Sunday, November 29, 2015

Everybody's heard...

About the bird...

No, not that one, this one...

Now here's something I didn't plan on...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Random thankful thoughts (NOW WITH UPDATE!)

Wonder weather

The season of easy living officially checked out yesterday. The high temperature peaked at 21 degrees, just moments after the clock declared a new day, then fell steadily throughout the remainder of Thanksgiving. It didn't fall far, though, the low was 14.

As the sun began to illuminate the heavens, dawn's early light revealed a gray-toned world and lightly falling snow. Low-hanging overnight clouds had wept a constant light mist of super cooled water droplets, and now trees and grasses and signs and lines and everything else was crusted with a light rime.

This was the first real cold and snow of the season, and the first one is always a pain. Everything is harder in the cold and snow. In the season of easy living the thought is the action. It takes, comparatively, nothing to get up, get dressed and get to work. In winter, though, it takes, thought, attention and energy just to get dressed.

First come the heavy socks, then the long-handled winter drawers in their modern Under Armour iteration. Next come wick-lined winter cargo pants and a tee shirt. Danner Pronghorn insulated boots go on. The Shield gets inspected and cycled, then snaps into the N8-squared IWB holster. Next comes the heavy overshirt, followed by a hooded sweatshirt, followed by my working vest. After checking the pockets for spare mags, flashlight, camera, spare batteries, syringes, needles and antibiotic, cell phone, nippers and spare gloves, I can finally waddle out the door and get to work.

It's a far cry from lightly skipping out of bed and immediately charging into the day.

The cold and snow also means a more detailed vehicle pre-flight. In the summer I scarcely check the oil, but in the cold and snow I check everything. In summer a broken down pickup can mean a multi-mile lark of a pleasant hike, in winter it can mean misery and mortality.

So on the first day of the season of not so easy living, I feel like I'm already tired when I get to work.

It's more of a mind thing than anything else. Getting dressed and checking the pickup isn't really taxing, but it does add steps, and it's a change in routine, so I bitch and moan and whine a bit. Within a few days I've adjusted, the whining wanes, and I give it no more thought.

Once I got out there, the weather was amazingly beautiful. Cold and snow and chopping ice is something other than fun, but there's just something magnificent and delightful about close horizons, softly falling snow, and well conditioned cattle doing what cattle do.

Holiday dinner

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving, so before I could even venture out to do food-on-the-table work, I had to do some food-on-the-table work. If you get my drift.

The plan was for a quiet and subdued Thanksgiving meal. Brothers and Sister and their families would not be present for the festivities, having other plans in other parts of the state. One brother and family would make an overnight stop at the ranch on Wednesday, then head for the wilds of Colorado's Redneck Riviera to dine with inlaws.

The official EJE Thanksgiving Dinner would have, then, only three at the table, Mom, Dad, and I.

Somehow I'd managed to convince Mom to let me take care of the meal, so at the crack of 4 a.m. I was up and preparing sage dressing for the crock pot.

Aromatics bubbling in butter
I'd decided to go whole hog and prepare a large meal. With food so cheap it's actually more expensive to cook small, and it's more finicky, too. None of the leftovers would go to waste, either. The other thought I'd had regarding a large vs. small meal was the possibility that Traveling Bro and his entourage might get weathered in at the ranch, which is in fact what happened.

Which was nice, because 10 at the Thanksgiving table is much more better than three at the table. It just is.
Bird on the platter
Spinach artichoke casserole
Corn Pudding

There were more dishes, of course, which I failed to photograph. Mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, bread and rolls, relish tray, candied yams, beverages, pies, etc. It was quite a spread, and turned out to be almost not quite enough!

I don't care who ya are, that's funny right there. I'm glad no one was videotaping me!

Another day

And now it's Friday morning. Another dawn, another day to be thankful for.

It's Black Friday, as the media call it, screeching in indignation and forgetting completely to be thankful for anything, looking down on people who they believe in their tiny little media hearts to be less than human, the real Americans who live real lives and suit up and show up each and every day.

