.”  I could load two other couples and go to dinner.  It was loaned out quite a bit to the Youth group leaders at Church, to mom’s taking kids on school field trips, scouting activities, etc.

The thing proved terrific for family trips, too!  It is actually a very comfortable family vehicle. When we went to Burnet, I could load up the guys and everyone’s golf clubs and take off, or Sandy could load up the girls and go to Austin for the day.  It was just a great car and it fit me and my family perfectly.  I have just continued buying them through the years, and generally trade every couple of years. I traded and got a new black Denali in December and I think this is like # 18 or so.  It is a great vehicle and I continue to be impressed with all of the new features. This thing has five DVD Screens, seats that are both heated and air conditioned, a navigation system that is amazing, with a large back-up screen and cameras, sun roof, and my favorite is the On-Star button!  On Star is unbelievable . . . the good folks who answer the call can serve as a personal concierge making hotel and dinner reservations, as a navigator . . . planning routes and down-loading directions to the vehicle, providing all sorts of information, and perhaps best of all—they are Johnny-on-the-spot if one is involved in an accident or has some other emergency.

Here are some cool experiences with On Star over the past several years (not in any particular order):

. . . I was actually driving down IH10 East between El Paso and San Antonio late one night and a voice asked, “Mr. M, are you ok, Sir?”  Duh . . . I was until this happened, and then he identified himself as an On Star rep and said that he saw that I had been on the road a long time and the hour was late, and we chatted for a while.

. . . I bought the first suburban that was equipped with On Star in early November and the first time Sandy rode in it was between Christmas and New Year’s as we drove to Burnet to see family.  We were traveling North on IH 37 between Corpus and San Antonio.  She was wearing the new necklace I bought her for Christmas and a V-neck sweater which certainly complimented it. As we rode along, I acted a little playful and began running my index finger around the necklace and along the sweater’s V, and would let my finger slip a bit low. Being the proper lady she is, she would slap at my hand and scold me.  Finally I gave up.  As we rode along, it occurred to me that I had never told her about On Star, so I said, “I am going to show you something amazing” and tapped the On-Star button.  In a moment this fellow answered and said, “Happy holidays Mr. M, how are you liking that new black suburban?”  I assured him that I like the car and told him that I had Sandy with me and she had never seen On Star, and I suggested that he do a little showing off.  The dude was all over that . . . he was pretty flirty and talked right to her; he told her where we were to the exact mile-marker, then unlocked the doors while we were driving 70 MPH.  She was properly impressed, and as we said our good-byes and well wishes, just out of the blue he said, “Mrs. M, that is a lovely necklace you are wearing this morning” and with that he rang off!  She expelled a lung full of air and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, he saw you trying to put your finger inside my sweater! I am so embarrassed!” . . . and the poor modest girl was, indeed, embarrassed.  I tried to comfort her and assured her that Tyrone could not see inside the car, but she wasn’t having any of it, and vowed that I could never lay a hand on her while we were inside that car with old Tyrone watching.  I tried to explain that it was simply a joke, but she argued and asked, “How did he know I was wearing a necklace?” I tried to explain the logic that it was the holidays and 99.9% of all women in America would be wearing a necklace, but again, she wasn’t having any of that!  I honestly think she still half way believes the On Star folks can see us anytime they want to peek as we drive along.

. . . I was hunting with my friend, Bevans, at his ranch and I had just shot a really nice buck and he ran off.  We walked to the suburban and started off to look for the deer.  I asked him if he had ever seen On Star and he said he had not, but would sure like too.  I punched the button and a guy came on with the customary greeting and called me “Mr. M.”  I introduced him to Bevans and they chatted a bit and I asked him to show off a bit.  He unlocked the doors and attempted to identify our location (we were in the middle of a very large ranch).  Finally I told the dude that I had shot a deer and we had to go find him before dark.  He offered congrats and said, “Look for the water, guys . . . that is where you will find him.”  As we tracked him, we found him lying in a shallow creek about a foot deep.  We howled in laughter!

. . . (Perhaps my all-time favorite) . . . Last year I was in Corpus for a day and pulled into a hot-dog carry-out joint, ordered a couple of chili dogs, and was sitting in the outdoor eating area. After a bit I heard a polite voice behind me saying, “Sir, do you know where the Salvation Army is here in town?”  I turned around and there stood a fellow who had quite obviously been beaten up pretty good by life and I immediately felt compassion for him.  I have always had this theory and I act on it accordingly: I believe that those folks we encounter and for whom we suddenly feel compassion are actually placed before us as an assignment by the Lord Himself.  The poor fellow looked hungry, so I invited him to have lunch with me.  He thanked me, declined by saying that he had his wife in the car.  I turned to look and it was a miracle they could go anywhere in that old clunker.  I told him that I didn’t know the address of the Salvation Army, but if he would give me a minute to finish my dogs, they could follow me and I would lead them there.  He went back to the car and climbed in the passenger seat.  As I walked to my car, I passed them and stuck my hand inside and handed him some money.  They both teared-up, and I went and got in my car, started it up, and rolled the windows down to let the heat escape, and punched the On-Star button.  When my call was answered, “Thank You for using On Star, how may I help you?” and then heard a gasp and I looked over to the passenger door and the poor fellow was standing there looking inside.  He had a frightened expression on his face, and I asked the On-Star person to hold on for a second, and asked the fellow if he was ok.  His lip quivered and in a quiet and reverent voice asked me, “Sir, do you be an Angel?”  I got so tickled and asked why on earth he would think such a thing?  He said, “Well, you be so nice and I heard that person on da star talking to you, and I have heard about such going-ons.”  The On Star fellow and I got a chuckle, then he down-loaded the directions and we set out for the Salvation Army.  As I led them to the Salvation Army, I thought about how truly strange new technology can appear to uneducated country folks.  I delivered them to their destination, pulled alongside their car, and offered to fill their car with gas, tried to share the Gospel with them, and they assured me they were both Believers.  I wished them well, and drove off saying a prayer for them.

