Most of us face times when we need to sort through our thoughts. Maybe a budget problem requires our attention. At other times, troubling incidents in a relationship or with children and their actions scream for us to make decisions and corrections. The key to keeping up with our important thinking is finding the right place to do it.
            Most people declare that they spend shower time singing. I’ve done it as well; however, I have also discovered that place is wonderful for thinking. It must have something to do with the hot water cascading onto a tired or half-asleep body.
Before long, my mind is clear and running high speed. I’ve had prayer time and come up with solutions for the world’s problems, or at least the ones in my life, during that fifteen minutes of standing under the shower head.
            Another place where I can think clearly is in the car. Of course, I have to deny the urge to let road rage take over, but once I do, the problems that I think are pressing come to mind. Not long after that, the solutions to them float to the top of my consciousness. No one needs to worry because I am watching the road and traffic as I ponder things. More than likely, my actions are safer than most of the people who yak on the cell phone or text while pointing their vehicles down the highway.
            Our porch is a wonderful location for a think tank. Just the other day, I sat in the swing and watched traffic zip down Ball Camp Pike as I tried to come up with some writing topics. The gentle back-and-forth movement and squeak of the chains holding up the seat put me in a trance. Before long, a list of things came clear.
            During warm weather, I take a seat on the porch in the mornings and evenings. Sometimes I finish up a short devotional to start the day off right. On other occasions, I listen to the passing cars, singing cicadas and barking dogs of the neighborhood. All the while, I’m turning over an endless supply of questions and concerns. By the time I rise to tackle other pursuits, my mind is at ease and the world is once again good.
            Oddly enough, the place where I do my best thinking is on the seat of a riding lawn mower. When the kids were young and I wore parental armor, I replayed events while making rounds in the yard. The lines usually stayed straight, even though my attention was directed toward finding a solution to another problem. The roar of the engine and the sweet smell of fresh cut grass combined to remove me from everything in the world but that seat. Many times, it became apparent that the man steering the mower was the person at fault in parent-child disputes. At other times, just riding through the yard helped cool me down before passing down punishments.
            I’ve tried other areas for thinking but discovered they just don’t work. Sitting in front of the television is a terrible place for using my mind. Of course, most television programs are so bad that I zone out from them and could, perhaps, train myself to think. Another bad place for such activities is in a seat in front of a computer. Too many other things call me away—Facebook, email, YouTube.
            I like to find good places for thinking. Many times, thoughts have been sprinkled with tears and laughs, and none of that would have occurred without finding those special places for some quiet and reflection. All of us could use a little more time to reflect on important matters and escape the mind-numbing distractions that bombard us each moment of life.


My wife Amy had a birthday recently. The kids came home, and grandson Madden also made an appearance, something that made the celebration all the more enjoyable for her. I decided that a special meal was in order for the day and dove into the culinary art with blind ambition.

            A couple of days before the family arrived for the weekend, I told Amy that the Saturday birthday menu included a main course of chicken. However, none of the conventional recipes for grilled or baked poultry would do. Nope, I was dead set on serving up fried chicken. 

            Since UT played football at 4:00, I began cooking the chicken at about 2:00. Anyone who grew up eating fried chicken knows the stuff is better after it’s sat around for a while. The crew eats well when we sit down to meals, so at least ten eight chicken breast needed to be prepared.

            Even if the food was going to be “fried,” I knew that it had to be prepared in as healthy a manner as possible. So, in the skillet I poured Virgin Olive Oil instead of melting Crisco. I dredged the pieces in flour with a little salt and pepper.

            For what seemed like the next hour, chicken fried and I flipped each piece several times to make sure they were thoroughly cooked. Amy commented somewhere along the line that I had the eye turned up too high, but I ignored her advice. Besides, she couldn’t possibly know the right temperature since we’ve not eaten a thing fried in our house in the last twenty years.

            My loving wife offered no more advice and left the kitchen to take a bath. For that I am grateful. Daughter Lacey and I were left to work on dinner. She fixed macaroni and cheese as one side dish. We also planned to have mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and brown and serve rolls. Yes, the meal was a definite carb overload, but hey, it was a special occasion.

            In a few minutes the kitchen became smoky. Lacey opened outside doors and turned on ceiling fans to allow the haze to clear. The problem was grease, I thought that what escaped the pan was moisture, but it turned out to be condensation…and oil. The stuff seeped toward the eye and then burned and turned to smoke. It turns out my dear wife was correct about the stove eye being turned too high. The last two piece of chicken cooked in a rather dark crust, not burned but just a bit darker than the rest.

            The aftermath of my chicken frying was a mess. The stove top was covered with oil, and the eye was black where the stuff had burned. The floor also was as slick as one at a fast-food burger joint from the oil. I retrieved a can of Bar Keeper cleaner and scrubbed the stove. Then I found the mop and cleaned the floor. By the time Amy returned to the kitchen, nothing was out of place. She knew nothing of the mess that I’d made.

            The chicken was a big success. Amy had to make the potatoes because there was no way I was stepping a foot into the kitchen again. We ate like pigs and then complained about being too full. Before the night passed, the remaining pieces of chicken disappeared.

            I’m not a good cook; however, during my later years, my willingness to try new recipes expands. A couple of days later, I fixed a meatloaf that Amy and I both ate without becoming ill. The best part of the chicken frying was the smell that filled the house. The same kind used to make our mouths water as children on Sunday after church. Mother might have looked down from above, shaken her head, and smiled at my attempt to feed my family one of the most wonderful foods the good lord ever offered his children.


