Life Lesson #11

Stop being idle.
Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.
Evaluate situations and take decisive action.
You can’t change what you refuse to face.
Making progress involves risk.
You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.

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From Miner to Governor: Tasker Oddie

Tasker Oddie
Born in Brooklyn, New York, October 24th, 1870, he lived in East Orange, New Jersey, where he attended school. And from the age of sixteen to nineteen, Tasker Oddie lived on a ranch in Nebraska.

After returning to New York City from Nebraska he attended night law school, from which he was graduated, and in 1895 was admitted to the New York Bar. Then in 1898 Oddie came to Nevada in the interest of his New York employers to investigate conditions in their mining, railroad, banking and other interests in that State.

He uncovered frauds which were being perpetrated on his employers, and as a result they recovered large sums of money which they had lost.

The following year Oddie headed for the mining field, going into the most inaccessible, sparsely inhabited and mountainous districts of Southern Nevada. He underwent hardships, working the most difficult manual labor, learning the practical side of mining as well as the scientific side.

Around 1900, Oddie became interested in the original discovery of the Tonopah mines with his friend, the famous Jim Butler, their discoverer, and they made a fortune in both gold and silver. Goldfield and other important mining camps were soon discovered as the result of the opening up of the Tonopah District, and millions of dollars a year were produced by each of these camps.

Their discovery meant the building of of new railroads, the new towns and the reemergence of mining industry in western Nevada. Unfortunately Oddie was so heavily invested in mining, banks, ranches, stock-raising and other industries that when the panic of 1907 hit, he was unable to weather the storm.

From 1901 to 1903, Oddie was Nye County District Attorney, from 1904 to 1908 State Senator and again from 1921 to 1933 and Governor from 1911 to 1915. During his tenure, women got the right to vote, a state motor vehicle law was sanctioned, mining safety legislation was endorsed, and there were improvements to workmen’s compensation benefits.

He also signed the charter creating Las Vegas on March 17th, 1911. Mount Oddie near Tonopah is named after him, as is Oddie Boulevard in Sparks.

Oddie died February 17th, 1950 in San Francisco, California, at the age of 79. He is buried at Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, Nevada.

But She was Gone

My friend – I’ll call him Martin for the purpose of this story – is a former deputy sheriff. Martin doesn’t frighten nor shake easily when it comes to encountering unknown situations.

Martin retired about a year ago, so I decided to visit him. Hours later, after driving to Siskiyou County in Northern California, we found ourselves on the front porch of his nearly finished cabin, enjoying the view.

Our conversation moved from one topic to the other until we fell on the subject of the supernatural. That’s when Martin told me a tale that left him frightened and chilled to this day.

He looked deeply into the bottom of the glass of whiskey he’d been sipping, seeing the event in his mind and searching for the words to begin the story. I sat quietly, waiting for him to begin.

“There was no moon that morning,” Martin explained, “So the only real light was from my cruiser’s headlights.”

He continued telling me that he was driving south along Lava Beds Highway, near Tulelake, south of the California-Oregon state line, his headlights piercing the dark along the two lane roadway. As he sped along, looking ahead towards the end of his high beams, only see a lone figure frantically waving to get his attention.

With his red and blue lights flashing, Martin slowed and cautiously approached what he could now see was a woman. He flicked his spot light around to see if anyone else might be nearby, possibly concealed or if she were the victim of a vehicle accident.

After radioing in his location, Martin got out of his cruiser and walked up to the woman. He couldn’t help but notice how young she looked, but how out of style he clothes appeared.

“There’s a woman over there in the irrigation ditch,” she told Martin.

“Okay,” he responded, “Stay here.”

Martin shined his flashlight in the direction the woman pointed, taking a few steps towards the ditch. He could see a smallish form laying in the dried mud.

He turned back towards the woman – but she was gone.

Martin passed his flashlight from side-to-side and could find no one in the area. With the disappearance of the woman, Martin retreated to his cruiser and called into dispatch, asking for back-up.

“As I sat there,” he stated, “I thought about how to best explain how I found what I suspected to be a body in that ditch.”

He then explained that though he knew it to be dishonest and against every thing he stood for, he knew he’d have to lie and falsify his written report about the discovery. I could tell that this bothered him.

“I’m not one that believes in ghosts and shit like that,” Martin told me, “But I don’t know how else to explain it.”

