Friday, June 27, 2014


                                                               Paul Harvey

     If we have a distinction among states it is the Kansas Road System.  And if we have a Boondoggle anywhere it is usually connected to a highway.
     Now lets set the stage.  Kansas is ranked second in quality of highways in the country.  This is something that many a politician and economic development department sets a great deal of pride in.
      Some of the quality that sets this standard does seem to be concentrated in the generally same areas, (those with the most votes).  So let this be set in prospective.  Yes it is a good thing that we have less crumbling, poorly designed, overworked, and abused highway systems in the country.  Boy as bad as our roads are consider how bad other states have it.
       Roads are direct causes for the prosperity for the state.  Materials need to be moved around, manufactured goods need to be delivered.  Keeping transportation costs down are a factor in what you eat, sleep, drive, relax, and make your living in.
      Being first or second has different qualities.  If you are first among the worst is it all that good?  There is a mixed blessing in being first like being first in abortions, first in loosing our young to seek lives elsewhere, first in deteriorating cities, first in murder, first in gang membership, first in school drop outs, first in school graduations.
      First in the production of oil, first in the production of wheat, first in the deterioration of pipelines, on and on.  You get the idea.  Being leaders is a mixed bag and there is always someone ranked first through last.
     The Interstate system was conceived and enacted by our own President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Recognising that a country hindered by poorly planned highway systems could not excel but so far.  And it was the war that brought that out.  We were fighting a war on two fronts.  We had manufacturing know how and resources in the interior but we still had the problem that faced this country from the start.  How to get from one place to the other quickly, efficiently, and provide a back up to the possibility that our military bases could become jeopardized.
      We are a nation that is in love with the automobile and being able to go where we please when we want to.  We had a few examples that combined to set our country on the path of a transportation dynasty.  It started with a few forward looking people.  Building straight long highways like US 81, 281, 50, 54, and legendary Route 66.
     We also had business giants that saw the automobile and a highway system as a way to slim down the railroads.  Mass transit is a subject that is always hottest in areas where you cannot afford to own a car.  But in the ninety percent of the rest of the country it is roads and bridges that keep us on top.
     It seems that there is not any interest to build bullet trains or other mass transportation.  Air travel has become such a hassle and an expensive one that it is still the highway and the truck that we depend on for prosperity.
      So this brings us back to the beginning.  Kansas is second in the nation in roads.  So what does this mean?  What has brought this subject on?  There is a meeting in Cottonwood Falls about US 50.  A major two lane highway that crosses the state.  Work has been going on for years.  It has gained the status of Super Two but what is the gripe?  It is still one of the most dangerous highways in the state and the people are sick of sending their loved ones and others to the hospital and morgue.
      I have driven it and actually like the drive but, it is always with the thought of the accidents that seem to plague the road even in it's best stretches.  I guess you can attribute my awareness that I am a retired Firefighter/EMT and used to cut people out of these wrecks and send them to the hospital or morgue.  Though retired far longer that on the job that does not diminish what a person has learned and experienced.  I stubbornly held onto my EMT certification until 2010 so was up to date on procedure and protocol.  I was not healthy enough to be a street tech so I became the old fart telling war story's at rectifications.  I also fought to keep our EMS unit in the area of the county I lived in when the politicians wanted to pull it back to the urban areas and let the rural areas be left with unacceptable response times.
      So this has jarred so many opinions and stories that this is going to be a multi part series.

Monday, June 23, 2014




FUNDAMENTAL:  Adjective- forming or relating to the most important part of something.

:  Of or relating to the basic structure or function of something.

Examples of FUNDAMENTAL:
      The constitution ensures our fundamental rights.
      There's a fundamental difference between these two political parties.
      These ideas are of fundamental importance.

      One of the basic and important parts of something:  A fundamental part.

Full definition of Fundamental:
     One of the minimum constituents without which a thing or a system would not be what it is.
      The principle musical tone produced by vibration on which a series of higher harmonics is based.
      The harmonic component of a complex wave that has the lowest frequency and commonly the greatest amplitude.