Not that I feel strongly about the self-serving, small-minded, lemming media, you understand.

They do provide another reason to be thankful, though. In addition to weather and food and family and football and fun, I'm thankful to be an American, thankful that I'll never be one of those cold and timid souls.

And off to tilt at frozen stock tanks with my trusty war ax.

It was about a draw...

Between me and the frozen water that is. Ran over something and had a blowout, which required swapping the spare on of course.

At any rate, a few more pics. Beautiful morning, cold and still. Beautiful test of skills and competence with the blowout. We expect to do well on these tests.

Recently harvested corn, stalks trapping snow for next year
Golden late November morning sunshine

Monk soaking up all the morning sun he can find
Sun behind snow-filled clouds
Wabbit twacks!
Rime ice
And more rime ice
Cows never graze on slopes. Never! Just ask the NRCS experten.
All better. Kinda.
More wabbit twacks across the glittering new snow
There he is

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Merry Thanksgiving

Here's wishing you and yours a delightful Thanksgiving. And from a long time ago, from a galaxy far, far away, a glimpse of Thanksgiving Football the way it used to be...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Can you really afford that turkey?

If you've read the same (or similar) headlines I've read over the last week, you know that (horrors!) the price of a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for 10 has skyrocketed to over $50!


But a funny thing happened in reality, which is that place where reporters, news readers, bureaucrats, SJW's and other assorted bottom dwellers never visit.

The comparative cost of the meal actually went down. Not by much, mind you, but down. As opposed to the increase (9.8 percent according to the major math challenged propaganda networks). 

Now that we've settled that, let's take a moment to think about thanks.
Rockwell, of course. S

And now, perhaps, a few moments to think about reality.

Last week the American Farm Bureau Federation released the results of their 30th annual nation-wide Thanksgiving meal cost survey.

The cost of the 2015 Thanksgiving meal for 10 came in at $50.11, seventy cents more than last year's average of $49.41.
"Are you sheetin' me?"
Now most of the headlines surrounding this year’s survey trumpet the dollars-and-cents increase over 2014, but that’s not the whole story.

When you factor inflation into the mix, using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) method, something interesting happens. You find that the 2015 meal came in at two cents less than 2014 meal.

A little pre-turkey food for thought.

The methodology of the AFBF survey, while not strictly scientific, is actually quite good. A total of 138 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 32 states. The shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, however, they are not allowed to include special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as a “free” turkey with a certain level of spending.

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

Here are the average 2015 survey costs:

A 16 lb. turkey came in at $1.44 per pound for a total of $23.04. This cost is up about eight cents per pound from last year.

Although survey shoppers were not allowed to take advantage of special promotions when purchasing their bird, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Special sales and promotions on turkey and other holiday food items generally continue until the doors close on Wednesday evening. Quite often prices are reduced sharply in the last day or two before Thanksgiving.

Some markets feature prices much lower than the survey average, even without special promotions or giveaways. At Kimball’s Main Street Market I paid $0.69/lb for my 16 pound turkey.
That's right, $0.69/lb.
Items that declined modestly in price were mainly dairy items including one gallon of whole milk, $3.25; a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $3.18; a half pint of whipping cream, $1.94; and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.29. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery (79 cents) and one pound of green peas ($1.52) also decreased slightly in price.

Foods showing the largest increases this year were pumpkin pie mix, a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pie shells. A 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix was $3.20; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.61; and two nine-inch pie shells, $2.47.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Historically, the lowest AFBF Thanksgiving meal survey cost was in 1987, when the meal cost an average of $24.51. When adjusted for inflation, however, $24.51 is equal to $51.04 in 2015, so it’s fair to say that this year’s meal is less expensive than in 1987.

I conducted my own 2015 Thanksgiving meal survey at Main Street Market in Kimball this week, and priced the same items for $42.98, saving $7.13 compared to the AFBF survey. Although seven local items were more expensive, six were less expensive, including the turkey which, at 69 cents per pound, represented a $12.00 saving over the national survey price. And that's out here in the hinterlands, 200 miles from the nearest major food distribution hub. And just look at this -- a fully stocked supermarket out in the sticks doing a booming business in a town of fewer than 2,500.

