Monday, November 02, 2009

For the children...

KFAB had an item on it's newscast this morning that caught my attention. Some city government type wants the schools to pony up with some of the money they get from fines and share with the cities. The cities need the money because they are running out of ways to collect it. (The recession has caused cash flow problems and things like the $200,000 payoff to a mayor's mistress are causing problems.)

These folks are going to run into a brick wall.

Schools are never going to give up a dime. Make that a penny. They tell you they are in the business of creating the next generation of great Americans and they are running on a shoestring right now. If you doubt that, walk into Lincoln's Northstar or Southwest high schools. Dumps.

School administrators are suffering through impossible budgets because they are better than the rest of us. Their lives are devoted to making life better...for the children.

Anyone who goes after the school system budget may as well stand up at the NAACP convention and use the "N" word in the greeting. It's for the children. Hands off.

Well, maybe it's time we put that to the test. What is for the children? Unless times have drastically changed since I was there, children still hate going to school. Children hate homework. Children hate cafeteria food. The only folks who appreciate all of the nice stuff that got put into the new school budget at the teachers.

Maybe all of this untouchable money is "for the teachers..."

Administrators will tell you students are more difficult these days and the classroom is out-of-control. What do you expect from people who view success as being a rapper, or a drug dealer, or a pimp driving around all night in a black SUV with dark windows? Who needs an education to do that? Well firearms training maybe.

These are tough times. I don't think they will get much better very soon. At some point in time-probably sooner rather than later-the tax payer will be taxed out and those without children are going to say..."enough of the children."

Maybe the drop-outs-to-be need special ed. How about a program called "Last Chance." Bring in an emergency room doctor who treats gunshots. Take a field trip to prison and let the inmates tell you how cool it was to be a drug dealer. Take them to a funeral home so they can see what it will cost Mom to bury them. Call the parents in and hand them a bumper sticker..."My kid is a high school drop out."

Then, take them back, set the G.P.A. goal and tell them to make it or get out AND they will be barred from all school events if they flunk out. No football games. No basketball games. No marketing opportunities for dealers-to-be. No place to show off and be cool.

Schools, you have enough money. You have adequate facilities. You have adequate training. Teach. Show us something for all of that money you get. Teach. Stop bitching that the conditions are deplorable. Teach. Get tough and teach.

And to parents, if you can't supply a home environment that points children in a positive direction other than dealing drugs and prostitution, take birth control pills.

We could make those free for the asking by diverting some of that fine money. Now that would make a difference.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Should Nebraska Change The Death Penalty?

She cooperated and gave the two black masked gunmen all of the money in the register in midtown Omaha convenience store. But on their way out, one decided to stop and shoot this 42 year old lady to death.

Cowards.

They'll get caught someday. They'll get convicted someday. But they won't have to face Old Sparky, as folks liked to call Nebraska's electric chair. The Nebraska Supreme Court threw out the chair because it was too cruel to use for capital executions. If capital punishment survives the expected do-gooder lobbyist onslaught, the new method will most likely be lethal injection. Do the crime, get sleepy time.

One Nebraska state senator (yes, I did leave that in small letters instead of the more respective title case) has been in the way of approving a new means to exterminate vermin such as the ones who killed this lady. The new method will probably pass this time because the problem senator was term-limited out. And, with luck, maybe someday these lowly, cowardly creeps will be strapped to a gurney, put to sleep, and put away. Painlessly of course.

Hell, Nebraska makes death tougher on cows and pigs than on killers.

But before this terminal time-out, the creeps will get to live out most of their lives. By then, most Nebraskan's won't remember the early January day in Omaha and the fear this woman must have felt as these cowards took her life. Their attorneys and various do-gooders will battle the State of Nebraska and try to overturn their death row convictions because the offender will have learned how to paint or write poetry. They will have wed some lonely cow who thinks breeding in a cell under supervised visits is height of true human romance. By then, there will be value in their lives and they shouldn't have to pay for one...little mistake.

