Thursday, December 25, 2008


I have been writing in one way or another for quite some time. Like many other things, I never thought that I was very good at it. It usually takes someone to encourage and inspire you for you to continue on when you feel that way and I had just that kind of person in my life. His name is Larry Libby.

I first met Larry in my church years ago. We always seemed to end up in a men's Bible study together. I can't say that I recall the first time that we met but I remember thinking of him as a quiet thoughtful type of man. Those studies seemed to progress into a sort of accountability type of group where guys could not only encourage one another but could also challenge one another. Guys have a much harder time of opening up and you really have to get to know one another pretty well in order to find someone that you can really trust before you are willing to slice open those more secret parts of you. Over the years, Libs became one of those few....those very few that I have ever felt that way with. A man's inner circle is an extremely elite group and I was proud to have Larry in mine for quite a few years.

I knew early on that Larry worked for a book company but was not aware of his job within it for quite some time. I remember being kind of shocked when I first found out that he was an editor but then realizing that it really fit the kind of person that he was. One who thought things out before he said them and then attempted to use the right words to get his point across. At the time that I found out, I was being asked to write a monthly blurb for our church newsletter on Men's ministry and I asked Larry if he would be willing to assist me in that endeavour. He willingly agreed and I was aware just how much impact that had on my small articles. Larry would encourage, teach, and adjust my words giving them new life and meaning. He told me that I had good thoughts but just needed to mold them into words where the reader might be able to more hear them when they read.

For years, Larry and I went from one group to another. A couple of them we shared in leadership and got to know some great men friends. In between, we often met at the diner or other venues to just talk. Larry was a very easy man to talk with.

Larry inspired me in other ways also. I would watch from my perch in the balcony at our church at his small family and watched them as the kids grew. He and his wife always seemed to have a loving control of his kids while I felt that I struggled in that department. I recall especially his daughter, Melissa. Now, he knew her faults but I could see none in her. She seemed to border on perfection to me.

Larry found out that I had earlier on in my life been in a few plays and encouraged me to rekindle that talent and I ended up being in a few plays, some of them with him. Those were times in my life that I truly enjoyed. If he saw a place where I could do better, he would always inspire using the right words that would never put down but lift up encouraging me to change the character in ways that would better get the personality out.

I then stood with him through the hardest part of his life as his wife, Laura, contracted cancer and eventually passed away. I remember his happiness when the doctors thought that they had gotten all of the cancer and then the fear when her blood counts did not come out as they should. I visited her once in the hospital and brought her a heart. That heart had a meaning to me as she was the heart and sole of my close friend.

I and others attempted to stay close to him and walk with him as he struggled with a pain that I knew that he felt that he might never get beyond. Having his kids around him were crucial in those times also. But, it seemed that it wasn't that much further on that they were out of school and starting off on their lives and I still remember Larry telling me just how quiet the house was. He said that the cat walking across the carpet became a deafening sound. I encouraged him to listen to music instead of the silence. I felt good trying to give back to my brother with that encouragement as music is such a large part of my life.

Larry and I shared another love in life and that was walking. After his loss, a few of us would get together every weekend and walk one of the various buttes in the area. Larry enjoyed finding new buttes to walk and we even ended up driving once to one out past Paulina just to say that we walked it.

We then came to a part of our lives where they began to go separate ways for various reasons. I became so focused on the task of saving Jake's and he had his changes going on in his life and we just kind of lost touch. We would see each other from time to time and I really relished those visits.

One guy, Ken Mays, stayed walking with him and they would walk the butte twice a week. I tried to be diligent with that but became a part time partner there.

I remember when Larry met a new woman in his life. It was something that he thought would never happen. He eventually married that same woman and ended up moving out of the area and what ties that we had were severed. I tried to keep up with what was going on with him but I knew that he had a new life and he needed to break free and live it.

I ran into Larry last night at the Christmas eve service. When I saw him, my daughters wanted to leave but knowing me patiently waited while I went over to great my old friend. It was so great to see him. He had such a glow about him and I could see how happy he is with his new beautiful wife. I could have talked all night but I knew that he had others to see also and I knew my daughters were still waiting but I did let him know that I was still writing and gave him directions to my blog.

