Christmas: 1400 Hours

Okay! The holiday season has kicked off in the good old U. S. of A. Thanksgiving Day is in the rearview mirror, and Christmas is on the horizon. Not to be outdone, New Year’s Day will be firing up after the Jolly Old Elf makes his rounds.

Yes, 2023 will come crawling in while 2022 shuffles out. Of course, the handoff from the ancient mumbling shuffler to the diaper-wearing new year will include plenty of toasting, fireworks, and craziness around the globe.

Wow! Those first two paragraphs were fun to write. However, I feel compelled to bring up something less amusing. The title, “1400 hours,” refers to 2:00 p.m. for most in the U. S. So, you ask, what is not funny about midafternoon on a holiday?

Holiday planning, expenses, travel, and stress precede holiday gatherings. Then many folks get together for morning festivities, decadent lunches, football games on television, old times remembered, and, in many cases consuming a significant amount of adult beverages.

Shortly after lunchtime, chances are some will have had enough of uncle Fred, aunt Karen, or someone’s third cousin who always looks like they are judging everyone else. Then, someone will cheer the wrong team on TV, and the tensions start to rise. By around two o’clock, the 911Call Center’s phone system starts going crazy.

“There’s a family disturbance on Smith street with two adults in the middle of the road ready to take each other out.” “Some kid’s new B-B gun shot out the window in the house next door, and the old fuddy-duddy is raising hell.”

“That weird guy down the block has his hotrod fired up. The exhaust noise wakes the kids or grandpa up, trying to take a nap. If you don’t send someone out, I’ll take care of it myself.”

Or calls like one I can never forget. I was dispatched to a welfare check. A family was trying to pick up grandma for Christmas dinner, but she was not answering the door. Yes, on a Christmas afternoon, I had to break into a house to find grandma would never make another Christmas dinner.

Death notification calls are no fun on any day. On a day like Christmas, there is no describing the feeling one gets giving news such as this to a family. Even though they feared the worst, the one confirming their worst fears watches their faces go from bewilderment to grief in a heartbeat.

From minor disturbances, domestic violence, homicides, and grandmas whose last breaths were drawn getting ready for Christmas dinner, holidays are not always grand. They are tragic for the families and miserable for the first responders who handle them.

Keep this thought in mind as you rush headlong into the rest of the holiday season. Fourteen hundred hours is not just a time in a twenty-four-hour day. It represents a real-time marker many police officers, firefighters, and medical personnel prepare for. At least, we did in my days on the job, and unless human nature changed greatly, it still is a time to watch.

More importantly, let “1400 hours” remind you that many folks in uniform will not celebrate holidays with their families. They will be working to see that you can celebrate with yours and keep you safe if someone else starts things up at 1400 hours.

If you pray, you might remember the people who put themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us in your prayers this time of the year. And it wouldn’t hurt to pray for the families around the country and the world whose holidays turned into a nightmare.

© 2022


Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Posted in Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Holidays, Law Enforcement, Police, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Reason to Give Thanks

Anyone following this blog regularly may be surprised by this post. Last week Wish Carefully introduced a series titled The Saga of Rosy and June. I planned to launch it today. However, the saga is a bit dark in some ways, and this is a week in the United States at least that is set aside for giving thanks.

The problem this year, though, is giving thanks may be hard for many. From the leftover pandemic issues to the violence being reported on every news outlet and political turmoil, finding something for which you are thankful can be a challenge.

Unlike some of the pieces you may read, I’m not here today to tell you to try harder. I’m not here to tell you how bad I’ve had it and try to shame you into feeling thankful for something. Nor am I here trying to convince you God is in control and everything will work out if you give it time.

Rather, I am here to suggest we all have something for which to be thankful. It may be hidden by the trials and tribulations upon which we tend to focus. Yet, it is still there if we quit focusing on the negative and give the positive a chance to get our attention.

I learned this lesson in a rather embarrassing way a few years ago. I traveled to Brazil with a mission team from my church. My first trip was more a challenge to myself than a calling or religious desire. I just wondered if everything these missionary types said was true. You know how fulfilling it is, how you can see God at work, and how much you’ll enjoy the experience.

That first trip resulted in the post Truly Blessed. That trip opened my eyes to the reality of what I’ve said above. Someone living there who focused only on what they did not have would be hard-pressed to feel thankful. The ones I met and worked with were focused on what they had, not what they might have somewhere else.

