McCarthy leaves the House Speaker race. Now what?

That already disorderly body of folks known as the Republican House members went ever farther off the tracks this morning with the announcement Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., — the front-runner for the job — would not seek the Speaker position.

McCarthy recently let the cat out of the bag that his party in Congress had purposely held hearings on the Benghazi episode to discredit the front-running Democratic candidate for the presidential race, Hillary Clinton. Oops! McCarthy told members he didn’t want to be a burden in the process of picking one of the most important seats in government. He said he didn’t want to make electing a speaker hard for members.

Two other top GOP House members had announced they too coveted the Speaker’s job: Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Daniel Webster of Florida. Chaffetz is known for his chairing the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, other than that, he bears a striking resemblance to a cartoon chipmunk. Webster is less known, despite a namesake who was a key antebellum orator and statesman who served in the Whig Party. The living Webster was a former Florida House of Representatives speaker. Whether he was elected on name recognition only is not known.

The Hill is reportedly all abuzz. That would be Capitol Hill, not the publication, flabbergasted over this sudden eruption in Republican leadership. The two announced candidates would not make me feel secure were I Republican. No one knows much about Webster other than his Florida House history which included his involvement in the Terri Schiavo case.

Obviously, Chaffetz is questionable as a House Speaker candidate due to the recent scandal over the Secret Service accessing the congressman’s personal file that noted when he applied for a job with the agency in 2003. He was turned down for that job for what was allegedly a “Better Qualified Applicant.” Some 45 Secret Service officials are known to have seen the file. So far, no information has come forward that tells the reason Chaffetz was rejected for the position he sought.

No front-runners have emerged since today’s announcement by McCarthy that he was dropping out of the Speaker’s race. Although I have not been in a position lately to speculate who might be a winning candidate, I know of a good many congressmen — about 425 or so and from all parties — I wouldn’t recommend.

I don’t care, I don’t care, said Jimi

Some days are just meant for a meaningful tune. The problem is, I am not sure why the tune I think of, Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9” is so meaningful. I think to myself why is it meaningful to me?

YouTube Preview Image

 “If the sun refuse to shine

I don’t mind, I don’t mind …

If the mountains, fell in the sea

let it be, it ain’t me

Alright, ‘cos I got my own world to look through

And I ain’t gonna copy you.”

Okay. But here I am and why am I copying Jimi? Ya dig?

” If 6 turned out to be 9

I don’t mind, I don’t mind

If all the hippies

Cut off all their hair

I don’t care, I don’t care … “

It is a quirky song that is simple in its lyrics. The form and fashion of a loud grinding hard rock song pounded out on guitar by a young black dude who had no equal. No copy.

It’s just a simple thought of a song that is simple in its lyrics but it is, like, heavy. Ya dig?

“Sing on brother, play on drummer.”

Revelations from a trip in time to H-E-B*

“What it is?”

Man, I hadn’t heard that in a long while. I push my cart seemingly nowhere. I don’t catch full conversations. Oh, I am grocery shopping, by the way. I hear the music.

“Don’t you worry about a thing, he-eng, he-eng … “ Stevie Wonder. I bought “Innervisions” when I was a junior in high school.

Stevie has some good tunes. Some of Innervision were like the blues wrapped up in jazz wrapped up in rock and roll. The songs like “Living For the City,” that’s what I’m talking about.

 “A boy is born, in hard time Mississippi/Surrounded by four walls that ain’t so pretty … Living just enough, just enough for the city.”

Poetry of poverty turned to poetry for profits. Poetry for profits was an idea of mine that never came to fruition. It was kind of in the same category of “Mechanical Bullshit.” Yeah, that was actually an idea I had back in the 80s.

I wasn’t a big fan of “Urban Cowboy” — neither the movie nor the fad that came behind or along it. It was one of those movies I would have never paid to see if it wasn’t for a girlfriend. You all understand that, don’t cha?

Up until John Travolta came to the screen to dance again — remember “Saturday Night Fever?” — I used to pretty much dress in Western-style garb. A Western-style shirt, pressed jeans and cowboy boots. No hat, usually. I wasn’t in the cow business even though I lived in a farm-house that I rented. My only roomies were a herd of cattle on the nearly 100-acre spread.

