Saturday, April 28, 2012


     There is a wide spread affliction that effects individuals, groups, and communities.  It is called Negativism.  It should not be hard to identify symptoms of it, for it is all too common and is a hard thing to fight.  There is a culture that spreads it and many factors are involved. 
     For a great example tune into your news reports and you get a dose of negativeness on many levels.  It is spread by word of mouth, attitude, hostility, laziness, indifference, and the tendency to not see things as the could be only as they are.
     Negativism sells papers and products.  It witholds innovation and stiffles new ideas.  It dampens enthusiasm and breeds a listless spirit.  For every positive influence there are dozens of negative influences.  Even when the need is dire the tendency to sit on the fence prevails.  This is the attitude that the weather service is trying to overcome when it puts out a severe weather warning.  Look on all the film.  Even when the tornado is crossing a road there is traffic that drives right into it as though by ignoring it it will go away.
     Positivism (my own term coinage) requires not only independent thought but action.  It is not enough to recognise that things could be better and stand on the sidelines.  But what of those who have that positive attitude and creativity that go about there lives in an active manor.  Some will admire, some will scorn, others may be actually hostile.
    The key word that you can recognise negativism is CAN'T.  Another is IT IS TOO HARD.  Also-IT CAN'T BE DONE, WE HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE, THAT WON'T WORK, GOOD LUCK GETTING THAT DONE.  You get the meaning.
      Those who dare to be inovative, creative, want the best for everyone, and lead causes are often discouraged by the lack of vision and the refusal to make the effort to change.  Yes change.  It is an aquired trait.  There are some who perpetually try to make a difference and sometimes they succeed.  Many times they are broken down and join the group.
     So at this point you have to make a personal decision to evaluate where you fit.  Are you a part of the problem or the solution.  Humanity has the tendnecy to follow along and get by.  By being human everyone makes mistakes.  But you can choose which you belong to. 
     The greatest people in history were those who could envision how things should and can be.  Some are celebrated and many are scorned.  There are no guarantee's in life.  Many are never celebrated until they are gone.
     So how will you decide?  The greatest gift and curse that God gave humanity is Free Will.  What will you do with yours?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


     I have waited two days before writing this rant.  I am active in promoting rural and small town economic development and small business.  And I find as I go thru the areas visiting that there is one very important business principle that is often ignored.  This is not something you need a degree in marketing for.  This should be just common sense.  But as with all common sense there are enough excusses to go around to justify something that isn't smart.  Reminds me of Washington.
     As I travel I like to stop and do business in these small businesses and help out.  Especially antique shops and thrift stores.  There are items I collect and some that I pick for others.  Nintey five percent of the time I find the shops closed.  And when I call the numbers post to come down and let you in, most of the time they are not able to, or even answer.
     A retired banker I know, that once was in the fine Antique business, I said I finally figured out how to make money in antiques.  He got excited and goes, HOW?  I said OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  It is my pet peave.  I have been to Antique stores and other businesses all over and they very seldom are open.
      DUH!  I never have figured out being in retail when the next customer shows up.  There are regulars and there are trends but basically your missing profit are those few that you miss when you don't feel like being there.  I have found that the shops that are open generally have different ways to keep the doors open and not get bored.  In one there is an ongoing pitch game and others have other business items they can spend time on.  They keep occupied.  One shop I was in the other day (the only one I found open in 3 towns) the lady was reading to a bunch of kids.  It was a good place to watch kids as well as ring up a sale now and then.
      The Kansas Travelers group, which is a part of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, ( over 5000 strong) make a hobby of day tripping around the small towns and rural areas to shop and eat.  They buy their postage from small post offices to try and keep them off the closing list.  They even went and remodeled a small cafe, to help keep it running in a small town that was one of the only gathering places left. 
     It is beyond irritating to make the effort to keep the businesses going and find them closed.  I know some are strictly hobbys, and that they will stay until they are taken seriously by the owners and the town as real businesses.
     I know many won't like me saying this, but, if your community is having problems with dwindling business, you are your own worst enemy.  All the promotions and raising the awareness of visitors of your uniquness won't work if you don't OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  OK?  No more excuses!  After you do this and there is no traffic then is the time to look at inventory, presentation, marketing, and promotion.  The most essential element in help is helping yourself.  Do the first and everyone will be there for the rest.

