Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Billy - 3

Billy had been keeping back from the river in order to avoid anybody that might be taking the main trail. It wasn’t that he was worried about being seen, he had just formed the habit of avoiding a chance encounter with someone who might have known him in Missouri. He had changed considerably since those days. His mustache had grown and he had acquired the style of dress that the local cowboys wore rather than what was normal for Jefferson City. Besides, it had been four years since he left on the run. It wasn’t likely that anyone who knew him then would be able to identify him now. They probably all thought he was dead.

The Texas Panhandle and New Mexico were good places in which to get lost. Perhaps that is why so many individuals whose past wouldn’t stand close scrutiny chose to drift into the area.

It had only been a few years since the Kiowa and Comanche Indians had owned this country. That was before the hunters had wiped out the buffalo. There were still bones scattered all over the prairie where hunters had stripped the hide and left the carcasses to be food for the wolves and coyotes. The only buffalo left were over in the Palo Duro Canyon where Colonel Goodnight had saved a few as pets. Now, what few Indians were left were over at Fort Sill in Indian Territory.

Billy angled off down the slope toward the river. He looked back occasionally to make sure Tad was still following. The kid had a way of drifting off – like he was in another world part of the time. Either his imagination was running wild or he was reliving something from his past. It happened at night too. The first night they had camped after he found Tad, the kid woke up in the middle of the night yelling and fighting at shadows. It unsettled Billy. It took a little while to calm him down and even then, it seemed that Tad didn’t want to get too far away.

It was strange thought Billy. He hadn’t wanted the kid tagging along with him but knew he couldn’t leave him out on the plains without a horse or water. But now, he was beginning to like him. It would be sad to leave him in Tascosa, but he didn’t want to have to take care of him. The kid would be better off in a town living with some family rather than drifting around from ranch to ranch as Billy had done for the last couple of years. He needed a home.

Tad came jogging up on the mule and said, “Billy, I think there’s somebody back there.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Billy.

“There’s somebody back there. I keep seeing dust over to the east. It’s maybe a wagon or something.”

“Well let’s get up on that hill so we can see. I don’t need somebody following us. You never know what kind of characters you might meet out here, but it’s probably just a couple of LX hands wondering why we’re crossing their ranch.”

Billy headed to just below the crest of a low rise and looked back to the southeast. Sure enough, there were a couple of riders drifting along. It didn’t look like they were following him but their trails would cross in another mile or so. They were probably just heading into town the same as he was. It might be a good idea to just stay out of sight until he could decide what they were up to.

He turned and walked his horse back down to the bottom of the draw where Tad was waiting.

“I don’t know who they are but let’s just take a break right here while they ride on past. We’re not in any big hurry. I guess Juan’s daughter will just have to live without me a couple of extra hours,” he told Tad.

There was a small grove of cottonwoods about a hundred yards ahead. They walked their horses down into the low spot where water sometimes stood and dismounted. Billy pulled out a piece of jerky and pitched it to Tad.

“Why don’t you sit here under these trees a bit, Tad. I’m going to walk up the hill there where I can watch those riders. I need to stretch my legs anyway. I’ll be back shortly.”

Tad said, “Billy, why can’t I walk up there with you. I don’t want to sit here by myself.”

“No,” Billy replied, “you wait here. I’ll be back.” With that, he headed up the hill to get a better look.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Billy - 2

OK. Here's another piece of "Billy."

Billy McCall had grown up in Central Missouri in the aftermath of the War Between the States. He never knew his father. His mother told him his pa had died at Shiloh. Jess Oliver, one of the neighbor boys, told him that was a lie. He said old man McCall had rode off with Quantrill but didn’t last long. He heard Quantrill shot him for being drunk when he was supposed to be standing watch. Billy didn’t want to believe Jess but, deep in his heart he knew it was true. Jess wore two black eyes for a week over the remark anyway. If old man Stewart hadn’t broke up the fight Billy might have killed Jess. He didn’t take kindly to somebody running his old man down like that. It just wasn’t right.

It wasn’t long after that before Billy’s mom took up with a slick fellow named Carson that drifted into town one day. He spent more money on her in a week than his pa had in a year. Women take kindly to that kind of treatment. No wonder she was struck by him.