© 2022


Posted in Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Wish Carefully

Did you ever make a wish and have someone say, “Be careful what you wish for?” If so, did the wish come true, and if it did, was it everything you expected?

I ask because many people in the United States today wish for things that may not turn out well. Take some of my younger acquaintances, for example.

Many consistently post comments, rants, criticism, etc., on social media, complaining about everything from health care to the fact that many Baby Boomers still wear cutoff jeans. They regularly wish for Boomers to sit down and shut up and for our government to move toward the practices of other nations.

Though many are smart enough not to say it openly, one common theme is a movement toward socialism. Yes, socialism will fix everything wrong with the United States if we give it a chance. After all, we’re so much smarter here. We won’t end up like those countries where socialism led to conditions that have their citizens fleeing them by the thousands and risking their lives to make their way to the U.S. border.

Okay, that last bit was a little snarky. However, when I hear someone I know to be well-educated, intelligent, and well-meaning continually make comments that clearly show a lack of clarity, it saddens me. Then, when I see the numerous supportive comments from other well-meaning, successful young people, my faith in the future of our country is shaken.

So, other than shooting off my mouth today, what is the purpose of this post? It is to introduce a series of posts telling a story some folks need to hear. It is a true story, and hopefully, it will make someone who reads it think twice before they make a wish that might help fundamentally change the most successful democratic republic on the planet.

Stay tuned for the Saga of Rosy and June.

© 2022


Photo used for the image above by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay 

Posted in Daily Life, Medicine, Political Extremes, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

A Question of Focus: A Reminder

I had a humbling experience this morning. I decided to share it because it directly relates to A Question of Focus, published one week ago. Also, it reminded me that I could sometimes get a bit full of myself. Third, it was just downright funny!

A Question of Focus is a little homily on the value of staying focused; without being so focused, you miss something important. The blog’s inspiration was a humorous comment posted on a group I follow, which I turned into the image below.

This morning, I backed out of the garage around 6:30, heading for my workout. As usual, I was careful because my neighbor’s fence comes up to the edge of my driveway. I watched the mirrors and the backup camera and waited to hear the backup warning if I got too close to the fence.

The radio was tuned to a local station giving the weather and traffic, just like every other morning. Then I stopped, put the transmission in drive, and the volume on the radio increased significantly.

Yes! Some weeks ago, I downloaded an update for my navigation and warning systems. The new programming added several features to the system. New features were on the map, and the programming automatically lowered the volume if the radio was playing when you put the transmission in reverse.

When I first noticed the change, I clearly remember thinking it was to help drivers avoid being distracted while backing up. Then I promptly forgot it until this morning. Yes, every time I backed out of the garage, a parking space, or backed up for some other reason, the system reduced the volume, and I thought nothing of it.

I was doing the same thing I caution others not to do, be so focused on one thing I missed or forgot another. Also, I could have used the software upgrade to support my point that sensory overload can be a problem.

© 2022


Posted in Daily Life, Humor, Journalism, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Battle Scars, Revisited

I shared “Battle Scars” in 2017. Its introduction states that it was not the original post intended for Veterans Day that year. I never published that piece, and it may never be published in its entirety. It hits too close to home in some ways. However, this year, it seems appropriate to tell a part of the story that inspired the title “Battle Scars.”

Technically, I am a Vietnam-era veteran. However, I don’t consider myself a veteran, as my service was cut short. I never saw combat, and any emotional baggage I carry related to war is secondhand. That is not the case with many of my friends and former colleagues. Take Jimmy, for example.

Jimmy was a Vietnam veteran. After surviving Vietnam, he still wanted to serve and decided law enforcement was the way to do it. He and many other veterans became police officers in the 1970s. Most made good officers, but all seemed to have their little quirks. Jimmy’s little quirk became known when I announced I was moving on to greener pastures.

I was Jimmy’s sergeant. I was also commander and training officer for our fledgling tactical team. In law enforcement, the officers with whom you work closely become tight, or the team doesn’t work. With officers who were also veterans, that was doubly true. Our patrol shift and our tactical unit were close.

For reasons I may write about later, I decided I had outgrown our department, and did not like how city management was interfering in department operations. So, I put in my papers and started planning a new career path. That’s when Jimmy and some of his buddies reverted to Vietnam mode.