Monday, April 23, 2012



     I will not even have the gall or ego to tell you that I am an overly intelligent person or that I have answers to all questions.  You would not buy it and I wouldn't either.  Friends though do know that I have a tendency to 'go where angels fear to tread'.  Everyday I learn something new and the more I learn teaches me how little I know.  But I can take experience, training, and observation and apply a contrast to something to make my conclusion.  This used to be taught as 'Critical Thinking'.  This is not taught anymore because it disrupts the status quo and is generally not politically correct.
     The status quo is the quiet way that people resist looking at things in a way that disrupts the flow of 'the way things are done'.  We find it in schools, political parties, churches, the professions, and corporate structure.  That is why many start ups become wildly successful.  There is no status quo, no egos to protect, no sacred subject to be avoided.  The freedom to create has been taken to extremes by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and many others.
     The success by companies like 3M are because of a corporate structure that allows employees to persue ideas and give company support for thinking outside the box.  This was also present in NASA and the spin off has changed the world we live in dramatically.
     I know the rush of emotion when an idea is taken and becomes something more than I ever dreamed.  I also know the disappointment when the dream falls short of where it should have gone.
      When we get too comfortable with the status quo we should become wary that we are stagnating.  Our problem as a people is that we do the same predictable things over and over again.  'Madness' defined is "doing the same thing time and again and expecting a different outcome".
     Dr. Riordan was a maverick.  He thought outside the box his whole life and the status quo was of no concern to him.  In a series of books he wrote called MEDICIAL MAVERICKS he tells the history of the advances thru the centuries in medicine and how the great scientists and physicians were ostrisized and even killed for their contributions that were contrary to the accepted norms of the time.
     I go to the clinic he founded to regain the life I was losing and the favorite sayings of Dr. Riordan are posted as you come into the grounds and in every part of the building.  Each one is a stab at the status quo and when read only makes sense.
     As a historian there is a saying that I quote over and over.  'Those who ignore history are condemed to relive it'.  What it says is  the status quo is the most divisive tool of mankind against mankind.
      The most illustrative thing in nature is the herd mentality.  By and large the herd stays together for protection and common good.  But Lemmings go over the cliff with the herd mentality and perish.  But a few mavericks who go against the status quo remain.  Thus the mavericks perpetuate the species and it survives.  Then it does the same thing again when that survival instinct is lost in the herd mentality.
          "When everyone thinks alike, then no one is thinking"
                                                    Benjamin Franklin
This is my favorite saying of Dr. Riordans.  And a fitting end to the STATUS QUO.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


     In a continuation of my tirade on the march of progress, I always have tried to have an answer to most of the things I go on about.  Nobody likes a chronic complainer.  Gee, isn't that what the news media is today?  Oh well I digress.
     The position that technology has put theater owners in seems to be a self fulfilling prophecy.  In the switch over to digital format in theaters, you will remember, costs between $80,000. and 100,000. dollars, in the large cities the multi screen metroplexes will absorb the costs and just pass the cost along to ticket buyers.  But the old historic theaters being restored or saved this expense can put a deathe sentence on the project.
     I really like movies but don't get to many anymore because of a lot of the pablum and junk that passes for movies.  It is to far to go into the big theaters in the city and I don't like the crowds.  When there is a good movie out I just have a terrible time getting there.
     That is why I feel so strong about restoring the drive ins and historic theaters.  So when you feel that way you put up or stand down.  We used to say put up or shut up but that is not politically correct anymore.
     So I am going to Chaparral High School on April 28th for a benefit concert for the Historic Anthony Theater.  This is between Harper and Anthony Kansas.  The Diamond W Wranglers will be entertaining for the theater group. 
     Now I am going not only to support the theater, the Wranglers are good friends of mine.  You will not get a better show in that big hoodoo arena they built in downtown Wichita.  The Wranglers have been to Carnegie Hall twice and the Great Wall of China.  They have recorded 12 CD's, their latest Outlaw's and Lovers, is getting rave reviews.
     We should be hearing them on all the so called country radio stations.  But that is another argument.  You should travel however long it takes to hear the Diamond W Wranglers and support restoration of the Anthony Theater.  Then someday you can come support our local theater restoration.
     Getting back to my beef with the movie industry.  I remember when the first hand held calculator came out it was hundreds of dollars, they give them way now in note pads.  Cell phones were hundreds of dollars and now they give them to you when you sign up.  Computers were thousands of dollars and now you can get them for hundreds.  Traditionally electronics get cheaper as time goes on.  Wonder how cheap digital theater systems will be after all the theaters are parking lots?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