Valdez, Alaska

In this crazy 24-hour-a-day news cycle and the competition to “be first,” the media works hard at “making the news” . . . rather than “reporting the news”!  This week, Valdez is just such an example.

Much of the nation has been impacted by an Arctic blast over the past week, with more on the way, so folk’s minds are on the weather at the present moment.  Then, add in the debate over Global Warming and presto . . . the media buzz this week is that Valdez, Alaska, “a city and its residents who are in serious trouble”! Good Morning, America anchor Josh Elliot did a segment on Valdez being “seriously cut off from the rest of the world because of an avalanche of some 30’ of snow and ice that cut off the only road into the city.”  Every other news source is picking up on and getting involved “in the crisis,” and it sounds almost hopeless for the poor souls in Valdez, Alaska.

Now, that does sound like a desperate situation, doesn’t it?  But, it only does to those who have never been there, and don’t know the truth!  Personally, I have spent quite a bit of time in Alaska, have traveled extensively through the State, and because I am so fascinated by the place, I have done a great deal of research on the State and its history, economy, people, geography, and structure, and I see through the smoke and mirrors.  Sandy has accompanied me on a number of trips and she has actually traveled the State more than I, as she traveled while I worked with the State of Alaska helping to create the Alaska Housing Finance Agency.

Here are a few truths to help you decide the integrity of modern day news reports:

  1. There is, indeed, only one road into Valdez – but that one road puts them above many, if not most, of the cities, towns, and villages in the State . . . well, in the road department anyway;
  2. Alaska is a State like no other States in that many of the cities, towns, and villages (and all of the towns, cities, and villages in Southeast Alaska) do not even have one road into or out of town, and which is certainly true for the State Capitol, Juneau, as well as  Ketchikan, Sitka, and Petersburg;
  3. The entire State is geared around communities that are accessible only by boat or air;
  4. Such avalanches are not an emergency or crisis situation, but rather are only a minor inconvenience for residents in places like Valdez;
  5. The truth is that Valdez is, actually, one of the most important seaports in Alaska, and as much as 80 to 90% of all food, fuels, and other products and goods arrive there by ship – and always has and always will! Very little comes into or goes out of the town via the highway affected by the avalanche;
  6. What has happened there is called “a normal Winter” . . . it is not an emergency, disaster, or tragedy; nor is it frightful;
  7. The folks who live there are very hard core, capable people who can certainly take care of themselves and that is why they choose to live there; and finally,
  8. Valdez has a great airport that can handle the largest of cargo planes.

 Nope, in spite of the media hype, the people who call Valdez home are safe, and in no danger of being cut off from civilization and starving.  Life goes on and enterprise continues in that busy little sea port.

There is, however, always one very real, serious, ever-present and possible danger . . . a danger that all Alaskans live with the threat of earthquakes.  They don’t speak of it much, but it is there.

If you have never been to Alaska, do yourself a favor and go!  There is no other place like it. The view as one leaves Anchorage headed for Seward is amazing; as you drive along with Mt. McKinley always in view and as the Turn Again Basin of Cook Inlet comes into view and the grandeur of it all almost sucks the breath out of you!  It is honestly almost breath-taking!  I believe there is no lovelier place on Planet earth.  There are so many beautiful places there.

There are so many challenging and exciting things to do there.  Some that I have been privileged to do are:

1. Chartering a fishing vessel and catching a 300+ pound halibut at 500+ feet depth and reeling him in on a Penn 5/0 reel;

 2. Seeing killer whales up-close on the water;

3. Watching a 30’ tide exchange;

4. Traveling through the inside passage (if only for a short distance);

5. Flying around Mt. McKinley in a small plane (with a Plexiglas bottom – so much for the old saying, “Don’t look down”). That was such an incredible experience flying around there, being 100’ above rocks as large as a huge church (and the pilot saying, “Please help me watch out for flocks of birds, and other aircraft”);

6. Panning for gold;

7. Seeing a glacier up close;

8. Actually seeing the Northern Lights;

9. Having a magnificent dinner in a splendid resort hotel dining room, with a large wood-burning fire place, a glass wall over-looking the Bering Sea at sunset, and having a strong cup of hot coffee in the rustic, original Salty Dog Saloon;

