On Making Smoking Illegal

It is hard to believe that the Federal Government can still manage to hire ‘meat-heads’ for key positions in its cabinet positions. On second thought—no it’s not.

Jus’ yesterday I was watching the news and I actually heard the Surgeon General of the United States say that he would support a law making the use of tobacco products illegal. Mr. Surgeon General, give us a break!

There are two major flaws with the idea of outlawing tobacco, aside from the knowledge that then only outlaws would have tobacco. The first one is that the Federal and State governments rely on the taxes generated by those tobacco products.

What happens to all the school programs when those coffers dry up? The inner city children will suffer from this ban.

Secondly, if tobacco is outlawed and only outlaws have it, then where will the Federal and State governments house these outlaws turned inmates? Not in my back yard, I hope!

That has already happened to me once in this lifetime.

Can we the people afford to have our already clogged court system clogged up any further with people suffering from nicotine fits? I don’t think so.

This is making an already dangerous situation even more dangerous. My wife suggested that if the craving for nicotine is that bad then people will have to use the patch.

My response was less than intelligent. I told her that was like putting a bandage over her mother’s pie-hole.

Tonight, I sleep on the couch.

While lying here in the most uncomfortably prone position imaginable, it occurred to me that this might all be a larger scheme. It could be that the Federal Government has a plan up its illusionary sleeve?

They may have the market cornered on the patch and therefore my worrying about the inner-city children is all for not. Silly me.

Finally, while I do not smoke and as a child I detested having to go down to the corner market to get my parents cigarettes, it is the free right of every-of-age U.S. Citizen to decided for themselves what legal substance they put into their body. It is not up to my government to restrict that when they do not have the power to do so.

Please take a look at the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ and tell me if the government has the power to enforce any new laws regarding ‘substance abuse’ and that is what a ban on tobacco would be. And you and I will have to pay for it somehow.

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Struck Blind

While visiting the Veteran Administrations Hospital for my annual physical, I got off on the wrong floor. I promptly got lost. I must admit that I have never been very good at finding my way around in government buildings.

It was the third floor where the door to the elevators opened and I instinctively stepped off without looking at what floor I was on. I was supposed to go one more floor up.

However it would be fifteen to twenty minutes before I would discover this.

Wandering up and down the corridors of this building, I searched for the set of offices that I needed to visit. I had been to them before, one year ago, so I knew they existed; however I could not remember what they looked like.

And to me all governmental offices look the same anyway.

As I searched for the office numbers, I came to the Chapel. Every VA Hospital has one.

It was here I also discovered the only telephone on the floor. I lifted the receiver and started to dial the number to the clinic that I was by now already late for, when I notice a man seated in the chairs of the Chapel.

I could hear him crying.

Gently I hung up the phone and quietly I walked into the seating area and sat down beside him. He had both hands over his face and was softly weeping. I leaned over and whispered, “Brother, are you okay?”

He looked at me and said, “Yeah, I am.”

He paused to catch his breath. He obviously had a breathing problem.

He explained that as a baby he had an accident that had broken his nose and had caused him pain throughout his life. Several times he had lost jobs because he could not catch his breath and now at 70 years old the doctors had discovered the problem and were going to be able to fix it for him.

“I cry because I’m happy,” he said.

It was hard for me to stop crying as I lay my hand on his should and asked if we could pray together for a successful operation, quick recovery, joyful life and a gracious God. He thanked me and said, “God bless you,” as I left to make my appointment.

Those words made me feel heroic.

After my doctor’s appointment, I dropped back down to the third floor and the Chapel. The man was gone and I had expected him to be.

So I rushed off to speak to the Chaplain. I wanted to tell him what I had done. I followed the signs that had arrows pointing to his office. I searched for nearly half an hour and could not find his office. I had to get back to work, so I left.

It was later the next day that it occurred to me what had happened. I was relating the tale to friend when this thought crossed my mind: I wanted to tell the Chaplain what I had done, when in truth, I had done nothing at all.

It was the Holy Spirit that had done it. And it was also the Holy Spirit that had blinded me from seeing the Chaplains office so that I did not go barging in, make a fool of myself claiming to have done something that I had no right to claim.

Now, I am left wondering if I met a Vet on the third floor or an Angel in the Chapel and if it really matters anyway.

Cowboy Up

The buzzer sounded but the rider did not get off. The pick-up men rushed over to assist him off the back of the bull. But still he stayed on the beast.

