Rumination XXXII – OK, It’s My Fault

You know, the RT is really wound up over this election cycle, just as I have been over the last few. It seems that our elected officials have all lost their minds. Government spending and our national debt are spiraling out of control. America’s reputation in the world is probably lower today than at any point in my life. Terrorism threatens our way of life and the safety of our citizens, yet our government seems unwilling to stop it. Our society seems to be breaking down day by day.

I’m very sad about the current state of my beloved America. It literally breaks my heart.  

And I have no hope that things will improve in the near future. We have two candidates for the highest office in the land, neither of which has any real credibility with the average citizen. Both have closets that are full of skeletons and pasts riddled with questionable actions. One is a megalomaniac and the other has “a complicated relationship with the truth” (as a mainstream politico recently phrased it). Yet, one of these will no doubt emerge as the next President and only the Lord Himself knows what the future will bring.

So, what happened to America? Where is the hope? What does the future hold for us? Will any semblance of the once-great America even exist in a decade or two? The RT admits that it doesn’t look promising.

Well, I’m here to say that the situation we’re in is all my fault.

Why, you may ask, is this the RT’s fault? Has he lost his mind? Is he bonkers? A few bricks shy of a load? He may well have lost his mind, but even if he has, his reasoning is really quite easy to follow.

The prophet Isaiah said it this way:

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
And rely on horses,
And trust in chariots because they are many
And in horsemen because they are very strong,
But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD. Isaiah 31:1

Isaiah was passing along the Lord’s judgment on the people of Israel for seeking help from the nation of Egypt in a time of national distress (brought on by their own actions, by the way), rather than trusting in Him. And the outcome for Israel was not good. All those horses and chariots did nothing to stop the Assyrians and Babylonians from destroying their nation.

And why were those things of no use? Well, what God wants from His people is total reliance on Him, rather than trying to handle things on their own. So, He simply let Israel proceed with her stubborn, yet feeble, attempts to save herself. The much larger and more powerful nations swept in and easily destroyed her.

This, dear reader, is why the RT is to blame for the current situation.

As an aside, you need to understand something very important. I don’t believe for an instant that America is God’s chosen nation. Nor do I believe that Israel holds similar status today. No nation holds a special status before the Lord. His relationship is with people who choose to follow Him.

So, I don’t think that God is punishing America because it is not toeing the line as His chosen nation. I don’t believe that God is doling out special punishment on us because our nation has fallen from His grace. However, He has always worked His will among the nations and what is happening to us is obviously at His discretion.

I do believe that there are always consequences for imprudent and sinful actions (Gasp! The RT just used a highly judgmental phrase that might offend some. Who is the RT to call something sinful? After all, everyone is entitled to his or her or its “worldview”, right? Shame on the RT for being so offensive!). We as individuals and as a nation are dealing with the consequences of our collective sinful actions. Those consequences are the natural result of our actions running counter to God’s holiness.

Just look around. Our nation is in the worst shape it’s been at any point in my life. There is no absolute truth. There is no respect for anyone. There are no morals. There is no right and wrong. There is little respect for human life, expressed by an appalling number of abortions and an equally upsetting number of other murders. Greed and corruption are rampant. Immorality is the norm. Things that were once considered abominations are now applauded and celebrated. And we are paying a huge price for the choices made over the past few decades.

But back to why this is all the RT’s fault …

I am guilty of trusting in chariots and horses, so to speak. I’ve been hoping and trying to make America proud and strong and powerful again. I’ve been looking to it to solve the world’s problems. I’ve been focused on worldly solutions to worldly problems. And I’ve been doing that instead of putting my trust fully in God and trusting that His way is always best.

You see, it’s taken the RT a long time to grasp the fact that this world isn’t real. It feels real. The pain seems real. Heartache seems real. America seems real. But it’s all only temporary – a mere shadow of reality. What we see here will all ultimately pass away. America will pass away. This world, as well as the entire universe, will pass away. Only then will we see and experience true reality … be that in Heaven or in Hell.

Though everything here will eventually vanish, God – The Holy One of Israel, El Shaddai, Jehovah Sabaoth, The Great I AM – will always remain. That should give us all the hope we need to get through whatever happens on this earth today, tomorrow, after the election in November or at any point in the future (a future that we were never promised, by the way).

The Apostle John said it this way:

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them;
because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

If you and the RT really believe those words, then we have nothing to fear or worry about. It in God’s hands. 

So, the RT is going to try with all his might to follow these words from the wisest man to ever live:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I hope that you’ll join the RT in turning over everything going on in today’s world to the One who made it all and letting Him worry about it.

July 22, 2016

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Rumination XXXI – Something Like Scales

(The following was originally written in 2003 and posted on my son Riley’s website.)

Every once in a while, I hear someone say something like “Does God still work in the world today?” or perhaps more decidedly, “God doesn’t work in the world today. All of that ended when Jesus’ apostles died.” Any time that I hear questions or statements such as these, I’m saddened to think that this person has decided what God will and won’t do. They’ve put Him in a box and placed limits on what He can do. They behave as if God set the world in motion and then abandoned it at some point in the past. I can’t speak for your God, but my God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He was active in the world in the past and He’s still active today.

For whatever reason, we condition ourselves to believe that everything in this world just happens. Whether good or bad, we are quick to assign whatever happens to circumstance or coincidence. We live our lives with blinders on, unable to (or perhaps refusing to) see the things that God is doing around us. We strain everything through a somewhat cynical set of filters and in so doing explain away many good things that God does for us. We filter out the things that God would have us to see so that He can teach us what He wants us to know.

A while back, I was pondering things that have happened in Riley’s life and asking myself if our family was really looking for God to take an active role in our lives. Or are we quick to rationalize away things that happen and assign them to coincidence. Then I remembered a story from Acts chapter 9, where a Jewish leader and scholar named Saul had an encounter with Jesus and came away with a new perspective.

If you recall the story, Saul was a zealous persecutor of Jesus’ followers. He was so immersed in the Jewish religion that he couldn’t (or refused to) see what was happening around him. God had sent His Son to redeem the earth, but all Saul could see was that this man Jesus had been preaching heresies and he was, no doubt, relived that the Jewish leadership had put an end to it all by having Jesus executed. Yet even with that execution, Jesus’ followers were working even harder to tell others the so-called “good news”. Saul felt it necessary to expend all his energy trying to suppress this new movement that was threatening the status quo. His zeal led him to make a trip to Damascus in search of followers of this man, Jesus, so that he could throw them into prison for their heresies.