10. Standing 10’ away from a mature Bald Eagle on the beach as he consumed a fish. Just for an explanation, I have always loved and studied the Bald Eagle (duh, it is our national bird).  Prior to Alaska, the closest I had ever seen a mature eagle in the wild was at the Bend on the Colorado River between Lampasas and San Saba. That eagle was in flight about 150 yards away and I watched him through good binoculars;

11. Pulling up to a friend’s house in response to a dinner invitation, and discover that you can’t exit the car because there are bull-moose in the yard;

13. Seeing a large grizzly bear cross the highway in front of you;

14. Taking a four-wheel-drive vehicle and getting off of the beaten path;

15. Walking down the streets and interacting with the native Alaskans; and

16. Purchasing a full length mink coat for your wife . . . far better quality that in the lower 48 (think about it . . . the animal’s pelt is better in the colder regions . . . and there are not many places as cold as Alaska) . . . and buy it at half the cost!

I regret that the media is such a mess . . . but I do appreciate that their foolishness got me thinking about Alaska this evening.  I love that place.  Perhaps it is time for another trip. Actually, I have wanted to buy a motor home and take Dorothy and Sandy and drive the highway.  Dorothy is game and we have been talking some about it, but Sandy is spoiled and holding out for us to fly up, rent a motor home, and cruise around, staying in nice hotels and taking meals in nice restaurants.  NORTH TO ALASKA!!


The Bully . . .

I have been asked by a National organization to write an article for their publication . . . an article on the strangest of topics.  In fact, I laughed when they first asked, but after thinking about it some, it occurred to me that it is actually something that is becoming more and more of an issue. That topic is “Bullying in Elderly housing.”

As a kid, I thought all older folks were nice, gracious, loving, organized, clean, neat, and kind (well, except for my Granny Melton – she was a serious snuff-dipper and she used Garrett snuff and always had it caked into a wrinkle beside her mouth and always insisted on kissing me).  Of course, my impression of older folks was not always correct, but it sure did seem to be true about the older folks I knew (except for that one thing about my granny). 

A sad truth of our times is that baby boomers are now becoming the older folks, and this is simply a different group.  The simple truth is that 25 years ago, all elderly folks paid their rent like clockwork . . . today we have to chase after some . . . more and more . . . to get their rental payment. Twenty-five years ago, all elderly folk kept their apartments clean and neat . . . today we are seeing ever-increasingly cases of deficiencies in house-keeping practices during our routine inspections (and they know we are coming . . . and just seem not to care). Twenty-five years ago, all elderly folks complied with the terms and conditions of the lease, and would have been horrified to receive a Notice of Lease violation . . . today we issue such notices pretty regularly, and it simply doesn’t seem to bug them much.  Twenty-five years ago, most elderly folks were offended when we asked for verification of information they had told us . . . today we have to get independent verification on all information and, sadly, we sometimes discover that some of them have been purposely evasive and even dishonest with us about their circumstances and finances.  Twenty-five years ago, all elderly folks faithfully reported when they had guest coming to visit . . . today we are making more and more discoveries of residents who have permitted unauthorized people to move-in with them.  The point is . . . this is a different group of elderly folks we are seeing today.

I recently commented to Sandy, that in 20 years from now I am going to be teaching Sunday school and providing apartments for some ladies with really ugly tattoos . . . and listen to Rap music!

Having said that, the simple truth is that after thinking about it some, I do know of some situations in different places that may very well prove, upon closer inspection, to actually be situations of bullying in elderly housing.  Until I was asked to write the article and began to think about it, what I seemed to be seeing had simply looked to me like a new form of strong-handed leadership.  But as I think about it, it Seems to Me . . . that any behavior that causes one to suppress his or her true feelings . . . or withhold their comment or express their opinion . . . out of fear of reprisal by a stronger, bolder, or louder person, certainly constitutes bullying.

I am not sure why I am so shocked over this discovery.  Duh, it just makes sense . . .the bullies on the playground had to get older along with the rest of us, and sadly some of them just never learned to respect others.

We each have a choice about how we choose to live, how we choose to interact with others, and how we treat others around us.  We each have a choice about how we view life.  I recently learned about an amazing place in Death Valley . . . it is called Bad Water Basin. It is a place where one can stand and see the highest point in the contiguous 48 states (Mt. Whitney – 14,505’ elevation) and also see the lowest point in the contiguous 48 states ( -282 feet below sea level).

I am not sure about what I am going to do with the article, but at the moment I am thinking about what it would be like to be the first person in history to be evicted from elderly housing for “Bullying” . . . I am also wondering what in the heck Tenant-Tracker would do with that on a report!  Would it look like this:

. . . Caution: Memo to Management: DO NOT ADMIT TO THE PROPERTY — REASON: She is a bully!

I think that sweet, kind people just get sweeter and kinder as they become older; and that mean and sour folks just become meaner and sourer as they get older.  I don’t think there are many things more tragic or sadder that a mean, sour, and nasty old person.