Suddenly the cowboy came off the back of the bull. His hand still caught up in the strap.

The bull shook him like a rag doll. Still the ride could not get loose.

The pick up men tried to get him undone. The bull fighters ran back and forth attempting to get close enough to undue the limp form attached to the spinning bulls back.

The bull raced across the open arena and smashed his left side and the cowboy into the railing. Then he dashed back and smashed the rider into the other side of the arena fence.

The medical crews were all along this fence. They had stood and watched in agony as this helpless cowboy continued to be thrashed about by this ton and a half monster.

As he passed by the medics he blew snot their way and raked the slats with his razor sharp horns.

Still the pick-up men and rodeo clowns could not get the man untied from the bull. The animal charged off to the other side of the rodeo grounds.

Then he changed directions. He spun back and forth and still the cowboy remained secured to the animal back.

On his third pass at blowing snot and raking the fence post, I decided to do something. Rodeo rules prohibit the involvement of anyone not hired to do what I was about to do.

Pulling out my boot knife, I flung myself over the fence and side ways over the bulls back. The bull spun to his right, the side I was on.

I felt his black and white horn touch him in the back, however I was too far in for the brute to hook me.

The rag doll cowboy was hanging from the bulls left side. I started cutting away at the rawhide that held him.

Suddenly the bull was spinning to his left. He shook his head as he leaped into the air on each successive spin.

His skin slipped underneath Doc as he struggled to hold on. Then he spun to his right again.

His horn struck me in the right lower back just above my hip. It felt like a two-by-four had just been broken over my body.

At that moment the cowboy fell away and I found myself pitching backward with a handful of leather in my hand. I heard a dull thud as I felt my body drop into the soft loam.

My instincts took control of my mind and body and I immediately started to crab-crawl backwards and out of the way.

The bull dug at the earth where I had lain. The bull-fighting clowns moved in as they now had two victims to save from the raging beast.

The bull was spinning to his right, digging at the air and then the ground with his horns. I continued to roll away and crawl to escape him.

At first I thought I was closer to the fence and safety than I really was. I had been nearly in the center of the arena and still had six more feet to go before I could roll under the fence and out of the arena.

One of the bull-fighters raced in front of me. He passed with in inches of the bull and those razor sharp horns.

The bull tracked on him. He followed this with a leaping spin to his left which carried him away from me.

Looking over my left shoulder to see how far from the fence I was, I rolled to my left and started to get up when I heard more than felt, a terrifying pop come from my left leg. The bull was standing on my Wranglers.

The bull was looking at the clown. In less than a second he was off and charging the clown and I was free to move towards the fence and safety again.

The searing pain that followed was so intense that I could no longer hear the crowd any more. Time slowed down to a crawl as I laid there and looked at my left leg seemingly growing longer as I dragged myself to the fence.

On my belly now, I had a hand on the lowest fence rail when the other medics yanked me under the fence. The bull was being head by a pick up man and they came tearing down the line right where I had been lying.

My head was swimming in pain. My left leg hurt even worse and my lower back throbbed.

The medical crew immediately cut my dirt-filled Wranglers off as well as my snap button shirt.

Slowly, I rose up to look at my leg, which looked to be half a foot longer than his right. I could see my knee cap appeared to be missing.

There was a large lump in the middle of my thigh and I concluded the thigh bone must be broken. I wiped my brow and discovered fresh blood matted over with the rich brown dirt of the arena.

My hands were skinned as was my right elbow. A traction splint was put on the battered leg and I was taken to the hospital, where I was given a shot of morphine to help with the pain.

“You’re pretty lucky,” said the Doctor when I finally came too. “No broken bones and only a bruised kidney and displaced knee cap.”

It took me three-days to recover from my battering. As for the rag-doll cowboy, he was treated for unconsciousness and ended up riding again the following day.

“If only they had a pain reliever for injured pride,” I repeatedly told myself.

In Defense of Judas Iscariot

For years, as a Catholic school student, I was taught that the man who betrayed Jesus to the chief priests and elders in Garden of Gethsemane was a traitor. I don ‘t believe it is the churches fault that this is what I eventually learned. I think that it is what I heard and as a child it is what I took to heart.

It’s been years since I took first communion, was confirmed, or have asked a priest to hear my confession. I
know now that I can speak to Jesus directly. I can tell him my trespasses and be forgiven without having to make an act of contrition.