When prices are adjusted for inflation, you find that not only have food prices remained quite stable over the last 28 years, but that food dollar value has steadily increased. For instance, when adjusted to the Consumer Price Index, the $28.70 paid for the 1986 survey meal would cost $69.86 in 2015. At $50.11, the 2015 survey meal is considerably less than the 30-year rate of inflation. When adjusted for inflation, the American food dollar has considerably more purchasing power than it did in 1986.

Just for fun, let's look back a bit farther. If you go here you can get a feel for various aspects of American life over the years. The information isn't comprehensive or encyclopedic, but what's there is valid and cited for the most part.

Let's do a little turkey price comparison, between 1950-dollars and in inflation adjusted dollars. In 1950, a 16 lb. turkey priced at $0.49/lb cost $7.84. In inflation adjusted dollars (as calculated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis CPI calculator) that would be a whopping $77.10 today! To take another couple of steps into the realm of comparative pricing, What do you suppose the per/lb price of my 2015 bird ($0.69/lb) would be in 1986? In 1950? Why $0.32 in '86, and $0.07 in 1950.

Another factor to consider when we think about the cost of our Thanksgiving meal is that Americans continue to enjoy the safest, most nutritious, most abundant and most inexpensive food supply in the world, and that by a fair margin.

All things considered, Americans have plenty to be thankful for this holiday season.

Tomorrow (or when I get around to it) I'll really go on a rant.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hard freeze reset

As summer faded into early autumn, I waxed poetically (or so I'm told) about the joys of the season of easy living while looking forward with no little trepidation to the coming winter.

Earlier in the week we got our first taste of wintry weather. The weekend had been rapturously beautiful, with gentle puffball skies, warming sunshine, temperatures nudging 70 degrees, and barely a puff of wind. I spent most of the daylight hours outside, attending to the manifold chores that grow like weeds around the ranch. It was glorious.

Nona and Red

Autumn range

The first ranch house

Tumbleweeds, fences, and next year's project

There she is

There she goes

Mmmmmm. Sodium and chlorine.

Ready for harvest

Autumn gold, shade 327.2

Autumn gold, shade 154.9

Light, shadow and iron oxide

Nature at play

Pferde Erwärmung in der Herbstsonne
On Tuesday nature did what nature does. It started with a line of gunmetal clouds on the far western horizon. The mercury tumbled, the winds freshened, and the snow fell.

As winter storms go it wasn't worth wasting ink on. A very mild, very vanilla weather event. But it was the first of the year, and it was cold and uncomfortable -- particularly as it came hard on the heels of a heavenish three days. I had to bundle up in layers, the roads were treacherous, I needed to engage the four wheel drive, and everything I had to do required the extra effort required to work in the cold, windy, freezing realm of not easy living.

First snow they've seen


Frosted wheat ground

The storm left wind sculpted mini-drifts behind
One of the things the first storm does is reset the comfort gyro. Before the snow and wind and cold arrived, 40 degrees seemed quite chilly, particularly if there was a touch of breeze. After the storm, morning sunshine and a windless 30 degrees was pure ambrosia. In these conditions I hiked and fixed fence and chopped thin ice and reveled in nature's delightful beauty.

I don't know for sure, but I think life would be a grim experience without variety, and I suspect I'd be an empty husk if there were no harsh days to stand in contrast to the beautiful days.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Autumn fades

After a three day weekend of the most beautiful autumn weather you can imagine, nature called in her markers and kissed us with a bit of typical November weather.

I was trying to recall the words to the state song of Nebraska, but it's been a lot of years since second grade music class with the demanding Miss Meyer. So my recollection was incomplete.

Beautiful Nebraska

Beautiful Nebraska, peaceful prairieland,
Laced with many rivers, and the hills of sand;
Dark green valleys cradled in the earth,
Rain and sunshine bring abundant birth.