They and many of their comrades noticed something disturbing while serving in Vietnam. Casualty rates went up as the end of tour dates approached. It was so strange and ingrained in the system even the way those soldiers were handled by command changed.

Soldiers who were due to ship home or to another assignment were rotated back to relatively safe areas for the last 30 days of their deployment. This move was taken because statistics seemed to indicate troops preparing to rotate home or to another country were being injured or killed at an alarming rate during the final month of their time in Vietnam.

That concern came back to Jimmy and the others when I told them I was done. They hovered over me like old mother hens for the rest of my time with the department. If I had to hit the bathroom at a truck stop or a convenience store, I’d come out and find one of the guys checking on me.

If I made a traffic stop, someone pulled up behind me and waited till I was done. If I were called to a crime scene or accident location, they’d camp down the road where they could keep an eye on me. It was funny in some ways, but they were serious about it.1

Thankfully, their fears went unrealized. I finished my last tour, cleaned my desk, and took some time off. Then I started the next stage of my career in a neighboring department, where I eventually became the chief. Jimmy was not so lucky.

One afternoon, I was sitting at my desk, working through the paperwork accompanying a command-level job in a police department. Then, my secretary stuck her head in the door and said an officer from my old department wanted to see me.

It was Jimmy, and he did not look happy. At first, I thought he might be in trouble of some sort. In a way, that was the case, but not what I would have expected. Jimmy wanted me to know he was leaving law enforcement and wanted me to hear why before I heard the inevitable rumors.

He and another officer were part of the tactical unit responding to a burglary in progress call that turned into a possible barricaded suspect. Upon the team’s arrival, no one knew if the suspect was still in the house or had fled as the original officers arrived.

The situation did not go well. Jimmy and his partner were assigned to scout the location to see if there was any sign the suspect was still there. As it turned out, he was. Not only was he still there, but he was also armed, firing at the two officers as they approached the window used to enter the property. Jimmy said he felt the bullet go over his head.

Neither officer was injured, but they felt they barely escaped severe injury or worse. The good news, besides the fact the shooter missed, was they had reason to use equipment that would force the suspect to surrender. A flashbang and a tear gas canister will quickly get a crook’s attention.

Jimmy2 put in his letter of resignation the next day. He was embarrassed to admit it, but the incident took him back to Vietnam. He froze and almost allowed the shooter to take him or his partner out. He could not face that possibility again and wanted me to know what had happened. The second officer resigned a short time later.

So on this Veterans Day, 2022, and any days beyond, remember this little story. Veterans and others, such as first responders who face life-threatening or extremely stressful situations, handle the repercussions of such incidents in different ways.

If you say something you feel is supportive, encouraging, or thankful to a veteran, police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical person, and their response is not what you expected, don’t feel slighted. At some level, they appreciate it, but we all handle our baggage differently.

Maybe someday, I’ll share how I handled mine.

1 If you click on the link emotional baggage above or click on it now and read “Run Silent, Run Deep: Revisited,” you’ll read that my brother was killed in action in Vietnam. He was within a few days of shipping home to start a new phase of his life. Jimmy and the crew may have been right to worry about someone ending a tour of duty.

2 In case you are wondering, Jimmy, is a pseudonym. He died a year ago, and I did not feel it was appropriate to use his name without his permission.

© 2022


Posted in Law Enforcement, Leadership, National Defense, Patriotism, Uncategorized, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

See Nothing, Say Nothing

John Banner became famous for playing Sgt. Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes. His most famous line, in one form or another, was “I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!” Sadly, that response to questions or situations became a mantra to many folks in those days.

As a young(ish) street cop in the early 70s, it seemed most people in the vicinity of a crime or possible crime had the Schultz routine down pat. How often I faced that kind of response is hard to know. I can assure you it was on par with the worn-out old answer, “but officer, I only had two beers.”

Oh, there were times when someone responded to the question, “What happened here,” by attempting to drop-kick one of us across the street or charged you like a linebacker going for the quarterback. But most of the time, there was a lame “I dunno” or “I didn’t see nothin’!”

After the September 11, 2001, attack in New York, the Feds attempted to change that attitude using the threat of terrorism to raise the stakes. They launched a campaign with the slogan, “If You See Something, Say Something®.”

As far as I could tell from what I saw, heard, and read about the issue, that was a bust. Of course, you must be careful when discussing something like this being a bust. The campaign did generate activity.

