Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Travel and Work

When I travel for my work I find the hours are mighty long;
I work when I awake and often well into the night.

The phone is always ringing, this computer in my hand
That buzzes with the e-mail or when a text the screen does light.

Instead of setting it aside to wait until the 'morrow
I frequently just deal with it and sometimes work quite late.

For what else am I going to do while stuck in a hotel
Since I care not for the t.v. where mindless heads do prate?

I usually fill the silence with a keyboard in my hand
And if by chance I find the time I often sit and write;

It is a simple thing that can occupy my mind
Even if it's something like this Blog I wrote last night.

[Sometimes I experiment a bit with which lines rhyme.  This one is a little awkward, but the pattern worked.  I'm sure some English teacher or, literary purist would have a fit over it, but I don't write for them anyway....]

(It's kinda cool that you can schedule when it posts....)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Obsessed by Politics?

I hate politics.  I hate politics.  I hate politics.

Now that you know how I feel about politics I'm going to write about politics.

I am fiscally conservative and somewhat middle-of-the-road on many social issues.  If I were to identify with any particular candidate it would probably be a mix of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.  To sum it up, quit taking my money and spending it wastefully and quit trying to legislate morality.  Protect our borders, negotiate free trade, but let people live their life the way they want as long as it doesn't directly infringe on the rights of others.

The media is obsessed by politics.  Why?  I suppose it is the greatest source of drama and controversy available and we all know that is what sells.  The only possible greater source would be Hollywood which seems to thrive on controversy.  Both are driven by the "look at me" syndrome of a child who just wants to be noticed.

I suppose that in a nutshell, it takes a narcissist to want to be a politician.  I have a hard time going around begging people for money so that I can confiscate more of their money, attempt to run their lives and then expect them to "worship" me for what I did to them.  Just leave me alone.  Provide an environment in which I can take my own path in the "pursuit of happiness."  That's probably why I took a path other than politics.

Am I obsessed with politics too?  I guess in a way I am.  I am obsessed with a hatred of it.  Hate is a strong word that I don't use very often.  Perhaps righteous anger would be a better description of how I feel -- or may righteous indignation.  I am indignant that our political system has devolved to such a level.

It doesn't surprise me though.  Fallen mankind is acting out the age-old drama of placing "self" in the center of all things.  Until we elect political representatives (notice the switch in terms here) that place their faith in God rather than themselves, nothing will change.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Book Shopping

Normal Saturdays are filled with various chores such as mowing the lawn and other things around the house.  Frequently, at least part of the day is spent working at the ranch doing one of the myriad never-ending chores there.  Yesterday, we instead spent a day of relaxation.

We woke to a brief light rain that didn't do much to ease the drought, but at least brought temporary respite to the high temperature which soared later in the day.  It did, however, cause us to spend a little time just relaxing and doing some reading.

Because of the drought, we did have to feed some hay to the cows and check their water.  During heat and drought, water is the number one most essential thing for the cattle.  Afterward, instead of spending time working on the never-ending encroachment of brush, or some other task, we headed back to town.

After a brief nap following lunch, we drove to a larger town to do some shopping and so that I could get a desperately needed haircut.  We had a gift card for Olive Garden and planned on eating dinner there, which we did, but having some time to kill we decided to head to 1/2 Priced Bookstore for a little shopping.

I must admit that books are one of my weaknesses.  Fortunately, my wife shares a similar enjoyment of reading and there is no end to the books in our home.  I have read most of them, but there are a few that are specifically hers which don't appeal to me.

I could spend hours in a bookstore.  Actually, that probably isn't true.  I seem to immediately find an armful of books that I am interested in reading and am ready to head to the checkout counter so that I can get started on them.  The only exception to that is when I have limited myself to a specific amount of money that I am willing to spend that particular trip and have difficulty choosing which of the many desirable choices I want to invest in.

