Thursday, March 27

"Truth...What A Concept!!"

New theme on an old joke... Do you know how you can tell if Hillary Clinton is lying? Simple, her lips are moving!

Liars can generally be classified into three distinct groups: the "born" liar, the "avoid trouble" liar, and the "protector" liar." The "protector" liar is an individual who consciously elects not to reveal a truth in an effort to avoid causing emotional pain to someone he or she cares about. This type of liar isn't indicative of the individual possessing a character flaw and is usually accompanied by feelings of guilt for having resorted to this behavior. The "avoid trouble" liar is similar to the "protector" liar in that both wish to minimize conflict. The difference is that the first wishes sincerely to protect another, while the second wishes to protect themselves, usually because he or she has consistently and historically failed to perform some function or fulfill some agreed upon promised task. Example: "The dog ate my homework." If this type of behavior persist it may be assumed that the individual is prompted to do so as a result of some personal character flaw brought on by such exterior stimuli as stress or a low appraisal of one's self esteem.

The most exasperating type of prevaricator is the "born" liar. If it suits their purposes these individuals would tell you without squinting an eye that the sun comes up in the west. When incontrovertible proof is presented to the contrary these individuals will combat the allegation with any number of excuses, none of which speak to the fact that they have been anything but truthful. In other words...if the dog didn't eat their homework, it wasn't because the dog didn't have ever opportunity to do so. Your issue is the missing home work. Their issue is any but the missing homework. A lie, to them, is so much more preferable than the truth when a lie of any magnitude best suits their purposes. If this type of behavior isn't indicative of a character flaw then perhaps the sun does indeed ascend in the west!

So, dear hearts, where might we classify Hillary Rodam Clinton within the three types of liars? Her latest dalliance with the truth came just the other day when she proclaimed that when she and her entourage landed in Bosnia in 1996 they had to "run" to the waiting vehicles because they were being fired upon by snipers. Makes for an interesting story...if it were true. The sun had not touched the western horizon before a host of media sources - replete with video film taken on that particular date in Hillary's clouded memory - unequivocally illustrated that the only danger she faced would have been a possible allergic reaction to the bouquet of flowers that was presented to her in a gesture of welcome by a very sweet and smiling little girl. When confronted with the preponderance of evidence that her statements were totally ungrounded in fact, Hillary retorted nonchalantly that she had merely "misspoken." The dog really didn't eat my homework, but I thought it did. Let's have a show of hands here guys. If you had been subject to firearm attack, don't you think you would remember the incident with crystal clarity? Apparently the world in which Hillary mentally travels must have a totally different hue than the rest of we mortals experience.

Is Hillary a compulsory "born" liar? Past indiscretions with the truth on her part would seem to indicate a decided propensity toward that particular cavalier character flaw. Lie: Daughter Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center on September 11th. Fact: Chelsea was in bed watching the events unfold on television. Lie: Hillary was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, he of the Mount Everest fame. Fact: Sir Edmund did not first scale the world's tallest peak until five years after her birth. With very few strokes of the keyboard, one can uncover site after documented site that details the width and breath of Hillary repeatedly playing fast and lose with the truth. Why? Why not speak only the facts of any given situation...especially in incidents where the reality of the circumstances can be so easily verified? Why distort if not totally obliterate the truth? If the dog wasn't even in the room at the time why say that it was?

Some credentialed individual with a psychologist degree would better serve to answer those questions. I am not qualified. I am, however, not so naive to be personally duped into believing that Hillary's incidents of misspeaking are not indicative of an on-going pattern of behavior that I find wholly unacceptable in my dealing with other individuals and wholly abhorrent in an individual who would wish to be elected to the most powerful position of authority in the world. Who would I prefer answering a crisis phone call at 3 a.m. in the morning? Sorry Hillary, not you. If I can't trust you to speak the truth about your own daughter, then why in God's world would I trust you to deal decisively and with unwavering integrity to a situation which would require the utmost candor and strength to do the "right thing." Of course we could always leave it up to Bill to take those pesky phone calls...he of "I didn't have sexual relations with that woman!" was the dog's fault.

Is it time for this country to elect a woman as it's Commander-In-Chief? Yes. Unequivocally, yes! But not this woman. She is not entitled to inherit the Presidency merely because she stood in the shadows of the White House and proclaimed that having done so for eight years she has by osmosis been imbued with the required experience to be President of the United States. The family's White House dog can lay claim to the same qualifying parameters. As it stands now, I'd trust the dog more than I'd ever trust Hillary. When it comes to telling the truth, I'm just funny that way.

Wednesday, March 26

"There Is A Remote Possibility...

that I will live." It's been a tough go these past couple of days, but with copious amounts of soup and handfuls of pharmaceuticals, I think I'm on the road to recovery from my bout with the flu. Sunday night, what little sleep I did succumb to, was done so in a sitting up position. Moving from that very uncomfortable position in any directions instantly sent my body into convulsive coughing. My dear wife sleep soundly through these episodes, which shouldn't amaze me, but does nonetheless. Several times I was truly convinced that I was in the process of hacking up a lung and all she did was to roll over and sigh. But let there be even the slightest unusual sound emulating from the far reaches of our home and she is instantly alertly awake. "Honey!! Did you heard that!?!" Groggily I respond, "Give me a clue and I'll see if I'm close."