That’s when he had a personal encounter with Jesus. Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus road and asked him “Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” The story says that Saul was blinded by this encountered and was told to go into the city and wait for someone to come to him. The Lord then appeared to a disciple named Ananias and told him to go to Saul. Ananias tried hard to get out of the assignment, reminding the Lord what this man Saul had been doing to the church. Jesus told Ananias that He had chosen Saul for a special purpose and that he needed to go.

Ok, with all that as background, here is the part that sprung out at me. When Ananias came to Saul, he placed his hands on the man and told him that he had been sent by the Lord to heal him. At that point (in Acts 9:18) the text says “something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again”. The story of Saul’s life starts over at that point and he begins to apply the same zeal that he had before, but using to further the work that Jesus had begun, rather than trying to destroy it.

Once the scales fell from his eyes, Saul could see what God was doing around him and immediately became a believer and disciple of Jesus. The book of Acts tells us that Saul (who later went by his Roman name, Paul) went on to preach the gospel to the entire Gentile world.

Call them blinders, call them filters or call them scales. Physically put them on our eyes or just allow our preconceived notions to take over. Any way you slice it, they are real and they block our ability to see what God is doing around us. He wants us to feel His presence and see His actions in our everyday lives. But if we pass everything we experience through a set of filters or allow the scales to block things from view, then we won’t know that He is even there.

Not to say that all that He would have us see is easy and enjoyable. But He would have us see that He is constantly there and that He has a plan for our lives. He wants us to trust Him and dwell in Him. He wants to use us to accomplish His will.

I thank God for using what has happened to Riley to remove the scales from my eyes and letting me see a tiny glimpse of what He has in store for our family. Things that used to appear to me as circumstantial or coincidental now are plainly part of God’s plan for my family and me. And the more in tune with Him that I become, the more that I see Him in what is happening around me.

Thank You, Lord, for removing the scales. Give me the strength and courage to follow You as the Apostle Paul did.

Riley’s Dad
January 8, 2003

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Rumination XXX – Time Marches On

The RT does a fair amount of traveling, mostly by air, but if it’s under a six-hour drive (my air-to-car travel threshold), I’ll generally drive. I thoroughly enjoy the solitude of time alone behind the wheel. I can zone out to my favorite tunes and reflect on whatever is on my mind.

There are certain times of year driving is most enjoyable for me. While driving during the summer can be miserable (splattered bugs and all), I truly enjoy it during the Fall. The changing of the leaves, the color in the evening sky and the crystal clear nights really lift my spirits.

Not that long ago was one of those beautiful Fall days and I spent six hours on the road enjoying it. My drive carried me from Central Arkansas up to St. Louis, up US Highway 67, the original route from Dallas to St. Louis. 


Most of the highway has been replaced with near-Interstate quality roadway, but in some sections it still follows the “old” Highway 67 I knew as a kid, when we traveled it between Texarkana and Dallas. 
Interstate 30 was in various stages of construction at that time, so you drove on it for a while, then got back on the old highway, then back on I-30, etc. In fact, my sisters and I played in the East Texas red clay at the Interstate exchange that was being built through the woods behind our neighborhood back then. 

As we would drive US 67 in those days, my Mother would point out various historical or nostalgic sights along the way. And old bridge here, and old motor court there. 

My Mother was quite the student of history, both of the textbook kind and the “I remember” kind. While the former is important in one’s overall education, the latter is just as important as far as legacy is concerned.

My Mom always made sure to point out important things along life’s road. One of the things I remember is her pointing out where the “old” highway was. That highway predated US 67 and was the highway she traveled as a girl. 

On this particular day, I spotted that old highway off in the brush to the side of the section of the “old” Highway 67 I happened to be traveling (you can see it in the foreground of the photo, on the right). That “old”, “old” highway is probably 75+ years old by now. I never would have noticed it had my Mom not pointed it out when I was a kid. 
There are no words to express how thankful I am to have been privileged to have a Mother who taught me to value what came before me. There’s a lot to see if you just look. 

Maybe it’s not as poetic as stopping to smell the roses, but in its own way, stopping to take in the “old”, “old” highway is just as sweet. 

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Rumination XXIX – 100 Things Said By No One … EVER

The RT goes to a LOT of meetings … LONG meetings … DRY meetings. And given that in today’s world he would likely be diagnosed as ADD, his mind tends to wander off onto other things during those meetings … MEANINGLESS things … POINTLESS things … but sometimes, MILDLY HUMOROUS things.

Hopefully, the following list of 100 Things Said By No One … EVER will make it into the latter group. Enjoy!

Personal Affairs

  1. I don’t like back rubs.
  2. I love going to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  3. I wish telemarketers would call more often.
  4. I’m glad I stepped on that hornet’s nest.
  5. I got too much sleep last night.
  6. I didn’t get enough bugs on my windshield this summer.
  7. My pants fit entirely too well.
  8. My shower was too long.
  9. My car is too new.
  10. My bed is too comfortable.
  11. I hope to go to prison someday.
  12. I wish my car would break down on this dark stretch of road, by the cemetery, in Bloods territory, on this Halloween night, by the Bates Motel, right by the guy with the chainsaw.
  13. I wish more hair would grow in my ears.
  14. I wish I hadn’t gone to the Moon (obviously limited to a chosen few, but none ever said it).


  1. God loves me too much.
  2. I have too many close friends.
  3. I wish I could have traded places with Jesus.
  4. I have too much love in my life.
  5. My spouse loves me too much.
  6. I hope my son grows up to be in a gang.
  7. I hope my daughter grows up to be like Lindsey Lohan, or if not that, at least like Miley Cyrus.


  1. My percent body fat is too low.
  2. There’s nothing better than a good root canal.
  3. My love handles aren’t big enough.
  4. I wish I had more acne.
  5. It’s too easy to lose weight.
  6. My heart surgery was too easy.

Home and Farm

  1. My water is too pure.
  2. I wish I lived in Pine Bluff (Arkansas).
  3. My Internet connection is too fast.
  4. I wish there were more poisonous snakes in my yard.
  5. My air conditioner works too well.
  6. I don’t get to mow the grass often enough.
  7. My telephone bill is too easy to read.
  8. We don’t have enough tornadoes around here.
  9. I wish I had more chiggers in my yard.
  10. It’s not hot enough in my attic.
  11. I wish I had rodents under my house.
  12. My neighbor’s dog doesn’t bark enough.
  13. I wish I lived closer to that hog farm/landfill/crematory/sewage plant.
  14. My house is too clean.
  15. I love picking up dog poop out of my yard.
  16. My crops would benefit from a good hail storm.
  17. My AMC Gremlin/Pacer/Matador was the best car ever made.
  18. I wish a serial killer lived next door to me.


