Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Answer....or A Rant

Whether Dem or Rep, the answer to our dilemma is that we must work to become more solvent. That means we must either raise more money or cut our expenditures. That seems to be the focus of the two sides.

Now, can we look at this logically. There seems to be tons (and I should capitalize TONS) of excess spending in our present budget that we can start weeding out. The problem there is that those heavy amounts of money seem to be protected by special interests who in turn provide the excess money that allows the politician to get his needed votes.

I would plead with those same politicians to do the right thing. That means you might not be in power very long. But, you will be able to lay your head down on the pillow at the end of the day and say 'Well Done'. You might even find that your constituents may be so happy with you that they will vote you back anyway. That is if the media gives you your just due (and that might be a stretch).

Please, stay away from Social Security and Medicare. Stop borrowing from those funds and put in place an avenue to begin returning the money that has been borrowed in the past. THESE ARE NOT PARTS OF YOUR BUDGET OTHER THAN DEBTS THAT YOU OWE!

Now to raising taxes. Raising taxes in a recession? Considering a person or persons who make over $250,000 rich is scary. I think that level should be raised much higher. There is a reason for my thoughts. As a small businessman, I don't get close to that amount, but if inflation begins to raise it's ugly head and with the present situation, that is not out of reason, it will affect me as it affects others. That means in order for us to survive with our businesses, we will have to trim down even more which means less employees and more unemployment. Can you see where all that will go?

Now, I don't have an answer to how to judge that amount, but it seems to me that there might be a way to factor in inflation into it. That would certainly make it more viable but does not answer another question. Where is the incentive? There are persons out there who wish to make their later lives more comfortable so they bust their butts during their lives to make what they feel is the needed nest egg.

I agree that there are people who need help. I also agree that the only people that they can truly count on to give them that help is not the rich and not the poor. The rich will just find more ways to protect their riches and the poor don't have anything to give. That leaves it up to the rest of us.

But, is giving your purse strings to the government what you really want to do? After all, is there a program (EVER) that they have truly made profitable?

I don't have all of the answers but this I know, they (the people in our political system) don't seem to have any. It seems to me that what I learned in economics in college is unfolding right in front of my eyes. It was a statement made by (I believe) a communist. He said that democracy will work until the people vote in the persons who will give them the most.

Do the right thing, Washington. Make the hard decisions and start running this country like a good business. Make our future sustainable. Please.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


My brother, Marvin's best friend in high school was a boy named David.....David Miltenberger. Neither Marvin or David would be considered in the 'popular' circles of halls of Gilchrist High School (although they were both well liked) which probably made their bond a more special one. You see, they had each other.

I remember David as being a very thoughtful slow talker of sorts. He seemed to think out what he was going to say before and (sometimes) while he was saying it. This left pauses during the middle of some of his sentences. Some may have thought him slow because of that but in the contrary, David was a deep thinker.

I also remember him for having a distinctive laugh. One that you could tell who was laughing in a room in the dark.

David passed away this week of cancer. I did not know David the man. I never met him after high school. But David left an imprint on me.....a strong imprint. One that I will probably never forget. And he did it with one phone call.

He called me a while back and while I did recognize the voice, I could not place it until he said his name. We talked small talk at first but then David got to the meat of the conversation. He told me of his cancer that he was fighting and although we did dwell a little on the mutual subject (he gave me plans that he was using to fight it which are still written down on a paper in my pocket), he soon began talking of his reasons for the call. He said that he was trying to reach people in his life that affected him in his youth. He said that he wanted to thank some and forgive others.

I remember searching in the archives of my brain while he spoke. I was no bully but could I have said something hurtful at some time in his life. After all, many teens say things without thinking of the consequences of their statements. I remember feeling the sweat on my brow a bit as I anticipated some tease that I had made of him and my brother that he felt that he needed to forgive me for.

"Your family saved my life.", he said. I went silent and there was one of those 'awkward' pauses until I could catch my own thoughts. "How so, David?", I asked.

David went on to talk of his struggles within himself in those teen years. "I didn't know which way to turn.", he said. Then, Marvin invited him into my family's house. He said he immediately felt so comfortable the moment that he walked in the door. My brothers and sisters showed him love and my mom treated him like he was one of the family. He said he felt so 'at home'.

He went on to say that then Marvin invited him to our youth group at church. There he met Ned Landers. I have written of Ned before as he was one of the most influential men in my life. Ned led David to the Lord and a relationship that bolstered the foundation of his life.

