Friday, February 16, 2018

Pub Chatter #150




 

 
    As heartbreaking as it is to say, mass murders by single shooters cannot be prevented. Anderson Cooper and friends on CNN can scratch their heads and wag their jaws about prevention endlessly and never come up with a reliable answer. A determined gunman who has no plan to escape the scene cannot be stopped except by sheer luck.

     The man contemplating such an attack has long ago given up any notion of abiding by the law. Outlawing guns will not keep a man bent on killing from obtaining the means to carry out his crime. Theft, fraud, forgery, assault, even a single murder are acceptable tools to obtain a weapon. If not a gun; a bomb or poison will do. The tree growing from this mental process has deep roots.

     The latest shooting in Florida is evidence that you can take precautions, but you cannot prevent this kind of tragedy. The school did everything right; controlled entry, guards, drills and still a gunman got through. The answer to the problem lies not with guns, heightened precautions or more laws. The solution lies within the hearts and minds of men.

     Moral and ethical restraints have been eaten away. Ironically, this has been done in the name of progress and an enlightened evolution in thinking.  In truth, there is nothing new with this mind set. Doing what one wants in the face of moral imperatives to the contrary is the oldest trait of man as we know him. We have different colors of skin, eyes, and hair. We worship differently. We think along varying cultural lines and speak different languages. However, in one thing we are all the same. That is in our certainty that the universe is trying to hold us back by denying us feed our own wants unfettered.

     A man who wishes to kill, will find a way to kill. We are inventive creatures. Don’t be deceived. The willingness to curse one another, and to verbally bite and devour one another, is a thin skin covering murderous intent. Mass murder doesn’t require insanity—just a little self-talk. Kindness, extended from a heart at peace with itself and others, is the only effective deterrent to violence and murder.   

Friday, February 9, 2018

Pub Chatter #149



   I want to say “thank you” to everyone who was concerned about my recent bout of self-exile. I'm a rather quiet, private sort who lets things build. Those of you laughing right now ought to be ashamed. Anyway, a series of unfortunate events led me to question the advisability of writing my blogs.

     I don’t need anybody to ask me, “Who the hell are you to try and tell me how the world turns?” I do that all by myself and with more sincerity than the harshest critic could ever do. When I write about Christianity, politics or human behavior, I am not spouting a party line or a particular organization’s dogma. I am not a disciple of the modern tenet that perception is reality. Reality requires no supportive agreement from anyone. Reality is eternally immutable. Truth does not “evolve” over time---it’s out there and it’s real.

     Truth can be harsh. It doesn’t accept rationalization or tolerate excuses. Truth shines a glaring light on every imperfection. As you may know, I am far from perfect. Contrary to claims some infer from my opinions, I have never entertained the notion of perfection. I feel my shortcomings and sins acutely and frequently. It’s simply that while I have the right to remain silent---I lack the ability.

     Kicking my own ass occupies a great deal of my time and energy because there is so much material to work with. The only consolation I can find is in the notion that a good man clearly sees how bad he is, while a bad man thinks he’s fine as he is.

     So the Colonel will be back soon and the Crusader right behind him. Thanks again for your kind words.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pub Chatter #148




   I’d like to introduce my readers to some special people---the volunteers at Journey Home Rescue. I don’t back an organization until they are able to convey to me a sense of true devotion to their cause and a love for what they are doing. Until you put those things together non-profits simply do not work, at least not for those they say they support. The fact that I am an assistant to one of their volunteers and amateur puppy wrangler has nothing to do with it.

     Journey Home Rescue was founded in 2016, but the core members have over eighty years combined experience in animal rescue. If you are unfamiliar with animal rescue, these folks rescue and rehabilitate unwanted, injured, sick, abandoned and neglected animals. Often arriving just before the animals are euthanized by crowded shelters, they are literally lifesavers. That’s just where the job begins. Once rescued, dogs are provided with medical and emotional support while a search goes on to find loving responsible homes. The volunteers at Journey Home Rescue serve as a public resource on pet healthcare and ownership. It is all done by volunteers.

