Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Lifelong Friends

Today is Kirk’s birthday.  He has been my friend since kindergarten.  I am glad that he was born and I am glad that he is my friend.  He is a good guy.  He is a great guy, but let’s don’t get sappy.

Growing up together, we belonged to the same church.   His father was my favorite Sunday School teacher.  We went to the same schools.  We played sports together, starting in second grade, at the Y.M.C.A.  One of his little brothers used to spit on my little sister, as siblings of baseball players played in the dirt under the bleachers.  Little sisters are often tattletales.

We were debate team partners because Kirk’s father was a lawyer and we thought we might be too; however, we were never available for debate tournaments due to sports conflicts all year, except we went to Kansas City to debate during Christmas break and another out of town trip to Sioux City that we could fit in.

We chose to go to the same college, three hundred miles from home, where we were roommates for two years, until Kirk transferred.  It was good to have him as a stable force in my life as we shared those college experiences and late night talks about them.

We chose to go to seminary together, where we were roommates again for one year.  I left to go to law school instead.  Kirk stayed all four years and was ordained as a Lutheran pastor.  He served at Holy Toledo Lutheran Church.  (That is a joke, but it is the city where he was first called.)  He later moved to Milwaukee and got a Masters in Social Work.  He worked for the county social services and later at the jail.

We both got married and never lived in the same city again, but kept in touch, as life marched on.  Babies were born and grew up.  His brother, Kent, who spit on my sister, was killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver.  (See  Both of his parents and my father passed away.  We shared grief and happy news too.

Cell phones and email have made it easier to keep connected.  We talk almost every week.  We were able to get together last summer, the first time in years.  We are both just as good-looking as ever.  Kirk was center on our high school football team that won a state championship.  He was catcher on the varsity baseball team.  He almost played college baseball.  He looks like a center and a catcher should look.  He does not look like a sissy.  He is not a sissy.  He is a tough, yet kind man, which is why he was effective in the jail.

Usually our telephone conversations are similar to what we might have talked about when we were fourteen because sports are our main topic.  We talk about the Broncos and Packers.  We talk about Nebraska football.  We talk about the College World Series.  We talk about NCAA basketball, especially the tournament in March, at which time he takes a week of vacation in order to watch as many games as possible.  We share the same values about watching sports as a priority.

We talk about those important things rather than trivial things, such as our “feelings” like girls do.

However, when I need a friend who is not a girl, Kirk is probably the only person I can talk to about my feelings, and he always says just the right thing.

It is a blessing to have such a friend.  But don’t tell Kirk I said that.  I don’t want him to think I am getting soft.  There is one thing that he does not put up with, and neither do I, and that is sissies.  That is why I am sort of afraid to let him know about this sappy blog post.

The Packers lost to the Lions on Thanksgiving.  Nebraska lost to Iowa yesterday.  So, that is the news for this week.  Hey, the Broncos play the Chiefs tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Click on the link above to read about when President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official U.S.A. holiday by a proclamation amidst the Civil War.

I Hate It When That Happens

Today I am looking for empathy from those of you who can relate to the sequence of experiences that I experienced this very morning.

You know how when you are in bed and your wife tells you to let the dogs out because it sounds like one of them is throwing up?  I hate it when that happens!

And you know how when a dog is not really throwing up but merely gagging on a pair of scissors that it took off the kitchen counter and is chewing on the plastic handle with the points sticking out?  I hate it when that happens!

And you know how when you recover the scissors and let the dogs out and then your wife yells from the bedroom for you to go ahead and feed them so they don’t bark and then come back to bed but you dread feeding them because it is cold outside on the deck where their bowls are?  I hate it when that happens!

And you know how when you dutifully get the dog food out of the garbage can on the screened porch but don’t bother to put on clothes because you have no neighbors close enough to see your lack of clothes and then go out on the deck to feed the dogs and it is really, really cold?  I hate it when that happens!

And you know how when you have invented an elevated feeding station for the cat which requires you to reach up to deposit the cat food in the cat’s bowl ( and one of the dogs seeking to get the bag of cat food that you are carrying jumps up on you and you scream in terror at the thought of claws tearing your private parts?  I hate it when that happens!

And you know how when you return to bed and your wife, who has been warm under the covers, asks why you yelled and broke the silence of the dawning of the day, and you tell her, and she laughs?  I hate it when that happens!