You know that technology has done a lot of great things in this world and then again it has done as much harm as good.  I was informed in a business training meeting that soon we will be forced to give up our flip phones for I phones.  Now I was one of the last hold outs to give up my bag phone.  It had more power and better coverage than this little thing that fits in my pocket.
     Now I remember when the communication for the regular guy was a CB radio, remember your handle?  Then they gave us more channels and took away half the power.  And when we upped the power with a little box they would come scouring the countryside for these 'outlaws' who wanted to talk across the township.  Yet at the same time the skip operators ran 1000 watt liniers and scrambled the regular signals from downtown Miami Florida.  They never could catch him.
     Then there was the adaptation of radios that were supposed to be for another purpose.  They came looking for us then too.  Then came the cell phone.  It moved from a cumbersome mounted unit, to the bag phone, then the flip phone, and now the I phone.  Mind boggling.
     Here in Kansas the modernization of the movie industry is slowly killing itself off.  We restore the historic theaters so we can enjoy entertainment in an atmosphere that the last 3 generations enjoyed.  Now technology is killing even this.
      Movies now come in digital formats.  This means that the updated video projection, that was upgraded from film, has to be replaced again.  Kind of like Detroit's Planned Obsolesence, you know where that got them.  The result is more theaters closing because the economics are not there.
      An updated Digital Projection system cost from $80,000 to $100,000 dollars.  This is by an industry that was scared to death that the advent of video stores would kill theaters off.  Yet the prices and crowds remain.  There is no experience better than a full screen theater presentation of the movies complete with the popcorn and jew jew beans. 
      In Kansas we have only five operating Drive In Movie theaters.  The rest have gone the way of the Edsel, (bet there are a lot of kids who doesn't know what that is).  Here in Medicine Lodge we have the Pageant Drive In.  It is a throw back to the past and it is fun.  You can even rent the drive in for the evening for your birthday party.  We watched Blazing Saddles when a local man hit an important birthday mark a while back.
     The operators spent thousands of dollars to do the upgrades to video and the FM radio transmitter.  But now it has been announced that this is the last season.  The cost cannot be absorbed.  Seems to me the Movie Industry is fulfilling their own prophecy.  They are putting themselves out of business for digital downloads and home cable and satallite movie channels.
     Technology that kept the business alive now is killing it.  Is Progress really that great or is the industry that stupid. 
     See ya at the movies kid!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


You know that the popular image of Cowboys by the press and city sophisticates, is of a redneck, rowdy, illiterate, and non socially acceptable type of person.  BULLHOCKY!  The cowboy that came up the trails were a mixture of imigrants, adventurers, indian, ex-slave, Mexican, ex-soldier and anything else that was in the mixture of the American population.  At a campfire there may be a man who could not sign his name and next to him a man who recited Chaucer or Shakespere.
     It was a group that composed poetry of the experiences, dreams, tragedies, and everyday experiences.  Much of the verse was put to tunes from the old country or the popular tunes of the day.  So much would have been lost without the field research of John Lomax and others who preserved a lot of it for the Smithsonian.
     But as the time of the trailhand lasted a scant 20 years there has been a need and culture for every generation.  As long as there is beef there is cowboys.  The cowboy culture is alive today as it was in the 1800's.  And the verse that the cowboy wrote is still being written and recited today.
     Classic poets may look down on the form as not being truly a poetic form.  However the elite poetry circles tend to write poetry for each other and not wider audiences.  I see no huge following of todays modern poetry academics.  However the people who are rural, or have an understanding of history have a vibrant poetry form that is vital and alive.
     Nationwide on April 15 - 21 is COWBOY POETRY WEEK.  Many places around the country there will be special events and activities.  If you want to read some of the latest cowboy poetry Google COWBOY POETRY AT THE BAR - D RANCH.  This non profit website is dedicated to the active poets of today.  It is a non profit site founded and run by a fan from San Francisco.  Yes she is a city girl who is in love with the writings of todays poets.
     You can subscribe to be a member and keep the site alive and get news of happenings all over the US and Canada.  Yes Canada has a vibrant cowboy culture too.  There is a Rural Library program you can support and even submit your own work.  There is always news and interesting items on the site.
     You can also put in  While your at it look at for the Western Music Association website.  The organization has a large group of poets, writers, and wordsmiths.  There is even a Wordsmith Chapter.
     In the words of a famous poet (one of ours) "the cowboy ain't dead, he is just hard to see from the road".  Oh by the way.  Some of the best 'cowboys' I have known and some of the best cowboy poets, are Cowgirls.