I was going to college when this whole drugstore cowboy thing exploded, thanks to Bud and Sissy. So I quit wearing cowboy chic and started dressing, well, not-so Western. I also became pretty damn antagonistic to the fad. Thus came mechanical bullshit.

One night I stayed past closing at a favorite nightclub in town. It went through the Urban Cowboy fad, although country-western was a fact of life in Texas then as now. A friend, who is now a big city TV news reporter, was a bartender. This friend let me ride the mechanical bull as the night’s crowd left and club folks began cleaning up. Now this was not THE mechanical bull at Gilley’s, of Urban Cowboy fame, which was the Houston-area honky-tonk owned by country singer Mickey Gilley.

I must confess to having a few adult beverages. The drinks were gratis courtesy of my friend the bartender. With all of that in mind, I got on that ol’ plastic bull or of whatever it was made. I stayed on the contraption at least 16 seconds — or four, or two, at the lowest bucking level available.

Now since surviving a mechanical bull ride, a plan came busting out of my potential business idea like a bull bucking out its chute.

I devised this plan to encase a variety of nuts and bolts into a clear acrylic block, Ta da … I didn’t think long and hard about this idea because I believed the more I thought, the more I would screw up. Sorry, that was an accidental pun. But come to think about it, screws would also work as the mechanical bull scat.

I ran this idea past friend who got excited about it. We just never acted on it. You know how things go sometime.

The same girlfriend I mentioned earlier also made me see “Saturday Night Fever.” Of course, this movie brought about a “disco fever.” Well, you know, fever most often is applied to a high body temperature and that’s not usually something to tout. Still there were some decent songs from the movie’s soundtrack. I liked “More Than a Woman,” by the Bee Gees okay. Like so many songs it reminds me of a particular time in life. I recall this song upon returning from sea duty in the Pacific. I was back only a few months before leaving the Navy. We didn’t do a whole lot once our ship returned to San Diego.

I loved those few months I was on the ship in home port. I had the world ahead of me. I had a loose plan but it turned out vastly different during the following years. But for the time, I was loving California, the Pacific and the mountains. There was plenty of scenery and adventure. Included was all the fun and zest for life when you are 22 years old, and world really is your egg.

All of a sudden, I’m in the grocery store shopping and turning 60 in a few weeks.

Before checking out, I head to the aisle for razors. At the end of the aisle was a rather large woman on a motorized cart. I hear the woman on the cart ask me something but her voice is soft and I do not understand her. I have to ask a couple more times, the last with my ear cupped with my hand as if I am hard of hearing.

“What’s good for pink eye?” she asked. “Is breast milk?” She adds, saying that she was from Louisiana. Perhaps she is explaining why she comes up such an odd remedy.

“Well,” I said, thoughtfully. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.”

Suddenly, the woman who was standing and the one who was sitting burst out laughing. I give a puzzling look, then laugh, before pushing my shopping car toward the cashiers.

So much of my life gets examined in the 30 minutes of shopping. It’s like a time machine — or maybe psychoanalysis. And it only cost me $45.

*H-E-B is a large privately-held grocery chain based in San Antonio that operates in Texas and northern Mexico. The letters stand for Howard Edward Butt, son of the founder Florence Butt.

News of the Day: All the news that fits

Some news for the day. Or, some news for the day. It always depends on how you say it and how you interpret it.

Donald Trump unleashes his “Republican” tax plan. Donald Trump is about as Republican as Joe Lieberman was a Democrat.  Regardless, Trump is pulling out smoke and mirrors to lessen the tax burden on the rich, as he is. People making $24,000 a year or less per year or $30,000 for a family would pay no taxes. Some argue they already pay no taxes. If he is talking about cutting withholding taxes then that would qualify for a tax cut. But he should go beyond that 24K limit. I just learned today of a pay increase which raises my pay to $43,000. I would call that a pretty good amount for me, who has barely made it beyond $30,000 over 40 years. However, I would only receive 43K by working 40 hours a week. And over the past year I have worked 32 hours a week.

So my salary really amounts to “Trump change” if you take away that extra day of work and withholding, Social Security, Medicare, Retirement, etc. The rich? The rich get rich and the poor get poorer — under Uncle Donald and probably any other plan Republican or Democrat.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on 60 Minutes last night said, in so many words, everything is cool man. Yeah, I am a sleaze ball spy-turned politician, but I’m cool as a Siberian fireman. It seems like Putin is trying to out-cool President Obama. That’s not happening though.

