My Travel Preference

I apologize for the extended hiatus. The past month has found me conducting a seminar series in Colorado, married off our youngest son, and moved him and his bride to Florida. I hope now to be back on my regular schedule.

There is an advertising slogan for an airline that states, We like to fly and it shows.” However if I had a travel slogan, my bumper sticker would say, “I hate to fly and it shows”

Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves getting to their destination super fast. Does three irritating kids in the back seat whining “Are we there yet ring a bell?

However now that our home is barren of those occassional irritating rug rats, I choose all my travel based on my ability to have an aura of tranquility. You see, airline travel is the closest thing to being a refugee. A mass of humanity hurrying up to go everywhere except the place you want to go. The words from the statue of liberty ring true in the security line’ Bring your huddled masses.” It’s kind of like being in a Disney theme park line except no one is in a good mood and there is nothing to look forward to at the end. Unless you count partially disrobing, placing all your valuables in tupperware bins, and walking barefoot in places angels would fear to tread.

Murphy’s Law dictates that my gate, no matter the airline I fly, will be at the furthest point away from the airport entrance. On last week’s flight, I logged more miles than a Boston Marathon runner. And who says spending four hours squishing an ample backside in a Fisher Price size seat isn’t just plain fun? If you’re thirsty, don’t try to fly. On long trips as a child I remember my mother when I was thirsty I’d ask her for a drink and she’d jokingly say, “Swallow.” That pretty much sums up most airlines. The cups they serve offer slightly more beverage than a communion glass. Don’t you find three swallows of water to be most quenching after running the equivalent of the Pamplona running of the bulls?

The flying experience isn’t fully realized until you take on the persona of an old west American indian. I say this because the seats are so narrow, you spend the whole trip crossing your arms like you’re waiting for the peace pipe to be passed to you next. We already know our thighs are bonding with the person next to us, but I draw the line with the upper body.

Additionally we need a reeducation on what constitutes carry on luggage and what doesn’t? To skip baggage claim, people selfishly bring dog cages, guitars, and luggage bags the size of truck tires. God forbid we had a hard landing, those compartments would fly open and jettison it’s contents like a girdle on a Sasquatch.

Next time I travel, I’m driving. Sure it may take longer, but at least I’ll have peace. I also won’t have to imagine how my miniscule seat can be transformed into a flotation device.

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No, Not the Dukes of Hazzard!

In multiple action movies when pandemonium is about to strike, I look for the lead actor to assure everyone not to panic. This week, we are seeing an overreaction at it’s worst, and it needs to stop. The day’s debate centers on the Confederate flag. A lunatic used it as a prop last week in Charleston to commit carnage, so everyone is falling over themselves to get rid of it.

Despite being a battle flag for southern troops in the Civil War, and a symbol of pride not hate for most southerners, a host of national retailers announced they won’t sell the Confederate flag anymore. Most memorabilia if it has southern leanings will also get the heave-ho. Debate has even swirled around the selling of Confederate money and whether it should be allowed by retailers. Now 150 years after being laid to rest, soldiers who fought in battle are being deprived of the very flag they gave their life for. Their battle cry now silent, has been usurped by the mantra, “whatever offends, get rid of it”!

How great has the hysteria reached? Some retailers are now outlawing the famous car from the Dukes of Hazzard, the General Lee. Why? Simply because it sports a Confederate flag on it’s roof. If you want a story on how politicians and retailers think, I give you an example of present day logic.

Two rednecks, Bubba and Cooter, decided that they weren’t going anywhere in life and thought they should go to college to get ahead.
Bubba goes into the school first, and the professor advises him to take math, history and logic.
Stumped, he asks “What’s logic?”.
The professor answered, “Let me give you an example. “I can tell by your accent that you raised in Tennessee.”
“I sure was” said the redneck proudly.
“Do you own a weed-whacker?”
“I sure do,” answered the redneck.
“Then I can assume, using logic, that you have a yard,” replied the professor.
“That’s real good,” the redneck responded in awe.
The professor continued, “Logic will also tell me that since you have a yard, you also have a house.”
Impressed, the redneck shouted, “AMAZING!”
“And since you own a house, logic dictates that you have a wife.”
“Betty Mae! This is incredible!”
“Finally, since you have a wife, logically I can assume that you are heterosexual,” said the professor.
“You’re absolutely right! Why, that’s the most fascinating thing I ever heard of! I can’t wait to take this here logic class.”
Bubba, proud of the new world opening up to him, walked back into the hallway where Cooter was waiting.
“So, what classes are ya takin?” he asks.
“Math, history and logic,” replies Bubba.
Cooter asks, “What’s logic?”
“Let me give you an example. Do ya own a weed-eater?”
“You don’t like girls, do ya?”

Sound logic tells me most people don’t know their history, and we are suffering the consequences. Overreaction to almost everything is being driven by political correctness. Don’t believe me? Why then the attack on the fun-loving Dukes of Hazzard? Now I don’t want to confuse anyone. I’m talking about two separate issues here. One is a plot that centers around a stupid acting and corrupt political machine that manipulates everyone for personal gain. The other features a pretty girl riding in a car with her two cousins that sports a Confederate flag.

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The Judas Syndrome

I turn serious this week with an evaluation on current events. Two thousand years ago, Judas, a disciple of Christ, became impatient. Despite the fact that he had the enviable position of treasurer for his disciple group, he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. He wanted to have greater reward than just carrying a pittance of a money bag. He wanted to be treasurer of a kingdom, the Kingdom; Jesus’ new kingdom here on earth. He no doubt went to bed each night imagining the wealth that could be his as overseer of such a vast treasury. A King who would be so powerful, that all the earth’s wealth would be at his disposable.