Yesterday was one of those days that I had more books than I could comfortably carry within about five minutes of entering the store.  My wife is a little more choosey in her reading and it took her a little longer, so I then proceeded to annoy her (probably) by helping her find books.  I'm saying, "What about this one?  Did you see this?  You might like this one." or, some such, while she is likely thinking, "Please, let me look on my own!"

After awhile she said, "Are you ready to check out?  I'm hungry."  Of course, I had been ready for some time, but was perfectly willing to let her shop.  Yeah, I'm not much fun to go shopping with.  Browsing isn't my thing.  Let me go find what I want, get it bought and get out.

Now, to work through this stack of books.  Which one first....?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Gentle Sound of Rain

This morning I awoke
To the quiet sound of rain
Upon this dry and dusty arid plain

It brought a gentle comfort
As I lay there in my bed
Thinking how it brought a peace into my head

I thought how only yesterday
The dust arose like smoke
And clogged the air I breathed and made me choke

And I remembered cattle coughing
Standing still beneath the shade
The few and scraggly trees and bushes made

But, the simple sound of moisture
Falling gently from the sky
Promised their relief was surely nigh

In my head I thanked my Maker
For the blessings He bestows
Then quietly rose and slipped into my clothes

And walked to the window
To look out upon the rain
Falling gently on this sun-scorched weary plain

Friday, July 27, 2018

Never Ending Labor

It seems there is no end to the tasks that need doing at the ranch.  Today it is clearing brush from a fence line and preparing a level area to set a replacement stock water tank.  At 7:00 a.m. it is already 80 degrees with humidity of 64% and the sun hasn't shown itself for the high clouds which hold little promise of much needed rain.

We do most of the physical labor on our place; it is not a large ranch requiring numerous employees,  it is small and I have a hard time paying someone else to do what I can do.  Some might argue that if I am able, I should hire someone else to give them a job.  I've never seen it that way.

If I have time and am both physically able and have the knowledge to do a job, I will do it.  If I don't have the requisite knowledge or, tools for some jobs, I might hire someone else to do it -- such as cutting and baling hay.  If I don't have the time due to more remunerative employment of my personal labor, I will hire things done.

I was never one to think that just because I am able to pay someone else to do the job that I should sit back and watch them toil away while I play the role of "boss."  It isn't my style.  I guess, because of that, I can more easily relate to folks who "work" for a living than I can those who merely "boss others" for a living.  I don't like to ask someone to do a job that I am unwilling to do.

Oh, well, so much for the digression into my theories of doing physical labor...there is work to be done and we're burning daylight.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Make a Difference

Success comes sneaking in the door
With little acts each day
That take you toward your every goal
With steps that never stray.

It's making sure the things you do
Lead toward your lifelong dream
No matter how the headwinds
Make it feel you're losing steam.

If what you seek is worthy
You will overcome all strife
And you'll truly make a difference
In another person's life.

Keep your focus on each goal
That you have set for every day
As you travel on this journey
Of the Straight and Narrow Way.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars

I mentioned the other day that we try to manage our ranch in a way that supports wildlife.  Today, I found a great example of that.  Monarch butterflies.

I took the grand kids on a hike this morning and we discovered that the Monarch caterpillars are in full swing devouring the milkweeds that we deliberately allow to grow in certain areas of the ranch.  They can only thrive in grassland.

Here are some photos of the caterpillars.  Can you spot them?  We only saw one Monarch butterfly in the air and I was unable to get a photo of it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ice Cream

Some of the more vivid memories of my childhood come from family gatherings at my grandparents house when they still lived out on the farm which was ten miles out in the country in the wide open Texas Panhandle.  Grandpa would have a watermelon or two chilling in the shade of a huge elm tree, or possibly in the cow tank.  Generally the women would spend a lot of time with cooking pies and the huge meals it took to feed everyone.

The other thing that stands out in my mind is making homemade ice cream.  The freezer was hand cranked by one of my uncles while I typically got the job of sitting on top of it.  Why, you might wonder, did I have to sit on top?  To keep it from moving around while the handle was being cranked to churn the ice cream!

