Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This Got My Attention

I recently read The Last Jihad (Political Thrillers Series #1) by Joel C. Rosenberg.  A little history on the book:  It was written pre-9/11 but uncannily predicts a major terrorist attack and war with Iraq.  It was not published until after a "moderating" period and then with minor changes because of the recent history.  One of the centerpieces of the story is the discovery of major natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel and Lebanon.

Natural gas could lead to new Lebanon-Israel war


The book was one that I couldn't put down.  I now have to read the rest of the series.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Visit to the Mountain Oyster Club

This past Wednesday, I was one of the presenters at a Cattlemen's gathering at the famed Mountain Oyster Club in Tucson, Arizona.  It is a private club with limited membership.  The gathering was tremendously successful.  It's too bad that I couldn't take photos inside the club.  Of course, all I had with me was my Blackberry.  I've GOT to start taking my camera with me when I travel!

There is beautiful Southwestern Art throughout the club as well as historic photos.  Of course, the theme of Mountain Oysters is evident about anywhere that you look.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

God in the Science Classroom

First, let me say that I believe that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them.  That is not to say that I understand how he did it.

Science, the study of the natural world, arose from man's desire to better understand God's creation.  Most early scientists had a strong belief in God -- whether Muslim, Greek, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu or Christian.  However, over the years, as scientists gained greater understanding of the created order, they began to subscribe to the idea that there was no God.  This is a logical conclusion when one accepts the concept that what is knowable cannot be of something beyond comprehension -- i.e. God.  In order to be God as Creator, it must be accepted that he exists as a being greater than man.  Therefore, if man can understand what is, then there must be no being greater than man.

The problem that scientists run into is that in spite of their great knowlege and ever increasing understanding of the created, there is always something more -- something beyond their understanding.  The fact that they continue to understand more, however, leads to the conclusion that they can understand all.  This, I believe, is one reason so many in the scientific community have rejected God.

The article linked below was written by an atheist science teacher.  It is a very thoughtful essay.

God in the classroom
All science teachers, whatever their specialism, have to deal with questions about God. We should be prepared

Friday, July 16, 2010


Not that I ever really completely gave up maintaining multiple blogs, but, I did take an extended break from doing so.  But, so that you know, for those 2 or 3 of you who might be interested, I've gone back to posting (at least for now) regularly at "Panhandle's Perspective."  It is a bit more political than "Panhandle Poetry and Other Thoughts."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I've been enjoying a short break from travel for a couple of weeks now. It has taken some readjustment!

There have been plenty of things to keep me busy though. I have a presentation to a group of cattlemen next week that I've been preparing for as well as a convention/trade show where I will have a booth -- both in Tucson, Arizona. The following week I will be doing a half-day training session for a large ranch in Central Texas. They sell genetics in various forms and employ several full-time salesmen. Their manager asked me to come do a Sales Training seminar for them. I am excited about it but, it has taken a lot of preparation because that is not the type of training that I normally do other than for my own staff. This will be a more formal type of program.

You never know what life will throw your way! The Sales Training request came "out-of-the-blue". The thing most interesting about it to me is that lately I believe God has been impressing on me that I need to spend time passing on what I have learned to others. The timing of the request was, shall we say, attention getting!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arizona: The Catalyst for Leadership?

I'll be out in Arizona the week after next.  Do you think I'll need my passport?

There are no Statesmen in leadership positions in our government anymore, only self-serving, power seeking, vote hungry politicians.

There have been people of that caliber in local, state and national politics since the founding of our country.  I think the difference today is that there are so few who do not fit that description that they are not only ineffective but unnoticed.

Is the "Tea Party" the answer?  Maybe it is the beginnings of one.  It is a symptom but, likely not the cure.  It is a symptom of the dissatisfaction of a large portion of the American public with politics as usual.  It lacks cohesiveness.