Things went all right for a while. Carson spent most of his time in town gambling with some of the locals. But, it wasn’t long until they got tired of losing what little money they had to him. The pickings in Missouri were mighty slim after the war. Even in a big place like Jeff City where they had moved so his mother could find work.

One night Carson came home drunk and beat Billy’s mom. She was hurt bad and Billy didn’t know what to do. He tried to get the sheriff to do something but was told that since they had been shackin’ up together there wasn’t anything he could do.

Billy decided that if the law wouldn’t take care of it, he would.

Two nights later, Billy stole a pistol from old man Scheller and caught Carson coming out the back of Tom’s saloon. He was so scared he emptied the gun into the gambler before he knew what he was doing. He dropped the gun and ran.

He knew the hills better than the law. He also had kinfolk scattered all over the hills in that part of the state. It wasn’t much trouble to hide out for a couple of weeks until things cooled down. But, he knew he would never be able to go back.

Late one evening old Aunt Clara brought word that his mother had died. It seems the beating that she had got caused some sort of hemorrhage and she just seemed to fade away. The law was looking for Billy and she thought he ought to leave the state. He’d already had one uncle hung and she didn’t want to see him end up the same way.

So, Billy left Missouri on the run.

It was pretty scary at first, but, at fifteen he was considered grown and it wasn’t hard to make his way. There were always odd jobs to be had.

Tad couldn’t stand the silence. “Hey, Billy, what’s Tascosa like? I ain’t never been there.”

“It’s a nice place, Tad. Why, I hear it’s even gonna be the county seat,” replied Billy. “It’s the shipping point for all these big ranches around here. There’s always something to do. Have you heard about the Lincoln County War?”

“Yeah, isn’t that down south of here? I heard somebody named Tunstall got killed.”

“Yep,” said Billy. “Have you heard of Billy the Kid?”

“Who hasn’t! I heard he killed 40 men!” said Tad.

“Well, he was in Tascosa just last year. He had a mare that could run like the wind. He put her up against the best from all the strings around here. He cleaned up on the bets until nobody would run against him.”

“Do you know Billy the Kid?” asked Tad.

“Nope, but I seen him. He even gave me a dollar just for holdin’ his hat while he raced,” said Billy with a grin. “Old Juan didn’t like it much. He said I’d better quit hangin around that crowd or I’d end up hangin’! I don’t know why but I listened to the old man.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Update on "Billy"

Since posting the last entry on the story "Billy" that I had started, I planned on regularly adding sections of it so that it created a series. That is still in the plans. The trouble is, as I began going through it, I found some inconsistencies that needed re-working. I guess that's a good thing. Instead of languishing in the "dustbin" of my computer files, it is now a work-in-progress that is receiving attention.

"Billy" came out of my love of the history of this part of the world. The Texas Panhandle truly was the edge of the "wild-and-woolly" west during its heyday. Characters like Kit Carson, Batt Masterson, Doc Holiday, Charlie Goodnight, Dave Rudabaugh, Casimero Ramirez, Billy the Kid, and other famous and infamous individuals spent time in the area. Place names like Tascosa, Fort Elliott, Adobe Walls, Dodge City, KS, and Las Vegas, NM, are all connected to the Panhandle. It was the home of Kiowa and Comanche Indians until about 1876. It was the "trackless" grassland known only to Plains Indians and Comancheros for many years while areas surrounding it were settled. It was the last stronghold of the Plains Buffalo.

All of this history fits into the story of "Billy." That's why it's taking awhile to prepare the next post. My personality is such that I want the historical setting to be accurate. I want the events to fit neatly into the "real" history of the area. I am a critical reader. When I find events or places in a story that don't fit history, I am at least mildly disappointed and often disgusted if the abuse of accuracy is blatant. Therefore, I will take my time, check my chronology, make sure it all fits together correctly, and then I will post the next section. I'm sure I will miss some things, but I hope to minimize any inaccuracies.

My aim is not to write a "western" novel. My aim is to set a story about a young man struggling with eternal questions of values into a history that is of interest to me. Hopefully it will be interesting to others. Again, any and all feedback will be appreciated.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


A few years ago I started on a story -- maybe it was going to be a novel. I want to share part of it with you. Feedback would be greatly appreciated. It's called "Billy."

“Billy, ain’t we ever gonna get to Tascosa?” asked the skinny, blonde-headed kid on the boney mule plodding along the dry wash.