It was a cold seat on top the churn which was filled with ice and salt in order to make the ice cream mix freeze.  Grandma usually would have several "flour sack" towels folded over it to cover the ice and provide insulation as well as a dry seat for me.  The tub of the ice cream maker would sit inside a larger wash tub to catch the slushy slurry of ice, water and salt which came out of the small hole on the side.

Sometimes we would sit in the shade, but most often we would sit on the back porch while it was being churned.  Whichever uncle was in charge of turning the crank would sit on an overturned bucket.  It was easy to tell when the ice cream was almost ready because it became harder to turn the crank and the churn "wanted to walk" around within the wash tub.  That's the reason I sat there listening to the constant sound of the churn going around and around in the ice.

Those were good memories.  They come to mind because today we are making homemade ice cream for the grand kids.  The crank has been replaced by an electric motor, but hopefully the memories being created will still be good ones.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Environmental Ranching

It seems there is no end to hard manual labor on a ranch.  It doesn't matter whether it is a large or small ranch, there is always fence to mend, brush to clear, water to fix, animals to feed, or something else that needs done come rain or shine, heat or cold.

We moved to this part of Texas because it was a great place to raise cattle.  The reason it is a great place is because it gets plenty of rain to grow lots of grass for them to eat.  That same rain makes trees and brush grow too.  It seems that constant vigilance is in order or the trees will take over the place.

If you are a global warming alarmist, you might think we should let the trees take over until they choke out all of the grass and the land will no longer support cattle.  I actually understand that logic but, it is incomplete.  If you value wildlife and proper management of the land and environment, you must realize it is important to have a complete ecosystem in order to be sustainable.

If allowed to grow unchecked, the first trees to move in typically have thorns and are very short lived.  They create thickets that harbor very little wildlife for the most part.  As they choke out the grasses, they allow other, longer-lived varieties of trees to take hold, such as oaks which begin to grow in areas that aren't completely choked by thorny varieties.  The oaks and other large trees, over time begin to decay and fall and the rotten, decaying logs wash into waterways and choke them causing flooding.  The flooding causes further degradation of the environment until the land becomes virtually unusable except to feral hogs and such.

I admit that I am simplifying things a bit as well as compressing decades into what appear to be shorter spans of time, but essentially that is the process of succession.  The brush-choked, decaying forest is also a prime opportunity for fires to rage uncontrollably for many miles.  If burned, the land is then highly subject to extreme erosion.  The soil which washes away destroys stream and lake health causing fish to die.  It ultimately ends up in the ocean or contributes to destroying estuaries.

The alternative is controlled grazing with sculpting of the land by allowing old-growth trees to flourish along water courses in order to control erosion.  Minor brush infestations can be cleared through controlled burning.  The grasses act as a filter for the water going into waterways so that it is cleaner and healthier.  Cattle grazing the grassland control undesirable species.  Wildlife flourish because of the variation in the environment.  Very little, if any, erosion occurs.

Most animals prefer what is referred to as edge.  Edge is where two different types of plant growth come together.  It can be the edge of a forest adjacent to grassland, or the border of large trees growing along a stream.  It allows animals a place to move from an area of high food value to one of "cover" or protection very quickly.

I spend a lot of time on the ranch managing those things.  It is important to me that we have a complete ecosystem on our ranch so that wildlife have a safe place to grow and propagate.  I want to see deer and bobcat and songbirds thrive just as much as I want the cattle to thrive.  Cattle need the shade of trees as well as grass.  A properly managed ranch provides for both while locking carbon into the grasses, the trees and the soil.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Driving Lessons

I remember the first time I got to drive by myself.  I was probably about 10 or 12 years old and had gone to the ranch with my grandfather.  We had been working on a water sprinkler and after awhile we had worked our way about a 1/2 mile away from the pickup.  The pasture was wide open and Grandpa had been giving me some basic instruction on driving, but with him in the pickup with me.