A man has very few true inspirations in his life and I am happy to say that this man was one of my greatest. Libs, if you read this, I wish you all the happiness in the world and hope that in one way or another, we still stay in touch.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sex Education 101

Have you noticed the ads on TV for Male enhancement? There is one about happy Bob. Happy Bob is happy because he is taking their product and is now enhanced. And...all the women around Bob are happy too. Bob becomes a Santa and all of the women line up to sit on his lap.

Well, now there is an ad for Women products too. The product is made by the Trojan company and is a vibrator that fits on the end of your finger. I can see the ad running on women's channels but:

Judy and I were watching the Travel Channel last night with Jayden. The show was on different Christmas type things all over the nation. The women's ad came on. I sat up and said, "oh, oh, oh!". Judy, with the speed of a cat, grabbed the remote and quickly changed the channel to the Science channel and a show on weird bugs.

"What was that?", asked Jay. "What?", I asked back. "Why did you change channels?", he asked. I had to think fast. "Well....would you rather see a show on weird bugs or a show on Christmas?", I countered. "Weird bugs.", he said. "Well, that is why we are watching it.". Jay accepted the answer and we watched the bugs.

I feel sorry for all of you young parents who are trying to bring up your children innocently these days. Just how do you explain what the world has placed in front of them. I remember when it was my turn to tell Casey about the birds and the bees. We had been informed that his middle school class was to have a sex video. We could decide whether to let him watch or not. Since he might be teased for not being able to go, we decided to let him and I felt we needed the talk first. As we drove to school, I fumbled through trying to tell him where he came from, how, and why. He remained quite silent and so I wasn't sure if he was even listening. Finally, about half way to school, he said, "Hey Dad, I know all about that kind of stuff. Do you think we could talk about something else. Maybe sports or something.". "Sure", I said relieved, "What about those Blazers? Did you see that game last night?......

I was discussing this with a couple of our employees this morning and one told me of her kindergarten child who came home from school the other day. They had someone come into the class and teach them sex education without even telling the parents. "Hey Mom, I know what a penis and vagina are.", He announced, "And I know all about puberty. Wow, I can't wait!".

Now, I know I am older but I am not a prude. And I feel that there is a time and a place and it should be up to the parent...not the school or the TV channel.

I guess the song never losses it's meaning. "The times, they are a changing.". In the mean time, we need to remain quick with our remotes and fast on our feet with our explanations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A tip about the minimum wage law

Ten years ago, the people of Oregon voted in a new minimum wage law that was indexed to the cost of living. I said back then that it was an dangerous law and this year, the damage seems to be greater than ever.

I recall the day after the law was passed. As I walked into the diner, the cashier was extremely happy. I asked her what was making her so happy and she said, "The minimum wage law was passed. I get a raise!".

" I hate to burst your bubble.", I told her, "but where you usually get a raise, this year the business will not be able to because they have to give a huge raise to all of the servers. ". She had a shocked look on her face as I talked to her and she began to realize that instead of getting a raise, the raise was being given to the servers as there was no way to raise menu prices high enough to compensate for a indexed raise across the board.

Back then, we paid cashiers a couple of dollars over minimum. Now, they are lucky to get a dollar over and if you looked at the percentage difference, it would be even more contrasting. Even dishwashers were paid much higher than minimum and now start at minimum and only get slightly higher at best. The same goes with cooks who were double the minimum and now are lucky if they get 50% higher.

The minimum wage law actually hurts people working in sit down restaurants unless they are the servers. And the sad thing about that is that the servers are the highest paid employees.

For instance, a normal light percentage on tips is over 10%. What I mean by that is most people will pay $1 to $10 and if it goes above that, they usually go up to $2. Now there are others who don't tip but they are few and far between. So, if a server serves 10 customers in an hour (which is not that much), they will be making an additional $10 per hour. If they serve 20, then it goes to $20.

On January 1st, those servers will be receiving a 45 cent per hour raise or nearly 6%. Now, I really like all of my servers but there are people in the back of the house that deserve this raise even more and will probably not see a raise until around after the first quarter when we can better assess the damage that the first raise has given.