Billy didn’t answer. He just touched spurs to the sorrel’s sides and trotted out ahead so he wouldn’t have to listen.

It had been a long day. The dust caked on his face was streaked with little muddy rivers where the sweat ran down from beneath his hatband. His shirt was heavy with the sweat and dust that clung to him. July in the Texas Panhandle wasn’t his idea of a holiday.

The little mule hurried to catch up to the sorrel and in doing so, tried to beat the tailbone off the kid clinging to his back. He couldn’t have been more than twelve…the kid that is. The mule must have been going on twenty. It was hard to tell. There wasn’t much left of him but skin and bones.

Billy had found the boy wandering in a draw on the south side of the river four days back. He was scared and hungry. He had tried to give him to a Mexican sheep-herder a couple of days later but the pastorale wouldn’t take him. Well, at least he had traded that old pistol he had found for the mule so Tad wouldn’t have to ride double anymore.

That’s what the kid called himself, Tad. Said it was short for Tadpole. He didn’t know what his given name was. He’d been called Tad as long as he could remember. Until Billy quizzed him about it, he had thought that was his only name.

“Hey, Billy, wait up!” called Tad. “This ole mule’s gonna kill me if you don’t slow down.”

Billy pulled up and waited for him. He couldn’t help but like the kid. He wasn’t that much older himself. His nineteenth birthday was just last month. But, it seemed like he’d been on his own for most of his life.

If they could keep the pace up, they should be into Tascosa sometime before noon tomorrow. He wanted to make Juan’s place by nightfall though, so he was a little impatient with Tad. The boy was cramping his style. He planned on ditching him in Tascosa. Too bad that old sheepherder wouldn’t take him.

“Tad, if you don’t hurry up I might just leave you out here,” said Billy. “Old Juan has a daughter that oughta be ‘bout grown by now. I’ve been hankerin’ to see her since I left here last year. Besides, Juan owes me a favor or two for getting’ him out of a scrape last time I was here.”

“But, Billy, I thought we were going to Tascosa. I don’t want to stay with some Greaser!” griped Tad.

“Just you hush. Me and Juan go back a long time. Why he’s been about as white to me as any man I ever met. Don’t you go bad-mouthin’ him like that again!”

Billy turned and headed off down the wash. He was thinking about the possibilities that a pretty little dark-eyed senorita presented when Tad piped up again, “Billy, you wouldn’t leave me would ya? I ain’t got nobody I can turn to. What would I do?”

Billy thought on that one awhile and then said, “I guess you could get a job or somethin’. Some store clerk or saloon keeper could use a boy like you.”

“I don’t want to work for no saloon keeper Billy. The last one like to have killed me,” said Tad. “I want to be a cowboy. I can’t live in no town!”

Billy laughed at that. A cowboy on a twenty year old mule. Hah! That would be the day. He could just see Tad riding up to Bates at the LX telling him he wanted to cowboy.

“What you laughin’ at Billy? I ain’t said nothing funny,” growled Tad. “I’m old enough to chase cows. Why, if I had me a real horse I’d show you what kind of cowboy I was. I bet I can out cowboy you!”

That got Billy’s attention. “Tad, if you’re such a hotshot cowboy, how come you to be afoot out in the middle of nowhere?” asked Billy.

“I told you what happened,” Tad said. “My horse broke his leg and dumped me. Then I had to walk. I was looking for the river ‘cause I knew there’d be someone along sooner or later to give me a ride. Just my bad luck it was you!”

“Well,“ thought Billy, “at least he was consistent.” He’d stuck by his story for four days now. Although he knew in his gut it wasn’t true, he humored the boy. He figured it more likely he’d escaped from some trader.

“Tad,” said Billy, “you’d better quit cussin’ your luck. If it hadn’t been for me you’d probably be starved or dead by now. Who’d you say you were working for?”

“I didn’t,” said Tad. “I’m between jobs right now. My last job was for Charlie Goodnight.”

“Tell me about Charlie,” said Billy.

“Did I tell you about Dodge City?” asked the boy. “I seen Bat Masterson himself shoot up a whole passle of trail hands one night. Didn’t even break a sweat!”

“I didn’t ask about Dodge City, I asked you about Charlie Goodnight.” The boy was exasperating Billy. He never could stick to a subject. He didn’t figure on ever getting a straight story from him.