According to some published accounts, the first few years of the campaign resulted in thousands of reports that turned out to be nothing, hundreds of others that were hoaxes, and not one report that stopped an attack. Still, it may have raised awareness or made some would-be terrorist hesitant to act out.

Today, a new slogan is slowly making its way into the American lexicon. It comes in various forms, but I’ll keep this simple. There is no solid catchphrase yet, but jokes, memes, and thoughtful comments from some amount to “See something? Ignore it and go on with your life.”

Yes, this campaign is aimed at social media chatter spreading a new form of propaganda and unrest. From political slogans or other catchphrases that promote chaos, socialism, communism, and even less wholesome ideas, we are encouraged to ignore them.2 After all, we don’t want to be trolls and lash out at someone because we don’t agree with their ideas or weird sense of humor.

I know many even abandoned social media because of the crap that shows up on their devices. Others just block, reject or swipe past something without giving it further thought. Anyone doing that should think of the piece below.

Social media removes the need for conspiracies, indoctrination programs, or outright propaganda. Today a movement can start in hundreds of places based on falsehoods and hate spewed by a handful of people… if no one speaks out.2

1 Attributed to German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. Sources advise this is a paraphrase or adaptation of remarks made by the pastor in various speeches. It is published in numerous locations.

2 Some forms of social media and political propaganda advise us not to ignore or attack people who exercise some of their basic rights, but that discussion will need to wait for another post.

© 2022


Posted in Civility, Political Extremes, Politics, social media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Question of Focus

Okay, you may not be to the age of turning down the volume so you can see street signs. But, it is likely, if you play the radio, stereo, or whatever in your car, you experience another little trick of the auditory system. You know you get in, start the car, and the volume blows your hair back as you scramble for the mute button.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Then you begin to wonder, who left the dang volume so darn high! In most cases, it was you, but it might have been your spouse or one of the kids. Regardless, the problem or condition, if you prefer, is universal. It is a matter of focus and appears in many different ways.

As I type, the noise above my head goes from the sound of silence to that of a nail gun or sledgehammer. It’s hard to tell when you’re working inside a house that’s getting a new roof.

Yes! I could go somewhere quiet to read and write. Unfortunately, there are several reasons I need to hang around. Besides, it was the inspiration for this piece. I am in the midst of potentially ear-damaging chaos and can continue working. It is possible to function and be productive in the middle of a maelstrom.

If that were not so, there would be fewer living heroes. First responders saving lives would be akin to myth, and there would be few, if any, soldiers awarded medals for saving the day other than posthumously. Focus is one of the gifts God or nature gave us, but it is a gift we can misuse.

For some of us, the volume of the music or talk on the radio can be so distracting we run smack dab into a wall instead of hitting the brakes. However, the biggest problem with the focus question is not so instantly dangerous. It is more along the lines of death by a thousand cuts.

Consider a piece I wrote some years ago, A Blind Eye. It deals with our ability to see only what we want sometimes. The view below inspired this piece. It’s my daughter’s view from her home in central Texas.

What do you see, the lush foliage or the telephone pole behind the tree or the tower on the hill?

Her place overlooks a greenbelt. Some visitors see the beautiful hill country landscape, while others only see the power lines visible through the trees.

So, what are you focused on now? Are you focused on this post, or are you just skimming it to see what kind of foolishness I’m up to today? Are you thinking about what you will be doing later or what you did earlier that didn’t turn out as you’d hoped?

Whatever you’re thinking or doing, focus is important. Consider the roofers, who have stopped making noise beyond muffled voices below my office window. They tear off and replace shingles, seemingly without much thought. However, if they lose focus for one moment, they could fall twenty feet onto a pile of debris and be on their way to the emergency room in a heartbeat!

Focus on what is important, and the diversions will not be able to make you fall. Unless you’re trying to focus on something truly important, and the person next to you is blasting bad heavy metal band music damaging your eardrums.

© 2022


Posted in aging, cognitive decline, communication, Daily Life, Uncategorized, Verbal Communication | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Under the Sun

It seems almost everyone I know sees disaster just over the horizon. From those who believe or hope the Second Coming is just around the corner to those who worry Armageddon is creeping up on us as we sleep. Others wax nostalgically about their childhoods and how much society’s lost in the decades since they were young, lamenting that their children and grandchildren may not have such precious memories.

