Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Unresolved — A Guide to New Year Happiness

In anticipation of the New Year, we commonly reflect on the past and resolve to improve our lives in the coming year.  I like to do that too — until I promptly break my resolutions.

When I break my resolutions, I am disappointed in myself.  Maybe you have had this experience.

I humbly suggest that you consider not making promises that you won’t keep, i.e., go UNRESOLVED.

Another option could be to resolve to do what you will do anyway.  For example, I promise to keep my weight up.  When I accomplish that, I can feel good about keeping my resolution.

If you have any other questions about how to live your life, you know how to get a hold of me.

You are welcome!

Happy Holidays or Not

May all my politically correct friends and relatives who celebrate Christmas have a merry one on December 25th, and, for those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, please have a nice day on Wednesday.

For those who recently celebrated the Winter Solstice or Hanukkah or Ramadan, I sincerely hope that  you enjoyed those holidays, yet I mean no offense to those of you who do not celebrate such occasions either.  Allow me to point out that my own failure to celebrate the same holidays that you celebrate by no means is intended to communicate that I have any animosity towards your own religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs nor your cultural affiliation.   And I say that in the most gender-neutral manner possible.

Also, may I wish a Happy New Year to those of you who use the Gregorian calendar commonly used in the U.S.A. as well as many other (yet not all) parts of the world!  By saying that, however, I do not mean to imply that particular calendar is in any way superior to other calendars, past or present, including but not limited to the Julian calendar, Mayan calendar and the Chinese calendar, nor even that the United States is any better than any other nation in the eyes of all despite  my personal loyalties to the U.S.A.   By acknowledging that not all persons and nations agree with my patriotism for the United States, please be assured that I respect your choice to not be patriotic, whether or not I agree with such a choice.  It is important to realize that I was born of a certain nationality with genetic characteristics that I cannot help, including race or combination of races, as well as height, hair color and eye color,  nevertheless  recognizing that others with differing genes and thus different nationalities, races, height, eye color, hair color, skin color, and gender could not choose their genetic makeup either, yet leaving for debate whether free choice exists as to sexual identity, without indicating my own views on such debate nor specifying my own sexual identity and gender preference.   And I say that from a bi-partisan perspective, without intending to offend anyone.  Rather, it is my sincere desire to enable and empower all readers to enjoy the coming year commencing on whatever date on the calendar of each person’s own choosing which designates a New Year, whether or not such calendar and the first day of the year for such calendar coincides with the calendar that I employ due to my citizenship in the U.S.A. by accident of birth.

To those folks who do not mind me saying so — Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


The week before Christmas should be a joyous time.  However, I am grieving, angry and bent on revenge.

Our nice cat, Simba, has been missing for several days.  I have lost hope that she will return.

In the morning she would come up to the house and eat breakfast with the dogs.  Regular readers of this blog might recall that her bowl is at an elevated position so that the dogs cannot reach the cat’s food.  All were happy with the arrangement.

At night, the cat slept in the barn, in a bed that Miss Sugar bought for her.  The bed is like a den, covered, with a small opening for ingress and egress.  The bed is in a stall so the door can be closed, again, for privacy from the dogs.  The stall door, even when shut, has a little tunnel in the dirt under it — big enough for a cat but too small for our big dogs.  We also put a bowl of dry food in the stall.  That might have doomed our kitty.  Another creature smaller than a dog could also squeeze under the door, attracted to the cat food.

Anyway, the cat has disappeared.  I fear the worst.

There were no signs of a struggle in the “cat stall.”  No blood.  No fur.  No evidence of a homicide or even an assault.

I deduce that the poor cat went too far away on a hunting trip and something got it.  Coyotes reside on the ranch.  Eagles and hawks fly overhead searching for prey.  There are other possibilities.  Would a raccoon kill a cat?  A fox?  Bobcat?  The surprise for me is that Simba survived as a barn cat for a year and a half.  Did she get too brave and wander outside her safety zone?  I doubt that we will ever know.

Even after our cat went missing, something has been eating the cat food.  We re-filled the bowl and it keeps being emptied.  So Sugar bought a trap and put it in the stall.