      One of the drum beats of the last few election cycles has been FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE.  It became a catch phrase that was taken up as a battle cry tapping into the frustration of the American people into traveling into the waters of remaking the basic structure of the United States as perceived by a long line of Progressives.
      I am no different than many people in being sick and tired of professional politicians running over the will of the people.  Special interest groups, from vocal minority groups, have managed to affect the perception and education of the average American to start longing for the things that have been deemed off limits for various reasons.
      As a child we learn that putting your hand on a stove burner or into fire will result in bad things.  Many don't listen to the admonition and touch it anyway and learn first hand that it is not good.
      Is it any different setting in church and being told that these things are bad and posting this list of 10 fundamental reasons that a person should stay away from.  Yet like children the rules must be violated because it is the individuals right not to be told what to do or how to act.
      Most states have had to accept gay marriage as result of judges rulings in many cases even when the states voted not to recognize it.  If a person does not agree or makes a point of pointing out that they don't accept it are ridiculed as 'racist' or haters.
      Those who believe that a baby is a non person until it is delivered, and then sometime after, believes that the killing of it is a right will, portray those opposed to the practice as ignorant.  There can be no discussion on the subject because it is the 'right' of a person to control her own body.
      The President is required by law to notify Congress before going to war yet does not follow the law even though he now does what he thinks is right and notifies Congress later.
     The examples go on and on and yet the other major party seems to be as power hungry and willing to throw the 'fundamentals' under the bus for their own reasons.
      I was raised believing that there was no better system on earth than the 'Representative Republic' that we are.  No one has ever shown that any other style gives more opportunity and prosperity to the individual as does our form of government.
     I know of no other country that is always first to step up and send in help for any disaster worldwide than the US.
      As many problems that the United States has and has had I still cannot understand the need for FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE that is being forced on us now.
     I have mentioned before that the biggest benefit and the most frightening right that God has given man is free will.  We are free to do what is right.  To follow the rules and try to live a good life.  We are also free to turn our back on our creator and march the long paved road into Hell.
     It is not like we have not been told.  "all things will be turn around what bad is good and what is right is wrong".
      Most people I know have the fundamental belief in what is right.  But will the people continue to act like a spoiled child and insist on the 'Fundamental Change' that they believe in? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Lucille Ball

      I would say that one of my least favorite things that I do is attend a wedding.  There are many reasons for this, a dislike of ceremony, change of routine, and a bad experience or two that I will not go into.  This is not going to be an opening of things I prefer to keep to myself.
      As a life long bachelor I can take the cynical approach and cite so many marriages that I have seen end in disaster.  Some not expected and some with the distinction of 'what the hell were you thinking!'  Though not intended to be this way, it is just how life has turned out.  My laugh line has always been 'go back it's a trap'.
     I have thought back to the few times that I thought it would be me walking that aisle and how it would have been a mistake.  Even having others tell me that they thought it would be me there instead of another.  Oh the mystery's of life.
     The few times I had friends who I thought were the perfect couples end up ending it and it shakes your confidence in your ability to recognize what it takes in a person to make a commitment.  It is a scary proposition.  One thing I don't think I could ever take is a bad divorce.
     But there are obligations to attend ceremony's for friends and family.  And that is how I found myself in a beautiful tree covered yard, by a lake, for the wedding of the daughter of a couple of my favorite people.
     Jenny had found the one that she has chosen to spend the rest of her life with.  I knew Jenny since before she was born.  It makes you feel old to watch the girl grow up and become a teacher, now moving into the next phase of her life.
     It was a sunshiny day and the temperature was fine.  Of course being Kansas the wind blew.  I am sure all in the wedding wished it wouldn't but it was a great reminder that not everything will go as planned in life.
      Friends and family from two different areas became one for the couple as they became one that day.  Making it perfection by including God into their lives.
     The ring bearer and flower girl came down the aisle in an electric Mini Cooper and Jenny's dad drove her around the crowd in a shiny red Comet.  Helping her out and bringing her down the aisle his stoic persona was almost broken down by a tear.  I imagine fathers are like that when giving away their daughter.
      I have to say that this old cynic enjoyed the day and it was one of the nicest weddings I have ever been to.  Jenny picked herself one great guy and you could tell that his family was the same.
      Some times you have to do something you don't normally care for to keep your prospective of what life is all about.  Things that are bothersome have their place.  And life goes on.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Arnold Bennett