     Journey Home Rescue is a non-profit multi-state rescue headquartered in Washington. They also have rescuers in Idaho and Oregon. They rescue all type of animals in every state. Their reach is amazing. Faye and I live in Shelton, Washington and are fostering a female dog and her seven puppies that were rescued in Idaho. The volunteers for Journey Home Rescue transport dogs to wherever care and loving homes may be found. Rescue is their vision; animals their passion.

     But more important than what journey Home Rescue does is why they do it. It can be summed up in one word---Love repeated over and over again. They began as four Facebook friends two in Washington, one in Oregon, and one in Idaho, who shared a love for dogs and a vision. Love and vision are great to have, but until you add action they amount to little. These folks have engaged their love and turned it into action. 
     “For me, I don’t know how not to help dogs,” said Karen one of the organization’s founders.
     Her journey as a rescuer began with a blind, hairless Sharpei and has continued with special needs dogs. Five of these share her home today.
     My wife, Faye is new to the organization, but not to rescue. She has worked largely with snow dogs--huskies and malamutes. Two are spending the rest of their lives with us; a third dog visits when he can. This is her first foray into the care and feeding of puppies.

     I have written repeatedly here on the blog that nothing is free. Fostering dogs does not cost the foster parents money. Journey Home Rescue pays for the food, supplies, and healthcare. However, no monetary expenditure doesn’t mean free. Fostering is a huge investment in time, poop scooping, and love. Faye says the reward she gets is well worth the investment. I believe everyone connected to Journey Home Rescue would agree.

     Journey Home Rescue is a nonprofit animal rescue operating under IRS Section 501(c)(3). Your donations are tax deductible. Saving dogs is the heartwarming result of your giving. I urge you to “Like” their page on Facebook and donate if you are able. If you’d like to know more about Journey Home Rescue, please email them at journeyhomerescue@outlook.com. I think you will be glad you did.


Placement decisions are made based on the best interest of the individual dog by different variables and are based solely on the individual needs of the dog as determined by the rescue.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Pub Chatter # 145 Dog Blog #7




   Today is the last day to submit applications to adopt one of the seven puppies we are fostering. It will be sad to see them go, but we are hoping for the best forever homes for each of them. They are still a wiggling, tail wagging mass of fur claws and sharp teeth moving in seven directions at once, only now personalities are really starting to emerge.

     Piper and Darla are high energy like Hope, their mother. They are fast, smart and inventive. Daisy and Roscoe are the biggest of the seven. They love to snatch up a toy and see who will give chase. They are not above throwing their weight into a tackle and both love to pester Snoop. Pepper and Bella are more laid back. They like to sit at my feet and get pets while watching the others get soaked in the rain. Then, there’s Archie. Archie is well---he’s Archie there’s no other way to describe him. He likes to chew on rocks, shred puppy pads, and hide from Snoop in the tunnel. He likes to sit on the edge of the patio and keep watch over the others in a way that reminds me of the old cartoon of the sheepdog watching the flock while the coyote tries to make off with the sheep.
Archie

     We are coming up on second puppy shots and they are supposed to be ready for their forever homes at the end of February. They are all great little dogs and capable of stealing any heart. Momma Hope will be staying with us a little longer. She is going to be spayed before heading on to a new home. She is just now learning how to be still and allow humans to love her. I think she likes it. She is ultra high energy and fast as lightning. She fearlessly takes on our 120-pound malamute, Snoop in play battles none of the other dogs dare to try. I think she is going to make someone a terrific cattle dog or a hunting companion.    

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Pub Chatter #144



     I hear people talk about the high cost of healthcare today. I agree that healthcare is very expensive. However, I am given to wonder about the cost in relation to wages. I honestly don’t know if today’s health care consumes a larger proportion of the family budget than it did when I was a child, and then a young parent. I could study statistics and find out, but I’m not that interested. I do think the present perception is that the cost is less than yesteryear.