I guess he took advantage of me because he asked me if I wanted to go get the pickup and drive it back to pick him up.  He must have been planning this ahead of time.  Of course I ran the 1/2 mile to the pickup and drove it to him.  He asked me to pull up to a specific fence post and stop just before I got to it.  I had to back up and try 3 or 4 times before I got it right.  By then he was through with the fencing job and it was time to go back to the old trailer house that served as somewhat of a line camp for the ranch.

This comes to mind because the grand kids are visiting this weekend.  This morning we went out to the ranch where they did a little fishing in one of the ponds while I did some work.  There father was with them and the two oldest got to take turns driving the Polaris Ranger.  He was with them giving close instruction.

This afternoon the 2nd oldest (who is a very tall 8 year old) and I went back out to do some feeding and he got to drive the pickup.  I sat in the passenger seat and he had full control.  He got to drive about 1/2 mile from the pens up to the gate which leads out onto the county road.  He was pretty excited about it.

I'm looking forward to having some young legs to help me out during the summers.  If he only knew why he was getting to learn to drive....

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Summer Trips

Summer is the season people like to take a trip
In a car across the country; in a hurry they do zip

Until they reach a destination sometimes never been before
Where they ooh and ah attractions while craving even more.

Then they come home tired and weary to their permanent abode
Worn out from their journey on the long and open road.

I thought that a vacation was to be a time of rest
To escape the ordinary -- let our mind relax at best

But, instead it is endurance often drives the weary soul
Once more to accomplish some listed unmarked goal,

Returning home again to face tomorrow's task
Unrested and still needing time to just sit and relax

Friday, July 20, 2018

Putin to Washington?

I think it is a great idea that President Trump has extended an invitation to President Putin to come to Washington.  If we are proud of our country we should show it off.  I for one am proud.

While there, I think the protesters which will turn out en masse, should be relegated to some obscure area and blocked from the proximity of the White House, Capitol Building or other prominent monuments and places.  Let Putin see us in our "Sunday finest."  Take him to a grocery store, a factory, a museum, a shopping mall.  Let him see what Capitalism is all about.  Make him envious.

We should do the same for leaders of other countries such as China.  We should even invite Kim Jong Un from North Korea.  They don't all have to be treated to a State Dinner, but they should all be shown what is possible under a system of government that allows Capitalism to thrive.

The press will take care of seeing that the protests are televised and likely blow them out of proportion.  The protesters never represent the majority of citizens; they are usually the vocal minority who are either hired by powerful moneyed groups with an agenda, or they are dedicated members of a minority cause (minority in the sense of numbers, not ethnicity, gender inspecificity, etc.)  Do what other countries do and keep the "riff-raff" in the background.  Show the world the good side of who we are.

Just my thoughts....

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Day of Opportunity

Opportunity waits with each new day
If we but ope' our eyes
It sometimes comes with clarity
At others in disguise

The world would steal our hopes and dreams
And tell us it's not real
It comes at us in jealousy
Our happiness to steal

Sometimes we have to seize the day
And make what comes be ours
Subduing all that seek to sway
Sent by unearthly powers

Focus on the distant goal
Though all else is at odd
And capture opportunity
Placed there for us by God