     One of the great frustrations of the volumes of television programing available today is the lack of quality.  The amount of programing that is on the edge of embarrassing or way beyond, is staggering.
     From the three channels that I grew up with there was excitement when we got the new Public Broadcasting channel.  If it was not for the lop sidedness of the politics behind the control of television I would think we would be better off going back to that original number.
      Originally the airwaves were the property of the public.  In order to sell your product, whether the show or your commodity, you had to provide quality.  After the government decided that the airwaves no longer belonged to the people then it could be parceled out and sold to the public.  The requirement for quality became the best spin and winning the favor of who ever ruled the head office and who made the money.
      Quality went out the window.  Having over 500 channels to watch and many times having nothing to watch is frustrating.  Especially when you get the monthly bill.  Behind it all is an overriding set of standards and many times those standards are not ours.
     The culture behind programing has taken a definite change in 2014.  If you noticed it I applaud you.  If you didn't, I am here to tell you.
     In the past the event of holidays such as Veteran's day, Memorial Day, D-Day June 6, and Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, there has been a norm in many television networks that they would run a long litany of movies that reflect the purpose of the special days.  It would be in recognition of the millions who died and the sacrifices of those who survived.
     You could count on changing the channels from the special reports, commemorative events, and the marathon of movies.  Movies like THE LONGEST DAY, TORA, TORA, TORA, SANDS OF IWO JIMA, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and on and on.
     I found less than a handful running the movies reflecting the day during Memorial weekend this year.  And on the 70th anniversary of D-Day I found one station running WE WERE SOLDIERS, which is a great movie but is about Vietnam, and one other that had nothing to do with D-Day. 
     Maybe it is not the politically correct thing to do to be enjoying the movies of that genre' yet the young generation is fighting worlds of wars everyday that are not real on their electronic devices.  And at the same time there are those who refuse to learn the lessons of the past who ignore the dangerous world we live in today.
      Is it so smug in the corporate offices that the fact that the D-Day soldier is almost past that they can stop showing the rest of the world what almost happened in the past?  How close we came to speaking German, Japanese, and Russian in the world needs to be a continuing lesson for those who were not there.