Beautiful Nebraska, as you look around,
You will find a rainbow reaching to the ground;
All these wonders by the Master's hand;
Beautiful Nebraska land.

We are so proud of this state where we live,
There is no place that has so much to give.

Beautiful Nebraska, as you look around,
You will find a rainbow reaching to the ground;
All these wonders by the Master's hand,
Beautiful Nebraska land.

I'm just a bit meh about the song. That's just me though.

The weekend was nice though.

And the "storm" wasn't all that bad.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The day and the hour

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Matthew 24:36.

I shipped some cattle to market this morning, and while loading them on the truck a bull took a swipe at me.

Now bulls are bigger than cows by a good margin, and as the day followeth the night, they have greater reach.

I don't often work with bulls from inside the pen. It's just the nature of the operation; while cows get handled and worked with 4-5-6 times a year, I only see the bulls in the corral once or twice a year, and even then they just get sorted off.

Eventually they go to market, though, which requires a bit of handling. I'm always cautious, and I'm pretty good at reading bulls and keeping myself safe and in a safe position.

Sometimes the difference between safe and unsafe is pretty small.

The 2,200 lb. bull kicked at me, and the tips of his hoof just barely grazed the left side of my neck. The kick was lightning fast and left no time for me to flinch away. I was right on the edge of too close, but I wasn't over the line. Another inch closer and the blow might have been fatal. There's a lot of important stuff in the neck; big arteries and veins and a trachea. I think there's a gizzard in there, too.

But I wasn't an inch closer. Skill and experience (and sure, a touch of luck) had me in the right place.

No big deal really. I remember the day the starboard main mount of an F-14 broke loose during a landing on Nimitz and missed me by about the same margin. Took the Unit One (aid bag) right off my hip. That wasn't a big deal either. A miss is a miss, and a miss is not a hit. Nothing to get hysterical about.

Worth thinking about, though, and reassessing risk management and mitigation.

Then you get back in there and carry out the plan of the day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Poppies and poems


If you've got a few minutes to reflect on this Veterans Day, you can do worse than to visit this place

Check out the Great War Poetry.

In Flanders Fields, John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rights and responsibilities

Happy Birthday and Semper Fi to my Brothers in Green. You've come a long way from Tun Tavern, baby. Click on the pictures for a larger image.
Wikimedia Commons
Civilized behavior

“Conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Ring any bells?

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

That was a few years ago. We all know the time, the place, and the writer/speaker.
Wikimedia Commons
Today Gettysburg is 152 years in the past and I’m watching my country fall apart. It really bothers me. Hurts my heart.

It’s not just the big things, either. Not the scandal of federal and state agencies run amok, or of the three branches of government ignoring the law and doing what they feel like because “fill in the blank.” Those things were bound to happen when America’s leadership turned selfishly inward and quit even pretending to be American.
Wikimedia Commons
No, it’s the little things. A couple of examples:

A few months ago some people bought and moved onto a small acreage near the ranch. Nice folks and they’ve done a very good job of cleaning up the pigsty left behind by the former owners. Unfortunately, they have several dogs they allow to run free. The dogs are big, slobbery-goofy, good natured beasts. They’re not bad, they’re just dogs. But uncontrolled, they represent a real and serious threat to our livestock, and it’s not worth the risk -- to either the cattle or the dogs -- to let them roam freely on our ranch. The neighbors have stopped by several times, searching for their temporarily disappeared pets. On each occasion they’ve been gently and politely reminded about property rights, stray dogs and livestock, and neighborly respect.

Last night the dogs showed up, larking about and having a good time, just as the sun was setting. I ran them off by firing a single shot from my carry piece (S&W Shield 40) into the base of a tree a few feet from where they were cavorting. My purpose wasn’t to “scare” them. Dogs aren’t people, they don’t know what a gun is, and they’ll never worry about getting shot, never have an inkling of what that phrase means. They will, however, move away from situations which make them uncomfortable, and they will avoid places where they’ve been made uncomfortable. These dogs didn’t like the loud bang, or the whizzing sound of the bullet, or the loud smack as it impacted the tree. They’d been comfortable in their exploration, but those sounds made them uncomfortable. So they ran off, heading back toward home.