They rode on awhile in silence. The clump of horse hooves in the sandy soil was the only sound. A hawk circled high overhead riding the currents. Nothing but skimpy grass and sage between them and the horizon.

Occasionally they could glimpse the red and silver snake of the Canadian river off to their left as they wound along and through the little draws and gullies that sloped off toward the river. Sometimes the scenery was broken by a few scrub cedars clinging to the red hills but, even those were sparse.

If it wasn’t for the water, this could barely be called cow country except down in the bottom and in some of the bigger draws. The real grass was up on the Llano. Too bad there weren’t more creeks up there. This would be some kinda cow country. Grass as far as you can see.

“They say people used to get lost up there and wander for days in a circle before some Comanche would find ‘em and scalp ‘em,” Billy said.

“Huh?!” said Tad. “What are you talkin’ about Billy?”

“Never mind, I guess I was just thinking out loud.”

Monday, October 22, 2007

TCFA Convention

Yesterday was another day of travel. After church and lunch I drove to San Antonio. It is about 530 miles.

On the way down I stopped in Kerrville for a bite to eat and ran into a couple from my home town. They also were headed to the TCFA Convention. Then after checking into the Crowne Plaza I turned around and saw 9 more people that live within 10 miles of me.

I am certain that a majority of the attendees will be from the Texas Panhandle area because that is where most of the cattle feeding occurs within the state. There are feedyards scattered throughout the state but the majority are in the Panhandle.

Some of the "hot" topics for this year's convention are 1) the impact of ethanol on cattle feeding, 2) animal activism and 3) export markets. The first one is really the only "new" topic. It seems like year after year there is concern over export markets and animal activism.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Brief Interlude Between Trips

It is good to be back home after a week of travel. Fortunately, the return trip was uneventful.

The Sunbelt Exposition was a great venue for creating contacts in a region of the country where we have very little business. I picked up a couple of customers and made contact with a number of strong influencers.

Growing a business sometimes is a matter of planting lots of seeds in lots of places. Just like the "Parable of the Sower" in Luke 8, some fall on fertile ground, some on rocky ground, etc. Unlike the "Parable of the Sower," it is my responsibility to nurture those contacts and help them to grow into meaningful business relationships. It requires time, perseverance, patience, and a long-term view of what I'm trying to accomplish.

Many companies push for immediate sales -- often at the expense of long-term relationships. They believe there are more customers where those came from and sometimes view the customer as somewhat expendable. It is a common view among MBA's -- especially Ivy League MBA's. They typically see all parts of a business as expendable/replaceable.

I believe in building solid, long-term relationships. It may mean slower growth in the short-term, but it will mean faster growth in the future because each customer is much more likely to stay as a customer rather than a portion of them "falling out" periodically.

I have spent most of this morning gathering information/working on reports for our ownership. I will be traveling again beginning tomorrow afternoon, so I only have a narrow window for some of this since it is needed Monday afternoon.

This week I'm off to San Antonio to the Texas Cattle Feeders Convention. I always enjoy San Antonio. I just wish that I had more time there. It is a quick trip with return on Tuesday night. I had planned on meeting with several of our customers in Central Texas before returning, but I was summoned for Jury Duty to appear Wednesday morning. Oh, well. It's been over 25 years since I served on a jury -- and maybe this one will settle out of court before we are empanelled. Civic Duty calls.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Sunbelt Exposition

The Sunbelt Exposition in Moultrie, Georgia, may be the largest Farm Show in the country. It is certainly the most diverse that I've ever attended. There was equipment and services represented for poultry, swine, dairy, beef, bees, alpacas, cotton, soybeans, corn, vegetables, peanuts, tobacco, pine trees, catfish, shrimp, pecans, hay, grass, large farms, small farms, red fish, blue fish -- wait, that's Dr. Seuss -- anyway, maybe you get the picture. I have posted a few of my favorite pictures from the show below. Maybe you can figure out how they fit into Agriculture.

I think this last one is the one that I want. An air boat would be a blast. The only trouble that I see is that in West Texas it would have to have wheels!

First Day at the Sunbelt Expo

Yesterday was a good day here at the Sunbelt Exposition. It is one of the largest Agricultural Trade Shows that I have ever seen. The diversity of different types of agriculture in the Southeast is much greater than in the Plains.

My very first visitor to our Trade Show booth was turned into a customer. That was a nice positive way to begin. Hopefully it will create a toe-hold for us in this part of the country.