It is time for a strong leader to step forward and energize not only the dissatisfied, but also the rational thinkers who would restore sanity to our government.  I believe that people like Sarah Palin and Jan Brewer will play a role in shaping the resistance to the drift toward failure of the Republic, but, it will take someone completely outside the system to provide the type of leadership needed.

Big government is not the answer.  Individual, corporate, media and government accountability for their actions is what is needed.  We require a properly informed public willing to throw the "bums" out.  Therein lies a valid reason for limiting who can vote.

One step in establishing qualifications for voting would be to adhere to the requirements for obtaining citizenship.  If voters were required to pass the test for citizenship as well as to endure the required waiting period provided by law for those aliens following the proper steps for naturalization, the number of voters would be significantly reduced.  (You can see a sample of study questions here.)

The road we as a Nation are traveling is similar in many ways to that traveled by the Romans.  We have traveled it much faster than they did.  I wonder if Charlie Daniels will still be around to "play the fiddle" while we burn.

As we examine the shaping battle over Immigration, let us not forget that we are all descendants of immigrants (that includes so-called Native Americans).  Most of our ancestors came legally.  They earned their citizenship.

The Southern border of our country has been in turmoil through much of our history.  It has seen incursions from Mexicans and it has been crossed by U.S. troops (and Texas Rangers) in pursuit.  It has a rather porous history.  In those times when the violence of criminal elements became excessive, the citizens usually stepped up first and the military reluctantly followed much later.  With the possible exception of the administration of George W. Bush, Washington has always lacked the political will to take preemptive, proactive steps.  It has always been slow to act (with very few exceptions in history) until the people rose up in anger at their inactivity.

The border is part of "flyover" country.  The rich and powerful (this includes the majority of national elected figures), living in the isolated luxury of the suburbs on the East Coast or certain sections of the West Coast see no urgency to our problems.  Until they begin to feel the "sting" within their protected environs, they will not act.  Money still drives political will in our national Capitol.

I suspect there are those among them who profit from the drug and human trafficking.  It wouldn't be the first time in history that wealth was built on illegal trade (Rum Runners and Slavers).  Globalization of such enterprises has followed a general globalization of big business.  It also makes interdiction more difficult.

The way we vote is a beginning, but, political activism must go beyond voting.  We need to sound a steady drumbeat of pressure on Washington to address the problems we face.  Those problems go far beyond the issue of Immigration, but, perhaps it will be the catalyst for action.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why Do We Do What We Do?

Why do we do what we do for a living?  This is a question that I believe we all need to ask ourselves from time-to-time.

I think the answers would surprise those who know us.  I think that if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer might surprise us.

I look back through the years at my "raising" as well as my education -- both formal and on-the-job -- and at my career(s) and can see that where I have been has shaped where I am.  I suppose that is only logical and is true for pretty much everyone.  But, what I really mean is that there seems to be a definitive "shaping" of who I am that prepared me for what I am doing.

Such a view obviously implies a belief in Divine Guidance.  Yes, I do believe that God actively works in our lives to shape us into what He would have us to be.  Does that include our career?  Perhaps, because it is such an integral part of our life and exerts tremendous shaping influences on us.

I become frustrated when I hear someone talk about how bad it is that when we visit with others the conversation almost always turns to work.  This occurs with friends, acquaintances and people that we have just met.  It is especially common in men.  Women often turn to the topic of family rather than career.  But, I believe God designed them uniquely for a nurturing role.

Our career is often a place where we can serve others.  Yes, many are very self-serving in their jobs, but, it doesn't have to be so.  Whatever we do -- unless illegal, immoral or unethical -- can be done in a way that others benefit.

If a person is unhappy with what they are doing, it is likely that there is something about their reason for doing it that is not right.  I suppose that some belief systems might refer to it as being in harmony with ourselves.  I think that it is a result of either not being in the job that you are made for or doing the job for the wrong reason.  Which brings us to attitude.