The trap did not work.  The food was gone again.

Sugar is on a mission, which means that I am on a mission as her trusty sidekick.

My guess is that there are two different culprits — a murderer and a thief.  The thief, if we catch it, will bear the brunt of punishment and the murderer might get off scot free.

cat and inventorWe miss Simba.

Honest Abe, Free Speech, Hot Topics

Abraham Lincoln was frustrated by political correctness.  He encouraged free speech.  He did not duck an unpopular, divisive issue.

Slavery, thank goodness, is no longer a political issue in America because it was ended in the Civil War.  However, before the Civil War, it was a hot topic.  The quote below is something  Abraham Lincoln said in a campaign speech that he gave in 1860.   He chided the politically correct of his day who avoided talking about ending slavery because it made some listeners, well, uncomfortable.

Let us apply a few tests.  You say that you think slavery is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it.  Is there anything else that you think wrong, that you are not willing to deal with as a wrong?  Why are you so careful, so tender of this one wrong and no other?  You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong; there is no place where you will allow [slavery] to be even called wrong!  We must not call it wrong in the Free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the Slave States because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the Tract Society or the other societies, because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!

Substitute for slavery whatever hot topic you choose.  What do you think is wrong (or right)? Abortion?  Gay marriage?  Capital punishment?  Gun control?  Obamacare?  Illegal immigration?  Legal marijuana?  Prayer in the schools?  Christmas decorations in public places?  Military involvement in the Mideast?  Budget cuts?  Budget increases?  Fracking?  Twerking?  You may, under your First Amendment rights as an American, say that you believe something is wrong.  Others may disagree with you.  And vice versa.  We will call that free speech.  It is not just for liberals nor just for conservatives nor just for “the politically correct.”

By the way, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty can participate in the public forum as well.

Everyone should be allowed to speak their piece — with the possible exception of Billy Ray Cyrus.  That is where I draw the line!

Miley Cyrus and Duck Dynasty

I am using this post to exercise my constitutional right to free speech.

Recently, Miley Cyrus performed in a manner known as twerking, which appears to be simulated sexual acts, and swung nude on a wrecking ball.  Although she got some flak for it from people whose morals were offended, her performances were certainly not censored and she continues to perform.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty has been indefinitely suspended from that reality TV show for, get this, something that he did not say on the TV show but what he said in an interview by GQ magazine.  We have been told by the administrators of political correctness that practicing various sexual acts in privacy, yet talking about it (which is not so private), should not jeopardize a person’s job.  Imagine the hubbub that would occur if a gay actor was fired for saying he is gay.  Now try saying you are not gay  — that is where we draw the line!

Phil talked about sex acts that he does not practice or condone, and he is in big trouble.  For what?  For saying what he believes.

By the way, he was not self-righteous.  If you read the entire quote, it includes him talking about his own past with remorse for what he considers sins.  He even calls himself white trash.

He also talked about working with blacks.  He said that he did not himself witness discrimination against them.  He did not say there was no discrimination.  But even if he said racist and homophobic things, does he not have the right to say what he thinks or experienced as white trash?

It seems inconsistent and hypocritical for the political correctness police to defend the free speech rights of everyone except those who do not agree with them and are therefore not politically correct.

Our Founders were wise in adding the Bill of Rights to our Constitution.   The right to free speech is not conditioned on whether it offends anyone, and especially not on whom is offended.   You can speak in favor of or against Christianity and you can speak in favor of or against Islam.  You can speak against abortion and you can speak advocating abortion, or the death penalty, or gay marriage, or ANYTHING.  You don’t have to be in the majority.  The right is more important if you are not in the majority.

If I was the lawyer advising A & E, the network that makes lots of money from Duck Dynasty, I would tell them they needed only to say that the show producers did not air the GQ interview remarks yet stand by Phil’s right to free speech even if the network executives “do not necessarily agree with the views expressed” in the GQ article.