Putin, in an answer to a question by CBS anchor Charlie Rose, said he hopes that Russia is a major power because it possesses nuclear weapons.

“Otherwise, why do we have nuclear weapons at all?”

Well, isn’t he the big kid on the block? Russians love him, or so it is said. Who knows how far this former KGB agent will go to make all of the news favor his point of view. I bet Obama would whip his ass shooting hoops and Putin would come away black and blue, while Obama, well …

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani provided some “bulletin board” material for Republicans after speaking with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Rouhani said he has watched GOP live on television and found the candidates “quite laughable.” The Iranian leader said he doubted that these wannabes could even find his country on the map or could distinguish the difference between Iran and Tehran.

One can be sure Rouhani must have been smoking a large bowl of Afghani hash to find humorous the U.S. Republican presidential campaign.

“Dude, let’s go to White Castle,” Rouhani says while gigiling. “Get the jet ready.”

Enough news for the day. Any more and I will gain some knowledge. I don’t want to do that. As for you, well, you got a mouse?


It’s crying time again, but not for the Speaker of the House

“Oh it’s crying time again you’re going to leave me/I can see that faraway look in your eyes … ” — ‘Crying Time’ — Buck Owens

John Boehner announced today that he was leaving his position as both a member and as Speaker of the House come the end of October. The Ohio Republican known for his tearful disposition did not have a faraway look in his eyes Thursday as Pope Francis delivered the first address by a pontiff in history. No, Boehner, a Catholic, looked as if it was all he could do to hold back tears.

One cannot blame the 65-year-old House leader. For someone whose job is more difficult than herding cats, day in and day out, the job of shepherding a GOP-led Congress could make many a grown men cry.

... "and 10 bucks for a f***ed up duck." White House photo by Pete Souza

… “and 10 bucks for a f***ed up duck.” White House photo by Pete Souza

A pot-calling-the-kettle-black quote from no less than New York Republican Rep. Peter King announced: “The crazies have taken over the party.” And all this time I thought King, who media critic Jack Shafer once described as “an exploding carbuncle masquerading as a member of Congress,” was a monarch of the crazies. Maybe King was not royal enough to be called King King of the Crazies, but at the very least he could be the Earl of Squirrels.

Perhaps the most personally encouraging news from the Boehner’s resignation is that the chance of a government shutdown has been lowered, at least according to some political experts. Whether that report from Politico is merely based on spin from some pols is hard to know. As was the case in the previous shutdown and all of those times such a lockout threat existed, this has not kept the government and its employee unions from telling workers to get ready. That is the only responsible move to make but that makes such warnings no less scary.

Boehner was seen by many as a moderate Republican although his more radical colleagues did not have the same opinion. His “go along to get along” attitude could often cast him as one with his crazy political family. My opinion of the speaker — as kindly as I can say — is he has been a rather talented political flake. There were times when I was tempted to admire him and a minute later declare what an ass****.

I have no reason to believe any of those mentioned who are

once Boehner is gone will be better for the country than what is around at the moment. I have to predict the worse because that is what we have received from Republicans for so many years, so many decades, now.

So read ’em and weep. But don’t cry for John B. I’m sure he’ll land a cushy lobbying job.


I may be right for all I know, but you may be wrong.

An article caught my attention this afternoon concerning  wrong diagnoses by medical professionals. Now I am no medical professional. I was an EMT for 10 years, so if you ask me how to splint a broken femur, I could probably tell you how it was done 30 years ago. And so, indeed, I am no professional medical person but I probably fit the bill as a professional patient.

The article of note from is titled: “Getting it Wrong: ‘Everyone Suffers an Incorrect or Late Diagnosis.'”

The National Academy of Medicine, whatever that may be, says pathologists and radiologists need to be more involved in a patient’s diagnosis. The Academy, as the former Institute of Medicine calls itself, says it can’t quantify the number of erroneous diagnoses but they know it is high. Because the Academy says so, damn it to hell! I suppose it’s like Justice Potter Stewart said in the 1964 Supreme Court decision on obscenity: Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I don’t know what obscenity is but I know it when I see it.”

Actually, that is not what Stewart said, or wrote, exactly.