  1. There’s too much hot fudge on my sundae.
  2. There’s too much bacon in my life.
  3. There’s too much ice cream in my bowl.

Financial Affairs

  1. I had too much money when I retired.
  2. My car didn’t cost enough.
  3. There’s too much money left at the end of the month.
  4. My cable/satellite TV bill should be higher.
  5. I don’t pay enough taxes.
  6. My electric bill is too low.
  7. My car’s MPG is too high.
  8. Gasoline is too cheap (at least never said by a Republican).

For The Office

  1. I don’t have enough paper on my desk.
  2. I wish that PowerPoint presentation had been longer.
  3. I don’t get enough e-mail.
  4. My computer is too fast.
  5. My last raise was too much.
  6. I wish I could spend more time at the office.
  7. I wish my boss would treat me unfairly.
  8. I have too much vacation time.
  9. That meeting was too short.

For the Outdoors

  1. I’m too good a swimmer.
  2. I think I’ll trek across the Sahara with no water.
  3. I love mosquitoes.
  4. I get too much fresh air.
  5. There aren’t enough sharks in this swimming area.

For Students

  1. I did too well on that test.
  2. My scholarship was too large.
  3. My ACT/SAT score was too high.
  4. I was ranked too high in my graduating class.

For Athletes/Sports Fans

  1. I wish we hadn’t won the State Championship.
  2. I was too far under par in that round.
  3. We scored too many points in that game.
  4. My golf ball landed too close to the hole.

For Pilots

  1. I had too much altitude when my engine quit.
  2. It’s fun to fly through a thunderstorm.
  3. I had too much fuel left when I landed.
  4. I wish ice would start forming on my wings.

For the Military

  1. I had too much firepower going into that battle.
  2. I’ll take an MRE over a steak any day.
  3. I had too much ammo left after that firefight.

For Travelers

  1. My travel day was too smooth.
  2. My parking place was too close to the terminal.
  3. This airline seat is too comfortable.
  4. We had too many lifeboats on our cruise.
  5. Our airline pilot had too much training.

World Affairs

  1. I wish I lived in North Korea.
  2. France has a powerful and intimidating military.
  3. I wish Iran had a nuclear arsenal.
  4. That Vladimir Putin is quite the gentleman.
  5. Kim Jung Il/Un is the most reasonable man around.


  1. Gary Busey is a GREAT actor.
  2. Boy George was too normal for my tastes.
  3. What I liked most about “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1970s TV “drama”) was that it was so realistic … and well-acted.
  4. Beethoven would have loved rap “music”.
  5. The polyester leisure suit was the pinnacle of fashion.
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Rumination XXVIII – 25 Things Never Said by a Real Texan

It’s been a mighty long time since the RT has written anything about the Good Ol’ Republc of Texas. So here goes.

Twenty-Five things you’ll never hear a Real Texan say:

  1. I wish I lived somewhere else.
  2. This chili is too hot.
  3. I don’t like football.
  4. I wish more Yankees would move here.
  5. Texas is too big.
  6. I don’t like Blue Bell Ice Cream.
  7. We need more than one Ranger to stop this riot. 
  8. Forget the Alamo.
  9. I don’t like Bob Wills.
  10. Do you want a soda?
  11. Bring me some hot tea.
  12. I’m afraid of guns.
  13. I don’t like Tex-Mex.
  14. Bluebonnets are for sissies. 
  15. I don’t like Stevie Ray Vaughn.
  16. I think I’ll give my guns to the PTA. 
  17. I prefer Milwaukee’s Best to Lone Star. 
  18. I don’t like BBQ. 
  19. “We’ll bring it to you!” (on a flag)
  20. I wish we had less oil in Texas. 
  21. I don’t like pecans. 
  22. I wish we were more like California or New York. 
  23. I have no respect for Tom Landry.
  24. Big Tex is just a dumb ol’ statue. 
  25. Ol’ Santa Anna was a pretty good guy.

Y’all stay happy out there. 

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The Rambling Texan’s Austria-Bavaria Travel Guide – Teil Zwei (Part Two)

Realizing that Teil Ein (Part One) of The Rambling Texan’s Austria-Bavaria Travel Guide was entirely too much reading for the RT’s ADHD readers to endure in one sitting, future sections of this ever-expanding document will be much briefer.

Here are some more tips for traveling in the AusBav region of the planet:


AusBav is known for its great music, like Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”. Nothing says classy music like an ‘80s Austrian singer rapping about an 18th century musician. Throughout history, AusBav men in powdered wigs wearing funky knee socks and women’s shoes have penned lofty musical pieces such as “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” and “Der Kommisar”.

Be sure to listen for great music in the air as you stroll around. Things like: Cuban salsa music during Cuban Music, Dancing and Crowding the Streets Weekend (which appears to be part of the Annual Asphalt, Dump Truck and Jackhammer Festival) and bad German rap music blaring from beat-up cars at stop lights (much like that heard in any Amerikan city: thumping bass, indeterminable lyrics, shady character at the wheel).


Which brings us to the most famous of AusBav musicians: Wolfie (pronounced “vool-fee”)

OK, if you didn’t see the 1985 move “Amadeus”, then you don’t know that in the movie Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s wife called him “Wolfie”, or that Wolfie often giggled like a horse, or that Antonio Salieri was a sinister, evil, second-rate musician that taunted Wolfie to his death.

Anyway, you’ll see Wolfie’s image everywhere in AusBav. You find it at his Geburtshaus (birth house), his family residence, in every gift shop, and in every confectionery (we’ll get to that in a minute). You can even buy a powdered wig for yourself and pretend that you, too, can whinny like a horse.


When Wolfie wasn’t composing funny-sounding music to be sung in Italian by large women wearing horns, he was apparently making confections. His favorite was a chocolate-covered ball of tasteless green paste, called a Mozartkugeln. That green substance inside is known as marzipan, which sounds remarkably similar to a fungicide the RT uses on his yard when the brown rust sets in.

The RT recommends that you purchase several dozen Mozartkugeln while in AusBav. Don’t worry, you can’t miss them. Just look for the large cardboard cutouts of Wolfie with a snarky look on his face. He’ll be holding a decorative box of twenty or so of these lovely treats. By buying a hundred or so, you’ll not only support the local economy, you’ll also have something to treat your yard with after the spring rains are finished.