There is chaos in our world today. From turmoil here in the good old U. S. of A. to the homes of our enemies, our allies, and those who try to play both ends against the middle. Chaos rules at times and troubles, tragedies, and disappointments are found everywhere humanity exists, just as it has for ages past.

Details change, but in many ways, the horrors are the same. The means of accomplishing some horrible deed can change. Even the definition of what is awful or wrong may change, but the truth is, as the scripture above states, there is nothing new under the sun.

Whether one is troubled by the rampant crime they see or the lack of family values some feel feeds the crime, that is nothing new. If one looks at Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Uvalde as things that never happened before, they are wrong. Those who see moral decay as something new are mistaken.

Whether one believes the Bible to be a work of fiction or the Word of God, there is reality within the scriptures. The truth is not about science or technology. It is the reality of humanity. Humanity will make the same mistakes and commit the same horrible acts over and over as long as one human being still breathes.

Thankfully, we as individuals can remember the good things in our lives while trying to help others survive the terrible things being repeated today. That is a message in the passage above I feel many fail to see. We are resilient, and we can survive.

© 2022


Posted in Civility, Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Morality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking of Halloween

Halloween is such an interesting holiday/celebration, or whatever one wants to call it. I enjoy it immensely, most of the time. That’s because I’m a sucker for treats, especially dark chocolate ones, and I’m not opposed to a few tricks now and then.

I do get a bit annoyed when the trick-or-treaters insist on continuing to ring the doorbell when the decorations and other lights have been turned off. I mean! How rude can you be?

We never did anything like that when I was a kid. We always honored the sign next to the candy dish saying, “Please Take Just One,” and we never laid into the doorbell hoping someone would answer and refill the bowl.

Okay! There was one time in this ritzy neighborhood where all the kids from the other side of the tracks, me included, loved to go. They had the best treats and great decorations. One time, some old curmudgeon put out one small bowl full of goodies and a sign saying, “Please Take Just One.”

The treats were gone by the time we walked all the way up from our part of the town. So, someone decided to ring the doorbell and see if the guy might have a few more to hand out. Instead, a voice came over the speaker by the door, saying if there was nothing in the pumpkin, go away.

So, we did go away after ringing the bell incessantly until he screamed at us from the other side of the door and threatened to call the police.

Halloween today is no longer a pagan experience designed to ward off evil spirits or call them to you in some cases. For the most part, it is a time to put on silly costumes, throw parties, go trick-or-treating, and eat way too much candy. That does not mean people here and worldwide have given up their beliefs concerning evil spirits, ghosts, and other critters that may or may not exist.

Here’s a link to a piece I wrote earlier this year as part of a blogging challenge that discusses my encounter as a pre-teen with something that may or may not have been a ghost or spirit.

An Uninvited Guest

© 2022


Posted in Daily Life, Holidays, Humor, Manners, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking of Stupidity

All Right! For all the end-timers out there, I may owe you an apology! The end may be nigh, in much less than a biblical time frame. Yes, I am probably overreacting. Still, the unmitigated stupidity I pulled up today on social media is almost unbelievable and can only mean the end is near.

To be clear, I am not calling someone stupid. I am, I hope, calling the program deciding to classify a post as offensive stupid. If that implies someone writing the script or program triggering this piece is also a bit less bright than he, she, or they think, so be it.

Here is my problem! I opened my social media account to see what words of wisdom, one-liners, or dumb comments some old friends and family posted since I last checked. The first thing catching my eye was a post from a granddaughter.

I was both pleased and concerned to see she posted something. I was pleased because I’d not seen anything from her in a while. I was worried because what I could see was this:

I immediately thought the kid, a hunter, posted something gross that might have the PETA crowd knocking at her social media door and trying to cancel her existence. So, being the good grandfather I hope I am, I took a deep breath and clicked “See Photo,” fully prepared to be mortified.

I was mortified. I was horrified that some algorithm or, heaven forbid, some human censor found this post to be offensive!

This is offensive? A picture of a cowboy carrying a calf to safety with a piece of scripture extolling the virtue of personal sacrifice in the service of others is offensive! Give me a break!

If you are interested, more “offensive” posts like this one are available through the link above.1

1 For the record, I’d never heard of Cross Brand Ministries before, but when I checked them out, I liked what I saw.

© 2022


Posted in Christianity, Civility, Daily Life, Morality, social media, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments