Neighbors, Friends, & A Visit From Elvis

I’ve been waiting for a while to work Elvis into this blog. He’s my neighbor. What a great neighbor.

So as not to ramble too much, let me do this:

Elvis backstory:  Elvis is my next-door-neighbor. He has the spot to my left as I face the street. He lives there with his lovely wife, teenage daughter, a bunch of chickens and turkeys, two dogs, and more trees than you can count. Literally: he’s constantly planting.

He’s a refugee from Cuba. He was a political prisoner there. I have finally met someone who hates commies more than me.

Elvis took me under his wing from day one. We’ve shared a lot of time together, driven around together, and planted a lot of trees together. The first few he jumped in and grabbed a shovel. He showed me how to do it in sandy soil so that the trees would thrive. He almost never calls me a moron to my face, but I’m sure he’s thought it. Those few times I employed my internet study to arborculture, I’ve killed about 1/3 of what I did. He just told me how to fix it. No criticism, just a smile. 

I now have over 20 trees growing on the lot portion between my house and his. It will go to 26 in the next week, as it’s time to split out the plantains that have grown so well under his tutelage.

So, that’s Elvis.

Now, the other neighbor of the day: Gabbie. Gabbie lives “katty-korner” from my house. She’s a lovely young woman married to a fine guy named Alex. They have two dogs as well. 

Gabbie and I share a love: cooking. She’s way better than I am, and of Italian descent. That’s important because she blows me away with goodies on a regular basis. I’m top of my game with banana bread. I did, however, teach her deep water bath canning. We made a serious batch of grapefruit marmalade a while ago when my friend Carol was visiting. 

Gee, now you know about my neighbors. But the reason for the background is this: Both Elvis and Gabbie showed up at my door with multiple prepared meals when Kip got home from the hospital. 

Not the “hotdish” of my youth, but top-shelf cuisine. Dainerys, Elvis’ wife, prepared three amazing Cuban dishes for us. You can’t buy this stuff in a restaurant. It was out of a photo shoot in a foodie magazine. Delicious. Filled with love. 

Not to be outdone, Gabbie had three dishes as well. I was able to skate by with only cooking one day last week. It was a gigantic relief. The stuff Gabbie made could have come right out of Sicily and the mom-and-pop places I loved when I traveled in the Navy. Mouth-watering and wonderful. I froze the pea soup to savor this week: I was overcome with food and didn’t want to waste it.

This is why I love Florida and my neighborhood. These people look out for each other. There is a sense of family that I truly hope they sense in return.

I am richly blessed. And, to my other neighbors, I need to say that this isn’t an appeal for more food. I know you are all praying and that’s enough. If you bring food, I’ll have to throw out the stuff I bought at Winn Dixie before Gabbie and Dainerys cooked up a storm. 

Save it for the next time. The next neighbor. Maybe even me. But I know your love is all around us. I truly feel it.

Now, go bake a loaf of banana bread for your mom and drop by to visit her: that’s another story for another day.

72 Hours Have Passed: Uvalde. Some Thoughts.

For those of you new to this blog, welcome. For the people who have been around a while, I think it’s fair to say that I’m very much “back the blue” in my viewpoint. Hell, I’m an ex-cop who trains cops and other first responders.

I have held my tongue since the shooting because I was sure that additional facts would emerge. Let’s get the big ones out of the way (usual objections to my worldview) before we start:

I support the Second Amendment. Unlike the clown in the White House, all amendments are inviolable until you follow the process to change them. No on-the-fly-modifications are allowed. So, keep your hands off my freedom. AR style weapons are quite literally no more dangerous than your great-great-grandfather’s semi-automatic deer rifle he bought through the mail from Sears in 1908. They are “scary” looking, but not any different than form, and the function is unchanged. The fact that the period between 1900 and 1990 is remarkably free of mass shootings points to cultural changes, not “evil assault rifles” being in the wrong hands. 

Do a mass shooting and get executed. It’s that simple. Did you realize most “mass shootings” according to the current definition take place in large cities between criminals? The number of Lutheran versus Missionary Baptist rumbles is phenomenally low. It’s criminals doing this. Very few “good citizens” blow a cog and pick up a gun without some kind of warning signs. 

Red flag laws are an obscenity that will be used to “SWAT” innocent people who have created an enemy without scruples. 