A while later the neighbors showed up looking, once again, for their misplaced dogs. I briefly and succinctly explained what I had done and why. They were shocked and dismayed and argued that one of the main reasons they had bought the acreage and moved to the country was so that their dogs could run free.

It’s pretty clear that from their perspective they have a right to do whatever they feel like. They’re obviously pretty big on their personal rights, and see them as vastly more important than the rights of anyone else.
Wikimedia Commons. Hayes, Sousley, Strank, Bradley. Where's Gagnon?
A few months before the dog people moved in, I stopped by a property I own in town. Located on the main drag, it’s a former filling station on a paved corner lot. When I arrived I noticed an automobile parked on the lot, displaying a for sale sign. I called the number and asked why the vehicle was parked on my lot. “It’s a great place,” said the person, “for people to see the vehicle.”

When I asked the person to move the vehicle, the response was, “Why? You’re not using it for anything.”
Wikimedia Commons. An image of Rosenthal's negative.
The point here isn’t about what these people did, it’s about the unquestioned assumption that they have a right to pretty much do whatever they feel like, period. This is deeply uncivilized behavior. And it’s become the norm in America.

The foundational principle of our nation is that all men are created equal. That is to say, that we are all fundamentally human, with none of us fundamentally greater or lesser than our fellows. Our rights as individuals are natural rights, bestowed upon us not by governments or by our peers, but by nature’s god. The corollary to these self-evident and unalienable rights is the responsibility to respect the rights of others as we would have others respect our rights. Whether you call this “the golden rule” or Kant’s categorical imperative, whether you get there via religion or reason or some other path, the responsibility is the same. Our unalienable rights are inextricably joined to the absolute responsibility to see and treat our fellows as equals, as fellow humans, as fellow sovereign citizens.
Wikimedia Commons. The irfanview positive of the negative. Ain't I clevah?
Responsible behavior

In both of the above situations it was abundantly clear that not only did the folks I was interacting with see nothing wrong with their behavior, they also clearly saw themselves as being victimized. They set out to do something they wanted to do, which was in their estimation completely justified and reasonable, based solely on their unilateral and egocentric evaluation. They believed absolutely that they had the right to do as they wished, and no responsibility to recognize the rights of others, let alone treat those rights with respect. That anyone who would say them nay was being a big, mean, poopy-head villain. And violating their rights.

This has become the way of our society. All rights, no responsibilities. Such irresponsible and uncivilized behavior has become the norm, rather than the exception. And the country continues to fall apart.

Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It’s an official holiday, set aside to honor those who have served in the U.S. Military.

I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with Veterans Day over the last decade or so. My discomfort has nothing to do with honoring veterans. There’s nothing wrong with the idea and it’s a fine sentiment. By and large, however, I don’t see many examples of veterans actually being honored or appreciated on Veterans Day. There’s no shortage of hoopla, but most of it is either commercialized or politicized, or both. And on an individual level it’s quite often more about how people feel about themselves rather than how they feel about veterans and their service.

On the one hand, this is okay. There’s no federal law saying how people must feel and how they must behave on Veterans Day. Nor should there be.

Back when I was serving, Veterans Day was very low key. Those who genuinely wished to honor veterans did so, and did so very well. Those who didn’t wish to, didn’t. Which is perfectly fine and normal. And from this veteran’s perspective, better. I don’t know anyone who served in order to be appreciated, or to get a discount, or to get a free meal on November 11. We served for a lot of reasons, but first and foremost, because we owed our service to something far bigger and far more important than ourselves.

So on the other hand, and unfortunately in my opinion, what we have today is a case of a great many people saying they are doing one thing while doing, in fact, something quite different. And that’s a problem. In my opinion.