There was a time when Nebraska knew how to handle low-life killers. After all, Nebraska was the home of one of the first serial murderers. His name was Charles Starkweather. He killed nine innocent folks on a three-day or so killing spree in Lincoln and the farm country surrounding it. He fled West and rather than die in a gun battle with Wyoming Troopers, he gave up.

Cowards usually give up when they are about to die.

Starkweather was caught in November 1958. He was tried in May 1959. He had his date with Ole' Sparky in June 1959. He was buried in an unmarked grave until some do-gooder decided that was wrong and put a marker on him. Bruce Springsteen's song "Nebraska" was about this James Dean looking dropout who worked on a Lincoln garbage truck. The movie "Badlands" glorified him.

There were no movies or songs about the nine people he killed.

Do-gooders never waste time on those folks. They never see the loss of the nine, the loss of their families; the loss of their children's families; the family tree that never had a chance to flourish. They only see the "immorality"of the State killing a killer. What good does that do? (Nebraska has a record of a prison guard killed by a killer. That mistake was corrected the second time by Ole' Sparky. No more problem.)

Perhaps we should be more sympathetic. After all, times are tough. There are two war going on. The economy is bad and people need work. And, with a new administration, we are going to lose good housing like Guantanamo Bay before long.

So, before the Nebraska Unicameral votes in a new way to execute society's worst, before we have to listen to new "significant" songs and watch new "significant" movies, I have a win-win idea.

Let Nebraska adopt one of the Guantanamo Al Quida be-headers. Heck, I am sure the do-gooders think those folks should have a chance for a new productive life. Let him contract to handle Nebraska's executions. He can wear his black Arab hood and use a big knife that he pulls from a scabbard on his back. He can rant-out the death warrant. He can bind the convicted killer's hands behind his back and force him to kneel before a camera in front of a red prison basement wall with a big white N on it. Let the executions sounds be recorded and have the entire event broadcast live on the Internet.

After a couple of those, maybe the cowards-to-be will think twice about committing a violent crime in Nebraska.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Not Flat


When folks find out I am from Nebraska, the first thing they usually say, well after some comment about football, is "it's pretty flat and boring out there, isn't it?"

It's neither. Nebraska is transitional between boring Iowa and supposedly exciting Colorado. (The California know-it-alls have taken over Colorado and ruined the state.) I won't include Wyoming in on this because Wyoming is truely eye candy.

But there has to be a little building to go from 1,000 feet above sea level to those 12,000 foot snowcaps out west. Hense, the natural beauty of Nebraska.

You don't need to drive more than about 20 miles into Nebraska before you get a taste of something neat. You'll have to cross the Platte River to get anywhere on Interstate 80. You'll see lots of sandbars from this famous river that cuts right through the middle of Nebraska. Sometimes, it's a mile wide and an inch deep and out by Gothenburg, you will have to search to find it because the water has been diverted for irrigation purposes. Further West, the Platte becomes Mr. Rugged again. Keep in mind, the Platte is not just a river. It's America's pathway--the Oregon and Mormon Trails wandered along with the Platte. To the Northwest is the Nebraska Sandhills and if you liked the rugged beauty you saw in Dances With Wolves, the Sandhills are for you. The Sandhills are often called the Great American Desert because that is what it was a few hundred years before football came to Nebraska.

Take Highway 26 out of Ogallala and you will see the mountains starting to form. You'll soon come across great bluffs and wonderful vistas. You will follow the North Platte as it points you toward Chimney Rock and Wyoming. The Union Pacific Railroad line will keep you company as you drive along and go up and down the great hills of Western Nebraska--a great challenge for anyone with a road bike who wants a nice challenging ride through history.

Nebraska is more that football. It's beautiful. Take a good look at that vista pic and judge for yourself. I took it from outside of my car and not a plane because it popped up out of nowhere and wowed me. Nebraska just might wow you, too!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Markers

I have lived in Nebraska most of my life. During that time, I have had a number of license plates which displayed Chimney Rock. I have also heard the arguments that using this old symbol doesn't really reflect the Nebraska of today.

They're wrong.