And you know how when you fear going to a urologist for repair of that area of the anatomy that urologists call a word that starts with “scro” and rhymes with “drum” or even with “tum” and you do not want to be humiliated by explaining how yours was torn by the claws of an animal?  I hate it when that happens!

It is a good thing that I am so tough!  Tough as leather!

Still, if I was not so tough and had actually suffered damage, Sugar suggested that I could make her a nice coin purse for a Christmas present.

Dog Nutrition

Many people do not spend as much as we do for gourmet items to feed to our dogs.

It is misleading to give the impression that we do so voluntarily.

Recently, my wife and her father, in preparation for Thanksgiving, went to a cheese shop and successfully purchased three wedges of cheese and some fancy olives.

I went to the car to bring in groceries, including the special bag of goodies from the cheese shop.  I was questioned repeatedly about the contents, or, more accurately, the paucity of contents of the torn bag, for I brought in two, not three, wedges of cheese and no olives.  So, dutifully, I made two more trips to check the car again and again, each time with no success.  So Sugar checked my work by inspecting the vehicle herself, yet she too found no more cheese and no olives.

In the morning, Sugar solved the mystery, or at least found a clue that led to speculation and deductive conclusions about the fate of the cheese, together with actual evidence concerning the olives.

She found the container for the olives, photographed below.  She also found olives on the ground.  The olives that cost $6.00 for a few ounces.  These olives and the empty container were not near the car.  They were on the other side of the courtyard, a distance of more than thirty feet.  They did not accidentally fall out of the car.  Someone or something carried them that distance.


The usual suspect, Beau, our male Yellow Labrador Retriever, may have consumed the cheese after snatching it from the bag in the car.  Apparently, he also snatched the container of olives.

Based on the evidence of olives on the ground, which I am seen below picking up while supervised by Beau, I surmise that the olives did not suit his palate.  The cheese, however, did.


Why, you ask, did he not get all the cheese?  What do you think he is  — greedy? (I am guessing that he could only hold a couple things in his mouth and was foiled from further theft by my return to the car to bring in additional groceries.)

Why, you ask, do I blame Beau?  I invite you to type his name into the search box above the list of recent posts.  If you do, you will find numerous historical and anecdotal reports about his character flaw concerning thievery.  In particular, I refer to incidents of Beau entering both a FedEx delivery vehicle and a UPS delivery vehicle and emerging with property that did not belong to him, with the intent to deprive the rightful owners of possession.  Type in Beau and the FedEx Driver.

In addition, as recently as Sunday, when my father-in-law carelessly opened the trunk of his rental car to remove items from therein, Beau actually jumped into the trunk, intending to remove items that he coveted.  When the car was returned, I wonder if the cleaning crew wondered about muddy paw prints in the trunk.

As a public service announcement, I beg of you to beware of the yellow dog depicted below.  He is an habitual offender.  Consider him dangerous.




Earlier tonight,  Sugar and I led the service at the rescue mission chapel.  It was packed!

If we sold tickets, that might have been a sign of success; however, the worshipers did not know in advance who was conducting the service.  It was full because it was cold outside.  It was full because the service is from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and supper is served at 5:30 p.m.  Nevertheless, I am sure that there are many regulars, regardless of weather, who come to praise the Lord.

Of course, we were not there to sell tickets.  We were not there to perform.  We were there to lead worship.  We were there to share our faith.

After my brief welcome and opening prayer, Sugar played her guitar and sang Wayfarin’ Stranger by Johnny Cash.  They clapped enthusiastically.

Then I talked.  I told about the two calls I had gotten the day before, one about a birth, the other about a death, and how life is precious, but can be a rough ride.  It was somewhat interactive.  Someone asked how the baby is doing.  The folks who piped up did not detract from my message, but enhanced it.  I had mingled and made friends with some of the guys before the service.  My style was more class discussion and storytelling than lecture.  Still, it was a sermon, albeit cowboy style.

One of the guys announced that it was his birthday and that he had been sober for nine days.  Praise God!

Another man was wearing a Navy ball cap.  When I asked him about it and thanked him for his service, he told me that he served in submarines, then joked, “It had its ups and downs.”

In the very front row was a man with one eye.  He could have used, but did not, a patch over the hole for the missing eye.  Still, he acted like a pirate by regularly interjecting, “Arrgh!”