     I have come to that conclusion--right or wrong--by observing how families utilize healthcare services today. The willingness of families to access health care is far greater than it once was. A large number of arrivals at the urgent care where I work have tried no home remedies or over the counter medicines. They feel bad for a day or two; they go to the doctor with no attempt to help themselves.

     My parents avoided taking us to the doctor like it was a financial disaster akin to flood or fire. It was only after they were convinced that they could not hold back the waters or extinguish the fire that we resorted to professional health care. As a young parent, I can testify this was exactly the case with taking our children to the doctor.

     Young adults today don’t know any better. They just don’t know what is serious and what isn’t. They Google the symptoms and head for the nearest professional with worst case scenarios playing full speed. There’s no practical knowledge to fall back on. Yes, I know, I’m a nurse, it’s all simple, right? Wrong. I didn’t become a nurse until I was forty years old and my children were finishing high school. I fought the battle like everyone else.

     Not long ago pain was a part of life. You skinned your knee and it was acceptable for it to hurt for days. Our parents reinforced that belief. “Quit crying, it’s not broken (bleeding, serious),” was common and sound parental advice. Pain is no longer acceptable in either illness or treatment. Some parents bring their children in solely for professionals to give medications the parents cannot get their child to take because the kid will cry and spit it out. My parents had their own special treatment for such situations---it also caused tears, but the medicine was taken.

     There’s one other difference---time. It’s not the same anymore and the human body’s healing mechanisms haven’t kept pace with the times. A cold still lasts from seven to ten days with rest and fluids. Our electronics gadgets have not changed that; they have only made us impatient with the process. Furthermore, there’s nothing in the Emergency Room or Pharmacy that will change that by much. Antibiotics take days (not hours) to work their wonders if they work at all. Some medications take weeks to achieve full effect. That’s hard to understand when we are now frustrated when Facebook doesn’t load instantly.

     There’s no real point to this speculation except my constant internal questioning as to why people act the way they do. It’s kind of amazing really because when I was young I knew the answers. Now, I simply shake my head and mumble to myself.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Pub Chatter #143

      Let me tell you about the time I died. Don’t be like that. I’m being serious here. I know, I know, how can I tell the story if I’m dead? To tell the truth, I’ve wondered about that myself. The best I can come up with is that there are different levels of dead. It makes sense when you stop to think about it. In ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation your heart is not beating. There’s no pulse. You are dead, but not all the way dead. Apply a sudden blow to the chest from an EMT’s hairy fist or a jolt of electricity and ---boom, you’re back. Then, there’s asystole, the familiar flat line. No one is going to shock that back to life. In some cultures, the line between dead and alive is even more ambiguous. It’s kind of hard for me to say those beliefs are wrong. I mean; here I am.

      It started out like any other day. I hit the snooze for the fifth time still struggling to get my eyes open.
      “Get up,” my wife growled and slugged me in the back.
      I jumped out of bed; blindly reached in the closet for clothes and dashed out of the house still struggling to get my coat on. Steering with my knees, I had my tie knotted by the third stop light. I dodged around a couple of secretaries standing in the hall and slid into my desk as the second hand reached the twelve. It was time for a coffee break.

      Experts say bright computer screens are a hindrance to sleep. Proving them wrong, once again, I nodded while pretending to work until noon. Benny and I decided to go to an Italian place down the street for lunch. He had linguine. I stepped out of character and went for the Alfredo goat cheese and spinach ravioli. I was back at my desk by 1:15, refreshed and ready.

      I looked over the Bimmel file and put it back in the “Not now”folder. I was searching for something a bit easier to start out with when a scream pierced the air.

      “ALLAHU ACKBAR!”