We sat there in silence for some lengthy minutes as he had nothing more to share and I didn’t want to press him with a deluge of questions. I could also tell he was reliving the moment in his head.

Later that evening, he showed me a clipping from a local paper: “An unidentified body was found and Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office deputies are investigating. The body was discovered in an irrigation ditch. The sheriff’s office says the body is severely decomposed, and likely had been submerged for two to four weeks in several feet of water in the ditch.”

With a long sigh, Martin concluded, “Guess there’s some crap we’re not supposed to understand in this world, huh?”

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Overheard at the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day:

“Hey, Mom, this stuffing’s great!”

“Why, thank you, son.”

“So how did you get the turkey to swallow it?”

*******

May you and yours have a blessed and refreshing day. In that spirit I offer this prayer:

Almighty God, giver of all good things, we thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this nation. They restore us, though we often destroy them. Humble us that we may be made right in your name.

Amen.

Remembering Kidhood

While growing up in Klamath, I played in the dirt and mud, got my ass whipped with a belt, razor-strop or a switch that I had to select, started my school day at MKS with the ‘Pledge of Allegiance,’ used paper bags to cover my school books, had an enforced bedtime, and rode in the bed of Dad’s pick-up truck.  I played in Hunter and High Prairie Creek and the Klamath River, swam in the Pacific ocean at DeMartin’s Beach, rode my bicycle, skated and skateboarded without a helmet or knee and elbow pads up and down Redwood Drive and around Azalea Drive, hung out in the sun without protection, returned glass milk and soda bottles, so they could be sent back to the plant to be washed, sterilized, refilled, and used again.

As a kid, I watched ‘M*A*S*H,’ ‘The Walton’s,’ ‘All in the Family,’ ‘Hee Haw,’ ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ and the first few years of ‘SNL,’ had a crush on Twiggy, Marie Osmond and Kate Jackson, and only watched cartoons, like ‘The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour,’ ‘Johnny Quest,’ ‘Flintstones,’ and ‘The Rocky-Bullwinkle Show,’ on Saturday mornings, and we had only one TV with only three TV channels (KEET, KIEM, and KVIQ,) and no remote.

I also recorded my favorite music onto cassettes, from KPOD and KRED during the day, KRAK and KEX at night, and a record player with 33-1/3, 45 and 78 rpm on it.

Often my parents sent me to Woodland Villa to buy their cigarettes, which means I lived in a home with second-hand smoke, and by age nine I was washing my sister’s diaper because we didn’t have the throw-away kind, hanging them on the line outside to dry. I was also given the chore of washing and folding all my families clothing.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Mom taught me to blend and stir stuff by hand, using a manual hand-mixer, how to cook dinner and how to set a proper table by her standards. Later she taught me how to sew and iron.

Back in the day, we packaged fragile items to mail by wadding up old newspapers to cushion it. I also had to use a push mower to cut the lawn, I drank from the garden hose, and later played Hide-and-Seek, Freeze-Tag, Kick-the-Can, Red Rover, Hop Scotch, Simon Says, Jacks, ‘Jarts,’ ( those large metal yard darts,) while staying outside all day long, only having to be home by the time the sun went down and the vapor street lamps buzzed on.

I didn’t go to summer camp every year and we made ice cream, using rock salt, every summer.

No one wore seat belts in the back seat and I sat in the middle of the front seat of the car and truck, in Dad’s lap as a little boy, while manning the steering wheel. I also played on metal slides, hung upside down on the jungle gym and bailed out of the swings, scaled fences, climbed trees, played in the woods, jumped off the roof and owned a B-B gun (and never put my eye out.)

Adam and I also jumped on our bunk bed until it collapsed; we ate unwrapped candy given to us by people at the bank, the insurance office or some stores in Crescent City and left to wait in the car for what felt like hours while our parents shopped for groceries at Kacy’s, Jerricks or Pacific Market. I also made and drank stove-top percolated coffee before I was nine, was a latch-key kid before it became a concern, and remember pull-tabs (ever cut your foot after stepping on one down by the river in the Klamath Glen?) and beer and soda steel cans.