This may stun some of you, but Salzburg means “salt town” (those silly Austrians; they really do have a different word for everything). Which means that you can buy salt in the local stores. That’s good because you certainly can’t get salt in Amerika. Oh wait, you can buy salt back home, but don’t let that stop you from buying salt in AusBav. It’s much different that our salt. It’s white and comes in a box. It also tastes salty.

But in AusBav you can also buy salt in colors like pink and brown. Only the stuff that makes it pink or brown isn’t salt. The distinct coloration is from other minerals (aka “dirt”) that are dissolved/suspended in the salt during the process of converting ancient oceans into salt with dirt in it.

You can even tour a working salt mine in AusBav. Walter, your tour guide, will take you right over there in a big bus. He’ll lead you in the back door, avoiding all of those other second-rate tourists. Once inside, the folks at the salt mine will give you funny-looking overalls before seating you on a small train that moves at light speed into a very dark mountain.

They’ll then send you down long wooden slides into the bowels of the earth. Once you reach the anteroom of Hell, the tour guide (not Walter; he dropped you off and went to get his lederhosen cleaned – this one is dressed similar to a railroad conductor) will mumble some words in German while the unwashed masses receive their narrative from an electronic gadget held to their ears.

The talking box describes how they leach the salt out if the mountain with spring water (I, for one, love to hear the word “leach” in conjunction with something I put on my food; at least it wasn’t “leech”, but then, leeches wouldn’t last long in a salt mine would they?). The resulting brine is pumped 29km (approximately 370 furlongs) to a processing facility where the water and impurities are removed. When they open the processing vat, all that’s left are tidy little boxes of pure white salt floating in a pool of pinkish-brown water.

The boxes are removed and shipped to the gift shop, where tourists buy them to ensure that their checked luggage is overweight on the trip home. The pinkish-brown water is mixed with Stevia (a “natural” substance that AusBav folks use as a sweetener because they haven’t yet located the mountain filled with pink and brown sugar), frozen and sold as sorbet.

The Sound Of Music

Now, we’ve already touched on this in Teil Ein (Part One) of this travel guide, but AusBav is where a great deal of the 1960s hit movie The Sound Of Music was filmed, except for the parts where they built sets in Hollywood to look like places in AusBav.

You’ll find SoM tours everywhere, so be sure to take all of them, especially the ones that have eighty or so geriatrics packed into a Greyhound bus. By taking all of the variations of tours, you’ll be sure to hear ALL of the SoM anecdotes the different tour guides tell and realize that about half of that stuff is made up.

In all seriousness, the RT recommends Bob’s Special Tours in Salzburg. They operate eight-passenger vans, so it’s much easier to get in and out of the tour sites. And maybe you’ll get Reinhart as your driver/guide and maybe he’ll demonstrate his unique driving skills, such as “chicken” on one-lane roads, “let’s go this way”, “I don’t care what that sign says”, and others.

You’ll be disappointed, however, because you probably won’t be able to twirl in the meadow where Julie Andrews made her big-screen debut. That’s because she’s still up there, twirling. In 50 years they haven’t been able to get her to stop. So for safety reasons, the tour operators are required to keep you away from the rotating machinery.

The Eagles Nest

The Eagles Nest is a mountain-top retreat in Bavaria that Martin Borman built for Adolph Hitler as a 50th birthday present. Only one problem: Hitler was terrified of heights. And to get to the tea house at the top (that’s what the Nazis did when they got together to plot the destruction of the non-Germanic world: they drank tea), you had to drive straight up the side of a mountain. It’s rumored that Old Adolph wet his poofy pants at least once on his way up there.

Once at the top, Adolf’s staff car would drive through a tunnel deep into the mountain to get to the elevator. Now the Führer wouldn’t allow his driver to go in reverse with him in the car, so once the nutcase Boss was dropped off at the elevator, the driver had to back down the tunnel by himself, then turn the car around and back in all the way in so the car would be facing outward when Corporal Nutjob came back down.

The elevator ride to the top took only 45 seconds, but since Adolph was claustrophobic, it was almost unbearable for him. He had the walls of the elevator lined with highly polished brass so the car would appear bigger. It also gave him an opportunity to check his look: greasy hair, CHECK; funky mustache, CHECK; big poofy pants, CHECK.

And though it held a good number of people, Hitler would ride in the elevator car with no more than five other people because the emergency elevator, used in the event of failure of the primary, only held six people. I guess he didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings if the primary elevator got stuck. He could have just had the extra people shot.

As a result of all of his phobias, Hitler only visited the Eagles Nest fourteen times. He did entertain some big names there, however: Italian Dictator Benito “I Lost My Head” Mussolini, British Prime Minister Neville “I Gave Away Czechoslovakia” Chamberlain, Jimmy Stewart and Frank Sinatra (OK, you caught me. I made those last two up. Jimmy was otherwise engaged flying a B-24 Liberator, trying to bomb Hitler’s butt into oblivion, and Frankie was too busy with his mob interests – he did send regrets, however).

After the war was over, the Eagles Nest was visited by other notables, such as General Dwight Eisenhower and his staff. Hitler wasn’t there to entertain them however. He was lying dead in a ditch outside the FührerBunker in Berlin.

Today, the Eagles Nest is home to a lovely restaurant, called the Kleinhaus. It is a very historic and scenic place to get your schweinefleisch and kaffee.

Again, in all seriousness, the RT took a tour from Panorama Tours to go to the Eagles Nest. Panorama operates large comfortable buses, and Walter (he’s the Autrian tour guide in lederhosen that spoke perfect English with an Australian accent, remember?) knows the ropes and can get you in ahead of all of the folks who chose the other tour options or did it DIY. It was a great experience.


While you are in AusBav, you might consider picking up some souvenirs. Heck, you might even consider paying for them … with Euros, remember? How else will you ensure that your luggage is overweight? (Ever think about the word “luggage”? It wouldn’t be nearly as desirable if it were called “draggage”.)

You might pick up some salt – pink, brown or otherwise. Or maybe several hundred Mozartkugeln. Or maybe just a bucket of manure-laden AusBav soil. Let’s see you get through US Customs with that.

You could spring for an expensive watch or a cheap t-shirt (my personal favorite was the one with a Disney-Pixar Minion dressed up as Mozart). Or take home a McDonald’s Happy Meal, complete with Swarovski crystal kiddie toy (not really). At any rate, you’ll be able to find something at the numerous gift shops that line the streets of the Old City and serve as the exit to every point of interest.