Yesterday I had my job interview. If I looked half as bad as I felt, I'm sure that these potential employers were instantly on the phone after my departure contacting the local Haz-Mat team. I'm probably not the first, but I doubt that there are very many others who are either bold enough or stupid enough to participate in a job interview in the company of their own frequently employed box of Kleenex. They would ask a question and I would blow my nose before responding. Got to be quite comical for me...perhaps annoying to them. Nevertheless, I had the added advantage of knowing the proprietors of this particular company for many years, and initially it was like "old home week" before we finally got down to the business of me telling them what I wanted in order for them to have the privilege of yours truly joining their employ. I think the suggestion that I be provided a chauffeured-drive limousine will be pretty much considered a perk I can do without. The membership to the local country club would be would a decent paycheck every week. We'll see. They promised to contact me the first part of next week. Not putting all my eggs in this basket, but it is nice to know that I was able to get a favorable job prospect just after receiving my notice of termination.

Last evening Judi and I conducted our scheduled orientation session for our up-coming eight week Dynamic Marriage course. We had six couples in attendance. Judi did all of the explaining and I interjected as much as my sniffling and coughing would permit. We have couples who have been married but a few months and up to twenty years. One particular couple is coming to this course as a last resort to save their very troubled marriage, both having their divorce papers ready to file...but both wishing sincerely to save their marriage if at all possible. The male in this union told me that they had previously been to eight other counseling services, many conducted by PHD's. "They didn't do anything for us...just asked questions. We need much more than opinion." Dynamic Marriage asks questions too, but it also makes the participants work to find the answers and remedies to their issues. Hopefully, their taking this course will give them renewed hope and reasons to destroy those divorce papers.

Looks like my heavy dose of cold medication is wearing off. Breathing is beginning to become labored again. Guess I'll call it a day and head off to the barn for another dose of "This'll make you feel better." Normally I wouldn't be so quick to vacate my office post, but based on the recent announcement that my office will have it lights turn off permanently in the next few weeks...let's just say my usual loyalty and allegiance to my employer is anything but brimming over. What's he gonna do? Threaten me with termination? I already own the T-shirt!

Monday, March 24

"I'd Have To Feel Better To Die..."

Here it is almost the end of March and I have prided myself on not succumbing to all the various cold and flu bugs that have been proliferating rampantly in this part of the sub-tropical world. My string of luck ran out this weekend.

I look forward all week to the coming weekend for the renewed opportunity to delve back into the myriad of home improvement projects I have on my drawing board. This Saturday was no exception. My outdoor shower drain has been for a while now not doing so. This is the location is where my wife washes out the cat's litter box...or did before standing water drove her to complain that I needed to do "something immediately" to remedy the problem. Thus this task was elevated from far down on my list of "honey-dos" to the number one position.

No amount of snaking the drain would dislodge the obstruction. I was left with one alternative: remove a portion of the adjoining wooden deck and dig down and below the concrete slab until I found the cause of the problem. One never realizes just how much dirt (or in my neck of the woods - sand) comes out of a hole, which had to be excavated large enough for me to get down into and under the concrete slab. By the time I had enough sand removed, it was piled all along the sidewalk, blocking access from the house to the garage. That's when the rains came...with a vengeance. I was left with a choice...leave the sand piled where I shoveled it and face the additional voiced dissatisfaction from my dear wife, or suck it up and cart the sand to some low areas in my yard. I elected the latter course of action. Two hours later all the sand had been deposited elsewhere and I was thoroughly soaked to the bone. Status...I still have an open ditch, the shower is inaccessible, and I have come down with the flu.

I did make it to church for Easter, but upon returning home I confined myself to bed and to fitfull sleep for the balance of the afternoon. The downside is that I still feel like death warmed over, but I did manage to catch a little of the NCAA tournament basketball games. Judi strongly suggested that I stay home from work today, but I decided that I'd better make an appearance, not wanting to give my employer anymore reason to perhaps terminate prematurely my already tenuous employment with his company. I'm going home soon...and back to bed. It's one thing to be a loyal employee, it is another thing entirely to be a martyr in doing so. At the moment I am convinced that I'd have to feel a lot better just to get well enough to die...but I am confident that I'll survive. I passed my cardiovascular stress test on this past Friday...with flying colors. A little flu bug is hardly going to get the best of me for long.

Wednesday, March 19

"A Right Or A Privilege..."

In the Air Force I was trained and served as a Security Police Officer. During both basic and advanced training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas I was instructed on the proper use of every type of firearm, which included a 38 caliber revolver, a riot shotgun and the M-16 assault combat rifle. I was certified as being an "Expert Marksman" in every weapon I was given to fire. During my tenure in the service I was never required to utilize a firearm in the performance of my duties and thankfully so. I was very much at ease with the firearms I was assigned to carry, as I respected their lethal potential and knew that I held in my hands literally half the power of take a life.

Upon completing my service commitment, I vowed that I would never own or fire another gun. To this day I have upheld that personal pledge. Should one interpret this pledge as evidence that I am an avowed anti-gun proponent? Absolutely not. I am unabashedly a supporter and defender of the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment which, as I interpret its meaning, guarantees the right of every American citizen the right to bear arms. However, a personal right and/or freedom does not absolve the exerciser of this individual right and freedom to do so responsibly.