 “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that, Steward said”

In reality and back to medicine, the Academy did report that 5 percent of Americans receive the wrong diagnosis in outpatient care. And 10 percent of autopsies show patients who were misdiagnosed. On and on it seeps like a morphine drip.

The report goes on to say that the number of autopsies have dropped because insurance does not cover the, ahem, procedure. The study went onto say radiologists and pathologists should be more involved in clinical care. Okey dokey. So they really don’t fault the medical professionals, instead the report just, well … I’m not totally sure what the reports are implying. More autopsies? I don’t know about the rest of the world but in Texas, postmortem studies are supposedly performed on all patients who die an unwitnessed death. Likewise, I think, the same goes for those whose lives end violently. One only may guess where the supposition goes. No, not up there. I said supposition, not suppositories.

In reading this NBC article on the report, one may understand its point while others do not. For instance, the common mental picture one forms of pathologists are that they sit around looking for tiny cancers all day when they aren’t cracking open someone’s rib cage with a Skill saw. Likewise, one might imagine radiologists sitting around all day looking at X-rays or MRIs. No on both counts.

A good friend of mine is what is known as an interventional radiologist. He is a professor at a medical school and teaches his specialty to budding radiologists. But he likewise uses his skills to save lives. Says the Society for Interventional Radiology:

 “(Interventional radiologists) offer the most in-depth knowledge of the least invasive treatments available coupled with diagnostic and clinical experience across all specialties. They use X-rays, MRI and other imaging to advance a catheter in the body, usually in an artery, to treat at the source of the disease internally.”

Here is a little known fact, to me at least. These highly-trained radiologists were the inventors of the angioplasty and catheter-delivered stents which were originally developed for treating peripheral arterial diseases. Pretty neat stuff it is. Had my friend not have been in the field of interventional radiology, I probably would have learned it off the street from some first-year med student selling professional journals with racy X-ray pictures. That’s a joke son!

I see a whole broader issue as far as wrong diagnoses leading to super-wrong outcomes. I go to the VA for my health care and bless their hearts, they love their electronic patient records. Some medical pros must sleep with the records they love them so much. Some of them do not read past the first page of the computerized charts. That’s for another day though, maybe.

“Iron Lady” Fiorina and Dr. Carson ticket? No way.

The stories I have been reading pronounce Carly Fiorina as the winner of this week’s CNN Republican debate. She certainly made a strong presence both in her, seeming, knowledge of foreign policy as well as her stopping the Donald Trump train in its tracks.

Despite Fiorina bitch-slapping Trump with silence over his off-the-cuff remark on her looks in a Rolling Stone article, the former Hewlitt-Packard executive at times resembled the reincarnation of the U.K.’s Maggie Thatcher.

The GOP “Iron Lady” talked tough on Russia and its leader Vladmir Putin by barking the U.S. Navy 6th Fleet should be built up along with missile defenses, and thousands of troops being sent to Germany. Whether such moves are reasonable or even needed is questionable.

I wondered, as I told my friend and correspondent in Tokyo, Paul, whether Fiorina might start a war with Argentina as the original Iron Lady Thatcher did.

My prognostication for the November 2016 match-up doesn’t include Lady Fiorina. We can’t have two women run for president. That’s preposterous! That is just as we couldn’t have another black president, such as Dr. Ben Carson, anytime soon. A ticket with both Fiorina and Carson? That also is unlikely.

Barring some arrest or indictment on either side, I still see Hillary versus Jeb. No two women will run. That just goes against the natural order of the parties and their people. A black man as the Republican nominee? As much as the right hates Obama, mostly because he is (partly) black, a large part of the electorate wouldn’t elect Dr. Carson if he could heal by laying on hands.

These predictions probably sound like I am the misogynist here or the racist here. No, I’m just the Democrat here. And I am looking at the way things are. That’s good for the Democrats — oh and if the GOP shuts down the government again this discussion will become moot. The Republicans might have that divide I’ve wished for over the years. As good as that might be for the Dems, I don’t see how the outcome will help equality in our nation.

No “gub-mint” takeover. We ur still Texans.

Take a breather my fellow Texans.

I woke up this morning and found no military forces standing at port arms with their automatic weapons at the ready.

When I turned on the TV, the damned thing didn’t work and I remember my remote falling from the table before I went to bed. So I had to spend about 30 minutes trying to reprogram the cheap-ass RCA remote. But when I did get the TV to work I tuned into CNN. And on was nothing more than the same old “All-Donald all the time.”