The doors to the school were not secure. That’s the starting point. Increasing school security will have an impact on this kind of event. I work with people who are taking defense of schools into their own hands, and not waiting for the government. Wise people. But government schools require the government to step up and fortify the buildings. There’s more security at an ABBA cover band concert than most schools have throughout the country. That should be flipped on its head and changed. 

So, you’re probably wondering the point of this rant? At the expense of absolutely nobody, I hereby declare that any mass-shooter response that does not begin by taking out the shooter with available resources is a failure. The first cops on the scene, or an armed janitor or security person, should find and kill the shooter as quickly as possible. Don’t stop to render first aid, don’t establish a containment zone, don’t delay for even a second. Find the killer and kill them. 

That’s the policy of the best agencies. Speaking as someone who has worked in an armed capacity, or carried a concealed weapon since 1980, I hereby declare that if I’m on the scene, that’s my goal: take out the shooter. 

Yes, I might be killed. But if all my experience pays any dividend, it is that I have brains enough to do it the best way possible. People who are current in Law Enforcement are younger, better trained, and have better equipment than a fat old man with a handgun. But they’d better step up and do it as well. Failure to engage immediately practically ensures additional death. 

Will we have some cops shot as a result of this policy? Probably. But we know that victims will definitely die if we stand around for an hour and muster resources. “But they didn’t have a key!” Hey, let me tell you, they had a hooligan tool available – that’s a giant door opener of a tool. They could have bashed out windows in adjacent rooms and surrounded the guy and taken him out. They could have… well, the list goes on. Standing in the hallway does nothing.

The Uvalde force (I’m including all of the responding agencies) failed due to leadership and training. Individual officers, as evidenced by the radio traffic now released, were ready to go in. But they were awaiting the man in charge and his decision.

Chief, this is on your head. You did not train or command your force to protect the citizens. You proved that with your statement a day later that you were very pleased that none of your officers was killed. 

Bubba, that’s part of the paycheck. I always understood that part of the bargain. Every cop I know gets it. Why didn’t you and your force?

New Stuff, Short Stuff, Good Stuff, Hungry Stuff

In spite of the mess in Washington, our family in Naples is doing well. I’m off to the veterinarian in a few for Lily’s first physical as a family member. Yes, Lily: a 9 year-old Sheltie mix who came to us out of rescue. 

She’s smart, loving, talkative (aren’t all Shelties) and fitting right in. She’s been here a few weeks, and she’s even got Chewy interested in playing with toys. He’s never played with a stuffed animal or ball since we got him, unless it was full of kibble and he rolled it around the floor getting snacks.

Here she is:

 

Next up, a new audio book. To say that Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez is a patient man would be an understatement. He gently guided me into pronouncing a lot of Hebrew words that I tried to turn into Yiddish, German, or Arabic. But we got it done and WHAT IS KOSHER? is the resulting audio book, on sale now. If you’re curious about Kosher, how it came to impact Jewish culture, or just love my voice enough to listen to me talk about food, this is the book:

 

Finally, I’ve agreed (in principle) to record four new audio books in the next few months. I will be a busy boy, as one of them is huge!

If you’re of a mind, please pray for my wife, Kip, as she’s undergoing a shoulder replacement surgery this next week. Yes, the other shoulder is now being replaced. It won’t be easy, and your prayers will help.

Wednesday Devotional Now Has A Link To Russ Scott!

Here’s this week’s devotional/message from Russ. He’s got his own website up and running at https://www.russdscott.com/ if you’d like to go take a look!

 

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Do you ever feel that you are not treasured? That someone who once treasured you no longer sees you as valued. Your thoughts may pull you down a road of wrong assumption. It may be that they are unable to treasure you due to a fierce battle they are facing in their own heart and mind or God is protecting you from further hurt. Could it be as well that your timeline with them has concluded? Meaning, you learned what you had to learn and you are to move on. God continuously seeks to mature us and heal us without causing further harm to us. Rather than having assumed thoughts concerning their actions toward you, view yourself as Christ sees you. Look upward! Jesus loves you with vigor, passion, and jealousy. He is zealous for you and stands guard over you. Trust that God’s love toward you is not only a treasured love but a priceless love, more than all of the gold and gems in this world. Press Forward as His priceless treasure.