Without diverging to far astray in search of an analogous comparison, I liken individual gun ownership to the duties and responsibilities inherent to the privilege of operating a motor vehicle. As long as one operates one's vehicle in a manner that subscribes and upholds to the traffic rules, regulations and laws, one may expect to be permitted to continue to do so without interference or restriction from the governing authorities. It is when one operates their vehicle in such a manner as to be contrary to those guidelines that one is reprimanded by statute, which may include being denied further the privilege to have the continuing freedom to do so. In the most egregious circumstances incarceration may be the penalty. Not only is this behavior well within the purview of common sense, it is just the correct and proper means and method of doing the right thing. Gun ownership, albeit currently regarded as a right, still must be regarded equally as a privilege: it being the duty and responsibility of the individual gun owner to abide by the established laws governing gun ownership. Failure to do so, in most cases, results in levied time in jail or far worse.

The United States Supreme Court has this week agreed to adjudicate the constitutionality of the District of Columbia's long-standing ban on firearms by persons other than the local police force. Hanging the the wider balance is the entire argument on the right of all Americans to individually possess firearms. To one side are the proponents for eliminating this right as being both in the interest of the common good and to place in finality the pronouncement that the need for "a well regulated Militia" is antiquated and, therefore, no longer necessary or dependent upon our country's citizens possessing individual fire arms to fulfill that obligation. On the opposing side are the proponents that boil down their opposition to the ban on individual possession of firearms as being an over reaction to illicit gun utilization in the commissions of crime, stating simplistically that "Guns don't kill people...people kill people:" a rationale that bespeaks to the firm belief that responsible and law-abiding citizens posses their fire arms in a responsible and law-abiding manner.

Undergriding this argument is the recently released crime statistics from Texas and Florida that show that gun related crime has steadily declined in both of these states since their respective legislative bodies enacted the right that permits individuals to carry a loaded fire arm on their person. Listen...I'm not the brightest bulb in the overhead fan, but if I were a criminal and I possessed even a thimble full of self preservation sense about me, I would give more than casual thought to the possibility that that person walking down the street might be armed...and if they are armed on the street, there is an equal, if not greater chance that within the home owner's abode there is a strong likelihood there are also loaded firearms and a person or persons who are willing and able to use deadly force against my unwanted intrusion. Thus underscoring the accompanying argument, "if you take away all the firearms from law abiding citizens, then only criminal will possess firearms." Granted, statistical data can be manipulated to reflect a predisposed outcome, some times to affect two opposing viewpoints using the same data. But it is hard to deny that the precipitous crime rate drop in Florida and Texas isn't at least related in part to law-abiding citizens being permitted to carry and conceal personal firearms.

Here's my bottom line... Were I to be crowned "King For A Day," and it was up to me to determine whether or not any form of firearms would be permitted in society as a whole, I would abolish them all: I being foremost a proponent of "beating swords into plowshares." Idealism aside, I must recognize that the human race is infused with an criminal element that will employ any available means to inflict their evil upon the innocent among us. Firearms, therefore, in the right hands, specifically those empowered to protect and serve, are a necessary evil to combat evil. To entertain the unrealistic thought that only duly authorized law enforcement agencies can be in all places at all times is to invite the equally unreaslistic expectation that we citizens can always be assured of security of place and person at all times. The right to own personal firearms should be regarded as a necessary and prudent second line of defense against those individuals who would be emboldened to do us harm.

The question prevails, should every citizen carry a firearm? "Yes" and "No." It should be a matter of personal choice - understanding that existing gun laws must be upheld and obeyed by every law-abiding citizen who elects to do so - and not denied by judicial or legislative fiat without citizen voice input. The District of Columbia has a current law on the books - the basis on which the Supreme Court is to rule - that says in effect that no citizen may own any type of firearm. As a densely populated urban area, where crime historically is rampant, this law was issued by legislative decree for the purpose of promoting and maintaining the "common good," and passed arbitarily without D.C. citizen input. To do so, in my opinion, was wrong and an exercise of power that negates the right of each citizen to decide such issues. As it stands at present, the constitution guarantees each citizen the right to bear arms and may not be infringed upon by any government entity. Should the citizens themselves determine the benefit to forfeit this constitutional right, then allow the citizens to vote their conscience in either agreeing or disagreeing with that proposition.

It may be wild fantasy and speculation on my part, but I harbor a hope that the Supreme Court justices will undergrid and affirm in finality the right of the country's citizens to continue to bear arms without further restrictive interference from government to otherwise regulate beyond the existing laws currently in effect. Knowing that this august body can be too often swayed by prevalent public opinion and/or narrowly held opinion rather by the dictates of standing law - as was the outcome in 1857 when the Supreme Court upheld in the Dred Scott case that fellow humans defined as "slaves" were to be considered property - it remains my hope that the restrictionist on the current court will recognize and uphold the long-standing tenet that the second amendment is sacrosanct.

For me, I have no current desire to own a firearm, but I do not wish to arbitrarily absolve my right to do so should I ever elect to do otherwise. That is a constitutional right that I am not willing to relinquish.

"A Looming Storm On The Horizon..."

"It's going the other way." Those five words have become a running joke between my wife and me whenever there is one of Florida's garden variety thunderstorms rumbling on the horizon. It was first uttered by yours truly a number of years ago as Judi and I were returning late one night from Lakeland to St. Petersburg. Traveling west on Interstate 275 we could see non-stop lightening flashing across the distant horizon. The radio announcer was advising that what we were observing was the advancing line of a weather front that had the potential to unleash "deadly lightening, hail, and the possibility of tornadoes." Anxious to get home and to sleep after a very tiring day, I trotted out my weather procrastinating skills and opined that it appeared to me that the storm was "going the other way."