As A&E’s lawyer, I would tell the LGBT folks and NAACP folks to read the Constitution.  Even Christians have civil rights.  Phil may express an opinion on what he considers sinful behavior.  It is not just in the Bible, it is in the Constitution.  Pouting by opponents is allowed.  Disagreeing with Phil is allowed.  However, suspending Phil for his remarks is not a good legal decision.

If tolerance is the highest value for the politically correct, then should there not be tolerance for Phil as much as for Miley?

Go figure!

P.S.  I know what you are thinking, but it is not nice (or politically correct) to call Miley white trash.  Billy Ray?  That is another story.  Go ahead.  Make my day!

What’s In It For ME?

     Sugar is LinkedIn.  I am not.  Sugar shared with me an article that upset her.  It is called “People You Don’t Need In Your Life.”
     The article is well-written.  In fairness, I think it is intended to warn about the dangers of certain relationships in the workplace with people who do not help you in your quest for success in the business world.
     Sugar did not like it because of the selfish attitude that seems to imply that one should associate only with people who benefit you.  She pointed out that Jesus did not follow that path.  He ministered to the unsavory.  What was in it for Him?
     I agree that there are people who are negative influences.  You don’t want your kids to be in a gang.  You encourage them to have nice friends.  It is true that people seldom have a neutral effect on us.  Either they are a good influence or a bad influence, I suppose.
      Nevertheless, there are people in our lives, especially family members and long-time friends, who should not be cut out of our lives because they do not benefit us.  Maybe we learn from their mistakes.  Maybe we simply owe them respect, like being kind to the drunk uncle at the Christmas table.
     There is something wonderful about loyalty.  There is something repulsive about selfishness.
     I read a story that you might have read.  It is about a man who came to visit his wife, who had dementia,  at a nursing home each day.  He had to take the bus.  He came even in bad weather.  One particularly cold and stormy day, one of the nursing home employees said to the man, “Don’t bother coming in such bad weather.  She does not even know if you are here.”  And the loyal husband said, “But I know.”
     A while back, I wrote about what the family of a profoundly disabled child “got out of” their relationship with her.  See link below.

Beau and Mitch — Psychological Warfare

Mitch does work around our ranch when we need help from someone with superior skills to my own, which is frequent.

Mitch is thus familiar with Beau, our male Yellow Labrador RETRIEVER.  I emphasize the word retriever because Beau is a compulsive retriever.  The word “retrieve” sounds more noble than an equally descriptive word, which is “steal.”  The distinction lies in whether or not the object Beau gets is gotten at the request of a person or over the objection of a person.

Mitch was telling me today that Beau took his hat, hammer, and some other tool.  Mitch is catching on, however.  Mitch said that he has learned to act like he does not care because Beau is eager for a reaction.  Mitch explained that if he feigns unawareness that his hat or tool is missing, Beau brings it back.  Apparently the fun for Beau comes from a reaction by Mitch that he values the object in Beau’s mouth.  This is called in scientific circles “reverse psychology.”

The UPS and the FedEx delivery drivers could learn from Mitch.  As described in previous blog posts, which you could look up in the archives, Beau has retrieved packages and one lunch from those trucks.  Those guys made the mistake of caring.

The Gift of Enthusiasm

I don’t know every Italian person but I know one half-Italian from Texas quite well.  Therefore, without generalizing, allow me to share some observations about the mysterious ways of the Italian I know, which observations you may compare to Italians and partial Italians whom you know and through this sociological study determine if there are common characteristics, such as emotions close to the surface and within easy access to their Italian mouths.

Suppose you have an Italian lady living in your home.  And suppose it is cold and windy outside.  Based on the (half) Italian whom I know, you might hear something like this, “No one should live here in the winter.  We should go to Florida for four months and hire someone to feed our animals.”

Then the sun comes out and the wind dies down.  Then such an Italian might say, “I think we should have a Christmas party so I invited twenty people over next Saturday.  Now we need to go to the grocery store.  Let’s put up our tree tomorrow night.  I already put up the lights on the house.”  (The invitees are coming in winter to the house that no one should live in, but at least it is lit with light.)