David told me that he was calling me to thank me. Now, in my mind, the man he truly needed to talk with their was Marvin and I gave him Marv's number.

This phone call while not that long has made me pause to think many times and is one that I probably will never forget. It has made me hash out in my mind over and over how simple things that you do or say can affect others in either a positive.....or a negative way.

I have a CD in my car that my buddy, Frank loaned me last week. It is from the magazine called 'Success'. The CD is a compilation of one of their magazines monthly themes. The theme is influence. The moderator goes on to talk on the most influential people in the world. The list included Jesus Christ but also Adolph Hitler. They went on to show how on a daily basis, things in your life can influence others and the influence will either be good or evil.

The CD has a story on it of the man written about in the book, "Unbroken" which was written by the same author as "Secretariat". The man, Louie Zamperini, tells his own story on the CD. Louie is now 94 years old but the story is incredible and impacting and to be told by his own words imprints even more. Judy listened to it on the way over to Portland on Tuesday and I intend to play it for the vets in my car today who are going on a short drive with me to Marion Forks to meet one of the original Band of Brothers from the WW2 troop that was chronicled in the mini series.

Listening to the CD brought back memories of David. For Louie after having his life changed by Billy Graham forgave others in his past. I wondered if David's phone calls of forgiveness made an impression on the men who he forgave.

A simple facebook search led me to find that David had quite a family. And it seems that either his or his wives influence seems to be imprinted on his family members. My brothers friendship and Ned's touch are a but a small part in the tree of his life but their influence was a positive part.

And once more, cancer has grabbed another victim. The week prior it took another Gilchrist guy in Denny Jessup. I think it is time we turned the tables on cancer research. We put 10 times the money into aids research as we do cancer is cancer is far more indiscriminate.

My thoughts and prayers go out to David's family as they deal with their loss and especially to his wife who must now go on without him.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ace Eight

Tonight is a night of what ifs? I have to expect that so why even worry about the lack of sleep. I will try and catch up tomorrow when if I find the right position, should be tired enough to get that rest. Then again, I might be up because of that, who knows. So, I will tell you a little of my day.

Jay and I were up early so that he could get ready for his basketball camp at Summit High. We drove to Jake's and met Christi in the kitchen. I was so proud of Jay as so politely told her what he wanted for breakfast and added the please at the end. After getting our meals, we found a spot on the counter and ate. I noticed a coupon in the paper for the Humane Society thrift store at 1/2 price. I like their price on hard bound books there and cut that in half is a great deal.

After breakfast, Jay and I drove to Summit and got into line. A buddy of his from the development league was just ahead of us and after getting his coach, they soon found out they would be on the same team. Papa was no longer needed so as the two boys walked on together, I slipped out. The Bend Restaurant blogger was in the line with his son so I said Hi to him. I kicked myself for not thanking him for his Best Breakfast mention in his blog that has recently garnered me some out of town traffic. I will have to remember to do that the next time we meet.

I drove back to the diner and cut the coupon out of the paper and drove back to the thrift shop just in time to catch the opening. A stack of books and one of my favorite brands of Hawaiian shirts and I was back on my way for the Band of Brothers.

As the room began to fill, I was introduced to a British man from WW2. I smiled at him and told him that I had something for him. Rushing back to my office, I drew out a coin envelope from the package on my desk. Returning, I knelt down and prefaced what I was doing. A couple of weeks back, a man had come in and asked me since I dealt with vets if I would help him find homes for items that belonged to his father in law that he did not know what to do with.

When I agreed and tried engaging in a conversation, the man was quite abrupt. He said that he had to go and was just going to leave the package with me knowing that I will find homes for the items. In the package were collectible coins, mostly military in nature. I looked on line and found most of them valued between 20 and 50 dollars. In the bag was 500 to 600 dollars worth of items. I have managed to find homes for most of them but there were a few 'Battle of Briton' coins. I had given one out to a British officer and this man was presented with another.

He seemed to tear up a bit and looked at me and said, "I was in that battle. I will cherish this gift.". If nothing else happened, that alone had made my day. Then another man was introduced and I met another Vietnam Navy vet. I have had an extra hat sitting on my desk that was given me that sort of sits on top of my head a bit, so I offered it to him. He glowed and proudly placed it on his head. Now, I felt even better.