At that time the narrow three-mile bridge that transversed upper Tampa Bay consisted of four lanes, two in either direction with no center divider. In the best of conditions the bridge was the motoring public's nightmare, with accidents - many with fatalities - almost a daily occurrence. To cross that bridge at night invited an even greater opportunity for catastrophic mishap. But to do so during the height of a thunderstorm was pure we soon found out. The storm that I had predicted was going the other way" was soon upon us in all of its gathering, unspent fury. Having passed the point of no return, we had no choice but to proceed across the bridge westward toward St. Petersburg. To say that we soon found ourselves in the midst of a swirling hell grossly under-evaluates the intensity of the situation. Judi turned to fervent prayer as I strained to hold the car under control in the buffeting gale force winds, straining to even detect the sparkle of the hood ornament just four feet in front of my intense gaze. For the next fifteen minutes I entertained ever increasing doubts that we would not make it all the way across the bridge, envisioning that the next violent gust of wind would surely propel us over the concrete guardrail into the dark watery pit of the bay thirty feet below. As though we had driven through a curtain, the leading edge of the storm passed and we found ourselves on the other side of it's spent fury where I could again see the road ahead of me for a greater distance than just a mere couple of feet. Emotionally we were spent. It took Judi and me quite a number of days to place that harrowing experience into the context of being just a bad memory.

And now more dark clouds loom on the horizon. Not of the weather variety, but of economic turmoil. I was informed by my employer yesterday afternoon that a two million dollar construction project we were counting on to see us through the balance of the year had been canceled. The potential services as the company's chief estimator and senior project manager...would either be reduced from full time to a consultant's position or eliminated altogether. The jury is still out. We have sufficient projects underway currently that will underwrite my weekly salary for perhaps another thirty to forty-five days. After that? Like I said...the jury is still out.

I use the memory of that violent storm endured so many years ago to give me the hope I need to face a very uncertain future. Judi and I weathered that storm. We will weather this one as well. I have behind me a history where I found myself without employment, but never without resources. Time and time again the Lord has pointed me in a direction that soon had me back on my feet. He has been ever faithful in that way. I have no reason to doubt Him now in these present circumstances. The storm is looming most assuredly. But with faith first in Him, who has sustained me all of these years, and the talents and abilities He has granted me, I will come through yet another dark curtain of uncertainty and see again the renewed promise of God's plan for me to carry on. I'll keep you posted...

Monday, March 17

"A Tip Of The Hat To The Irish..."

Whenever my wife and I travel to a distant location beyond the city limits of St. Petersburg, I have made it a habit to find a local phone book and see if there are any listings for our last name: Latchford. Usually not. Occasionally I'll find one...more of a rarity there are two, but nine times out of ten there are none. I have long ago realized that the name Latchford isn't ever going to rival numerically the sir names of Smith and Jones. I guess it is unique, if not odd.

I by chance discovered a few years ago that a new assistant manager for our neighborhood supermarket had Latchford as a last name. I spied his name on his name badge, did a double take to make sure and, believing he had also encountered the same discovery that we shared an uncommon last name, I attempted to engage him in conversation. The operative word is "attempted." The young guy instantly revealed the personality of a stump. You would have thought I had asked him if he realized he had a cantaloupe on his head. Either he hadn't determined how rare our last name is, didn't care, or was too otherwise occupied in making sure that the baked bean pyramid display had just the right amount of stacked cans. "Hi! I noticed that your last name is Latchford." No response. "That's my last name." Still no verbal response, but his eyebrows flickered a little. "That's a very rare last name, don't you think?" He shrugged his shoulders. (I could tell I was making progress). "Have you found that to be the case too?" A blank stare was his pained response. Here's where I began to determine that perhaps the reason why our last name was so rare might be because everyone else sired with that name was declared woefully incompetent mentally and, except for the rarest of occasions, had all been incarcerated to protect society from our intrusive presence. If this was an example of all the Latchfords in the world still left this side of iron bars, perhaps my quest to seek out others of the same last name was in need of serious review. "Well, have I nice day," I said in exasperation, concluding our heretofore stimulating conversation. This fellow didn't last very much longer in his position, as the next time I shopped there his staff photograph had been taken down from the wall. I can only conclude that the fellows in the white coats discovered his whereabouts or his can stacking prowess came into question. (How that eight foot tall baked bean pyramid tipped over just after I left the store still remains a mystery to me).

Despite that disconcerting setback I still seek evidence that there are other folks out there is the vast expanse of our country that share my last name and to perhaps engage them in more fruitful conversation to determine their heritage. I have checked into mine as best I can without spending a small fortune in doing so and have determined that my ancestors all came from either Michigan or Pennsylvania. I even came across a reference of a captain with Latchford as his last name that had served in the Union Army. (I try to keep that discovery under wraps here in the deep south). I still have yet to determine where these great grand relatives hailed from before embarking on the boats for America. Europe no doubt, but where in Europe? Maybe Ireland...maybe? Until I discover evidence that would refute my assumption otherwise, I'll make a leap of faith and proudly lay claim to at least part of my heritage is linked to that fair country. "Ford" is certainly an Irish name. "Latch," on the other hand, is anybodies guess. Maybe that prefix was a precursor of the fact that we all ought to be locked up!