Last weekend we traveled to another county for yet another holiday art and craft show.  It was far enough from the ranch that we stayed in a hotel after the show.

On the way back the next morning, I heard, “I am sure tired.  Are you tired?  On the way home, let’s do some shopping.  I know what I am going to get your Mom for Christmas and I want to stop at Home Depot to get some weatherstripping for that door from the sunroom to the deck.  Hey, there is karaoke tonight at Scrumpy’s.  I told the owner I would advertise it on Facebook so  I need to go to take some pictures.  They have a TV so you can watch football.”

I said, “O.K.”

She was the hit of the “Christmas Caroloke” at Scrumpy’s.  (I did not sing.  I watched the Packers come from behind to beat the Cowboys.)

I say that the Italian person in question, Sugar, has “the gift of enthusiasm”  It is tough for an old cowboy like me to keep up, but ya wanna know something?  I kinda like it.Image

Sugar sells jewelry because she is a girl.  I sell knives because I am not knowledgeable about her jewelry and I have to sit there all day anyway.  Cross Creek Ranch Enterprises!

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Miss Sugar is a pretty nice landlady.  She is a trusting soul.  She treats tenants as if everyone is trustworthy.   Guess what!  Not everyone is.

A few years ago we had trouble with a man who rented a house and was good about paying his rent until trouble came.  The trouble resulted in him spending a couple weeks in jail and everyone knows that it is difficult to pay rent from the confines of the jailhouse.  Apparently, it is also impossible to make a phone call to one’s landlady to inform her that you are incarcerated but your pit bulls are not; rather, your pit bulls are HOME ALONE.

I don’t blame the pit bulls for getting hungry, but I do question the decision of their owner/our tenant to not provide for them.  Consequently, the abandoned dogs had to make do with carpet, drapes, woodwork, etc.  Maybe they hunted in the backyard too because the patio door was left open for their convenient egress and ingress.  The open door was also convenient for other critters if they chose to visit.

Guess what!  That guy did not get his deposit back.

We have had wonderful tenants as well.  I must give credit where credit is due.

Recently, we hired a repairman to patch some holes in the walls.  Query:  Have you, gentle readers, ever punched six holes in the wallboard in your homes?  You don’t have to answer that.  My answer for myself is — never.    Nor have I left the imprint of my foot in a hollow door.

The repairman also noted that the linoleum in the lower level is no longer intact.  He guessed that the tenants had been watering plants down there, which caused the adhesive to fail.  I don’t know much about hydroponic growing.  Why couldn’t they just grow the plants in the backyard?

Don’t answer that if you live in a state other than Colorado or Washington.  In many states, the possession of pot is illegal, just like it is under federal law.

Maybe Sugar should in the future ask in the lease application not only about pets, but also about “indoor gardening.”

On the other hand, maybe it is best to not ask.  Or tell.

Another One Bites The Dust

I went to high school a long time ago.

Even then, we had security guards at all the doors.

Even then, or actually the year after I graduated, the principal was stabbed. (He survived).

Even then, that same year, a girl was shot by another in the restroom.  (She survived).

Last year, a young man killed little first graders and others at Sandy Hook Elementary, then killed himself.

Yesterday, a high school kid in Colorado came to school with a shotgun, tried to shoot a teacher, did shoot another student (we hope will survive) and killed himself.

Those tragedies are evil.  The perpetrators are crazy.

That is really my point — the shooters are crazy.  They did not come from deprived backgrounds.  They were not devoted to a cause.  They were not terrorists.  They were not robbers (except of life) with something to gain.  They were angry and misplaced their anger.  They chose to harm others.  They chose to kill themselves as well.  (The kids at my old school were more direct in their targets and did not harm themselves except by getting criminal records).

I don’t know much about the upbringing of these perpetrators, but it seems they came from normal, even above average families.  We want a reason.  We want an explanation that we can understand.  Instead, it makes no sense.  That it because these acts were crazy and one does not usually understand crazy.  These acts were evil.  Even nice kids from nice families are capable of evil.

Satan is active among us.  God help us!

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