Another man joked before the service, after I introduced myself and Sugar, “Hi.  I’m Ed and I’m an addict.”  Another man retorted, “Ed, you are at the wrong meeting.  This is chapel.”  We all had a good laugh.  Later, during the service, when I was giving some examples of God being with us as we face life’s challenges, Ed said it again.  I just responded, maybe too sarcastically, “Yeah, I heard you the first time.”  He just laughed again.

Someone else said, “Jesus hung out with addicts and drunks and hookers.”  Amen.  That is very biblical, I confirmed.

Another man contributed that Abraham Lincoln failed many times before becoming a great President.  So I worked that into my talk.  It is important to keep trying, with God’s help.  Abraham Lincoln also had a strong faith.

There were men and women, young and old, and a cross section of races.

After my talk, Sugar sang another song, “Help Me,” by Kris Kristofferson.  I watched their reactions to the words (which are provided below).  The listeners could identify.  Everyone applauded.

Then I said a prayer.  I remove my cowboy hat when I pray, but not when I preach.  I did not feel it was impolite to wear a hat indoors as most of the folks attending had on stocking caps, ball caps or hoodies.

After the service ended, as they got in line for dinner, one man asked, “What church are you from?”  I told him we have been going to a cowboy church that meets in an indoor riding arena north of town.  He said to his friend, “See, he is a real cowboy.  I could get into a church like that.”  I hope he will.

Some people have praised us for volunteering, but I will tell you a secret — we got more out of the experience than did the congregants.

HELP ME recorded by Kris Kristofferson

Lord help me walk, another mile, just one more mile
I’m tired of walking all alone
Lord help me smile, another smile, just one more smile
I know I just can’t make it on my own

I never thought I needed help before
I thought that I could do things by myself
Now I know I just can’t take it anymore
With a humble heart on bended knee, I’m begging you please help me

Come down from your golden throne to me, to lowly me
I need to feel the touch of your tender hand
Remove the chains of darkness and let me see, Lord let me see
Just where I fit into your master plan

I never thought I needed help before
I thought that I could get by, by myself
Now I know I just can’t take it anymore
With a humble heart on bended knee, I’m begging you please help me
With a humble heart on bended knee, I’m begging you please for help


Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Joni Mitchell/Crazy Crow Music/Siquomb Music, Universal Music Publishing Group


Two Calls

The baby arrived after a struggle.

The long labor had been induced,

yet after 26 hours,

the decision was made

to deliver  him by C-section.

So Braxton finally arrived

as yesterday’s newest Texan.

We heard all about the birth

in a phone conversation

with his relieved Grampa,

my wife’s brother.

Within a few hours

I answered another call.

My good friend, Walt,

told me that his son,

Bill, had died, and

he thought I should know.

It was not expected.

Bill, a mere 36 years old,

had a great smile

that charmed everyone

by revealing a glimpse

of his kind heart

through the twinkle

in his eyes.

Bill and Braxton

might have passed

each other

as one soul came

and one soul left.

One came from Heaven.

One returned to Heaven.

God knows them both

and loves them both.

Two calls about two sons.

Hello.  Goodbye.

Sunrise.  Sunset.

A time for every purpose

under Heaven.

Most Wanted

When a civil lawsuit is commenced, the Defendant must be given notice.  The way notice is given is by having a private process server or a sheriff’s deputy hand copies of the Summons and Complaint to the Defendant.  Then that person, who is independent of the office of the lawyer representing the Plaintiff, provides a Return of Service, which is an affidavit stating that the Defendant was served personally at such and such a place at such and such a time by handing to the Defendant copies of the Summons and Complaint.  Okay, that is your legal lesson that is the prerequisite to understanding the rest of this blog post and to appreciate the humor herein.

So in one of my current cases, I filed suit on behalf of my client, the Plaintiff, who has been injured in an auto accident.  I used the internet to try to locate the Defendant.  What I found was that the Defendant’s name came up on a link to the Sheriff’s Most Wanted List for our county (as a violent criminal).

I called the Sheriff’s office and asked someone in an administrative position whether this most wanted individual had been found.  I was told that he is still a fugitive from the law.  I had been hoping that he was in jail for it would be easy to serve the papers there.  I advised the Court of what the Sheriff’s office told me.  The Court filed an order that I had 30 more days to serve the Defendant or at least show that I diligently tried to serve him, or the case would be dismissed for failure to prosecute, which means not keeping it moving through the litigation process.  Apparently, my investigation through the Sheriff’s office was not enough diligence.