What I am trying to say is, the military didn’t take over the U.S. and giant billboards of President For Life Barack Hussein Obama did not appear. At least, they didn’t show up any place that I know.

Jade Helm 15 is over. And all those nutcases who got their knickers tied up in a knot were left with nothing more than a whole lot of egg on their face. All those of you whose fret over a revocation of the Second Amendment have no reason for concern. That is until the next imagined threat comes about.

Now I have some good friends in the Lone Star State, the place I have called home for almost 56 of my nearly 60 years. Some are gun nuts. Others are just plain nuts. That’s one reason they’re my friends. The best I can recall, all my exes live in Texas, kind of the way George Strait sang it except I’ve only been to the airport in Memphis. I had scant time to hang my hat in Tennessee.

I was reading today about this guy who lives down the road from me in Nederland, Texas. He heads the Texas Nationalist Movement. I see the fellow who leads it, Daniel Miller, around town every now and then. I’ve never talked with him. But Miller and his group are pushing a petition drive that would put Texas secession on the Republican Primary ballot. Yessir. The Texas Republican Party is less than thrilled, reports the Texas Tribune. I couldn’t ever imagine why.

If such a ballot initiative could only come with a (very short) federal government shutdown, I doubt we would see a GOP president for, well, maybe ever. Of course, I’m not wanting a shutdown. I definitely do not want a shutdown, please understand. I’m just saying that the Republican Party has a lot of dynamics these days that make it like death sucking on a Lifesaver.

But that’s Texas. That is all Texas. We are tall, and not so tall, Texans. We wear a 10-gallon hat. Mostly though, I wear a ball cap.

A little wanderlust but as Johnny Cash sang …

After work I spent a bit of free time filling out my passport application. Am I going somewhere? Probably. I don’t know where. Just in case I do travel, even to Mexico or Canada (there’s a good idea, the latter,) I need a card or a passport.

I am sure this will come as a shocker to those who think I’m a jet-setter. I’ve never had a passport before. I had a big yellow immunization card when I was in the Navy. Within a year I had visited Acuña, Juárez, and Tijuana in Mexico; Olangapo and Subic City in the Philippines; Suva, Fiji; the Marshall Islands; Auckland, Nelson and Whangeri, New Zealand; Newcastle, NSW; Devenport, Tasmania, and Perth, Western Australia, all in Australia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Taipei and Keelung, Taiwan. That’s a pretty good dance card, all without a passport. All travel was, of course, courtesy of my poor Uncle Sugar (Sam.)

It was called to my attention by friends, some 10 or more years ago, that I needed a passport. The passport card wasn’t needed everywhere outside the US of A then. My friends said: “You never know when you might have to go somewhere.” I was working as a reporter then and not making much cash. I figured if I needed a passport I’d have time to get the funds to purchase one. The demand back then was not nearly as that of today.

Sure enough, a time came when I needed one. I could have gone as a reporter to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That’s right, to the terrorist jail to see how nice our forces where treating the captives. Like they would waterboard one or make the prisoners stand in a naked human pyramid as happened in Abu Ghraib. Note: I covered the court martial of the alleged ring-leader at that big clusterf**k in Iraq, former Army Spc. Charles Graner. What a class act. Back to the subject, I never went to Gitmo because I didn’t have a passport or the time to get one. I also never went to Iraq, although I volunteered to be an “imbed” or is that “inbred?”

Perhaps I may go to some foreign land this summer, whether it be Canada, the Caribbean, Central America or Mississippi. Just joking, my old Mississippi friends. Playboy listed Old Miss as the No. 9 “party school” in the country. Back in the 70s, a couple of years before I was discharged from the Navy, my alma mater was on that list. Yesiree Bob, Stephen F. Austin, party like it’s 1979.

I had planned to do a couple of mini-stories or pieces. Yeah, kind of like Hershey Kisses, or a couple of pint-sized hookers (Sorry.) The Playboy list was one such short-short. The other took place right “cheer” as Andy Griffith would say. A news story happened here in Beaumont, Texas, where I live and at my favorite (and only) GI Surplus store.