Please do not think that I am putting down the Catholic faith, because I am not. How a person comes to know Jesus is between that individual and Jesus. All I ask is that individual remain open-minded and open-hearted enough to receive new lessons in their walk of faith .

During my years following my first communion, I studied towards my confirmation. This is where a child passes into young adulthood within the tenants of the faith . We were asked to think quietly for about 15 minutes about a saint or an apostle that we would like to have represented us as our confirmation guide . (I must politely submit that some of this has been lost on me through the years.) I requested the apostle Judas Iscariot.

This shocked the priests, as they had never heard of such a thing.

They told me that I could not take Judas as a confirmation guide as he had hanged himself after betraying Jesus. I tried to argue the point that Jesus was a forgiving God and knew all along that Judas would betray him and selected him as one of the original disciples anyway.

I further pointed out what John 13:27 says, ‘…and after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”’

Finally when I added that Jesus called Judas ‘friend’ even after the kiss in the garden, the brothers of the order lost all sense of themselves and shouted me down .

In the end they won the battle and I was forced to select another saint or apostle, though for the life of me I cannot recall who it might be as Judas Iscariot has remained on my mind all these years later. The Padres at Saint Joe ‘s Catholic Reform School failed to win the war .

The Lord that I pray too every morning and every night, whose word I read so that I can maintain it in my heart in times of weakness and trouble and in happiness and joy is a forgiving God. Therefore I believe whole-heartily that
Jesus forgave Judas Iscariot even though he was weak and hanged himself.

Not only do I have the arguments that used to attempt to persuade the priests with, but I also have a glimpse of Judas• remorse and a timeline of events leading up to his death and then Jesus’ death .

Let’s look first at the mind of Judas as the gospels show us . Once he discovered that his act of betrayal had led Jesus to be condemned to death he felt so terrible that he tried to return the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests. {Matthew 27:3)

Unfortunately the chief priests not only failed to see Jesus as the Messiah, they failed to help Judas when he admitted that he had sinned by handing over an innocent man for trial. The chief priests told Judas that it was his responsibility. (Matthew 27:4)

Judas responded by throwing the 30 silver pieces into the temple and left. (Matthew 27:5) Perhaps Judas, who had witnessed many of Jesus’ miraculous works, was trying to force Jesus to lead a revolt against the Roman Empire.

However did not work. With nowhere to go and no one to turn too and a complete lost of faith, Judas Iscariot hanged himself. And so we are left to assume that he burns in a fiery Hell forever.

Yet if one should take a look at the time line there is more to look at than the simple events. The idea that Judas Iscariot died prior to the living Christ weighs heavily into the picture from a theological point. (Matthew 27:5)

Christ died for the trespasses of the world. That means he died for Judas’ trespasses as well. Therefore, Judas is in heaven with our Lord, Jesus Christ .

Yet , there is that point about Judas Iscariot having committed suicide. My grandfather used to say that, “People think that like a coin the truth has two sides, not so because a coin has a ridged edge and you have to look there too for the truth.”

It has taken me years to understand many of the things he used to say. He was telling me to check everything before making a final conclusion .

To this day I have not stopped examining and I keep discovering biblical nuggets of truths. Between A. D. 63 and 70 , a Gentile Physician named Luke wrote a letter to Theophilus about the death of Judas Iscariot.

He writes, ‘With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.• (Acts 1:18)

As Judas hanged himself, the branch he selected did not hold his weight , broke and he fell. So much for suicide.

Lastly, I believe that Judas Iscariot is the unsung anti­ hero of the New Testament. It is easy to over look the fact that Jesus chose this man to be one of his 12 disciples.

But we are always reminded that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus every time .we partake of communion. What has become real easy to forget is that all the Apostles abandoned Jesus .

And like Judas, they all misunderstood Jesus’ mission. They thought he was there to over thrown Rome, when he was there to save the man from sin.

If it was no t f or his courage to step away from the table and go to the chief priests and elders in the first place
we may all. still be waiting for the first coming of Christ. Jesus knew what was to happen, not only to himself but what was going. to happen to Judas.

I think Jesus; my Savior had it in his heart to save Judas Iscariot as well. The one thing we will never know until we stand before our creator is whether or not there was a request for forgiveness or not prior to Judas 1 death.