It seemed futile to ask the Sheriff’s office to attempt service on a man on its own Most Wanted List because if they knew where to find him, they would have arrested him,  so I hired a private process server.

There is a way to do substitute service by serving another adult who lives in the same household, provided that other adult confirms that the premises are the residence of the Defendant.  I hoped that such an attempt would satisfy the Court.  I was not confident because I did not expect family members to reveal the whereabouts of a fugitive relative or even acknowledge that he lives there.  Surely, they would be wary.  Probably the Sheriff had questioned them.  I told the process server of the names of two different women at that address.

I had to leave my office before the process server could come there to get the paperwork.  We made other arrangements.  He called my cell phone when he got to the restaurant where my wife and I were eating with her parents and another couple.  When it rang, I went outside for our brief meeting in the parking lot in order to give him the papers that needed to be served.   It probably looked like a drug deal.   I returned to the table, apologizing to those at my table for leaving during the meal.

Before dessert, my cell phone rang again.  The process server joked about being sorry it took so long, promising to be faster next time.  He told me he served the Defendant personally at his residence.  The Defendant even confirmed that he was the right guy because he had been in a car accident.

So, today I will file the return of service with the Court.

But here is my question — should I tell the Sheriff that he can find this Most Wanted Fugitive at his house, which is a few blocks from the restaurant?

No one likes a tattletale.

Nor a bragger.

A Chicken in Every Pot

Some commentators on the Affordable Care Act’s goal of requiring citizens to purchase health insurance, including myself, have sarcastically used various analogies about pressuring citizens to purchase luxury items such as boats and horses.  See

Today, I am going the other direction.  Rather than forcing the purchase of luxuries, which is clearly impractical, I want to target necessities.  I urge the government to pressure all Americans to purchase, whether they want to or not, food and shelter.

As with health insurance, which we can all agree is better than no health insurance, I want to open your eyes to other truths, i.e., that it is better to not be hungry than to be hungry and it is better to have a home or some shelter than to be homeless.

I am surprised that I am the first politician to see this opportunity to be a hero.  President Obama did not go far enough in merely deciding what is best for all in terms of health insurance; he could have decided what is best for all as nutrition and housing.  If I am elected, I will urge the passage of laws to require (by virtue of penalties for non-compliance) all Americans to purchase sufficient food and to purchase adequate housing.  I will call it the Affordable Food and Shelter Act.  I expect bi-partisan support.  What kind of a jerk could possibly oppose the idea of outlawing hunger and homelessness?

Those Americans who have been going without food and shelter, like those going without health insurance, are making the rest of us uncomfortable.  The rest of us want to make those people buy what we buy rather than foolishly choose to do without.

Big corporations, such as grocery supermarkets, are making money by charging Americans such as you and me for food.  Big housing construction corporations are making a profit by charging Americans for the houses such corporate entities build.  And, get this, doctors are sometimes charging for their services.  That is where I draw the line.

The government could run one government health insurance company rather than have all these competing private insurance companies.  The government could run one government grocery distribution system rather than have all these competing grocery stores, and the government could run one construction company rather than have all these competing construction companies.  Citizens would make their purchases from the government, eliminating capitalistic private industry.  You are welcome!

Wait a minute, while brainstorming I just had a vision about how the U.S.A. could get around these purchasing requirements with an even simpler system.   If the government would just cut through all the red tape and provide health care, we would not need health insurance.  And if the government would provide everyone with food and shelter, then we would not have to buy such things either.

And another thing — in every presidential election campaign, creating jobs is always an issue.  Duh!  We could eliminate that issue.  If the government provides food, shelter and healthcare for all (in order to be fair, it must apply to all), then we don’t need jobs unless some people want more than those necessities.   Of course, in Phase Two, the government should expand into providing luxuries as well.  I will save that for my second term campaign.

In difficult times, true leaders emerge.  I am here to answer the call.  I am urging all Americans to not be hungry, homeless, or unhealthy.  Or else!

Somebody’s Daughter

My friend, Tom, is a physician.  He told me that he is at a medical convention in New Orleans, aka Nawlins, this week.  He is an ophthalmologist.  I told him that he will get an eye-full.

I know of which I speak, for I have been to Nawlins.

When I was a senior in college, age 21 (and that is important information), my school’s spring break coincided with Mardi Gras.  My friend, Frank, said we could stay with his parents in Baton Rouge.  From there, we made a day trip to New Orleans, during Mardi Gras.  I got an eye full.  So did Frank and Sam, my traveling companions.