The room soon filled with the loud din of old vets swapping stories. A couple of them complained of the heat in the room. I looked at the temp and saw that it had climbed to 78. "Can't you do anything about the heat in here?", he complained. I laughed and said, "Only if a few of you wish to leave. The room is full and the day outside is hot and humid. No air conditioner can stand up to that.". He did not like my explanation to much but it was what it was. He wanted me to open up a door and I laughed knowing that the temp outside was as high or higher with no breeze. I chose to ignore and be on my way instead.

With the meeting in full force, the back room filled up also along with the deck. Even with the two best cooks in the kitchen, we began to struggle. To top it all, we seemed to have one of those days where many people want more for no more price. One lady on the deck wanted to order off of the kids menu. The waitress told her that the kids menu was only for kids (it is priced at pretty much cost and is a sort of loss leader to bring in families). One of the men at the table said that the order that she wanted was for the child at the table and so the woman only ordered a couple of slices of toast.

I helped her with the meal and after delivering the last dish, the man snapped at me. He pointed at the woman who I could see was eating a kids meal and said, "She did not get her milk and we want one more milk for her (pointing to another woman). So, I poured two milks and had the waitress put them on their ticket. After returning, she informed me that the same man had chewed her out. He said one of the milks belonged on her meal. My waitress informed him that she was eating the child's meal (the child did not feel well and was nibbling on the toast ordered for the lady). She, in turn, let him know that the orange juice that the child was drinking was the drink for that meal. Later, she let me know that they had not tipped her at all probably because of the situation. I felt bad for her as she is held responsible for taxes on 8% of all of her sales by the IRS. If her service was lacking then I can understand, but the meal was hot and no one chastised the obvious switch of meals just to reduce their costs.

I know that I am rambling but this is the other side of the service issue. Some people want something for nothing and when the waitress tows the line and does not give them what they want, they are the ones who suffer. She is torn between it and I understand that but am grateful for her honesty.

The meeting finished around 12:30 and the front room soon cleared. The back room seemed to go at the same time and the whole building seemed to clear like air going out of a balloon. Judy ordered me up a small sandwich and we retreated to the deck and some peace and quiet? We were soon joined with one of our cooks who was loaded with ideas that he wanted to bounce off of me. He had noticed that a local grocery store was selling cheese that they claimed they smoked there and why couldn't we do something like that with our smoker.

Judy and I ate our meal, thanked him for his advice and started out the door to go buy some fruit for our trip to Portland. I was stopped by our credit card lady who was showing me her gift card system. Thinking it would take too long, Judy prepared to go with out me. Our conversation was short as she did not have all of the information needed and I walked out the back door and whistled to Judy who was driving off.

We drove down to a friends fruit stand down across from Fred Meyers. We have known Sam and Lynette Parla for many years, our families growing up together in school and being in the same church. Sam and my first relationship was not what you would call a good one. He was selling me vegetables and I could purchase them cheaper and more consistent from somewhere else. We were both probably a bit strong willed when it came to business back then.

We laughed later recalling when I first met up with him in church. We looked at each other across the room with the same thought in our heads. "Why is He here?". Both of us were stronger than our business heads and a friendship was struck. Sam is a hard working man and a good father and grandfather. I would gladly go out of my way to help support him.

I ran into Greg Cross at the stand. Greg is a artist. He has worked at the Bulletin for years. I first looked him up from his drawings in the paper before the opening of the diner. I hired him to draw our first kids menus. He did such a great job, giving us seasonal trucker themed art that they kids could color. I used them for years. Greg and I talked as our wives shopped for fruits and veggies.

We arrived back at the diner just in time for me to rush back up to Summit to pick up Jay. I drove back down to the nearest 7 11 and we got ourselves one of their free slurpies that they give out each July 7th and headed back to the house.

I received a call from the local Navy recruiters. They had a group coming to town and wanted to hold a car wash behind Jake's. I agreed to meet them there at 5:15. Jay watched TV while I laid down on the couch and soon dropped off to sleep. Trin woke me up to let me know that it was 5:15 and my appointment was waiting for me.

I showed the recruiters where my hoses and water was and agreed to let them hold their car wash. I told them that if they would have been a few hours earlier, I could have promoted it with the band of brothers which began a conversation on the group. They are coming in on Thursday to hold their car wash. I don't think they will make much as it is in the middle of the week but I wished them well.

After a quick supper that included some of Judy's fresh made fruit salad, it was soon time to play poker. I had intended on going out quickly as I wanted to make a early night, knowing that I was leaving early in the morning. This did not turn out so well that way and I soon found myself on the final table.