In my mind, the problem is twofold.

First of all, most people don’t really understand what the military does, or why the military does what it does. The first part is fine and understandable; most folks haven’t served and can therefore not really grasp the reality of military service. That’s okay, of course. I can appreciate and honor a rocket surgeon without understanding all the nuts and bolts of rocket surgery. There is, however, an easily understandable reason why the military does what it does, and for Americans, it’s really not okay to fail to understand this. It's not rocket surgery. The reason is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, and more succinctly, in the Oath of Enlistment.

Here’s the Oath of Enlistment:

  • I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

The military does what it does not “to keep us free,” but to support and defend the Constitution. The Constitution is the bedrock foundation of our nation and our society. It is the true “Contract with America,” a contract which sets in stone and spells out our fundamental equality and our unalienable rights as sovereign citizens, including our liberty, or if you prefer, our freedom. It is therefore a contract between each and every one of us, not between a lofty government and its lowly peasants. As it says in the Declaration of Independence, governments are instituted among men to secure their unalienable rights, and therefore the government derives its just powers from the consent of the sovereign citizens.

The military does what it does to martially support and defend the Constitution. This is a fine thing, and veterans of the military should be commended and honored for their service to the Constitution. But martial support and defense is only a small part of supporting and defending the Constitution. The greater part devolves to the sovereign citizen -- to you and to me. It is our responsibility to behave in a civilized fashion, to find the best balance between our individual liberty and the good of the country, to support and defend the Constitution in order to create a more perfect union. Stepping back from our innate egocentrism to acknowledge and consider our fellows and the greater good of our society and our nation is the first vital step of E Pluribus Unum.

Many (perhaps most) people don’t seem to get this. Or if they do get it, it seems that many (perhaps most) dismiss the notion of shared responsibility as grade school stuff.

“Yeah-yeah-yeah,” I hear a lot of people say, “I get all that, but what about this and that special exception? What about social justice? What about my rights?!?”

Secondly, it seems to me that there are a great many folks out there (perhaps even most folks) who are far more interested in how they feel about what the military is and what the military does than about what the military actually is and does. They seem to like to feel good about feeling good about veterans. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good or with emotions, but if those emotions are the end of it, as I suspect is far too often the case, then that’s actually a pretty big disservice to the veterans, and to the nation as a whole.

Here’s another example.

A person recently told me how very, very proud they were of “those boys who give their lives for me.” Tears were rolling down the face of this person as they spoke. They went on to explain how proud they were to live in a country where there was a military to provide people to die for them. “I know it’s my civil right,” this person added, “it’s right there in the Pledge of Allegiance, and I expect them to die for me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of them.”


This person is an elected official, and one who has been re-elected many times. Which means that they have been chosen by a majority the voters, to represent those voters in an official capacity. It seems very likely that this elected official reflects the sentiments of a majority of the electorate.

If you love your freedom…

A long, long time ago, some Greek dude named Socks 'n Trees, or something like that, opined that the unexamined life is not worth living. I can dig it. I think Socrates would agree that the concepts and questions I’ve raised are worth thinking about. Worth thinking about a lot.

You’ve no doubt seen the bumper sticker that says, “If you love your freedom, thank a VET!” It’s a nice sentiment, and if you understand the Constitution and why the military does what it does, you can kind of understand the message.

But at the end of the day the catchy phrase is a shortcut to nowheresville. What veterans do is important, yes, but no more and no less important than what every other sovereign citizen does. It's not someone else's job to guard and protect your freedom. It's your job. Just as it's your job to protect the freedom of others. And vice versa. Really, dudes, that’s what America is all about. Out Of Many, One. We The People.

In the spirit of that Socks 'n Trees guy, give this one a try:

If you love your freedom, thank the Constitution. And keep (or start) being a responsible, civilized, Sovereign Citizen.
At the Kimball Flight Center, Old Glory waves in the gentle autumn breeze against the backdrop of the setting sun on November 10, 2015, the 240th anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps.
That is all.