It seems a guy was cleaning out his 75-year-old uncle’s apartment when he found a hand grenade. He didn’t know if it was live or a dummy grenade. The latter like you often see at GI Surplus stores. I bought one once but not at this store, or in this town. I don”t know whether I still have it. But it was definitely  a dummy. My Dad bought it for me, and he wouldn’t let me play with a live grenade. I don’t think he would, at least.

The fellow cleaning out his Uncle’s apartment wasn’t sure if the explosive was real or a dummy. So what did he do? What would you do? Call the police, or fire department or the Army? I lived about 45 miles from Fort Polk, La., growing up. When someone found leftover grenades from the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers, and there were quite a few back in the 60s, folks would call Fort Polk. Or, they’d call the sheriff and he’d call Fort Polk. The bomb squad came over. Poof, everything was hunky dory.

But Fort Polk isn’t quite as close to Beaumont. So the guy with the grenade called the police and fire, right? No, of course not, he put the grenade in the glove compartment of his pickup truck and hauled it to the GI Surplus Store on College Street. The story is easily found. It has a big rocket out front and an anti-aircraft gun, all of which saw many better days.

 “He decided it was “surplus” so he would bring it to GI Surplus,” said a press release from Beaumont police spokeswoman Officer Carol Riley.

Officer Riley said the fire department and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents took the grenade to “headquarters” for disposal.

Wait, they took it to the fire headquarters downtown? And where is ATF located? Are they in the Bank of America building on Calder at 10th, the same place as the FBI? Hmm. I don’t want to know. Well I do want to know but it’s not worth it to keep on typing this thing. This monster is now at 800 freaking words. Make that 856. Goodbye!




On thought and space

A few minutes ago I passed by a local fire station and saw something, perhaps mundane, but it nonetheless took me back about 30 years ago.

Some firefighter was outside in front of the station fire engine. His head was down and his hands in his pocket as if he was pondering something mighty. Penny for his thoughts? Not really. Not even a dollar.

The site just made me think of a time in my life when I worked at a fire station and would sit on the porch watching whatever went by. I would think of college classes, if I happened to be attending at the time. Or I would think of a girl. Funny, I say girl. I suppose back then that many of the women I knew thought of themselves as girls. They might have been a year or four out of high school, in college. Some were a few years older and had been in the workforce a little while.

Just having a place to park my butt and be to myself for a few minutes was a pleasing part of my firehouse routine. That isn’t to say I would be unhappy if one of my fellow firemen joined me. No, I think it was more of a sign that I could be alone most times without being lonely. I can still do that.

I usually worked in Station 2 with two others. Or with only one other on quite a few occasions. But generally I worked with a lieutenant and chauffeur —  the latter called a driver or technician or whatever in different departments. The lieutenant was the station officer who was in charge. And like the name implies, the chauffeur drove. The rank is a bit of a misnomer because the chauffeur pumped the truck at a fire and had to watch all the gauges and make calculations. Such figuring would ensure we would have water, but not so much water that it would make the hose we were using fly off — with us on the end of it.

Generally, the fire ground or accident scene or whatever emergency we had was about the only place where rank was applied. Even then, we would usually have someone higher in rank than the LT in charge if the situation called for it.

Mostly, we slept in our idle hours, watched television, worked on our cars, and in my case, studied for college classes. And we cooked, sometimes.

That is not to say we did nothing but f**k off and fight fires. We would train in the mornings. We would do maintenance on the equipment. Sometimes we would ride in the district and check out new businesses in case they caught fire. We would use a weed whacker to cut vegetation around a fire hydrant or sometimes even paint the hydrants.

We weren’t totally worthless and lazy. Maybe some people might have seen us in that light. We did sit in front of the station watching the world go by. Maybe by today’s standards we were lethargic. But many of us did more than others. For instance, I was the only person back then in this 50-something-man department who was certified as an emergency medical technician. Some of us would lift weights or shoot hoops. The latter is how I broke my first bone ever. My left pinkie was resting at a 45-degree angle before I went to the ER and my doctor set it.

Mainly I had a good time back then. Going to college was, overall, fun. Working as a firefighter and being a firefighter were both a great job and status. I would work 24 hours and have two days off. What’s not to like?

A little space, or maybe that term is passé these days, is essential in any job. It doesn’t matter whether you are saving lives or saving Coke cans. Does that mean thought is the final frontier?

Okay, when I make Star Trek references I know that is enough thinking for one day.