      The sound was followed by automatic rifle fire. I peeked out my office door. I coast was clear. I ran---right into Benny. It took a moment to untangle our limbs.
      “The other way,” I told him. “C’mon.”
      We made it to the first floor unscathed only to find a second terrorist had the front door blocked. We took refuge behind one of the receptionist’s desks. I groaned as my stomach began to rumble and churn.
      “Oh no, not now,” I whispered.
      “Seriously?” Benny asked. “Now?”
      The Bible says there’s a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to fart and a time to refrain from farting. Well, not quite exactly like that, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, my digestive tract has a mind of its own and is not much on Bible reading. Still, I prayed.

      My prayers were answered. The passing of silent gas was never so welcome. It didn’t last. I heard the terrorist inhale deeply. Footsteps, he was searching.
      “Mara?” the terrorist said. “Mara is that you? Where are you, you naughty little goat? I know you’re here somewhere.”
      From the corner of my eye I saw guy with a dish towel on his head searching the desks on the other side of the room. I shoved Benny to his feet. He bolted for the front door with me on my heels.
      “Infidels, come back with my goat.”
      The glass doors shattered in front of us. Bullets flew above our heads. I leaped through the now empty door frame and ran into the street. Curses and gunfire followed. Benny’s quick and has this big 'fro. I kept my eyes on that hair and ran. Suddenly, Benny went down to one knee. I thought he was hit, but my despair turned to joy when I saw the black and white parked in the middle of the street. I’m not politically inclined. I hurdled over Benny as he sat there on one knee.

      I was by the cops before they opened fire. From the shelter of a parked car on the far side of the street, I pause for a look back. A round took Abdul in the center of his chest. His arms flew up into the air as he twisted with the impact. His finger closed on the trigger in a death grip and the weapon came to life. Lead filled the air above the narrow street. The terrorist went down, but not before he inflicted more damage. The wild shots ripped through the support struts of the giant donut atop Jerry’s Donuts. The ten-foot pastry crashed down from the roof and rolled down the street.

      It was the first time a donut ever ate a cop. Both policemen were down, their cruiser crushed and covered with giant sprinkles. The donut was launched into the air. It bounced on the corner of Lemon and Maple and continued rolling down Maple Street.

      In the intersection, a semi with Lays printed on the side swerved to avoid the runaway donut. The truck jackknifed. The back end of the truck clipped a Dominoes delivery driver. The doors of the truck flew open strewing Maple Street with hundreds of bags of assorted Fritos and Cheetos. The odor of corn, chili, and processed cheese filled the air. I was surrounded by the sound of wailing sirens.

      I wasn’t out of danger yet. The Dominoes driver hit a light post and was spinning out of control right for me. Someone was calling my name.

      “Jack, Jack wake up.You’re having a nightmare. I told you midnight junk food would kill you. Don’t you ever listen?”

Pub Chatter #142



      As days go Monday gets a bad rap. It’s not altogether unearned. Mondays are bad news where I work. All the accumulated sickness and disease that developed over the weekend becomes unbearable on Monday. This holds true even on Monday holidays. Today, I’m giving a big shout out to last Monday. Somehow in the middle of the mother of all Mondays, the clouds parted and the sun shone down again. This is Washington, so you know I’m speaking metaphorically.

     I tend to whistle ( or hum ) while I work. I think it works sort of like the little valve on top of a pressure cooker. A co-worker at my last job said she knew when I stopped humming---shit was about to get real and she gave me a wide berth. On reflection, I found what she had to say had merit.

     Three or four months after arriving here in Washington, the humming stopped completely. I didn’t really notice at first. The occasional shocked look on the new faces around me didn’t seem to register. Thing got bad and things got worse, I guess you know the tune.

     Suddenly, in the midst of a shit storm Monday---I started humming. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I don’t really care. I’m back and that’s what matters. I’ve kind of been riding the high and haven’t gotten the usual volume of writing done, but it’s only a matter of time. I think quality will benefit as well. Y’all will have to be the judge of that. I’ll give you a sample later tonight.