As previously mentioned, the RT arrived in AusBav at the height of the Asphalt, Dump Truck and Jackhammer Festival and enjoyed Cuban Music, Dancing and Crowding the Streets Weekend. We also were treated to Weird Synchro-Dancing In AlterMarkt Evening. This was where two Hungarian guys danced and clapped in sync, something mere human beings are apparently incapable of doing.

The crowd was awed by this unbelievable demonstration of dancing and clapping prowess. And almost as soon as it had begun, twenty minutes later it was over. The Hungarian Synchro-Dancers packed up their stuff and vanished into the night. The RT was moved … all the way to dinner.

That’s All For Now

Sadly, this brings us to the end of Teil Zwei of The Rambling Texan’s Austria-Bavaria Travel Guide. OK, so it wasn’t as brief as I promised at the outset. However, I hope that you are finding the guide valuable as you plan your next visit to AusBav.

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The Rambling Texan’s Austria-Bavaria Travel Guide

Regular readers of the RT’s ramblings will immediately recognize that this post does not carry the RT’s typical headline of “Rumination”. Instead, the following is a free Austria-Bavaria (AusBav) travel guide, based on his recent trip with his daughters to Salzburg, Austria and the surrounding area.

All in all, it was a delightful trip. We saw some fabulous scenery and some wonderful historical settings. Yet there were a few oddities and idiosyncrasies worth sharing for those readers who may travel there in the future.

Your Tour Guide

Now, there are a few things you should know about the RT and the trip that inspired this guide. These may help you put things in perspective.

  1. The RT freely admits to being an Amerikan Schweine, or more accurately a Texikan Schweine. That’s somewhat like the English Pig-Dogs of the Holy Grail. 
  2. We arrived in Salzburg during the height of the semi-annual (bi-annual, quadrennial, centennial?) Asphalt, Dump Truck and Jackhammer Festival. It seems that every bit of underground infrastructure in the Old City was under repair while we were there. No need to go looking for archeological digs on this trip. Nein! Simply look over the edge of the boardwalks spanning the various chasms and everything from ancient Roman ruins, through the periods of Huns, the Mongols, the Archbishops, Napoleon and the Austria-Hungarian Empire was exposed for all to see. 
  3. It had never been as hot in Salzburg as it was when the RT was there. Not even when the earth was first formed was it that hot in Salzburg. They even brought in some extra humidity to celebrate the occasion. Add a complete lack of green space in the old city and a million tourists, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a delightfully sweaty experience. 

With that behind us, we now move to the meat of the travel guide, organized by topic (though in no particular order).


It is a LOOONG way to Salzburg from the RT’s normal environs. It’s even longer when the family seated in row behind you on the airplane has four young kids and decides not to police their activities (e.g. yelling, kicking the seat in front of them, wandering in the aisles, etc.) during the 8.5 hour flight.


Let’s start with the language. They speak German in AusBav (except for the Russians that seem to be everywhere), which is a lot like English, except that they have a different word for nearly everything. Plus, they throw in a lot of “oobs”, “ichs” and “achs” just to make every sentence longer.

The RT’s son says that people speaking German sound like “angry people with colds”.


Get ready for this: you’ll have to pay to use the toilet in AusBav (if you can find one). You’d think that good, old Socialist nations like these would understand the common good that free toilets subsidized by the government would foster. But, alas, they have turned their collective backs on Socialism in this particular facet of their culture and have chosen to capitalize on one of life’s most basic needs. So hang onto every 50 Euro cent coin that you run across while traveling and keep them in your special “potty money” place.

One good thing about paying to use the toilet in AusBav: they are generally clean. Most have attendants present to clean up after messy folks. Some stalls even have sanitizer for you to put on the toilet seat before you place your posterior upon it. Very much unlike the bathroom in the lovely c-store at Exit 64 off I-40 at Lamar. Whether or not you’ve stopped there, you’ve stopped there.

And here’s a way to turn the pay-to-potty idea into gold. When you first have kids, start putting 0.50€ (that’s $0.56USD to the RT) in a porcelain, toilet-shaped piggy bank each time you have to heed nature’s call. That way, by the time your kids are old enough for college, you’ll have plenty of money to send them.


OK, if there was ever anything that contributed to the common good of society, it’s water. You’d think that even Socialists would understand the basic need for H20. Yet there are no public water fountains in AusBav – at least none that I found. You can BUY water, but you can’t HAVE water. Even in a restaurant, they will sell you water in a bottle, but they don’t want you to have tap water, though their tap water is delightful.

And when you buy water, be sure to specify “still” water, otherwise they may bring you something that tastes like it came out of the Sprite fountain at Taco Bueno after the syrup ran out.

Oh, and they have a strong aversion to ice. It may be the cold winters, but something makes them want to drink lukewarm beverages whenever possible.


They use something called “Euros” in AusBav, which is a lot like Monopoly money. The bills are brightly-colored with big numbers on them, the better to determine the rate at which they are fluttering out of your wallet. They are readily available at no charge by inserting your bankcard into any ATM you encounter. Go ahead, get more! Just think of how many bottles of water you can buy and/or how many times you can use the toilet!

I did notice one strange thing, however. While I was having fun spending Euros in AusBav, someone was withdrawing US dollars from my bank account back home. There’s a correlation, but we all know that correlation does not imply causation. I’ll have to check into that when I get back to the land of WalMart, Sonic and Taco Bueno.

Euros come in bills of €5, €10, €20, €50 and €100. They may be bigger ones, but the RT stopped there. Unlike the US, no shop balked when presented with a €100 note. Smaller denominations come in coins of €0.01, €0.02, €0.05, €0.10, €0.20 (not €0.25) and €0.50. Remember that the latter are “potty money” and should be set aside in a special place.


Let’s start with a few basics:

  1. The roads are three feet wide – or maybe it’s one meter (that’s like a yard where they forgot to trim the yardstick down to its final size). OK, I didn’t actually measure them, but that’s what they look like. And the buses, tractors and giant dump trucks take their 20 feet right out of the middle. 
  2. It should go without saying after reading #1, but DON’T RENT A CAR. I don’t care how crazy you are, you are not crazy enough to drive in AusBav. Maybe a NYC cabbie could survive for a few hours, but you’ll be a greasy spot in about six minutes. 
  3. They have public transportation (“autobus“) that will shuttle you almost everywhere you need to go. I say “almost” because if the bus doesn’t go there, you don’t need or want to go there. Just plan for a lot of waiting along the way. Look for a sign with a green “H” on it. That stands for “stop” in German, except that they don’t realize that “stop” starts with an “S”. They call it a “halte” – the word they use instead of “stop”. 
  4. Watch out for bicycles – they WILL run over you. 