Back when this first started, an average restaurant looked to keep it's payroll to around 1/3 of it's sales. Now, it is fast encroaching 1/2. If you add that with a standard 1/3 cost of food, you will get 1/6 left for the restaurant to pay all of it's other expenses with including insurance, licenses, utilities, advertising, etc. Now, please don't take that as a complaint. I know what I was getting myself into when I took this business. It is just a fact of doing it.

The decisions are fairly simple. We must either raise prices (and we must be careful how much) or cut back on staff and service.

This will not affect fast foods or drive in type restaurants, only the ones where you sit down and are served.

With restaurants hurting all around, I wonder how much this will affect the ones who have been weakened by the hurting economy.

In my mind, the legislature can correct this problem with a simple tip credit. I am not advocating taking money away from them but simply freezing the wage where it is at and thus causing the ability for restaurateurs to give the raises where they are better needed.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Mist

Now, I am far from a movie critic but I have my ideas of a good movie and this is not my idea of a good movie.

I bought this movie from Blockbuster south. They are having a closeout on some of their movies marking them down to five for ten dollars. So, I looked through their display and found my five. Most of them were PG or PG13 but this particular movie caught my eye. Based on a Stephen King novel, I kind of enjoy a good scary movie from time to time. I don't particularly like the gore but the scare. Stephen King liked Alfred Hitchcock and got allot of inspiration from him.

I watched the movie last night for the first....and last time. Trinity agreed that it was a one time watch. If you haven't watched it and want to without any give aways, you might not want to read anymore of this post.

The movie is based upon a large group of people who are trapped in a local grocery store when an evil fog moves into the town. They know the mist is evil when a man runs into the store with blood on him telling how a friend had been taken by something in the mist. One man runs from the store to his car only to be swallowed up by the mist and all you hear are screams. This is what initially keeps the people where they are.

Some of them began to realize the gravity of the situation when a young bus boy is attacked and killed by something in the fog through the loading dock doors. While the people in the store attempt to blockade themselves in the front with bags of dog food, the various factions in the store began to develop. There are the obvious good guys, the military people who remain silent and to themselves, the incredibly outrageous radical (so called) Christian woman who claims that it is punishment for our sins, and the originals 'good guy' man's neighbor who happens to be black and doesn't believe that their is a problem.

This leads me to the first disturbing part of the movie. The black lawyer neighbor talks all of the other blacks in the store along with a small amount of other races to leave the store with him. He claims that 'his people' are not going to be mocked by them. Why in the world the race card is needed in this picture is beyond me. The lawyer leads his people into the mist and obvious doom. I scratched my head wondering what value that part added to the mix and what underlying bias was being revealed by the producers.

They then cut to a shot of the local religious fanatic praying in the bathroom. The 'good woman' in the movie comes into the room to use it disturbing the fanatic who becomes quite angry. The woman tries to befriend the fanatic and the fanatic quickly tells her that she does not need her as a friend because she has God. The fanatic then spews out all sorts of foul language and attacks the woman verbally. I cringed as I could see what direction the producers were taking this one.

A love affair begins to bloom between two of the people who had grown up together but that is quickly snuffed out when the girl is killed violently with the first real attack on the store by what looks like flying scorpions. Now, what are they trying to say here? I know, I am probably trying to tear the movie apart to much but the biases seemed so obvious to me.

As the attacks continue, the fanatic gains more and more weak minds to her side gaining a huge advantage in numbers in the store. The good guys see what is coming especially when the fanatic calls for a sacrifice of the lone left soldier in the store since it is revealed that the mist is a portal to other worlds that the government had carelessly opened up in the local military base. They kill and sacrifice the young man. The fanatic then claims that as is written in the Bible, God is appeased for the time being.

The small group began to plot their escape. They place food in a check out to be grabbed as they run out the door. The plan is to try and get to the good guys car and attempt to drive to safety. The plan is thwarted by the fanatic who then calls for the sacrifice of the child.

I turned to Trin and said, "I think I have had enough.". "Maybe it will get better.", she returned. Knowing of all of King's good vs evil type novels, good always seems to come out in the end so I agreed and kept watching.

One of the good guys kills the fanatic with two shots from his gun. While the others are stunned, they make their escape. Five people survive and end up in the car. They drive off slowly past the sea of faces looking at them from the store. Somber music plays as they drive off.