It was downright foggy yesterday morning when I started my drive home from Scottsbluff. (I have never been there either and came away with new feelings about that rugged beauty of the area.) There were two choices I could make for my drive home. I could make a beeline for Kimball and pick up Interstate 80 an aim at Omaha or I could take a two lane highway through the middle of what some would call, nowhere.

I chose nowhere. What the heck, this was my two day vacation and it was only about 100 miles of nowhere before I was back on I-80 to somewhere via Ogallala. (That's a town named after the Sioux Indian tribe that did Custer in.)

About 30 or so miles down the road to nowhere is Bridgeport, Nebraska; the home of Chimney Rock. Now mind you, we are going the opposite direction of the pioneers who got pretty excited when they saw this first big sign on the highway to Oregon. They had probably heard the stories about folks who made contact with the Sioux and other tribes. They had probably heard the rattle of the king of Nebraska snakes. They had probably admired the meandering Platte River which lead them to this great marker. And now I was drawn to it, too. Backwards of course, but for friends that know me, that is somehow fitting.

But it was foggy. I mean really foggy. As anyone who has studied fog knows, the green shades are more brilliant than the brown shades. That means the view to my left of the North Platte River was spectacular. Cat tails are at their full growth. The grasses of summer barely moved in the morning fog. The river moved along in silence as it made its way around sandbars and little islands of green. The bugs seemed to be sleeping in. In the distance, the bluffs started to appear again. They looked like drawings in light brown pen and ink on light brown parchment. There was just a hint of something there.

But where was Chimney Rock?

I got more help that the pioneers did. There was no handy sign next to the Oregon Trail that said...Chimney Rock Visitor's Center, 2 miles ahead. I made the turn onto the country road. I could see a bluff. Then there was an opening. Then there was a mound. A mound? Could that be it? Could that great spire be up there above that mound in the morning fog? A building and a gate appeared. It was the visitor's center and it was closed until 9:00am. The mound was directly behind the center so this must be Chimney Rock. I climbed over the gate and walked in. There was a sign telling me to stay on the sidewalk because rattlesnakes were common in this area. Fair deal.

Normally, you would think there would be some other tourists like me waiting to get in but I was all alone. There was not a sound as God prepared to lift the gray curtain on the coming day. Not even a moo from the distant cows. Not even a rattle. Thank you, Lord.

I walked around with one eye trained on the mound and one eye trained on the ground for any movement at all. Finally, God's paint brush went to work. Through the mist of that Western Nebraska sky, the spire started to appear. I wondered how a pioneer boy, walking along the river about a mile away must have thought when he realized that mound was not a mound at all. It was Chimney Rock and they were indeed on the right path to Oregon. No doubt they had seen some hard times coming across Nebraska. Axle deep mud. Grumpy Indians. Grumpy snakes. Grumpy wagons and grumpy oxen that pulled them. Grumpy weather. But finally, a place of hope. A sign of hope. A marker of hope.

I could have waited until the fog burned off and got a typical postcard picture of Chimney Rock but I really liked this one. I found it in the fog. That's how a lot of my life has seemed to have gone. I have found it in the fog.

But now I have also found another marker. And at least today, in this silence of a foggy Nebraska morning, I feel at peace inside. So far in my 62 years, the journey has been a good one.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Godfather would be proud

The Godfather would be pleased today.

The thieves are in control of American. Just go to the gas station and the grocery store and see for yourself. No, I am not calling honest, hard working farmers thieves. They have long deserved more for their work. I am calling the people who speculate on gas and oil prices and commodities thieves.

After all, what did they do to earn it?

The commodities traders are nothing more than Las Vegas high rollers using the American kitchen table as their betting chips. And guess what? The American family is tapped out. For the first time in my life, I can see how America can collapse.

Congress can see it, too. But the problem with Congress is they are made of of double speak lawyers who owe their allegence to K Street instead of Main Street. Some say lobbists have the same rights to free speech as the rest of us. Well, if that is the case, congress would not pass any legislation that would do those folks any favors because that's what congress does for the rest of us.

Congress has stopped listening to the folks. In fact, the recent gaff by Obama in San Francisco proves congress is a bunch of people who think they are better than the rest of us.