As gross, stupid, silly or nostalgic as it sounds, I picked my nose, flicked my boogers, tried cutting my hair when no one was looking, and shaved my face without permission, then thought I had committed suicide when I splashed on a handful of Old Spice on my freshly nicked face. I sang into my toothbrush, used a pay-phone, paying a dime for that call, bought my comic books at Woodland Villa, searched the Squeeze Boxes record bin for bargains, paid a penny at the bubble-gum machine in the Ben Franklin 5 & Dime, ate all the Halloween candy I collected, dreamed of being an astronaut, policeman, fireman, and a hero, wrote in cursive, used a No. 2 pencil and filled in the bubbles on a Scranton test and thought I was special when I was given a hand calculator for Christmas.

There was a time when I played table football with a folded paper triangle, avoided stepping on sidewalk cracks, blew milk bubbles, shot rubber bands at my brother and sisters, let the dog lick my face, used sticks as swords, rocks and pine-cones as hand-grenades and fingers as guns, played combat fighting the Germans, built forts in the woods, the backyard and in the house and climbed trees to the top. I also wrote on my skin, my jeans and my tennis-shoes, worked on my bicycle with Dad’s tools, used a paper map and a compass and our home had a dictionary, a set of encyclopedias, an atlas and a family bible.

I didn’t have a personal computer, a cell phone, or 24-hour TV and I have to say — my childhood was frickin’ fantastic!

Trouble in the ‘Hood’

There was all sorts of commotion going on Sunday morning in our neighborhood. Mary and I were awakened first by sirens and then the heavy thump of a low flying helicopter.

Evidently, a man armed with a rifle, called the Sparks Police saying he was suicidal. They located Robert Brunsvold near Spanish Springs High School, jus’ off Eagle Canyon, but when they tried to talk with him, he drove into the hills behind the school.

Authorities decided did not follow him. Instead they called in the Washoe County Sheriff’s Raven helicopter, which was able to find the  Brunsvold.

Raven personnel were able to get the license plate from Brunsvold’s vehicle, which lead to his identity. Once they knew who he was, they were able to get his cell phone number and talk to him.

For over six-hours as they talked, he shot at rocks, trees and his vehicle, prompting Sparks Police call in the Reno Police SWAT team. Eventually, they were able to convince Brunsvold to give up.

He was arrested and charged with obstructing with a firearm, and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. Brunsvold, a 10-year veteran of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, has been placed on admin leave.

Also, I saw a large, black unmarked vehicle, much like a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, that left me wondering what its purpose could be, and no one would tell me. It was parked in the lot across from the high school at Shaw Middle School. (Perhaps a modern version of the ‘Black Mariah?’)

It’s stuff like this that make me worry about our civil liberties and how fast they can be taken from us and how we’ll never know who ‘they’ are.

All Hail, Emperor Obama

Obviously, President Barack Obama doesn’t care about the four-million immigrants waiting to get into the U.S. legally. And now, we do have a broken immigration system.

On the evening of 104th Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, Obama said he would use his executive power to damage the U.S. through so-called ‘immigration reform,’ by blocking deportations of parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents.  This action reportedly affects some five-million illegal’s living in this nation.

He did this despite a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, finding 48 percent of Americans disapproved of his taking executive action, while 38 percent approve it. Among Latinos, only 43 percent approve, while 37 percent oppose.

Republicans argue that his actions are unconstitutional.  Obama echoed this himself, casting doubt on what he could do without Congress’ consent.

Last November, he said, “If I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws, that’s part of our tradition. And so, the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend that I can do something by violating our laws.”

Two months earlier Obama opined: “We’re not going to have them operate under a cloud, under a shadow. But if we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that’s not an option.”

And in February of 2013, he complained: “This is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency. The problem is that I’m the president of the United States; I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”

Following Thursday’s prime-time speech, Obama headed for Senator Harry Reid’s stomping-grounds of Las Vegas, Nevada, where he signed his immigration order during a press event at Del Sol High School, where he spoke two years ago, claiming he wanted Congress to reform the immigration system. Incidentally, the Pew Research Center reports Nevada has the highest proportion of illegal immigrants in the U.S. at 7.6 percent.

What’s really hiding in the shadows is the news that the U.S. Labor Department granted $1.4 million dollars to Mexico to help enforce its ‘Federal Labor Law Reform of 2012.’ The grant is specifically focused on combating gender discrimination, forced pregnancy testing, sexual harassment, and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

And where are the Republicans – who said they’d fight Obama’s actions ‘tooth and nail,’ – on holiday through Thanksgiving weekend.