So, for this day I'll proclaim myself to be Irish. With no concrete evidence to the contrary, what can it hurt?

Friday, March 14

"Apparently I Am An Idiot!!"

One of the intangibles about being married is that my dear wife keeps meticulous records, especially as it pertians to where I, her husband, needs to be and when I need to be there. Just yesterday I posted an entry about my scheduled stress test that I was convinced was scheduled for this morning at 8:15. Wrong. It's next Friday. Yes, apparently I am an idiot.

Before retiring last evening I set the alarm clock for 7 a.m. It dutifully went off and I laid in bed for another half hour, becoming more and more emotionally worked up and concerned that there would be a repeat performance of my last stress test: my legs would give out before the procedure was finished. I have yet to learn that if I lie in bed and think about things that concern me that I manage to blow them all out of proportion. Still, I do it anyway until I finally decide that by pulling the covers up over my head isn't going to convince my wife (or me) that I have disappeared and thus will be dismissed from dealing with whatever challenge I would otherwise chose to avoid.

So, out of bed I climbed, hunted around for something resembling workout clothes, and headed downtown to the hospital and Doctor Rosenthall's office. Cheerily checked in with the receptionist, took a seat in the waiting area, opened my latest selected book to consume, Marley And Me," and settled down to await the beckoning call to begin my scheduled stress test. Two minutes later I hear my name. Mr. Latchford?" I bounce up and report again to the receptionist. "Are you under the impression that your appointment for your stress test is today?" ("No," I'm thinking. "I always dress like I'm going to enter the Boston Marathon.") " 8:15." Replied the smiling receptionist, with a touch of condensation in her voice as she observed before her yet another example of a clueless male, "Actually your test isn't scheduled until next Friday." "Oh..." It was the best reply I could come up with spare of the moment as I envisioned great globs of egg white sliding slowly down across my face. "So...I guess I'll see you next Friday." "Yes," she replied, her professional smile turning up at the corners into a perceptible smirk. "Well, alrighty then. See you next Friday." "Would you like us to give you a reminder call?" (She couldn't fool me. She was determined to rub my embarrassment in with that one additional departing shot). "No...I don't think that will be necessary. I'll just come back on Thursday evening and sleep on the couch." (Gotcha!!)

Still it's a reprieve. There's a little more bounce in my step. My dear wife just laughed in her knowing way when I told her of my "mix up." "I'll put in on my calendar," she said. Probably a good thing, I thought.

Thursday, March 13

"Living Forward By Looking Back..."

Without solicitation comes out of the blue a repressed memory rushing into one's conscience as an unwelcomed intruder. Such mental visitations can be triggered by a word, a scent, a lyric, or a visual clue. My new friend in Georgia, John, encountered such a disconcerting memory as he observed outside his window children disembarking from a school bus. The sight of watching parents lovingly greet each child opened an unwanted floodgate of personal reflections that recalled his childhood that did not mirror that which he watched with silent comparison. I can relate...

My Dad, now deceased over a year, was a tyrant. The word spanking was not in his vocabulary. Prolonged beatings of my brother and me was his method of discipline. Throughout my childhood I feared and hated my father for his unceasingly tirades of violence. My Mother, a gentile lady of southern lineage, was herself often the target of his relentless abuse, although I never personally witnessed that Dad ever laid a hand on her in anger. The carnage was nevertheless just as devastating, as her sense of self-worth was laid waste in his wake. We tiptoed in trepidation around him, never knowing what inconsequential event or slightest gesture would trip his hair-trigger of displeasure, invoking a violent response that two small boys and a petite woman were powerless to quell. There were periods of relative peace and quite solitude, but they were too few and far between to be identified as the normal course of events. His uncontrolled episodes of rage served like bookends to mark the interim periods of uneasy peace.

It wasn't until many years later, after I had long since left that environment, that it came to light that my Dad suffered from a chemical imbalance in his brain, a condition that was detected when, as as far older man, he was given a thorough medical examination at the veteran's hospital. Medications were prescribed to combat the condition that slowly and steadily changed his personality: so much so that he later commented to my Mother that he "must have put us through pure hell." It was at this point that I forgave him and let go of all the bitterness I had harbored toward him for a childhood that, albeit was rich with material comforts, lacked those emotional comforts that a child in need of nurturing and assurance should be embraced with unconditionally. Water under the bridge...

Some idiot once mused that "That time heals all wounds." Perhaps for some, but not for me. The memories still exist and there are telltale signs within my personality that reflect that upbringing...characteristics of my Father that I have fought to repress with greater success with each passing day, month and year. I tackle even the most mundane of projects with a determination to accomplish it to perfection, as though my Dad stands behind me still to judge and criticize my every effort. Yet with practice and the patience of my dear wife and wonderful daughter, I have managed to discard many of the outburst of anger that marred my earlier years as a husband and father. That trait of quick temper lingers too close to the surface still, but it is my personal determination to emulate only that which was good and unquestionably noble about my Father and to identify as a restraining yardstick those behaviors to avoid that he possessed that are ingrained in me that too quickly have and can drive a wedge of bonding affection between me and the two people I love and care for the most. I cannot change that which has passed. I can only effect that which may provide either good of bad memories for those whom I eventually shall leave behind.