As a Christian, I do not condemn or judge him. I hate the sin but love the sinner.

Of course, I am still not certain that Judas Iscariot would not have been a suitable guide for my confirmation . Perhaps I needed more instruction that ‘pick a saint or an apostle.’

Things of Intrinsic Value

My wife’s brother and sister-in-law were kind enough to bring up a trailer load of antiques and papers from Southern California. These are antiques that have been in my wife ‘s family for nearly a hundred years, if not more.

Needless to say we are excited to have them in our home. I am especially excited because I have my own set of dressed drawers for the first time in nearly twenty years. That means no more digging through her undies to find my missing socks.

Boy-howdy!

We also ended up with many of the family journals and diaries. These books hold no real value for anyone else in the family but me as I am the resident historian and story-teller.

I am slowly and carefully leafing my way through these books and discovering many hidden tales. I will get to these multi paged gems in a few moments.

There is really something about the smell of old furniture and old books that I really like. It reminds me of the fact that thing with true intrinsic value really do last.

Memories are also in the same group. They too have their worth.

The Liability of Stupidity

It was just after one in the morning when the Outside patrol officer radioed in that he had discovered a man, unconscious and bleeding from his head, laying in the rock embankment between parking lots one and three. It was New Years Eve Night, unwanted but not wholly unexpected.

I responded to the patrol officer, “10-4, unit 95, I’m rolling REMSA, all units standby.”

Picking up the telephone, I pushed the tone button at the same time. I repeated the information so that all other officers on duty would be aware that an emergency was in progress and that radio traffic would be limited to emergencies messages only.

Then I dialed 9-1-1, telling the dispatcher on the other end of the telephone the situation he had.

Once I knew an ambulance was on its way I returned to the main console and brought the outside unit up on camera. I zoomed in until the officer and the body lying in the rocks filled the small viewing screen.

By this time a supervisor had shown up and he was attempting to wake the unconscious man up to move him. However the injured man would not wake up.

“Command to Adam-2” I said, “REMSA is enroute. E-T-A less than five off of Mill Street.”

The supervisor responded, “10-4, be advised that guest is 10-56.”

“10-4”, I commented, making a note in the log that Adam-2 was on the scene and detected the presence of alcohol on the man’s breath.

As I glanced up I saw the supervisor turn the man’s head from one side to the other. The sight caused me to cringe.

Stepping down on the microphones remote button, I spoke as calmly and as authoritatively as I could, “Adam-2, secure the guests head and neck for possible spinal cord injury.”

The supervisor pulled his hands away from the man and moved to his feet just as the ambulance arrived on the scene. I shook his head from side to side, feeling a wave of disgust well up inside.

I continued to watch as the paramedics placed a c-collar on the man and rolled him over on his side as gently and carefully as possible to slip a hard board under him prior to moving him onto the gurney and then the ambulance.

Jus’ as the ambulance was pulling away from the scene, the first shifts watch commander walked into the dispatch room. He was a portly man with sad sack eyes, a waxy pallor and very little hair.

On his rolled up sleeve he wore the striped of a sergeant.

He shuffled as he walked up behind me as he spoke in a bellowing voice, “We don’t give medical directions here, got it?”

It as much less a question as a command.

“Yeah, I know that,” I answered. “But you’d think our boss would know enough not to move the head and neck of an unconscious man especially, one who is bleeding from the face.”

The Watch Commander stood there momentarily stunned. He was not used to subordinates getting in his face.

Then he responded, “I don’t care, we don’t give medical directions, period. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes sir, you made yourself very clear,” I replied.

The old man never said another word to me as he turned and shuffled out of the dispatch room. With that I turned around and wrote down what he had said and why I had done what I had done.

B.S. in a Book

Years ago there was a book called ‘You’re okay, I’m okay.’ I don’t know who wrote it, nor do I care, because after I read it the first time I believed it was all a bunch of hooey and I still do.

It was a book designed to help boost the readers self esteem.

For a long time I thought I had a terrible self esteem problem. I felt I did not measure up to other people’s standards. I viewed other people, seemingly unscathed by their actions regardless of how those actions might have affected others, as okay emotionally.

I spend a great deal of time attempting to emulate these persons. I wanted desperately to be as successful as they were and have all the nice things they owned and still sleep well at night.

However I have never been able to get those nice things because I have always operated from the desire to do what was right even if it was not the best thing for me. It left me frustrated until now.