Throughout the day we had numerous visitors to the booth that indicated interest but no one else ready to adapt the technology. The awareness of what we do is very low in this part of the country and the majority of livestock producers (who are typically very small) are unfamiliar with what we do and require extensive education. That's OK. We are beginning the process.

Getting away from the booth is often the best way to scout out potential key contacts. I was able to do that for awhile and made some excellent inroads with key individuals in a couple of the larger organizations that were represented. I think the trip so far has been well worth the effort and expense. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Destination Attained in This Small World

Valdosta, Georgia. Finally. After arriving at Amarillo, Texas, Rick Husband International Airport yesterday morning at 9:00 a.m. to fly to Jacksonville, Florida and then drive to Valdosta, Georgia, for anticipated arrival yesterday around 5:45 p.m., I finally arrived today in Valdosta at about 8:00 p.m. That is 36 hours for the trip that could have been driven in less time.

According to Mapquest, it is 1282 miles from Amarillo to Valdosta. At an average speed of 60 miles per hour it would take a little over 21 hours of driving time. I would have saved 15 hours!!

The weather was the culprit. However, it was exacerbated by the desire of the airlines to be efficient. They have cut flights so that every plane is loaded to capacity. There is absolutely no slack in their scheduling. It doesn't take much of a glitch for the house of cards to come tumbling down. I think next time it would be best to charter a plane.

I love the Southeast. I love the accent -- yeah, I know, I'm the one with the accent -- Texas accent. There is nothing more melodic than English spoken with a deep south accent. It sings. I think it must be in my blood.

Numerous generations ago, my predecessors came out of the hills of northern Georgia after arriving there from South Carolina where they offloaded from ships arriving from Scotland. Tracking the genealogy is difficult because much of it was lost in the War of Northern Aggression when Sherman burned the courthouse in Atlanta. Maybe it's best. What little family history we have shows heavy tracks of a few outlaws in the tree (hanging by their necks -- not their tails as a good friend likes to say). However, there is also a generous mix of a few heroes so I guess that makes me about average. Humph! I never thought of myself as average. Oh, well.

As I checked into the motel here in Valdosta, a gentlemen was standing behind me waiting to speak with the desk clerk. He asked what part of Texas I was from and I told him that it was near Amarillo. He was wearing a Clemson shirt which is where he is currently associated with their Extension Service. It seems that he was from Winters, Texas. I asked him if he knew a particular individual who graduated from High School with me and now lives in Winters. He knew him well. It is a small world.

Travel and Perseverance

Yesterday was a bit trying due to traveling difficulties. The flight on which I was to travel to Dallas and then Jacksonville was cancelled due to inclement weather in Dallas. There were no seats available on any other American flights that would get me to my destination so I transferred to Continental for a trip through Houston which at the time was still open.

After circling off the Texas coast for about 3 times at a location somewhere south of Freeport, the pilot came on and said, "folks, we're getting low on fuel and Houston is socked in by rain so we will be diverting to Corpus Christi."

OK. I like Corpus. It's a great place to visit -- if you're not stuck in a plane on the runway for 2 hours before they decide that it's time to offload and hike to the terminal to wait with the other 30 flights that were diverted there for the afternoon.

My original flight from Amarillo was to leave at 9:55 a.m. and arrive in Jacksonville around 3:40 in the afternoon. I left Amarillo at 1:30 and finally got out of Corpus Christi at 11:15 p.m. After arriving in Houston at Midnight, we learned that the earliest available seats to Jacksonville were on the 2:10 p.m. flight. All motels near the airport were filled so finally we found one about 20 miles away and caught a cab which took us to the "last available room in Houston" where our 2:00 a.m. check-in was salvaged by a night clerk that deserves a 'gold star' in my book. He fitted us with shaving kit, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. and it was off to bed.

I am waiting in the motel for the cab to arrive to deliver me back to the airport. I hope we get to Jacksonville before the storms reach there. The weather map looks like we should, but the way yesterday went, I have my doubts.

Today is a loss because it will be spent waiting and traveling. Once we reach Jacksonville it is about 2 hours by car to our destination in Southern Georgia. Fortunately (or unfortunately) there are 2 days of meetings left before flying out again on Friday. The forecast for Friday doesn't look promising.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." -- Romans 5:3-4

Monday, October 15, 2007

Classy Lady

A nice article about a classy lady and a true Texan.