In New Orleans, in the French Quarter, there was a place that did not have a front window.  It had a curtain instead.  Out of the curtain, swinging over the sidewalk, was a girl on a trapeze, or at least the legs of a female.  She was probably 21 too.  We were all adults, obviously, as this was adult entertainment, or more accurately, an advertisement for adult entertainment inside the premises.

We had lunch there, or a similar place.  The establishment provided food, beverages and adult entertainment.  The waitresses were multi-taskers.  The nice girl with a long blonde ponytail who took our order had clothes on when she brought me my cheeseburger.  Then she went on a stage and took most of those clothes off.  She traded places with other server/strippers.  It was a very efficient use of staff.  Very flexible employee plan.

Now here is where I had some weird thoughts for a red-blooded American male college student.  I started thinking that these girls (particularly our waitress, who had been humanized beyond a mere sex object by conversation about our order and looked our age), were somebody’s sisters, probably, and somebody’s daughters, definitely.

I have a sister.  I thought, as I sat eating my lunch, that I would not want her to work there.  I saw it as degrading.  At the time, I did not have any daughters, but now I do.  I don’t want them to work there either.

Anyway, back to my travelog, I recommend the double cheeseburger with sweet potato fries.   I can’t think of the name of the place, but it will come to me.

If you go there, please say hello to the waitress with the ponytail.  (It might be gray now).  She will surely remember me because we had such a nice conversation about spring break and the Mardi Gras and various things.  If her memory is foggy after a few decades, for we were there when Archie Manning was quarterback of the Saints, remind her that I was the guy who had the double cheeseburger.  I vaguely recall wearing a blue sweatshirt.  Tell her that.  I probably made a big impression.

It was an unforgettable experience for both of us.  Or at least one of us.

The Path to Contentment

My wife has been holding me back from realizing my full potential.  Again.

You might recall reading in another post how she failed to show the proper enthusiasm for my plan to be a professional gambler.  Well, she is at it again.

“Sugar,” I said, “I have been reading some self-improvement literature that has inspired me to become whatever I desire to become, with no limitations.  I read that sometimes a person needs to quit his or her job and thus be free to explore.  Free to be me. ”

“I thought being a lawyer was your vocational goal that, by the way, you were allowed to achieve.  Wasn’t that your ‘whatever I desire to become’?”

“Yes.  It used to be, among other things, such as my NFL career, but I have been a lawyer for a pretty long time and I like to change jobs every thirty years or so, you know, just to stay fresh.”

“So what is your alternate plan now that you were not drafted by an NFL team? Again.”

“For your information, I am still available as a free agent.  Me and Tim Tebow and a lot of good players are free agents.  I am what is known as an undrafted free agent.”

“Yes, I have heard you explain that many times over many years.  It is very impressive indeed, but maybe, after thirty years, you should replace that goal of playing in the NFL.  If you quit practicing law, what are you going to do while awaiting that call from an NFL team?  Maybe it isn’t in the cards, even for a perfect physical specimen such as you are.  Maybe God knows that it would not be fair to the other guys on the field.”

“I was thinking of being an astronaut or something cool like that, provided NASA agrees to call forwarding of NFL calls.”

“Wouldn’t motion sickness be a drawback?”  Sugar can be very direct.  It is not an attractive quality.

“Hey, the Mind Eraser at the amusement park does not count. It is way worse than a simple spacecraft.”

“Well, maybe you should go back to your earliest inner and outer self-identity.  You know, feeling free to be the real you.  Look inside the essence of your being.  What are your first memories?  How did you see yourself at age two?  At age four?  At age twelve?  Sixteen? What was your passion then, when you had no responsibilities?  What made you truly happy?”

“Being a cowboy!”

“Exactly.  That is who you are.”

I saw her point. ” So you are saying that I should be a Cowboy-Astronaut?  When I am not on a space mission, I could record country songs and rodeo a little.”

“I was thinking Cowboy Lawyer.  We do live on a ranch.  You could ride horses in your spare time, when you are not going to your law office or court.  How does that sound?”

“Sugar, that is a perfect idea.  I am glad we had this talk.  That sounds like a satisfying life.  I will give it a whirl.  You are an excellent vocational counselor.  Thanks for providing clarity.”

Nevertheless, if the Broncos need me, I have to be flexible about re-arranging my vocational status.

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