Personal Hygiene

Bathing appears to be optional in AusBav – at least from the olfactory ambience one encounters in public places. Socialism must take so much in taxes that people can’t afford the basic necessities of life, such as soap and deodorant. The RT is considering setting up a charitable foundation to provide both for the good people over there. It’s the least I can do. I’ll let you know when we’re ready to accept donations. Checks can be made out to “The Rambling Texan’s Retirement Fund”. I’ll make sure that it gets to the right place.


You’ll want to pack some clothes for your trip, of course. Feel free to pack anything, as long as it advertises your favorite American sports team, clothing brand or entertainment figure. That will help support the image of the Amerikan Schweine abroad, but it will also help you fit into the local culture, because most people in AusBav are wearing clothing emblazoned with the same American sports teams, clothing brands and entertainment figures. Except that they all seem to be speaking Russian.

You’ll also see a bunch of men wearing interesting shorts made out of leather, along with knee socks. Those are lederhosen. Do not laugh at these people. They are native AusBavs – either that, or they are Russians in the tour guide business.


Everything is big in AusBav (except the tiny glasses of water they give you when you order a tiny little cup of coffee). There are BIG mountains everywhere and they all have strange names: Üntersberg, Monschberg, Kapuzinerberg, Kehlstein, Lederhosen and Schadenfreude (OK, those last two aren’t names of mountains, though they are real German words).

You’ll want to find a mountain somewhere, preferably one with a big meadow nearby. Then you can swirl around, singing the theme song from The Sound Of Music with all of the geriatric tourists.

Mörkweg (“moork-vig”)

I don’t have any idea what this means, it was just the name of my favorite bus stop … I mean “halte”. Had I stayed long enough, I’m certain to have learned the Russian equivalent.


I recommend that you eat food of some sort while you are in AusBav. You’ll find many places where you can do so. I do hope you like pork because at the end of the day, it’s all pork. Whether it’s “speck”, “schinken”, “schweinekotelett”, “Wiener schnitzel” or ”bratwurst” … it’s all pork … I mean “schweinefleisch” (literally “swine flesh”). Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

I personally recommend that you take your schweinefleisch in the form of sausage. There are too many in AusBav to name them here, but I personally preferred the Bosna, a spicy sausage with some curry spice on it. We found them in a street market in Universitätsplatz. Don’t try to say “Universitätsplatz” while eating your Bosna; you might choke.

There was even a McDonald’s on the Old City of Salzburg. With porcelain cups. And a pastry case. In other words, nothing like an American McDonald’s. Except for the free wifi.

They do like ice cream (“eis”) in AusBav and much of it is very good. We found it an excellent way to get rid of all of the Euro coinage that accumulated in our pockets each day.


They drink a lot of coffee in AusBav, but they drink it in very small cups. So in reality, they may not drink any more coffee than the RT does. They have all of the snooty varieties, like you can get at Starbucks, only it’s much better. If you know the Italian (another language like English, but with yet another set of different words) names for those snooty varieties of Java, you should be OK, since the Germans and Italians were on the same side in the last World War.

But watch out when trying to obtain good, old ‘Merican coffee. There are several ways to order it, all of which will cause your waiter to look disparagingly at you before spitting on the ground at your feet. These are:

  1. Café Americano”, which means “bring me an espresso, but put some extra water in it so I can stand to drink it.”
  2. Kaffe”, which means “use your espresso machine to try and make something close to coffee like Americans drink.” Similar to Café Americano.
  3. FilterKaffe”, which means: “make my coffee the way that unwashed Gentiles make it.”

Cartoon Characters

This reaches beyond AusBav culture and into mainstream German culture, but it was on TV.

You’ll want to look on Wikipedia for information on Burnd das Brot (“Burnd Bread”). He’s a very interesting German television character, originally developed for children’s TV. He’s a depressed, fatalistic, snarky piece of burned toast. Quite interesting.

The RT will be looking for the complete video series on DVD, with subtitles. I wouldn’t want it dubbed. It would lose much of its German-language charm.


If you want to avail yourself of all of the shopping opportunities, you’ll of course need Euros. As mentioned above, these are readily available by sticking your bankcard in a little machine. Having Euros will allow you to toss them around in every high-end shop in the Old City and buy things you don’t need that will cost you even more money to get home, because your luggage will be overweight.

However, you might not realize that you’ll need a shopping bag. You see, unless you shop at expensive clothing shops, you don’t get a bag to put your purchases in.

This is especially true at the grocery store where you’ll buy your schweinefleisch. The cashier will scan all of your items, then bark some numeric German gibberish at you, after which they will expect you to hand over the Euros. Then all of your items are left lying at the end of the conveyer belt, where you will be expected to retrieve them by yourself. This is where the necessity of a bag becomes apparent.

Other than going back through the line to BUY a natural, biodegradable bag with the store chain’s logo on it, you will be forced to instantly come up with a plan to get your groceries off the belt before the next patron’s groceries co-mingle with yours.

The RT determined that several large chocolate bars will fit in each sock, a package of salami will fit under a ball cap and a loaf of bread can be buttoned inside one’s shirt. OK, not really. There was nothing nearly that organized. We stuffed all of our items tightly in an already-full backpack and hit the road.

So, here’s how the RT recommends addressing the shopping bag issue: Just stuff a dozen or so WalMart sacks in your luggage just for this purpose. That way everyone will know that you are Amerikan Schweine.


Now you may have heard that waiters in AusBav can be rude. The RT read that in a travel book and found it to be a bit overstated. Not a single waiter spat on me during the entire trip. Several did look down their noses noticeably each time I had the audacity to order kaffee at a street-side café. And more than one stared menacingly at me while waiting for me to order one of the unintelligible items from the menu.

“Menacingly?” you may ask. Well, when a 60-year-old man in lederhosen, knee socks and clodhoppers is standing over you while you try to decipher the menu and decide which variety of schweinefleisch you want at this particular meal, it can seem menacing.

Meeting People on the Street

Living under Socialism must really take the wind out of one’s sails, because the folks the RT met on the street didn’t smile much. Not even a big “Howdy!” or “Hey, Y’all!” evoked a smile. They didn’t make eye contact and they certainly don’t mind bumping into you – especially the ones speaking Russian.