October 15, 2007

First Lady Raising Her Profile Without Changing Her Image


CRAWFORD, Tex., Oct. 14 — This Saturday, a military jet with the code name “Bright Star” will take off from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, bound for a diplomatic mission in the Middle East. It will carry an increasingly outspoken and quietly powerful White House emissary: Laura Bush, the first lady of the United States.

The official purpose of the trip is to promote breast cancer awareness; nobody expects the president’s wife to engage in bare-knuckle negotiations over war and peace. Yet in the twilight of her husband’s presidency, the woman who once made George W. Bush promise she would never have to give a speech is stepping out in a new and unusually substantive way.

At the United Nations General Assembly in late September, Mrs. Bush was in the audience while her husband criticized the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators by the military junta in Myanmar, formerly Burma. But three weeks earlier it had been the first lady, not the president, who picked up the phone to call the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

She is now the administration’s leading voice on the matter, denouncing the junta in official statements, Congressional testimony and, last week, an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.

“I think that this is sort of one of those myths,” she told reporters after the call to...(complete article

Sunday, October 14, 2007


What does it mean to be yourself?
Do we accept who we are, or do we wish to change something about ourselves?
Would you rather be someone else?

Once we accept who we are we can become fully productive.
Once we accept who we are we know what we were made to do.
Once we accept who we are we quit trying to be someone else.
Once we accept who we are we recognize that we are made for a purpose.

I am that which I am;
Nothing more and nothing less.
I am unique.
In all the world there is no one else like me.

Isn't that an awesome thought?
No two of us are exactly the same.
Is that just a product of randomness,
Or is there a plan behind it?

When each of us does what he was made to do
Everything gets done.
The talents and abilities of each person
Complement the talents and abilities of others.
Isn't it amazing?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blog Action Day for the Environment

October 15 is Blog Action Day for the Environment. There is a button with link in my sidebar. I would encourage everyone to join in this particular Action Day. Most of you who read this blog are very conservative. So am I. Al Gore receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for his fiction film on Global Warming doesn't sit too well with me. I think it devalues the Nobel. Although, I guess that Jimmy Carter receiving it some years back pretty much soured me on its value anyway.

On this Blog Action Day there will be thousands of posts by liberal environmental activists crying "doom and gloom" about the environment. We need to make certain that more conservative views are represented.

Don't misunderstand me, I do believe that we need to care for the environment. Water, air and other pollution are health hazards. We are commanded by God to be good stewards of the resources that he places in our care -- which is the earth and all that is in it. However, stewardship implies Conservation -- not Preservation. There is a big difference.

Preservationists want to depopulate the earth. They also desire to see those few who are left living in a "natural" state -- being one with nature. It's interesting to me that the only ones they feel deserve to live on this planet are members of their small but very vocal clique. It is a very elitist position. If most of them were placed in nature without their gadgets and gizmos they would starve to death. Many of them are totally dependent on the technology that they condemn. Al Gore is a prime example. What would he do without his jet to travel around the world?

Conservationists on the other hand are focused on sustainability. It is a concept that makes sense. Conservation is caring for resources in a manner that will provide maximum benefit for now and future use. Conservationists are in favor of sustainable hunting and fishing. They believe in the utilization of natural resources such as land for farming and forests for lumber. The idea of conservation walks a fine line just short of Preservation. Conservationists wish to maintain bio-diversity. The demise of species is potentially detrimental to human populations. Therefore they are proponents of natural reservoirs to maintain viable populations of plants and animals. Their view is that such reservoirs provide a research laboratory that may yield future miracle drugs. They also understand the interlocking web of dependence between each and every plant and animal community. I consider myself to be in the Conservation camp -- sounds a lot like Conservative doesn't it?

We all should be sensitive to environmental issues. I'm sure that none of you would choose to live in a cesspool. That is why I believe it is important to get a Common Sense view posted on this Blog Action Day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

R. E. Lee and Other Heroes

Today is the anniversary of Robert E. Lee's death in 1870. Texas Fred has a commemorative post up about him. One of my favorite biographies is R.E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman. I have a nice edition in my home library.