The five are an older man and woman, the good woman, the good man, and his son. You began to wonder if they will be starting off together once they find safety. They drive by the good guys house only to witness that his wife is dead.

They drive and drive encountering one huge creature along the way and all sorts of weird sounds. "Why is no one trying to listen to the radio?", I asked out loud. They drove until they ran out of gas. Sitting their in the car in the dark shrouded by the mist, they try and figure out what to do next. The good guy looks at the woman and then to his gun. He checks the bullets and finds their are only four. I jumped up and screamed, "No, this can't be!". But it was. I kicked the chair in anger and frustration as four shots were fired. The man in obvious agony (he had just killed four friends, one of them being his own son) tries in vain to get the gun to fire once more while in his mouth. He then steps out of the car and begins to scream for one of the creatures to take him too. While he screams, you began to hear another sound and through the mist behind him comes an army tank followed by trucks full of civilians as the mist begins to lift and the creatures are exterminated by the military. The man drops to his knees in agony as the screen fades to black.

After the movie, I got on the computer and looked up what others had thought of the movie and found that most either really loved it or really hated it. To me, it was open and shut. I enjoy movies but for the most part, I want to feel good after watching one. I don't know how anyone can feel good about the way this one ended and any mind that comes up with this type of ending has problems; serious problems. Let's see, maybe he is an unhappy man who hates his wife, dislikes all blacks and other minorities, can't deal with relationships, has problems with Christians, and has suicidal thoughts. Oh yeah and he doesn't trust the military either.

Or maybe he just thinks that it is good art. I don't know, but I do know that I am glad that I only paid a couple of bucks for it.

Monday, December 1, 2008


A couple of times a week, we are honored to have the old Doctors from the area stop in and have a cup of coffee and swap stories with each other. I am sure they can tell some pretty good stories of older times. I am sure that surgery, as in other things, doesn't always go as planned and would have to be improvised.

The very first day that I went back and said 'hi', I ran into one who had worked on me once. Dr. Goldsmith did a surgery on me when I was around 12. When I noticed him, I told him so. "Hey, I found a survivor!", he joked. Dr. Ford asked around when it happened and after telling him, he told me that he might have been the one who put me under. Wow, both of them in one room.

Their numbers vary from week to week but I always enjoy stopping by their table. The last two years, they have chipped in and helped us out for thanksgiving. Being "Old Bend" themselves, they understand what we are attempting to do.

A while back, when I stopped in at their table, I noticed a new one sitting down wearing a ball cap. He looked up at me and said, "Hey, are your Ron Hicks' son?". I looked down and their sat Bud Rose. Now for the old timers, they will remember him all the way back to Brandis Thriftway Drugs downtown. He then moved out to the new Bend Memorial Clinic when it moved out to the building that it is now at. He set up Rose Pharmacy there. The pharmacy has since moved to another location down the road.

Bud was old school Bend. He knew his customers and cared for them more than the money that they put in his till. That is a concept that has been lost to many businesses. Maybe we should be teaching that in our college classes as it seems to be somewhat of a lost concept.

You see, people like Bud taught me quite allot about how a business should be ran. I felt good to be able to share that with him a couple of weeks ago. I told him of a time back in the early 80's when I had just came back to town and was in a very tight financial spot. I ended up in the hospital for a few days and afterward had stopped to see my family doctor, Dr. Robinson. When I came out and went into Bud's pharmacy, I told him that I could not afford the drugs that were prescribed. Bud just looked at me with a smile and said, "No problem, I know your family and they are good people. Pay me what you can.". That really stuck with me through the years.

Bud and I talked of those old days and how Dr. Robinson would get together prescriptions for the people in Gilchrist and bring them to him. They would then take the prescriptions to the bus depot so that the people who needed them would have them that night. Now back then, their were no credit cards, only promises.

Later, at Bend Memorial, the docs would call out the prescriptions to the pharmacy and Bud or his son would have them waiting for them as they left. Now, that was service. I am sure that all the new insurance deals with pharmacies in grocery stores and such have hurt that business and helped to make it more impersonal.

I really enjoyed that conversation but what I enjoyed even more was the opportunity to validate part of Bud's legacy to him. You never know how that one good deed will come back or better yet, spread out to others. I guess it is kind of the pay it forward effect.