They will push in front of you in line, so the RT recommends acting like you are from New York. Shout “How about those Yankees?” as you stomp on their foot and shove them out of the way. Or shout angry-sounding gibberish and pretend you are Russian.


We learned that Salzburg was ruled by Catholic Archbishops for many, many years. One of our tour guides (“Rheinhart”, I believe) commented that “the Archbishops weren’t very Catholic”. I guess that explains how they could justify putting all of the peasants to work in the mountains mining salt (“Salzburg” means “salt town”- we never did find “Pfefferburg”), while they collected all of the revenue from its sale to build HUGE castles, fortresses, gardens for themselves, their families, their mistresses and the like. And also to buy very nice torture equipment to extract confessions from non-conformists, since no one could be executed without a confession. Tortured, yes. Executed, no.

Oh, and those fortresses also served to protect the Archbishops from things like peasant revolts. Kinda helps explain why much of Europe has abandoned the Catholic church over the years.


Everything in AusBav is OLD. Even stuff that isn’t old is built to look old. Except for the newfangled glass and steel stuff that the modern artsy-fartsy folks insist on building when others aren’t looking.

And when the RT says “old”, he’s not talking USA-old (50-100 years), he’s talking AusBav-old (200-1600 years). They have everything from the Roman age (~400AD) through Mozart (~1800AD).

Once out of the Old City of Salzburg, you’ll find lovely alpine architecture. (You’re wondering where the joke is here. There is none. It really is lovely in the alpine countryside. The RT could live there … Except for the Socialism part.)

Modern Art

Though the majority of folks in AusBav seem to like their culture and are comfortable with it staying the same as it has been for hundreds of years (the average age of a pair of lederhosen), there appears to be a vocal minority that wants to modernize the culture.

As a result, there are “modern art” museums, where you can see lovely things made out of crushed and melted plastic. There is modern art in public places, such as a giant golden globe (not the television award kind) with a little man standing on it in one of the platz. It’s truly lovely … and tasteless. There was also a lovely display of pickle statues.

Touring AusBav

Should you want to tour portions of AusBav, there are numerous options available to see sights such as the Eagles Nest, Berchtesgaden, the salt mines, Kōenigsee, Üntersberg, etc.

  1. Do-it-yourself touring. You can take public transportation to most of the sights in and around Salzburg and Berchtesgaden. HOWEVER, you will be doing those tours with a million other people who had the same idea. You will get to wait in line with all of those folks, so be sure to make friends on the autobus.
  2. Tour buses. You will pay more Euros for these tours, but what the heck! The machine dispenses them freely, remember? You will also get special access to the sightseeing destinations, meaning that you won’t have to stand in line, or worry about changing buses. This is the route that the RT’s group chose. Plus, we got to meet some great tour guides like Reinhart and Walter (who spoke perfect German, as well as English with an Australian accent – go figure).


AusBav is a haven for smokers. They don’t only permit it, they seem to cultivate it. Ashtrays are on every table. Cigarette vending machines are on every corner. Cigarettes are sold at every store. Every pair of lederhosen comes with a year’s supply. OK, not really. It’s really only a six-month supply. I wonder if they teach the fundamentals of smoking in Kindergarten.

We had people blowing smoke at us in every café and restaurant we visited. Kinda reminded the RT of the good old days in the USA, when every restaurant had a cloud of stale cigarette smoke hanging inside, even after they separated into smoking and non-smoking sections. Especially fine scarfing establishments like the Waffle House.

There was an interesting dichotomy in all of it, however. For all of the smoking and availability to smoking products, half of the front of every pack of cigarettes was dedicated to subtle warnings such as “SMOKING KILLS” and “SMOKING HARMS YOU AND OTHERS AROUND YOU”. And the smoking rooms in the airports had statues of Joe the Camel at the door, with “SMOKING KILLS” painted all over him.

So, the active campaign says “DON’T SMOKE!”, but the widespread availability of cigarettes and places to smoke them seemed to say “HERE, WANT SOME MORE?”


Well, this concludes the RT’s Travel Guide to Austria-Bavaria – at least for now. I hope that it proves useful should you ever find a reason to travel to that part of the world. And it won’t hurt you if you do. The hills are, indeed, alive with The Sound Of Music. It’s the sound of all of the geriatric tour groups singing along with the soundtrack on their bus tours.

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Rumination XXVII -Call Me “Mallard” …

I ask that you, Dear Reader, not refer to me as the RT any more. From now on, please call me “Mallard”. 
“Why”, you ask? Well, for years, I’ve been a duck trapped inside a homo sapiens’ body. And I’ve been so very unhappy.  

But no longer! Because today, I proudly proclaim that I am now a duck. 

Now, I know I don’t look much like a duck, but that’s OK, because I’ve got a surgical procedure planned that will change that. And while I’ll never ever able to fly with them, I’m having some beautiful duck wings implanted on my back. 

I’ve got a duck-feathered body suit on order, as well as some artificial duck feet. And I’ll look absolutely stunning with my plastic duck bill in place. 

Yes, I’ll be the first trans-specied duck around. I’ve already been approached by Field & Stream about a magazine cover.  

With this change, I’ll expect all of the other ducks to welcome and accept me immediately because I deserve it, since I’ve actually been one of them since I was born. Sadly, I’ll be forced to brand anyone or anything that doesn’t accept me as a duck as bigoted, intolerant, hateful and ducka-phobic. 

After all, it’s all about me and what I want – regardless of how it impacts anyone else (and their sensibility).

Some of you narrow-minded readers may wonder why all of this is necessary. The answer should be obvious: God (if there even is one) made a mistake. If He had known what He was doing, He would have made me a duck from the start.  

But I’ve taken care of His mistake once and for all. For now I am what I’ve always truly been: a duck. 

Regards, Mallard 


I trust that you, Dear Reader, recognize the tounge-in-cheek nature of this post. The God I serve doesn’t make mistakes. 

“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)

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Rumination XXVI – The Truce of the Bear

This must be a good week for Kipling. My last post centered on a poem by Kipling that my Mom often quoted when I was young: “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”

This one focuses on another one of Kipling’s poems that is as on-target today as it was when he penned it in 1898: “The Truce of the Bear”

Here’s why it’s appropriate.

I read on the front page of the local paper yesterday that the President of Ukraine has been negotiating with the Tsar … er, Dictator … um, Premier … ah, KGB Thug … so-called “President” of Russia, Vladimir Putin, toward a solution of the crisis between the two nations.