Langston Hughes

     Remember the term 'GREAT AMERICAN DESERT'.  This came from the early residents of America as the infinite sweep of the plains rolled before them.  Coming from lands that running water and trees in countless number were common.  The vastness of the plains with few prominate features was intimidating.
     Yet as people were bent on getting past the vast grassland to the promised Eden's of California and Oregon.  Some stopped and looked at the soil.  In many places found it rich and attractive to farm.  Plus the railroads had to sell the vast tracts it had been given as a way to pay for the building of the rail lines and creating the need for the rails.
      There was a vast pool of settlers waiting for the opportunity to own a piece of land all their own.  Immigrants coming to the teeming shores of a country who promised a future for the tired, poor, huddled masses, ghetto's full and those with the urge to move on and build something for themselves.
     The promoters who touted the tropical climate of the plains were not willing to acknowledge that this land is subject to regular and lengthy drought.  When conditions are good it became the bread basket of the world.  With the discovery of billions of gallons of water underground in aquifers it pushed back consciousness of the inevitability of the drought coming in the regular cycles as it always has.
      Many learn how to survive and thrive and live with the cycles of feast and famine that the plains are famous for.  On a tour with the Cattleman's Association one year my friend Ralph Chain of the Chain Ranches was asked what his philosophy was for dealing with conditions from year to year.  He replied that he instructs all his managers to act as if every year was a drought year and they would always come through.  It has been a successful strategy for them.
     I noticed an article in the Kansas City Star about how Russell Kansas is dealing with the drought.  Russell has had to take strong measures to deal with water shortages going so far as to outlaw the wasting of water.  Many of the residents are going to a 'modern' technique to save lawns and trees.  They are installing rain barrels.
     A standard of the old homestead was the collection of water into a cistern and many old places still have the pit and pump in place.  It was sometimes a real pain to use the cistern.  The water was collected from the roof and from time to time the sentiment had to be cleaned out.  Also the water would foul every so often when a mouse or some critter got in and drowned.  It would not be usable until the decaying offender was fished out or nature took its course.  Our forefathers were tuff.
     The modern water barrel collection is an economical way of using the resources as it comes.  Yet it was illegal in Colorado once to collect rain water.  Many publications claim that many states in the west prohibit it also but I have not been able to find that true.  However the 'State' has deemed ownership over most water and the EPA is in the process of implementing new rules on water.
     Many climate change advocates have not looked at the history of the Great Plains.  In the early part of the 19th Century there was a ten year drought  then again in the later part of the century.  Again in the 1930's the drought was nearly 10 years long.  There was a dry spell in the 1980's but the 20th Century was an anomaly in not having a severe late century drought.  During this period the same people who insist that we are in global warming, now climate change (the figures aren't there to support the warming) now the climate disaster that we are experiencing.  HUH?  It was known as global cooling.  We are due for this drought and lets hope that we are on the down hill slide.
     We have to take into account that this area we call home was once the bottom of a large ocean.  And also a part of it lay under glaciers .  So swings in global temperature are a natural reality. 
     Efficient use of resources is a good thing as just good practice.  Advancement in technology is a good thing.  It is when alarmist rhetoric is used to scare people into things that are not well thought out or are thought out as a way to grab power.
     The dire prediction that the world would be starving if population control is not implemented has been proven wrong, as time goes on, and agriculture and technology has kept ahead.  When the dire predictions started corn was making top yield of 60 bushel/acre.  Now the norm is over 200.  The same in many other crops.  In energy, agriculture, medicine and technology the pace that what we produce will continue to soar as long as artificial and arbitrary limits are kept off.  This means Governments and organizations that have nothing more than the desire to control, will need to be put aside.
      The most important thing is that mankind as a whole needs to quit controlling what they do not know anything about and support those who do.  This is difficult

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Oscar Wilde

     As an avid Kansas Explorer one of my favorite places is Lucas Kansas.  As much for the uniqueness of the residents of the town, with all of it's eccentrics, as the ability to embrace them.
     Many community with traditional values and histories sometimes have a problem with the thinking and lifestyle of the artist.  I don't know what the attitude of the average resident has been over the years, but I have to applaud the towns ability to let individuals have the freedom to follow their own path.
     My treks to Lucas generally involve going to Brandt's Meat Market for the ring bologna that has been made for decades there.  Most times I make a fast trip in, fill the coolers, and head back.  I guided a tour of local ladies there where we took in the Garden of Eden, Brandt's, and the Public Toilet.  We found ourselves short of time and energy to get into the Flying Pig and the Art Gallery.
      By doing so I never had the chance to get into the Flying Pig.  To my regret!  Eric Abraham moved to Lucas in 2004.  He opened the FLYING PIG STUDIO & GALLERY at 123 South Main in a former farm implement store building made of native Limestone.
     Eric passed away on September 7, 2013.  I had wondered, along with many I assume, as to what was going to happen to the studio.  Which means I will never get to visit with the whimsical artist.  This should be a lesson about thinking you will get back someday.  As we always learn tomorrow may not be enough time.
     None of the remaining Eric Abraham pieces will be offered for sale.  There are a few out there in gallery's.  There will be an artist in residency program started.  The Gallery is open part time and the Grass Roots Arts Center staff will give tours.
      Though many whimsical artists are self taught Eric had a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska.
      Other towns could take pointers from Lucas to become artist centers.  It is a way of utilizing open older store fronts and bring a different spin into the fabric of the area.  It also brings in tourists and business.
     Next time I get in town for bologna I will take in a Flying Pig.