The Beatles perhaps said it best of all... "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." I am confident that my friend John is well ahead in this equation as we both in our own ways try to make a worthy sum out of all of our parts.

"It's Another Uphill Climb..."

Tomorrow is stress test day. This will be my second such test since I had my heart attack back in 2005. Admittedly, I have a small amount of concern about the entire procedure, it being not unlike knowing one must go to the dentist for a checkup with the self assurance that one's teeth are perfectly healthy, but also entertaining the discomforting thought that the doctor might just utter the disquieting phrase, "Oh my...what have we here!?!" as he reaches for those pointy and very sharp instruments to begin a closer inspection. I certainly do not wish to hear any such comments emanating from my cardiologist, Doctor Rosenthal, a brilliant, but abjectly humorousless man who is all business when it comes to his patent's health. Anything less than a report of "You're progressing nicely," which I received at the conclusion of my last check up, would be, to say the least, a blow to my belief that I am the very flower of health. I'm not borrowing trouble, just being pragmatically prepared.

In my younger and far more athletic years I participated in all type of competitive sports, including cross country and track and field in which I specialized in distant running. In high school I ran the mile in four minutes and eighteen seconds, a record for my school that went unchallenged and unbroken for over twenty years. With less than a month to go before I obtain the lofty of age of sixty, those days and that ability long ago departed with my youth. Now my legs grow weary from the simple and undemanding task of mowing the lawn. That particular malady came to the fore at my last stress test. The procedure starts out innocuously enough. there is a warm up period where the treadmill is clipping along horizontally and at a reasonable rate. So far so good. Then phase two kicks in. The speed picks up and the front end of the treadmill begins to pitch upward perceptibly. More physical effort is required to keep up with both. Still, so far so good. Then step three arrives and the whole enterprise ceases to be merely a leisurely walk in the park. It's an uphill struggle to maintain pace with the speeding treadmill and my upper legs are beginning to protest vehemently that further labor of this intensity will result in total collapse. Still I solider onward and upward, knowing that there is a prescribed time and heart rate requirement that must be achieved before this exercise in agony can be terminated.

With sweat now pouring from every pore and my heart rate just below the 130 beats per minute required threshold I announced to the female young nurse attendant that her assistance was now immediately required if I had any realistic hope of completing the test. Alarmed she inquired, "Are you having chest pains!?!" "No," I gasped, "But these legs of mine are about to give out!" Instantly she moved behind me and placed both of her hands on my rear end and leaned into the task of keeping me on the treadmill and pointed uphill. "Does that help?" she inquired. I replied, "Well I suppose you think this means we're engaged?" She laughed. I labored on, determined to see this thing through to its ultimate conclusion. Finally...130 bears per minute was obtained and the treadmill responded by reducing its speed and pitch. "You did well, Mr. Latchford." Your heart is functioning within the prescribed limits." "Good,"I breathlessly replied. "But I'm not sure that my legs will ever recover."

For her generous assistance that was certainly over and beyond the call of duty, the following day I presented her with a varied selection of doughnuts to share with her office mates. "In lieu of an engagement ring," I said, "these will have to do."

So, tomorrow I once again subject myself to this form of necessary torture trusting that my heart will again perform within the prescribed limits of acceptablilty and my tired old legs will see me through. I'm stopping in at the local supermarket in the morning to pick up more doughnuts...just in case.

Friday, March 7

"What Was She Thinking!?!"

If you think this photograph looks like a mug shot, you're right. Meet Lesa Lynn Ledesma. Ms. Ledesman is the mother of son Shawn, who on a September evening in 2007, decided that he wished to pick up five of his friends for an evening out on the town. He requested the use of the family's automobile, where upon "Mom" turned over the keys. Problem. Son Shawn had only just the month before been granted a learner's permit, and, at age 15, was not permitted by law to operate a motor vehicle after 1o p.m. or without a licensed 21 year old driver in accompaniment. Result. Shawn lost control of the vehicle, plowed into a tree, injuring four of his passengers and killing a 14 year old female classmate.

Son Shawn was charged with vehicular homicide. Mother Lisa this week was arrested on the felony charge of second-degree manslaughter, on the surface a rightful conclusion of indifferent and reckless endangerment of another human being. "Legal experts" are already weighing in with the opinion that the charge may be difficult to prove. I have learned a long time ago never to confuse justice with the law, but if it goes to a jury trial, I'm putting my money on a "guilty" verdict outcome. Sorry "Mom." Callous stupidity doesn't deserve a pass this time around.

Viewing this story from a dispassionate distance, one cannot help up assign tragic consequences for all the parties involved. Two separate families have been decimated for a life time. For what? Because some misguided parent wishing to find favor in her child's eye failed to adhere to the most basic principle and tenets of being a parent: remembering who is the adult in a parent-child relationship. Thankfully there are thousands upon thousands of responsible parents who diligently practice the basics of common sense by not allowing their emotions to dictate their decision making process when it comes to raising their children. It is hard enough to do the job right in the best of circumstances. Giving your child the opportunity to do bodily harm to themselves and others is, for me, beyond the pale of comprehension. I am quick to feel genuinely sorry for victims of events beyond their control. But I have absolutely no pity for consequences that result from sheer stupidity. Mrs. Ledesman...I am sorry that your moment's lapse of good judgment has brought you and your son to this point in your lives. But I take no pity on either of you for the results of those decisions...all of which were profoundly irresponsible and tragically unnecessary.