What that really means is that Ukraine is trying to keep Putin from taking over the rest of their country, as he’s already done in Crimea. That really doesn’t sound much like negotiating to the RT, unless it’s the kind that takes place in Mob-controlled cities where folks “negotiate” with the mob to keep them from breaking their legs.

I’ve said it many times before in many different settings: Putin is a KGB thug. He was one before the wall came down, and he is just as much one today.

In spite of the fact that the name of Putin’s country has changed from the USSR (CCCP for those who speak Russian) back to its pre-Bolshevik revolution name of Russia, it’s just as much a dictatorship today as it was before the wall came down (OK, the USSR was a Communist oligarchy of sorts, rather than a true dictatorship). And Putin is still a KGB thug.

One thing has always been true: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a KGB thug.

Which brings me back to Kipling, who was a keen interpreter of the times in which he lived. And, looking back at the things he wrote, he was to some degree a prophet. Or, perhaps, it’s simply that history repeats itself (a noted problem with history observed by Clarence Darrow) and what an insightful observer writes in one century is quite likely to be relevant in the next.

If you know anything at all about Russia or the Soviet Union, you likely know that it is generally portrayed as the bear (just as the US is the bald eagle). And it’s been that way for a long time. So, please keep that in mind as you read this quaint hunting tale. But if you think it’s about hunting, you’ve completely missed the point.

I give you Kipling’s “The Truce of the Bear:

The Truce of the Bear

YEARLY, with tent and rifle, our careless white men go
By the Pass called Muttianee, to shoot in the vale below.
Yearly by Muttianee he follows our white men in –
Matun, the old blind beggar, bandaged from brow to chin.

Eyeless, noseless, and lipless – toothless, broken of speech,
Seeking a dole at the doorway he mumbles his tale to each;
Over and over the story, ending as he began:
“Make ye no truce with Adam-zad – the Bear that walks like a Man!

“There was a flint in my musket – pricked and primed was the pan,
When I went hunting Adam-zad – the Bear that stands like a Man.
I looked my last on the timber, I looked my last on the snow,
When I went hunting Adam-zad fifty summers ago!

“I knew his times and his seasons, as he knew mine, that fed
By night in the ripened maizefield and robbed my house of bread.
I knew his strength and cunning, as he knew mine, that crept
At dawn to the crowded goat-pens and plundered while I slept.

“Up from his stony playground – down from his well-digged lair –
Out on the naked ridges ran Adam-zad the Bear –
Groaning, grunting, and roaring, heavy with stolen meals,
Two long marches to northward, and I was at his heels!

“Two long marches to northward, at the fall of the second night,
I came on mine enemy Adam-zad all panting from his flight.
There was a charge in the musket – pricked and primed was the pan –
My finger crooked on the trigger – when he reared up like a man.

“Horrible, hairy, human, with paws like hands in prayer,
Making his supplication rose Adam-zad the Bear!
I looked at the swaying shoulders, at the paunch’s swag and swing,
And my heart was touched with pity for the monstrous, pleading thing.

“Touched with pity and wonder, I did not fire then . . .
I have looked no more on women – I have walked no more with men.
Nearer he tottered and nearer, with paws like hands that pray –
From brow to jaw that steel-shod paw, it ripped my face away!

“Sudden, silent, and savage, searing as flame the blow –
Faceless I fell before his feet, fifty summers ago.
I heard him grunt and chuckle – I heard him pass to his den.
He left me blind to the darkened years and the little mercy of men.

“Now ye go down in the morning with guns of the newer style,
That load (I have felt) in the middle and range (I have heard) a mile?
Luck to the white man’s rifle, that shoots so fast and true,
But – pay, and I lift my bandage and show what the Bear can do!”

(Flesh like slag in the furnace, knobbed and withered and grey –
Matun, the old blind beggar, he gives good worth for his pay.)
“Rouse him at noon in the bushes, follow and press him hard –
Not for his ragings and roarings flinch ye from Adam-zad.

“But (pay, and I put back the bandage) this is the time to fear,
When he stands up like a tired man, tottering near and near;
When he stands up as pleading, in wavering, man-brute guise,
When he veils the hate and cunning of his little, swinish eyes;

“When he shows as seeking quarter, with paws like hands in prayer
That is the time of peril – the time of the Truce of the Bear!”

Eyeless, noseless, and lipless, asking a dole at the door,
Matun, the old blind beggar, he tells it o’er and o’er;
Fumbling and feeling the rifles, warming his hands at the flame,
Hearing our careless white men talk of the morrow’s game;

Over and over the story, ending as he began: –
“There is no truce with Adam-zad, the Bear that looks like a Man!”

Rudyard Kipling, 1898

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Rumination XXV – The Gods of the Copybook Headings

The RT misses his Mama.

I lost her 15 years ago, but I still think about her almost every day. Gerry Lou had a sharp mind, keen insight and a rapier wit. Maybe folks will say the same about me someday … if I’m lucky.

I know that she would have a LOT to say about the state of the world today. She was a student of the Bible and tried her best to live the life that God laid out for those who would follow Him. I’m absolutely certain that she would give you an earful on any of the following things going on today (a non-exhaustive list, for sure):

  • No Prayer in Schools
  • Removal of the Ten Commandments from Public Places
  • Disrespectful Children
  • Irresponsible Adults
  • Parents that Abandon their Families
  • Spouses that Cheat
  • Same-Sex Marriage
  • Abortions
  • … and the list goes on

Gerry Lou taught the RT many, many things about how he should live. One of the ways she did that was to point himto profound writings that had good, moral content. One of her favorite writers of such was Rudyard Kipling, and one of her favorites of his is the subject of this Rumination.

When Gerry Lou was a little girl, she learned to write in a “copybook”, where one copied a phrase from the top of the page over and over on that page as a way to practice writing letters. The RT learned the same way, writing “See Spot run” over and over.

But when Gerry Lou was writing in her copybook, the phrases weren’t about Dick, Jane or Spot. Instead, they were wise, ethical and/or moral sayings. Some were even (gasp!) Bible verses. So while she practiced and learned her letters, she was learning deep, insightful things that would benefit her (and later, her children) all through life.

Oh, that our society still practiced such heresy, instead of the watered-down, politically-correct, non-offending, non-judgmental, “can’t we all just get along” Pablum on which today’s children are fed.

And with that, I give you one of Gerry Lou’s favorite Kipling poems. Oh, and if you think it has anything to do with evolution, you’ve missed the point entirely:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Rudyard Kipling, October 1919

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