R.E. Lee: A Biography: 4 Volume Set

I don't consider myself a rabid southerner although I believe the War of Northern Aggression -- a.k.a. the Civil War -- was as much about state's rights as about slavery. Slavery was the catalyst that brought the issue of state sovereignty to the test. I do fear the encroachment of the Federal government on certain areas that should be left to the states for determination. But, I do understand the need for a strong Federal government -- otherwise our country would be constantly in danger of secession.

Robert E. Lee was a strong Christian leader and one of the most brilliant military tacticians to ever wear a uniform. If he had been immediately put in command of all Southern forces rather than serving in multiple lesser capacities for the early part of the war, the result could well have been different. Jefferson Davis was slow to relinquish control and slow to recognize Lee's unique abilities.

Lee had the opportunity to serve in a position of command in either army -- North or South. It was his loyalty to his home state of Virginia that tipped the balance in favor of the South. I believe that his role in the South led to the prolonging of the war. Without his leadership the conflict likely would have been shorter and much less bloody. I believe that blood and suffering was necessary for a final resolution of the issue. If the North had quickly rolled over the South, the issue would have continued to raise its head for years to come -- resulting in additional bloody conflict. The war also cemented the relationship of the states to the Federal government and strengthened Federal control.

Robert E. Lee, in spite of the negatives that have been attached to his name by those who would tie him to the slavery issue, was a great and good man. He was a man of honor and one that should be held in high esteem by all. He was truly a hero.

This date also happens to be the birthday of my Grandmother. She also was a hero. She raised 7 kids on a dryland Oklahoma farm by herself after my Grandfather died (when my father was 12) through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. She died several years ago.

Computer Viruses and Mercy

This has been a week of patience. Last week while traveling, I received a call from one of our offices that they had some "strange things" happening on one of the computers. I suggested a few things to correct the problem but the attempts were unsuccessful.

On Monday of this week when I was at that office, I took it upon myself to try and correct the problem. It was a type of spyware called Ultimate Defender. My McAfee anti-virus software wouldn't touch it so I bought a copy of Norton's System Works to attempt removal. It wouldn't clean it either. I spent part of 3 days trying various things to remove the problem. It would generate pop-ups anytime you did anything on the computer. It was extremely frustrating.

I went in and started manually cleaning everything that I could find. I just couldn't find the file that was re-generating the issue. I finally called Norton and spent $100 to get their help. After about 1 1/2 hours on the phone with a guy in India who had to take control of the computer over the Internet and manually remove the problem it was fixed.

Apparently one of my employees had been visiting some sites that he shouldn't have. I asked the Norton Technician what caused the problem and he said that most commonly this type of virus comes from porn sites or from MySpace/MyWay sites. This particular one came in on a video file. The file was innocent appearing but contained something worse than AIDS.

I called a meeting of my employees and told them plainly that if I ever found one of them visiting a porn site or MySpace/MyWay on a company computer again it would be grounds for immediate dismissal. I knew from the nervous reaction throughout my 2 1/2 days of working on the problem who the guilty party was. He's young and didn't realize the risk. I believe that he got the message.

Sometimes mercy is the best response. If done correctly it can often change behavior. I am thankful that God has mercy on me. I don't deserve it, but His mercy is my only hope of redemption.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Rather Lengthy Meme!

Janie at Sounding Forth has tagged me for a meme.

A) Four jobs that I've held --

1) General Manager
2) Salesman
3) Regional Manager
4) Division Manager
5) Loan Officer

B) Four films I could watch over and over

1) Lord of the Rings (all)
2) Star Wars (all)
3) McClintock
4) Indiana Jones (all)
5) Independence Day

C) Four TV shows I watch

1) Stargate SG1 (occasionally)
2) Eureka (occasionally)
3) NCIS (occasionally)
4) College football if A&M or Texas Tech are playing
5) Dallas Cowboys -- until I fall asleep in my chair

D) Four places I've lived

1) Olton, Texas
2) Muleshoe, Texas
3) Minneola, Kansas
4) Red Cloud, Nebraska
5) Justin, Texas

E) Four favorite foods

1) Chicken fried steak
2) Brisket
3) Ribeye steak
4) Any kind of beef
5) Blue Bell ice cream -- you can tell I'm a healthy eater.