One thing he failed to understand however, God had another plan. When Judas stood before the priests after betraying his Lord for 30 pieces of silver, he realized too late that his betrayal would NOT accomplish his dream. He was inconsolable because he realized he had set into motion horrifying events due to his greed that now could not be stopped. I call his actions, the Judas Syndrome.

While walking in the mall recently I chanced upon a large yellow funnel. Oh it looked like funnel. In reality it was an elaborate piggy bank for a local charity. As you placed your coin in the wide mouth slot, you stood mesmerized as the quarter wound its way around the outer lip. Faster and faster it sped up as it wound it’s way closer and closer to the center until in a blur, it dropped into the center hole of the receptacle never to be seen again by the giver.

As I reflected on this repository, I came to the realization that in my present life, I was the coin I had just deposited. I don’t know who holds the key to the this bank, all I know is as I start out on my coin’s journey, it appears I have a wide berth of freedom. My path appears wide open and I enjoy the speed in which I travel. But the longer I roll, I become distracted. I come to the realization too late that my path is really a vortex. The pull on the path I am on is dragging me in a direction I don’t want to go. Whoever manufactured this bank, like the political forces we have today, know it’s rigged for one thing, the sole benefit of themselves.

Every week I watch the news I am led to believe that gross incompetence or ignorance is too blame for our present circumstances. These are actual headlines in the news the past few weeks :

  • Army lab ships multiple locations mishandled Anthrax and it’s been going on for over a decade.
  • Unchecked Illegal Alien minors swarming the borders is bringing new cases of virulent diseases.
  • Despite runaway spending, the federal government ignores the warnings.
  • 121 illegal immigrants who avoided deportation now charged with murder
  • The US Immigration Service released 65,000 criminal back onto our streets and not one person has been fired over it.

Incompetence? Ignorance? I disagree. I am under a different assumption. I believe the “powers at be” have a full blown case of the Judas Syndrome. Someone couldn’t be satisfied with their wealth, they wanted more. So they set into motion a chain of events that will eventually wreak havoc on us all.

In the past few years we have seen long-time business icons going bankrupt, job participation rates collapsing to pre-World War levels, and seen the erosion of some Free Speech and 2nd Amendment freedoms. We see major bills and amendments passed without transparency, immigration laws flouted and borders left unguarded. We’ve seen one of the largest corporations in America have the best financial year in it’s history only to replace some long-time employees with cheap labor brought in from foreign countries. Adding insult to injury, the Corporate CEO of this US company was paid an annual salary of $46 million dollars.

No matter if you are a member of any political party, you and I are being short-changed. Someone else has a key to the bank. Like Judas, I believe a chain of events has been set into motion by our leaders that will lead to trouble never envisioned. We can blame the Judas Syndrome for this.

Excuse me for a moment,  I’m watching my life mirror the little coin in the funnel. I’m slowly being dragged into the center hole of oblivion.

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A Father’s Gift Beyond Reason

It’s been said that love is blind. But I have to also add that it can be deaf and dumb too. It was 1983 and I hadn’t seen my parents in over a year. I was headed home from Texas to Vermont where my parents lived. It was close to Father’s Day and I was at a loss as to what unique gift I could bring to my Father. Buying your Dad a meaningful gift can be maddening. “What could I possibly bring him within my budget that would bring a smile to his face?” I thought.

In Texas where I was attending school, the state offered one benefit I couldn’t get in New England, fireworks. My father and I loved them, so I had an idea. I would bring him the most fireworks I could possibly carry. I had a major impediment however, I was flying.

“No bother” I surmised. I’ll just wear my large full length trench coat home. No matter that a full jacket in the heat of June would have raised suspicions then and now; I was on a mission. I headed on down to a large circus type tent near Cleburne, Texas and I spent the most money I had ever spent on fireworks. I purchased two super packs of firecrackers that were as big as breast plates when carried on each side of my inner jacket pockets. My outside pockets? They were filled to the brim with M-80’s; the loudest firecrackers allowable. These were billed as the equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite each. I added some flaming pinwheels to my lapel pocket and I was ready to travel.

This is a prime illustration of the meaning, “Ignorance is bliss.” I never once thought how dangerous it would be to fly with more gun powder than a suicide bomber. You see, I was simply bringing a “love” gift to my father. I can only imagine one day when I get to heaven my personal angel will pull me aside and say, “I had to change my outfit and wings three times that day because I was so nervous!” I must have had the look of a choir boy because I whisked through the gate like I was returning a library book. I did make one smart decision that day, I chose to sit in the front of the plane. Who could blame me? If I had sat in the rear in the smoking section, I would have been as nervous as a bomb technician with Saint Vitus Dance.

When I arrived back home and took my jacket off in the house, my parents eyes were the size of saucers. It was then that I immediately presented my Dad with his special gifts. I think it was the only time I saw on his face, gratefulness, fear, relief, and gratefulness in waves. Despite his stunned silence, I knew in my heart that I had given him a gift for the ages. I assumed he was speechless from my generosity.

As I look back on that day, it solidifies the premise that timing is everything. If I had given that gift to him today, I probably would writing this from Club Gitmo, Cuba and I would be wearing an orange jumpsuit.

Nevertheless, Happy Father’s Day, and much love to you Dad from a son who still causes you a few gray hairs now and then.

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