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lost in Translation

I've been on a project that involves working with a group in Argentina.  It has been challenging for a number of reasons:
  • It involved the taking of samples to genotype for specific genetic markers on cattle in Argentina.
  • Due to regulatory restrictions and potential intellectual property issues, the evaluations had to be made either in the U.S. or the U.K.
  • Import restrictions of animal tissue into those countries from Argentina is very strict due to potential spread of infectious disease so, the DNA had to be extracted there before shipping.
  • The company we had partnered with is U.K. based.
  • The genotyping ended up being done in the U.S.
  • Results were then transmitted electronically to us for analysis.
  • Gaining regulatory clearance for importation was made more difficult due to the transitions to a new Executive Team in the U.S. who insisted on reviewing all past policies before allowing the clearance.
  • There were language barrier issues -- not just in the words themselves, but their understood meaning within common usage of multiple cultures.
  • There were cultural barriers -- primarily the sense of urgency is lacking in Latin America.
  • There was an individual within our U.K. partner's organization who was somewhat obstructionist due to fears we were usurping her territorial authority.
  • There was the inherent bureaucratic dawdling of U.K. based companies -- if there is no clear policy, do nothing.
  •  Since much of the data was collected in Argentina, the combining into a uniform database was complicated by the terminology.
  • Standards for a large subset of the data are different in Argentina vs. in the U.S.
  • Time seems to have a very different meaning in Latin America.
Thankfully, we have almost completed the collection and collation stages of the project.  Now come the analysis and reporting.  Let's hope we connected all of the dots correctly....

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The World in Our Hand

Everywhere I look I see people staring at their hand
As though there was something important there to see.
They miss so much around them with their eyes so firmly fixed
I wonder how important it must be!

Maybe its some kind of window that looks out upon the world
With vistas grand that hold them oh so rapt
Or, maybe there's some monster that lurks there within their hand
That has their mind completely in a trap.

I suspect it is the latter if the truth were really known
As to why so many lose their self control
And focus on the shiny thing that lies within their hand
Even while they're on a quiet country stroll.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Art of a Really Big Deal?

It is interesting to note the commentary today after the meeting between President Trump and Russian President Putin.  It seems to be consensus that Putin gained and Trump lost.  I seriously doubt that is the reality of the situation.  Here are my thoughts:
  • Russia has tremendous resources but is backward in many ways as an economy.
  • Trump's focus and basis for everything he has done appears to be business and making deals.
  • Leverage for gaining what one wants is based in economic power (at least that's the way I suspect Trump views things).
  • Russia could "balance" China.
  • Russia can offset the E.U.
As to the claim that Trump "trusts" Putin above his own intelligence service on the matter of election interference, can you really blame him when you see the farcical hearings of FBI agent Strzok and the supposed "blackmail" file that our esteemed CIA was involved in collecting and releasing during the campaign?  Would you trust the Deep State?

Then we have the comments about the EU being our opponent.  Certainly they are an opponent relative to the Iranian Nuclear Deal in which the EU continues to trade with Iran while we re-imposed sanctions.  They are negating our efforts to thwart the rise of a nuclear Iran.  What else would you call them?

I believe the President sees opportunity with Russia.  There is opportunity for trade which might be the "fertilizer" to strengthen the seeds of Capitalism within that country and give us leverage for stronger foreign policy.  After all, Russia, like the U.S., is one of the strongest holdouts to the rise of "One World" thinking which is rooted most deeply in the E.U.

Let's Make a Deal on a global scale....

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Protesting Trump

When I see the media coverage of large number of protesters in England who are protesting -- I'm not sure exactly what -- Trump, I have to stop and think, "Why are they protesting?"  I suppose it came to me as a bit of revelation that is isn't really about Trump, it is the Left's fear of what he represents.  They have a stronger hold in the U.K. and Europe than they have in the U.S. in spite of the constant media bombardment in support of their agenda.  They don't want the grassroots conservative movement to catch fire in Britain.

Brexit is one of the few conservative moves in the "Old World" that could become the platform for even more conservatism to take root there.  It threatens the movement toward a One World Order -- a unified global governing body.  Individual countries can't exist in a unified world because it divides loyalty.  To some extent it was the basis for the U.S. Civil War many years ago -- state's rights vs. a unified Federal power.  (Some day I may write about my thoughts on a unified global governing body -- i.e. One World Order -- but not now.  It might require a book.)

Trump is magnetic -- definitely not charismatic -- but, he draws attention.  It is an interesting style that is effective.  When you lack charisma you must rely on other things to move the crowd.  He does it through controversy and confrontation.  It works.  In this country the "Right" is more engaged that it has been in many, many years thanks to Trump.