F) Four websites I visit daily

2) Fox News
3) Drudge Report
4) Yahoo
5) iGoogle

G) Four favorite colors

1) Blue
2) Green
3) Red
4) Khaki
5) Maroon

H) Four places I would love to be right now

U.S. Other
1) Red River, New Mexico 1a) Dublin, Ireland
2) Portland, Oregon 2a) Adelaide, Australia
3) Nashville, Tennessee 3a) Fiji
4) Washington, DC 4a) Buenos Aires
5) New York, New York 5a) Jamaica

I) Four names I love but could/would not use for my children

1) Constantinople -- beats me why
2) Luke Skywalker -- it sounds so forceful
3) Obiwan Kenobi -- it really rolls off the tongu
4) Snickerdoodle -- 'cause I like the cookies
5) Jesus -- It is a name I love to hear...

Now I'm supposed to tag four bloggers. I will pass on that, however, if any of you who read this would like to participate, leave a comment and have at it.

Monday, October 8, 2007


In the stillness of the evening
As I reflect upon the day
I first replay the struggles
That I faced along the way

Until exhausted from the thinking
Of how bad they came to be
I stop in realization
They have gained control of me.

So I slowly shift my thoughts
To the good things that occurred
Until the bad on which I'd focused
Is now completely blurred.

The victory of this day
Is when I think about the good
And it changes my perspective
Just the way it should.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." __Philippians 4:8

Sunday, October 7, 2007

First Fantasy Baptist Church

Welcome to the First Fantasy Baptist Church
Read the sign over the door --
At least that's what I was looking for.

Instead I found that once inside
The fantasy I was seeking had died
And in its place were real people.

I expect to be entertained!
Crank up the music;
Put on a show.

But in its place was much too loud
And slightly off key in a place or two
And a prayer that lasted way too long.

Oh, but surely the preacher
Will move me in my pew
And make me see the Pearly Gates.

But about 12:10 as he was finally winding down
The realization set in that
All I got was the same old sermon on gettin' saved.

What's wrong with churches nowadays?
Don't they know that they've got to keep our attention
Or we'll go on down the road?

They expect us to put something in the plate
And be greeters or maybe teachers
Or help out in the nursery.

I even saw a Deacon at the liquor store the other day
And he was leaving with a brown paper bag
Yet they expect me to go visit people?

They're just a bunch of hypocrites in there
That cheat on their taxes
And make too big a profit down at the store.

I think I'll just drop out.
I don't need a church like that.
I can get better on T.V.

Those people outta start livin' like it says in The Good Book.
You know, love your neighbor
And give to the poor.

Why would they expect me to go there
If they can't live
The way The Good Book says?

Besides, they act better'n me.
They all wear fancy clothes
And drive big cars.

Why don't they share some of that wealth?
I could sure do something with it!
I'd give half of it away!

I'll just sit here and listen to the T.V. preacher.
He's better anyway.
They won't even come and visit me.

They're just a bunch of hypocrite holy rollers.
I won't waste my time on them.
Besides, the football game starts at 11:30.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not die but have everlasting life." __ John 3:16

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Turns to apathy
And then remembrance.

A cause
Becomes a lost cause
Until it is an "if only."

Restless energy
Replaced by patient endurance
Rests in tales of past exploits.

Fade into reality
Merging to memories.

Grows to middle-age
And finally the wisdom of the elderly.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Harvest Time

Harvest time
Piles of grain
Changing leaves
Cool mornings
New wheat springing
Rural towns bustling
Kids in school
Hurry in the air
Fruits of summer's of labor
Before the winter rest.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Condensed Trip Summary

Two great meetings and one cancellation -- so went our trip this week. In spite of the cancellation, it was extremely successful. We have a number of new customers as a result and a much closer relationship with the customer that helped to sponsor the trip. It was definitely a win-win-win situation.

The area of the country that we were traveling into was in the midst of corn and soybean harvest. It was the reason that we had the one cancellation. Priorities...

Hopefully, I will be able to get back into a regular routine of posting tomorrow.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Howdy from Wichita, Kansas. I've had a difficult time posting anything for awhile now -- at least on this blog. I've done a little better over on my "Common Sense Agriculture, Conservation and Energy" blog since it is more closely related with work -- which seems to be taking up most of my time. That's OK. It's what pays the bills.

I will be heading into northeastern Kansas today and then into Missouri tomorrow. Hopefully I will have some time this evening to post something. I don't know. We have a meeting set and I will be presenting. I probably will be wired up and unable to sleep afterward, so maybe I'll post something.