I had 13 blue chips left and was the dealer. I dealt myself A-8. I liked the hand and when everyone just limped in with only the blinds (4 blues), I raised it to 8. Three players stayed with me. The flop was J-10-3. Everyone checked and so did I. The turn was another 8. I watched the players as they checked again. I knew no one had anything so my 8 was probably the best hand. I bet my remaining 5 chips. Two people folded and the last one hesitated and then called me. The river was a 7 and we had not flipped over our cards yet. I looked at her and said, "I hope you don't have the 9", showing my winning hand of 8's. She smiled and flipped over a 9 and my night was finished. The nine gave her a straight from 7 to Jack.

I drove home and prepared for the next day laying out my clothes so that I can get going faster. As I prepared for bed, I received a call from a friend who told me that his brother was in serious condition in the hospital. I won't name names here as I don't have his permission but I know both of the brothers from different angles and consider them friends. I assured him I would pray and he informed me that he would keep me in the loop.

It kind of brought me down to earth a bit regarding my worries. In the morning, I will have a couple of pieces of skin removed and all will be well while my friend struggles to just stay alive. But, like the card game, anything can happen in this life. We need to appreciate each blessing that is placed in front of us and cherish each friendship.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mid July

Hard to believe that it is almost mid July. This year is going by way to fast.

I was golfing with Jay the other day at the Old Back Nine. Jan Ward has put out signs claiming that in 2023, he will let the land revert back to it's normal state. I told my buddy Frank that the other day and said, "Maybe we can 'ugly golf' it. He and I had started a sort of golf in the abandoned front nine years ago and played it for years even starting a league that we called 'ugly golf'.

Frank laughed and said, "Do you know how old we will be?". "Probably around 70." was my reply. We both looked at each other and shook our heads. "It doesn't seem right, does it?", I stated.

Getting back to the game a bit. I loved my time with Jay there, as usual. I really love and admire that young man. He is tender, kind hearted, along with being very athletic and strong. He tried putting on an old pair of my golf shoes and ended up with blisters on the back of his feet when they were too small.

On one hole, after sinking a putt, he raised the ball in the air and showed it to four sides. "What are you doing?", I asked. "I am in the PGA, Papa. Come on, use your imagination. Can't you hear the crowd?".

The 4th of July was a red letter day for us. Judy and I both drove in the parade that morning. Jay and I had purchased a ton of candy and we spread it out in two large bowls. It was gone before we went 1/3 way through the huge crowd. Next year, we will get twice as much and save the next bowl for the last half. I felt sorry for the kids on the latter part as they probably didn't get much candy while the first part had tons.

Judy and I got back to the diner and started getting ready for the evening. Around 3, I took a short cat nap in my office. The vets arrived around 4 and we set up the serving area while some other friends showed up early to hang out before the event. Before I knew it, Jimmy had rang the dinner bell and we were full force into the BBQ.

The band showed up on time and by shortly after 6, the place was rocking. I noticed that this year, some of the people who live behind us had put their chairs up close to hear that band. This is what I have hoped for for years and so I was quite happy to see this. I want to be a complete part of this community.

We pretty much ran out of food sometime after 7 or so and I supervised the break down while all the while checking on various friends and making sure that they were enjoying themselves. Many of them said that, once again, Jimmy had put on a tremendous spread. All seemed quite happy.

Around 9 or so, I realized that it would be best to shut down the diner as no one really wanted any cooked food anymore and the long line for milk shakes was just frustrating the now beat up wait staff. I had Trin put up a closed sign and began making preparations for it. I found the two dishwashers lounging out back so I sent one of them up to clean up front and told the other to get in the dish pit and get things finished up there so we could all see the fireworks when they came.

The vets did their job well and no one inside the parking lot lit off any fireworks. This made the environment quite peaceful for everyone just lounging and waiting for the butte to catch on fire. As 10 came and the fireworks began, I found myself walking amongst the various groups that had collected in the lot. The vets, my Model A friends, various church friends and other seniors who had came in to our safe environment. It was like one huge extended family and I admit that it made my heart sing a bit. It was truly one of those 'happy' moments.

The next night was not so happy as I received the call telling me that I was to go back up to Portland for two more surgeries. They are both on my lower back and while they are very early stage, I understand that there are various levels of each stage. My doctor said that they were not sure so she wanted to get them off quickly. This will happen on Tuesday.