That's why the rest of us suffer at the grocery store and the gas pump.

All we can do is send an email or a letter to Congress and in a few weeks, you'll get a fluffy "I fell your pain" letter back.

To bad we can't send Luca Brasi.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A BIG hand for LPD


My favorite store was robbed a couple of nights ago. I happened to go there the following morning. A Lincoln Police car was parked just outside the front door and an officer had the gate pulled down a little as he stood on a ladder dusting the gate for prints. Not good.

My friend Travis the shoe guy filled me in with as much as he knew. There was a robbery during the night. The thieves came through the front door after breaking one of them. The got the big garage door metal protective gate up somehow. They wanted guns and got plenty of them--84 according to news reports.

Most of the guns were handguns. But there were some military style assault rifles. That is a lot of firepower in the wrong hands and these were the wrong hands. How could they get away with such a crime at a big mall like South Point?

For one thing, there was no security. The crime happened around 2:00am and security stops at 1:00am. I know, dumb. The Sheels cameras produced dark film. Double dumb. In this day, motion detectors should have lit that place up like Christmas. Plus, some security companies offer a service that also records and alerts security to things like breaking glass. The store and the mall both get a big F. They owe themselves and us the best security, especially when it comes to guns.

My thought was the guns were long gone to some other place. But less than 24 hours later, Lincoln Police Swat unit recovered 30 of them and made three arrests. They were local gang members. Bravo LPD. That's very impressive considering what you had to work with.

Perhaps they will get the rest of them soon--both guns and thieves. If not, the "hood" just got a whole lot more dangerous.

Some folks will be hollering for more gun laws and that makes me yawn. If you want to stop gun violence, register ammunition. If you come up on a records check or a mental health check, no bullets for you.

After all, how dangerous is a gun without bullets? And, old guns and stolen guns now have new rules to play under.

But that debate may never come. Until then, we have to rely on law enforcement to keep us safe and last night, Lincoln Police did a hell of a great job!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Catching the maid

Jack was the photographer on the first Lerjet job I ever had. It was a specially modified Lear with a camera about the size or a beer cooler stood on end, peering through the floor at the ground below.

We were taking pictures for the US Geological Service who, in turn, made all kinds of maps. I was the copilot on the three man crew and my job was to preflight the plane and to not touch anything once the plane was airborne. That's the way the captain wanted it and that's what he got. Such an order and a lack of any training meant that if he died, we probablly all died because I didn't have a clue how to fly the damn thing.

We roamed about the country trying to find absolutely cloudless skies to take pictures from as high as 49,000 feet. Yes, that is up there. We even went to 51,250 feet once and frankly, that scared the hell out of me.

As we roamed, so did our base of operations. Find the cheapest hotel in the town and we were in it. We dined nightly at some cheap burger place or a pancake house. We didn't go to bars and I had about as much in common with the captain and old Jack than I do with a mentor at a quilting store.

Then the mystery happened. Jack looked frustrated at one breakfast. In fact, he looked downright mad.

"What's wrong, Jack?" I asked.

"The maid is stealing my scotch," he answered.

The captain laughed and told Jack he was drinking too much. The maid was innocent. Jack left in a huff as the captain laughed at him.

You can guess how the next few days went. The captain was relentless. He made fun of Jack and the maid. Finally, Jack had enough. He devised a plan.

"I caught her red-handed," Jack said proudly at breakfast.

"You couldn't have," the captain said. "We leave the hotel before the maids start work."

"Well I caught her red-handed."

"How?" I asked.

"Well," Jack said as he leaned forward and got a sly grin on his face, " I poured the scotch into another container I had and peed into the bottle. It's the same color. Then I marked the pee level on the bottle's label."

I howled. "You peed in the scotch bottle?"

"Yup," he said. "And sure enough, the level has been going down for two days how. She is drinking my scotch."

"No she ain't," the captain said. "She is drinking your pee. You want them hash browns?" he asked me.

I shook my head no and he scraped them off of my plate and into a clean ashtray and ate them.

So much for classy pilots, huh.



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