            Life and politics are both funny. Just when a person thinks he’s figured out things, he looks up and sees how completely off base he is. Of course, because humans are involved in both of them, confusion is to be expected.

            The other day someone talked about folks being 65 this year. For a minute, I thought to myself that those old folks are in the news again. Then the realization that these Medicare-eligible people are individuals whom I know well and are close to my age set in. Instead of seeing them as senior citizens, I recalled how they looked and what they did 45-50 years ago.

            This generation had major influences on the direction America followed. In 1965 they were 18. The world was upside down. To begin with, the Vietnam Conflict had turned into a full-blown war, and thousands of young men were drafted to fight the politicians’ battles. The Department of Defense claims the average age of the 58,148 killed in that war was just shy of 23. Other sources put the age closer to 20. That puts today’s 65-year-old citizens smack dab in the middle of that war and the frightening possibility of dying young.

            Many of those who weren’t drafted into the conflict fought in the US. They protested against the war. Sit-ins, marches, and rallies made the nightly news as much as the latest rounds of action in Vietnam and the death counts did. The first reported draft-card burning occurred that same year of 1965.  Just a few years later in 1968, Chicago Democratic Convention demonstrators and police clashed. Boy, what a bunch of rebels this age group turned out to be.

            During their last years as teens, these young people witnessed or participated in marches on Washington and Selma, Alabama, the Watts Riots, introduction of the Miranda Right, Women’s Lib, and the creation of the label “hippie” for thousands of the generation. Perhaps most important of all now, they witnessed the creation of Medicare.

            At some point, the girls traded in their miniskirts for business suits; the men cut their hair and took on the yoke of adulthood. Then this generation set out to become success stories in the American dream. Their high ideas about social issues and times for change somehow were displaced by the arrival of children, mortgages, and the everyday demands of life. 

            They also changed their political philosophies. Once the mighty forces for change and against the establishment, these adults now believe more in maintaining the status quo. According to many polls, nearly half of the individuals 65 and older now consider themselves as conservatives, while only 16 percent identify themselves as liberal.

            Perhaps it’s okay to assume that age leads to changes in ideology. For many, being conservative is a way of protecting the things that they’ve collected over the years. It also indicates a stand against the craziness that goes on in the outside world.

            What is fascinating is that the same folks that once were so against the system are now in favor of it. They used to cruise the drive-in restaurants; they contorted their bodies with dances such as the twist, jerk, and hully gully; they parked in dark spots and “necked” on dates. Now they prefer a slower change, a more deliberate approach, and a more restrained view.

            I know my kids look at me with amazement when I explain some of the crazy things my friends and I did. We were young and invincible. Maybe as the years piled on, many of this Baby Boomers generation saw a different truth. Whatever the reason, it’s fascinating how a generation filled with carefree rebels slowly became ones that preferred stability and security. Can anyone blame them?

What Does That Word Mean

During elementary school the number of words in our language amazed and confounded me. Each week, our class would receive a new set of words to define, use in a sentence, and spell for Friday tests. More words came as I traveled through college and graduate school, and then another set appeared as I taught advanced placement English in high school. So, with all the words already in our language, by some accounts between one-half to one million words, is there a need to create new ones?

            The creation of new words continues and has been measured to be as many as 25,000 a year. That takes into consideration technical terms, but what befuddles me is the inclusion of made-up words and phrases by advertising and jargon-living twerps. Consider some of the following:


Trickerationused by morons who explain that someone or something acted in a deceptive way. The real word is trickery.


Elevateused to mean jump, as in a basketball player jumping for a rebound. Could it be that before long these athletes will be shooting elevation shots?


Elusivity—used to mean hard to pin down or corral. In older times, the word elusiveness worked just fine, but then again, it doesn’t roll from a fool’s tongue quite the way the new word does.


Disintermediation—This is one of those finance words. In short, it means “cut out the middle man. Why not just say that? Oh, maybe it’s another way to use double-speak so customers don’t have an idea of what’s going on.


Intestinal Transit Time—I always called this digestion. Of course, being a simple country boy, I might be wrong or just unsophisticated. Use of this phrase brings to mind other words associated with digestion.


Unpartnered IndividualsWhen did being single become a bad word? Perhaps this new creation is more politically correct. If so, I’ll continue offending lone individuals.


Oppositional Defiance Disorder—A diagnosis described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as “an ongoing pattern of anger guided disobedience, hostilely defiant behavior toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior.” I used to call it being a teenager or just a child. My parents weren’t psychologists, but they knew the remedies for such an ODD. One was a “come to Jesus meeting” with them and a belt or paddle in hand. The other was to offer to help me pack my bags when I threatened to leave home and never come home again. Those were harsh treatments, maybe, but they worked most effectively.


Grow a business, economy, etc.—In my world, growing is an act confined to such things as fruits and vegetables. An owner might “develop” a business so that it flourishes, but growing these kinds of things object just doesn’t work for me. Of course, I’m not savvy in the business world, so perhaps I’m behind the learning curve.


Early onThis is supposed to mean at some earlier time, and some pretentious individual, most likely from television, decided to put it into use. I despise this convoluted misused phrase most of all. In the first place, “on” is a preposition, and as we all learned, a preposition must have a noun/pronoun coming after it (an object). So, what I ask is “early on whom” or “early on what?” For hundreds of years, people got along just fine with the use of “earlier.” Why isn’t that good enough anymore?


            I’ve had my say; I’ve finished my rant. The possibility that such nonsense will be eradicated from our language is nil. Before long, none of us will be able to communicate with each other, but until then,  I’ll continue to fuss about goofy words and hold out hope that English doesn’t become a foreign language.