If our attitude is one of service to others, any job can take on a completely different complexion.  If we are sweeping floors and cleaning toilets, it can be with the attitude that I am providing a clean environment for others and therefore making their lives better.  However, if it is just for the paycheck, I will likely feel that it is a demeaning job.

I believe that God designed each of us with a purpose.  We are shaped by Him to serve others.  If we find what it is that He has designed us to do and pursue it with all of our heart in service to Him and to our fellow man, we will find joy and happiness in our life.  And, we will be successful.

I think that it was Sam Walton who said something to the effect that, "Success is achieved by serving others.  The greater the service, the greater the success."  -- and if he didn't say it, my apologies, he should have!

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Getting It Together

You would think that after all of these years of writing I could get my act together.  I have things that I have written in about a "jillion" locations -- and nothing organized.  I have files of research that I would have to hunt half-a-day to find and then by the time that I found it, I would have forgotten why I was looking for it in the first place!

I've had a number of articles published through the years and many more that should/could have been.  It seems strange that I don't recall ever having one turned down for publication.  It could be because I'm picky about what I submit.

I've never written for the money, I write because I feel compelled to do so.  But, I have been paid for things that I have written.  Occasionally, pretty good money.  So, I ask myself, "Why don't I write more?"

That's a tough question to answer.  I guess it's because I've never depended on it for a living.  I've never had to write (except of course in school).  I've always supported myself in other ways.

I am working on a novel -- well, that could be a bit misleading.  It would be more accurate to say that I occasionally write a few pages in a novel that I've been working on for years.  I have about five chapters completed -- OK, that's probably not accurate either -- I have five chapters that will probably go through multiple revisions before I am satisfied with them.  I even have the outline of the complete story worked out in my head.  Sometimes, I think, that's the hardest thing -- a good outline.  If you don't know where you're going, how can you get there?

Back to my original thought -- I have files upon files, in multiple boxes, of things that I have written.  Everything from poetry and music to short stories and journals.  I think this is blog post number 545 on this blog and for awhile I maintained two other blogs.  So, why don't I do something more with my writing besides just accumulating it for posterity?  If you know the answer, please share it with me!  In the meantime, I will relieve the compulsion to write with blog posts such as this.

Monday, July 5, 2010


One of the things that I face after a long bout of travel is to deal with the things that seem to accumulate on my desk while I am gone.  I handle most of the crucial business tasks from the road but, there are some items that end up in various piles on my desk that require my attention when I can.

One of those items is to go through the seemingly endless pile of trade publications for items of interest.  I suppose that I could leave this task for someone else, but I've found that I pick out things that others deem irrelevant.  It isn't that my eye is any better or worse than theirs, it's just that I have things in mind that items occasionally fit that aren't obviously related to my job.  One thing that might fall into this category is things that illustrate points that I want to emphasize in a presentation.  They don't have to be directly related to the specific subject -- just good illustrations of a point.

Some of the other things for which I look when scanning the publications are 1) articles directly related to my business, 2) articles written by others in my business, 3) articles written by or about friends, 4) advertisements related to our business, 5) advertisements of competitors (mere pretenders), or 6) items referring to customers or prospective customers.  Hmmm....that doesn't leave much.

I sometimes will cut articles out of the publications and put them into 3-ring binders.  This is primarily reserved for articles specifically related to our business -- especially research.  Occasionally I will scan a particular article and e-mail it to others.  I sometimes will cut out an ad from a competitor and place it in a file.  I will visually scan or sometimes read thoroughly, any articles about customers or prospects.

It doesn't seem like a big deal until you consider how quickly the publications pile up.  I faced an eight-inch stack this morning.  It took about one hour to get through them.  That included all of the activities in the previous paragraph.