I arrived one morning to find a group of local businessmen who had invited me to join them for their early morning breakfast. This morning, the group was small and so each were invited to talk about how they had come to be where they were. I was last and gave my nickel tour of the story of Jake's. I was told later that it greatly affected one of the men in the group. Later on in the week, I was talking with another local businessman and he asked me how I came to own the diner so I shared the same story with him. He asked me if he could share it with some of his friends and I said, "Sure". Frank thinks I should write a book about it. Maybe even have our old friend and well known editor, Larry Libby get involved. I am seriously thinking of it if it can truly inspire someone. And I suppose the story should be written if anything for my future family members.

It's funny, if I go back just 10 short years. Jake was still alive. The parkway was just about to be opened on the south end of town. Jake's was a very popular truck stop known all across the country.

Thinking about that brought an old friends name to my mind. Pete Rigney who wrote for major trucking magazines. Pete and I had become good friends and he had even wrote a couple of articles about us in his magazines. I went online to search for him as I had not heard from him since he called me a few years back. I had harassed him a bit about not having a house for his wife, Shirl. He called me to tell me he was in her new house and she was down at Walmart getting things for it. I found Pete's obituary and realized that he died four years ago. I think I need to try and contact Shirl if she is still around.

An old friend and big advocate for local vets showed up yesterday. Mike Donohue had left a while back when he could not find work here in Bend. It was good to see his smiling face and learn that he was able to come 'home'.

I realize that this post is loaded with ramblings. Maybe I should try and dedicate myself to type shorter posts more often but that would take time.....

Saturday, July 2, 2011


If you look at my posts, you will see that most of them have been written in the middle of the night. 2 to 3 Am to be exact. There in lies the reason why I have not had many posts lately. Time is always a problem but I shall try to continue even though I probably won't have as many as before.

My lack of being able to sleep caught up with me while I was away on vacation and caused me some problems, so I have been trying to stay asleep no matter what. Then, when I am away, I should be able to sleep all night then also.

Judy and I went on a drive the other day with our friends from the Model A club. It was a great time past Mt Bachelor, visiting Cultus Lake and Crane Prairie. We finished our trip in Sunriver at a restaurant there. I will not name the restaurant as I don't want to smear another knowing that I would not want anything detrimental written about mine.

The couple who had set up the ride had attempted to make reservations at the restaurant and were told that they did not allow them. They were trying to give them a heads up that 20-24 people would be showing up. Even with the number, they were refused any reservations or accommodations.

So, we showed up at the restaurant and attempted to sit as close to one another as we could. All of us were able to collect on one side of the floor. Then we realized that one of the couples had not arrived yet.

There was no room for another couple on any of the tables and we were sitting at an 8 top, so when the couple came in the door, we got up and joined them. There was another long table at the front of the restaurant that was open so we sat at that table. We were told that we could not sit there. When asked why, we were told that it was reserved.

"Reserved?", I asked, "I thought you did not take reservations.". He looked at me uncaring and said, "It is reserved.". Judy noticed another table getting up so we took it instead. As the same man cleaned off the table, I tried to tell him that we were with the group on the other side of the room. "We are with all of them.", I told him.

Once again, with uncaring eyes, he looked at me and said, "No, you are with me, would you like anything to drink?". So, we ordered.

I am not sure if it was because of my previous complaint/comment but our order was taken quite quickly as if our waiter wanted to expedite our time with him. Before we knew it, our food was hot and ready in front of us.

We ate and conversed and as I looked around, I noticed that none of the others had gotten their food yet. I teased one of my friends by raising my full fork and placing the culinary delight in my mouth with a smile.

We actually finished all of our food and had the checks while the others were still waiting, munching on the pre-meal nibbles that the restaurant served up.

I paid my check and then decided to rub it in just a bit so I walked over to a friends table with a toothpick in my mouth. "I knew the cook", I said, "Professional courtesy.".

Now while that was a bit of fun and games for me, I wondered how they actually felt about the service at this restaurant and logged that down in my memory bank for things to look for at my own.

First off, reservations. We have a similar policy but when they are large groups, we always try to prepare ourselves for them. It only makes sense in the long run as you wish to have these groups and they want to sit together.

Secondly, I have to always try and be cognisant of who is in the diner first. There is nothing more frustrating than watching someone come in the door after you and then while you are waiting for your food, seeing them being served in front of you.

There is no perfect restaurant and thus no perfect service....but, it does give me more things to look at as I scan the floor. The ultimate responsibility lies with me. After all, the buck does need to stop somewhere.

For all of you who have been watching for another post, Thanks. I will try and keep some more coming to you. And thanks just for reading.