Love him, hate him, or whatever your feelings toward him, he is effective at bringing the deep issues into focus.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Trump in England

I had many misgivings about President Trump in the beginning.  I still wish that his style was a bit more -- civil at times.  I must admit, though, that he is effective.  I get the sense that the world, or at least some of it, is beginning to understand him.  He is a negotiator.  It's all about "the deal."  Maybe everyone should have read his book.

The English have been at the game of diplomacy for so long that his rough-edged style is in stark contrast to their polished dissembling.  He says bluntly what he thinks while they cloak their thoughts in flowery language and subtle phrases that are somewhat opaque.  He comes from a position of assumed strength while they, though proud and not without their own strengths, come from a position of need.  I think it is a very uncomfortable place for them.

Hopefully the English will recognize the opportunity before them.  The simple act of a true free trade agreement between our two countries will provide them with a tremendous level of economic security which in turn leads to greater military security because the "Trump Doctrine," as it appears to me, is one of "we protect our economic interests."

Let the Pounds and Dollars flow....

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Scent of Rain

Once again, the rains have passed us by.  Each day for the last several the National Weather Service has shown us to have a significant chance of rain.  Heavy showers have fallen in many places around us, but we received only 1/10 of an inch.  It is dry.

First a hint of puffy white
Appears up in the sky
Then slowly grows and grows and grows
Until it fills the eye.

The promise of the quenching drops
Wafts across the land
On gentle breezes flowing by
This parched and weary strand.

The leaden gray with streaks of light
Approaches from the west
With winds that cool the sultry land
And promise moist rest.

The sand that stings flows ever higher,
The cattle turn their back,
The storm clouds flow across the land,
The sky turns nearly black.

But, soon it passes on its way
Its promise hoped in vain
Leaving nothing here behind
Except a scent of rain.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The List Goes On and On

I have probably mentioned somewhere previously that I am a list maker.  I find that lists help me organize and prioritize the tasks that I have and as I grow older, I find that it helps me not to forget things....

I don't know that I have ever completed a list before adding more to it.  There is always more to do than gets done.  That's probably a good thing.  I have also found as I age that having things to do, something to work toward, is important.  When there is nothing left but to sit and watch television I will probably die.

I am sometimes a procrastinator.  Lists help me to procrastinate because I know which items are urgent, which are important and which are merely things that would be a good idea but are neither urgent or important.  They are sometimes things that would add to quality of life if done, but just aren't necessary.

I have different types of lists.  Some are work related.  Some are "around the house" tasks -- aka "Honey Do's."  Others are related to some specific project.

I usually rank the tasks in order of importance, but not always.  Sometimes they are just a list of things as I think of them.  I don't always do the things on the list in order of importance either.  Sometimes the lists are so overwhelming that I pick some of the easier tasks, or those of shorter duration and do them first in order to gain the psychological impact of accomplishment.  Yeah, I play mind games with myself.  Is that weird?

I have added Blog Post as a daily task on my list.  Why?  I guess it is a matter of practice since I wish to spend more time writing.  I make a little money on the side writing a column for a trade publication and therefore know my ability is saleable, so I plan to work toward writing more for publication as a supplement to my income as I begin to consider retirement.

Retirement???!!  What am I thinking!  I think that word should be removed from the dictionary and replaced with something that has a different connotation -- one that denotes moving on to other things after a "career."  Just my thoughts this morning...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Out of the Darkness

The news today is that the Thai soccer team that has been trapped in a cave was gotten out safely.


It is hard to imagine the sequence of events that got them into the situation in the first place.  Caves are risky.  It is even more difficult to imagine the things that must have gone through their minds while in the cave.  Only time will tell the impact that the experience will have on those boys.  For some it will build a well of strength from which to draw and for others it will be a source of nightmares.

Imagine being trapped in a world of utter darkness.  At some point, the hope of rescue would begin to fade until only despair occupied the thoughts.  The wait for death -- the end of their earthly existence -- would be the point of focus for every conversation and every thought.