Thursday, March 6


I would be terribly remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to gloat a little...perhaps a lot...about an accomplishment in which my daughter, Megan, played a significant role in helping to bring to fruition. Megan is a senior at the University of South Florida located in Tampa, the largest public liberal arts and research university in the state and fifth largest in the country. Few people even knew that USF existed until its recent exploits on the football field propelled the Bulls to number two in the NCAA rankings this past year. USF has for many years taken a back seat in recognition to the other better known state universities: University of Florida, Florida State University, and Miami University. USF can now proudly proclaim that it too is an equal elite among the states institutions of higher learning.

Taking the next steps into assuring that USF maintains and promotes USF's prominent status is the new student government executive team that was voted into office for the up-coming 2008 fall semester. The election results were published last evening and the candidate team of Greg "Butters" Morgan and Thomas King were elected by the student body to serve in the capacities of President and Vice President respectfully.

So, how does daughter Megan figure into this equation? She served as Morgan and King's campaign manager, stepping reluctantly into that position only after the first campaign manager was unable to fulfill her assigned duties and obligations. Megan, who has yet to meet a challenge she believes cannot be throttled into submission, resurrected the struggling Morgan/King campaign and championed it through a run-off election to the successful vote count of last evening. Admittedly it is also true that her romantic relationship with Mr. Morgan may have played more than just an insignificant role in her decision to give it her all on Greg's behalf. Whatever floats one's boat...

Judi and I have known Greg for almost a year and liked him from the first time we were in-troduced to him as a quest of our family over the Easter holidays last year. He possess a keen sense of what is right and wrong, is a man of personal integrity and unwavering morals, has a servants heart, and is dedicated to using his God-given talents for the betterment and prosperity of those for which he cares and has the responsibility to serve. The USF students have acquitted themselves well in arriving at this side of a very contentious campaign season to select as their next student body President, Greg Morgan. If Mr. Morgan, Mr. King and daughter Megan are representative of the type of high caliber leadership that this nation will depend upon to move this country forward, we are indeed in very excellent and capable hands.

To say that I am merely just proud of these young citizens would be a gross understatement. We applaud their justly deserved victory, share in its arrival and promise for even greater achievements and accolades in the future.

Wednesday, March 5

"Say It Ain't So!!"

I don't know what I'm more upset about... The fact that Hillary is still apparently a viable candidate for President after the results of yesterday's primary elections, or the recent news that Victoria's Secret has announced that they have become "too sexy" for its own good. "Say it isn't so" on both counts.

Just as assuredly as day follows night and the swallows are soon scheduled to once again return to the mission at San Juan Capistrano, there are just certain things that the average red-blooded American male looks forward to each year: Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and the arrival of the Victoria's Secret summer catalogue. We men set our watches and calendars by those two auspicious occurrences. And now...the apocalypse must be upon us...Victoria's Secret is rethinking its position in the world of women's lingerie and in the faint hearts of men. Again, Mable, say it ain't so!"

Find me a male who hasn't at least once tentatively ventured into one of Victoria's Secret's alluring and intimidating retail outlets to procure a little something provocative for their lady fair and I'll introduce you to a male who needs to get his pulse checked. Such forays are always unnerving to say the least, as this is no hardware store and the merchandise, so alluring displayed, do not lend themselves to glad handing as one would otherwise mull over the purchase of say a reciprocating saw. We are completely out of our element is this environment. Our pulse quickens, our eyes dart here and there in bewilderment, and sweat begins to bead on our upper lip as we begin to seriously rethink this ill-advised journey into the world of female unmentionables, becoming more convinced by the second, as we sink further into the bowels of that establishment, that perhaps the "little woman would much prefer something for the kitchen."