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” (Deut. 7:6).
 
If you need assistance with seeing your worth, I’m here to help.
Please see my personal ministry website: https://www.russdscott.com/
where I provide services such as wedding officiant – marriage counseling – pastoral care – spiritual counseling.

Show Trials Making A Comeback In Congress.

For those of you who have missed my political stuff, you’re about to be happy. For those of you who think #LGB is rude, you will want to go back to watching THE VIEW (no link for those evil creatures) and come back next week.

The Congressional hearings into the events of January 6, 2021 are a simple show trial. There is nothing being investigated, there will be no new knowledge presented to the public. This is all about painting the political opposition as evil. That’s it.

Now, I’d like to point out that a pox should be cast upon both sides in Congress. They are so far from what the Founding Fathers envisioned that Jefferson and company would load powder and eliminate many of the scoundrels without pause. The Congress was never meant to be a lifetime sinecure for useless bloviators, those who sleep with Chinese spies, and advanced alcoholics with serious Botox issues. 

But since we haven’t forced them into term limits (yet) we’re stuck with the morons that morons elect. Your morons, my morons, most are indeed morons.

The hearings will simply try to convince a rather gullible American public that a few hundred unarmed rioters who wandered around the Capitol and broke some furniture and doors are guilty of insurrection. 

Let me assure you, when an insurrection takes place it involves explosives, guns, tear gas, shields, snipers – wait, was that Portland I was describing? Perhaps Minneapolis? Certainly Chicago or New York. Yet none of those major events were considered insurrection because they were on the left and endorsed the views of the current occupant of the White House and the leadership in Congress. 

No, January 6th was not an insurrection. If you actually watch the videos, as opposed to listening to the commentary of the media, you will see the Capital Police opening doors, moving aside barricades, and generally having a relatively cordial exchange with the protestors. Some entered the Congress, through open doors, and wandered around the building causing minor damage. The only person to die directly due to the action that day was Ashli Babbit, a protestor. The police officer who shot her was never tried, or even indicted. Try that in Tampa and see how it works. Special rules for Congress you see.

Were the protesters wrong to steal Nancy Pelosi’s podium? Yes. Were they wrong to assault police officers? Yes. Were the police in the basement of the building wrong in their assaulting of protestors? Yes. 

You see, the reality is that it’s not as simple as “That evil Trump sent his minions to overthrow the government.” Nope. He was speaking far from the events. He cautioned the people to be nonviolent but let their voices be heard. He did not issue forth a mob for the purposes of insurrection. I should think the most recent attempt to impeach him would answer that question. 

But deeper still, has anyone been indicted for insurrection in the last 15 months? No. Trespass. A misdemeanor. Seditious Conspiracy in a dozen cases. And, this is choice, the group they selected to pursue was Oath Keepers. A group composed of veterans and law enforcement officers in many cases, that hold their oath to the constitution as sacred. They are not a “rightwing paramilitary” as some of the media has dubbed them.

What about all of the people arrested since January 6th? They are still held without bail in many cases. I think that’s a political crime and nothing but. The kind of thing that totalitarian regimes do. Not America. But it is the case. 

So, my friends, don’t get your hopes up about learning anything useful over the next few nights as the hearings are televised. The lies will persist. You can hate Trump, you can say the election was all hunky-dory and no cheating happened. But there are about 50% of your fellow citizens who still have questions. It was okay to claim Trump stole the election with the help of the Russians in 2016 if you follow mainstream media. But none of the investigations have found any truth to that claim except for a few hundred thousand in Facebook advertising costs – and that’s the high figure. 

No, if you have doubts you should be shunned for you are a conspiracy nut. I’m sure some who read this will put me in that camp. But now here’s the challenge: what other writings have I posted over the years that were “anti-government” conspiracy ravings? Seriously. I didn’t like most of the previous residents of the White House, and I questioned their political judgement. I’ve never trusted Biden – I lived in the 80s when his duplicitous behavior was first fully exposed. But I’m not some nut job with burning urge to overthrow the government. I’m an educated citizen who is very suspicious of any governmental action that isn’t transparent. And hiding things from the public seems to be a specialty of the current leadership, both Executive and Congress. 

Ask questions. Question authority. It was all good until the left that used it as a mantra came into power. Now, why is that…..