I am thankful for my belief in something more than what this life offers.  There is an eternity, an existence beyond our brief time on earth.  It is my hope in Jesus as my rescuer from this world of darkness that keeps me focused on the future.  There is much, much more to this life than what we see.  The Rescuer is available to each and every one who calls on Him and acknowledges Him as Savior.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Dead Trees and Snakes

I realize you can't tell much from the photo, but this is part of an old dead tree that fell in a recent windstorm at our place.  I was fortunate that it missed the fence which borders between our place and the neighbor.  If it had landed on it, I would have been scrambling awhile back to clear it and re-build the fence to keep their cows out of our hay meadow.

The tree fell because it was rotten -- the core of it was hollow.  It is/was a huge oak tree that had stood for many years.  I couldn't count the rings very easily and didn't really try, but I would guess it to be somewhere in excess of 80 years old.  The photo really doesn't do it justice, it was massive.

When I took the photo I had already removed most of the smaller branches.  The cut ends of what you see here are probably 8-10 inches in diameter.  It truly was quite a chore.

As I cleared the smaller limbs away I was vigilant for critters which might be hiding in the tall grass and wood debris.  Sure enough, a cottonmouth made his appearance and moved from one spot to the next as I cleared away the limbs.  I was careful as I picked up branches and of where I stepped because I knew there could be others lurking among the litter.  I also frequently lost sight of the one who made himself known.

I suppose there are a couple of lessons within this brief description.  1)  Even the mighty will fall when the rot/decay inside them is so great that it saps their resistance.  2)  There are serpents lurking within the debris, every ready to inject their poison into us as we go about our task.

Yeah, it turned into a political post....

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Bank Fees for the "Poor"

The French government is considering capping banking fees charged to the poor as part of a new poverty plan.

French government looking at capping bank fees on poor

As a former banker and avowed Capitalist but, a compassionate conservative, I have mixed feelings about this.

The average person doesn't understand how banks work.  The brevity of the post requires that I postpone that discussion to another time, but in brief, deposits of customers provide the base from which loans are made to other customers.  Accounts that carry little, or no balance actually cost the bank money.  Labor involved in handling returned items, statements, etc. more than offsets the small amount that might be made from lending the fractional amount allowed to others.  In fact, fractional lending requirements often mean that, based on the average balance of the small account, they add nothing to the lending base of the institution.

On the other hand, excessive fees make it more difficult for the low-balance depositor to gain any ground on his financial position.  Many of the small depositors are poor money managers to begin with and don't understand the reasons their small deposits are "taxed" with what appear to be large fees.  They need education, not penalties.

Perhaps the answer lies in banks offering basic classes in balancing ones checkbook, the impact of compounding interest and the basics of how the financial system works rather than penalties for poor money management.  Ignorance should be replaced with knowledge, not reinforced with anger-causing actions.

I oppose state mandated behavior in this area, but I see the need for action. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Campfire Coffee

The coffee is on and the biscuits are hot
Daylight is burning, get out of your cot
There's work to be done and it won't do itself
Get up lazy bones or you're gonna be left

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hope and Change

During the reign of the previous administration -- yes, that word reign was intentional -- I became very disillusioned with the direction of our country.  The pretender's message of Hope and Change had turned into fear and frustration for me.  I had serious doubts that the direction we were being taken could be changed.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the accomplishments of the Trump administration.  I still cringe at his style at times, but I admit openly that he has been effective in many areas.  I suppose it is the rough and tumble world of New York business that created him and that is what we needed.

My hope has been restored to some degree.  There is a long way yet to go to overcome the setbacks of the 8 years of Leftism, but progress is being made.  I remain frustrated that change cannot, or is not, occurring more quickly, but we do seem to be turning to a better direction.