And then we find ourselves outed by the approach of a charming sales lady who immediately disarms us with the dreaded question, "May I help you?" (You think to yourself, "Say something, stupid!") "Ah-a-a-a-a-a..." (So far so good...) "I'm not sure... I'm just looking right now." (Brilliant, you idiot!! She knows you're not in here to buy motor oil!!) "Well...let me know if you have any questions that I can assist you with," politely responds the pert little sales lady. (Dude!! Get a backbone!! Tell her you need her help...otherwise you'll be the last lost soul left in the store when they close up the place!!) "Aha-a-a-a... I want...I think...I mean I want to buy my wife some new underwear," you respond pitifully. "What do you have in mind?" (Dear god, lady!! Do you honestly think I have any clue as to what I want and, by miracles of miracles, she might actually like and, even more remotely possible, wear? Have pity on me...please!!) "Well... Ah-a-a-a... " (This is not going well at all!!) "I was thinking of a new...ah-a-a-a-a...bra and maybe some (God, I hate saying this word in public!) panties." "Oh, how nice for her," she says, smiling sweetly. (You think she's thinking... "What a total loon!! How soon before my shift ends before I can be shed of these insufferable idiots!?!") "As you can see sir, we have a wide variety of bras and panties to pick from. Perhaps you could guide me toward a special type and color. (There are types!?!) "! She likes red!" (Or was it baby blue? I'll stick with red...) "Good... Let's look at these red bras and see if any of the styles appeal to you." (Dumbfounded! I am now officially dumbfounded!!) "Ah-a-a-a-a... That one looks nice....what there is of it. Yea...that'll do. I like...I mean I think she'll like that. You have a return policy don't you?" "Oh yes, but I'm sure she'll like this bra. You've made a very intelligent selection." (If she only knew how 'intelligence' had so little to do with it.) "Now sir, what size is she?" (What!?!) "You know...her breast size...her cup size?" ( That kitchen utensil is beginning to sound more and more like a very good idea!!) "Is she an A, B, C, D, or bigger?" "Do I have to give them a letter grade?" She smiled politely, but I could tell she was more annoyed than amused. "Let's do it this way," she continued. "Is she my size?" (This had to be the only place in the world but perhaps a gentleman's club where one was encouraged to ogle a females breasts in public and not get severely reprimanded or slapped senseless!) "Aha-a-a" (I hesitated, trying to draw a comparative image of my wife's breast to this wisp of a girl. Patiently she waited my response knowing that I was engaged in a detailed mental exercise of comparison shopping. Would she somehow be offended if I said that my wife's breast were smaller or larger than hers? Is there even a right answer?) "Well...I suppose they... I mean she is probably about the same size as you...more or less," I said without much conviction. "Okay. I'm a C...almost a D," she offered without a hint of self conscientiousness as though she was merely advising me of her shoe size. "She can always return it for another size if it turns out it is too small or large. Now, how about a pair of panties to match? What size? (Here we go again...) "Ah-a-a-a-a... Do they have a letter grade also?" "No, just small, medium, large, or extra large. How big are her hips?" (Compared to what, I'm thinking. I couldn't help it. I find myself staring at her hips to get another comparative mental image.) "She's a little larger than you." "Okay...then she probably wears a large." (Oh goodness no...not a large!) "Can she bring them back for a different size too if they are not the right size? " "Yes...absolutely." "Then let's get her a medium...and hope for the best." "Good decision, sir." (She has no idea...) "Now...what type? (Dear sweet baby this ordeal ever going to end!?!) "We have these selections to chose from..." And she proceeds to show me every type of women's bloomers ever conceived by human inventiveness, most of which had less fabric than a small handkerchief. She continued... "These are nice and they are on sale for 3 pairs for $15.00." She held a pair up before her eyes and smiled broadly. "What do you think?" (Is it absolutely necessary that I make a public proclamation of my opinion?) "Yes...yes...they will do just fine. I'll take a pair of red, black and, to hedge my bets, a pair of baby blue." "Wonderful," she beamed. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?" "No, no. You've been most helpful." "Great. Just take these over to the cashier and she'll ring you up." I made my purchase, stuffed the distinctive Victoria's Secret shopping bag down inside my Sears store bag so as to curtail any snickers or snide remarks from passers-bys, and hurried over to the nearest Starbuck's for a cup of strong coffee to sooth my frazzled nerves.

Victoria's Secret too sexy!?! Perish the thought. But their catalogue is the way to go. Shopping in their stores is just too nerve wracking for we men of less refined decorum. Yes, indeed...a nice set of pots and pans for that next special occassion seems to me to be just the ticket.

Monday, March 3


Nikolai Lenin once coldly stated, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth." This statement is the premise on which author Jack Cashill bases his 2005 book, Hoodwinked." Cashill performs a masterful task in exposing the lies and half-truths that America's "progressive elite" have for generations been propagating to hijack the American heritage and culture...lies and half-truths that, with little or no in-depth questions as to being fact based, have been accepted as truth.

Attacking topics ranging from radical naturalism through sexual resolution, Cashill presents lie-busting evidence that shatter heretofore accepted myths that have shaped our nation and world into questioning, if not believing, that it is man and his intellect alone that is all powerful and the final arbitrator of what is right and wrong.

This is not a quick read book, but one that requires studious devotion to carefully digesting the information presented and an open mind to accept that not everything that we have been spoon fed about our social morays and ideologies are beyond reproach. Cashill cites example after documented example where supposed, unquestionable truths are not only impeachable, but are outright frauds. Alfred Kinsey's supposed research on human sexuality in the early sixties fact encouraged...the utilization of an admitted pedophile to provide data that supported Kinsey's thesis that even small boys...some under the age of 4(!)...could experience organism. No one questioned how Kinsey obtained this alleged "documented proof." Margaret Sanger, the originator of today's well-known and, in many circles, highly respected Planned Parenthood, unabashedly advocated the need for society to sterilize the racially and genetically "impure." Alex Haley's historical novel Roots has proven to have been plagiarized in whole cloth. And the latter-day saint of the social progressives, Michael Moore? His speciality it to always use a lie when the truth is not convenient. Lie upon lie is exposed in the chapter topics dealing with the sexual resolution, multiculturalism, Marxism, and radical naturalism.

As previously stated, this is not an easy read. It is an eye-opener that should literally scare the pants off of the reader as he or she begins to seriously translate that which is revealed in the book to that which permeates our society today, wherein the mass media outlets look the other way in their deliberately slanted and prejudicial efforts to mold public opinion to their narrow and progressive way of viewing our world. Karl Marx of Das Kapital fame self-conceitedly claimed, "Religion is only the illusory sun around which man revolves...until he began to revolve around himself." When man becomes a law unto himself, there can be no room for God. And without God, or whatever higher power of spiritual guidance one wishes to assign this entity, there can be no truth. And without truth, there is only chaos. I strongly recommend Hoodwinked" as a must read.