The key is to handle them once, then "chunk" them.  Don't put them aside for later; deal with them now (although now sometimes gets delayed).  If you have to pick them up more than once you are wasting time.  I don't know about you, but I never seem to have enough of that!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Drinking Gene

If you’ve got any “westering” blood in you, you probably also carry the “drinking gene.” Just think about it. Why would men leave the cozy safety of fireside and feminine company for the wilds of the unsettled if they didn’t have something that drove them to it?

You might respond that they were looking for opportunity. Well, that’s all and good except there’s opportunity about everywhere one looks. It’s just a matter of hard work and stick-to-it-ness that turns anything into success.

I suspect many a lazy drunk headed west because his wife drove him to it. Can’t you just hear the conversation?

Her: “Get your lazy rear up and get to work. You won’t never accomplish anything settin’ there with that jug!”

Him: “Ain’t nothing here to accomplish! All the good land is already taken and so are all the good jobs.”

Her: “We got land that could be cleared, wood that needs cuttin’, huntin’ to do and hogs that need butchered and here you sit, sippin’ from a jug and complainin’. All it takes is some industry to turn it into a pretty good livin’!”

A few days go by during which he makes a trip to town where he and his buddies share a jug and a little conversation. They hear tales about the glorious west with furs for the taking, gold for the plucking and land that stretches clear to the horizon. So, filled with liquid courage, our good man goes back to his young bride and says, “You’re right honey, you deserve the good life. I’m gonna head west and make us a fortune and then send for you to come out and join me.

She responds, “You just do that. It can’t be any worse than what I’ve already got. I already do most of the work around here. Don’t come back ‘til you’ve made your fortune.”

That was one scenario. Here is another.

Lewis and Clark are putting together an expedition to map the Louisiana Purchase. They scratch their heads in perplexity at the daunting task of finding a group of men to go with them. They realize they will face hardships and hostile Indians. They know that many of them won’t return. Finally one looks to the other (I’ve no idea which) and says, “Jefferson gave me a good bit of money to get this expedition going, why don’t we head down to the waterfront to one of those bars and see if we can make us a few friends. We’ll get ‘em drunk and then get ‘em to sign on. We need lots of booze because we may have to keep ‘em drunk ‘til we’re half way there. It will need to be far enough out that they will be safer sticking with us than heading back on their own.”

So, they went to the bar and ordered drinks for everyone. Then they issued a challenge: “I’ll bet there ain’t a one of you sorry cases that’s tough enough to join us on a little expedition out west. We only want the meanest, toughest, orneriest types to go with us. We’ll cross some of the wildest lands and fight some of the deadliest Indians on the continent until we get all the way to the Pacific Ocean and I’ll bet there ain’t a one of you that can handle the trip!”

Well, you know that courage pours out of those bottles right along with the colored liquid they contain. Nearly every man in the joint took offense at the challenge and signed on immediately along with belittling and bullying any laggards into doing the same. It only took one stop to fill the quota of men needed and the expedition was ready to go. It only needed two wagons of rotgut booze to make it to the Mississippi and another boatload to start west.

Or, let’s try another scenario.

This one occurs in the Deep South in the early 1800’s after a round of drinking that impaired the judgment of the participants.

“You have impugned my honor for the last time, sir. I challenge you to a duel at 30 paces!”

After the challenger and the challenged have raised their level of courage to a point sufficient to the event by sipping from the little brown jug, they meet at the appointed time and place. Such events were generally considered outside the law even in those perilous times, yet they occurred nonetheless. The trouble was, often the victor became outside the law but was in a better position than the loser who was perhaps, dead. Hence, the victor often traveled west where his past could easily disappear into, well, the past, and no questions were asked.

So, you see, many of the ancestors of us folks out west had a little of the “drinking gene” that drove them beyond the borders of civilization and into the wilds. It makes you wonder if the West would ever have been settled without the little brown jug.

[The idea for this brief piece came from the 1927 book, “Trails Plowed Under” by Charles M. Russell.]

[Since this was published I came across the following linked article:  Genes Influence Your Response to Others' Drinking Habits  -- hmmmmm......]