Hope is fragile and it frequently hinges on change.  Now, if we could only make progress through change in our educational system -- primary, secondary and college levels -- that replaces the Leftist garbage with some common sense, perhaps the small hope today will grow more firm.  I fear for the future that has been seeded with land mines of Liberalism through our educational system.  I must have faith that enough will see the light for reason to prevail.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Cruz Tour

Senator Ted Cruz stopped by our small town for a visit yesterday.  He was here for almost 3 hours.  He gave a very brief speech regarding priorities and progress and then spent the majority of the time fielding and answering questions.  Most of the questions were predictable and fit well into the narrative that he wished to develop.

In his address he mentioned that one of the top priorities was unfinished business -- healthcare reform.  I am gratified for that acknowledgement since it is my #1 issue with Washington.  It has been for a number of years and will continue to be until fixed.

My wife and I are both self-employed and therefore do not fall under some corporate insurance policy as most citizens do.  We must provide our own insurance -- full price with no "partial or full premium payment" as part of some corporate benefits package.  For the minimum qualified plan under ObamaCare our premium is over $1,200 per month.  It comes out over $15,000 per year.  Neither of us have had any health issues and only see a doctor once every few years for something minor.

At least that was the case prior to this year when I had a minor emergency with chemical burns to my eyes.  When I was checked into the Emergency Room we were asked what insurance coverage we had.  Our answer was none, but we will pay as we go.

After treatment which took a couple of hours, we tried to pay on the way out the door but, were told they would send us a bill.  When it arrived it had a 60% discount for paying by check or credit card as opposed to filing insurance.

I was impressed with Senator Cruz.  He is a good speaker and willing to engage his constituents.  I believe he represents the interests of the citizens of Texas quite well.  His opponent in this year's campaign has moved about as far left as possible.  He will appeal to a portion of the voters, but I hope the majority will see him for what he is -- a left-wing extremist who would do away with borders and the rule of law.

Here are a few photos:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Divided California

What would a divided California mean? -- this move to make it into 2 or 3 states.

It would increase the number of Senators from 2 to 6 representing the same number of people.  Will they be Left or Right leaning?  Will there be a balance of 3 and 3?  I suspect it will give an advantage of 1 to the left.

They have Waters in L.A., Pelosi in S.F., Feinstein all over the place and not much sense.  They truly represent the old adage that once the voters figure out they can vote themselves a free ticket they will -- but, being of a strong Leftist persuasion, they expect someone else to pay for it. 

The calls for impeachment of the President are coming from such a mindset as is commonly seen in CA.  Of course, they vote on everything.  Recalls are common there.  To them, impeachment is much like a recall.  It says, "We don't like the bum, off with his head!"  We are fortunate that our Founding Fathers anticipated such a situation and established a Republic rather than a democracy.

There is a lot of wealth in California.  I'm not talking about the billions piled in Hollywood, I'm talking about agriculture and Silicon Valley.  There is oil and gas and minerals as well.  Could they stand as a sovereign country?  Yes, if they reformed their government and got rid of the high tax/welfare system they currently have.  The problem is that they would form a pure democracy if not a communist state.  A communist state might survive but, a pure democracy couldn't.

If they were to split from the rest of us I could probably find a way to wish them well as long as they take the Hollywood idiots with them. 

Robert A. Heinlein saw this happening in CA as early as the 50's.  He had some really weird ideas, but was somewhat prescient.  Craziness....

Monday, July 2, 2018

To Our South

The election of a Socialist as President of Mexico bothers me greatly.  Mexico is ripe for Communism and to me, this is just the first step.

The crisis on our southern border will worsen.  We will have a string of refugee camps.  Human trafficking will increase.  The cartels will move their operations to the U.S.  They will support the Democratic Party directly and by proxy because the policies they espouse favor the cartels.

Texas, New Mexico and Arizona will become a war zone.  California will just be California as it is slowly taken over.  Civil unrest will grow and spread.

There will either be a Federal crackdown that will lead us one step closer to a Police State, we will break out in civil war, or the Left will regain control and we will join Mexico on the road to Communism.

Read the history.  It doesn't look good from where I sit.

Just my thoughts....