Scattering of Ashes

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings


While visiting with my dad today I brought up an awkward topic, having to write everything down on a tablet since his hearing is all but non existent.  I wrote down, “Where do you want your ashes scattered”, not a normal question to ask except dad’s in hospice now and heaven only knows how long we’ll get to visit.

Back in August when my mother died she’d left very specific instructions; she wished her ashes to be scattered among the Mangroves that were found along the river and so that’s what we did.  Dad is rapidly getting closer to the ‘dropping off place’.  He hasn’t given such a request, only that he wants to be cremated.  I’ve no intention of placing him on the mantle place in a Biscotti Jar or putting him in the closet on the top shelf next to an old worn out pair of blue jeans.

He took his time reading the question and shrugged his shoulders with the universal answer, “How should I know”.  I wrote some more…“How about on a golf course?  Maybe we can put you on a fairway; or in your case, the rough or in a sand trap?”  Again he read the tablet and smiled back at me while nodding his head.  He hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

So if you read about some fool getting arrested for trespassing on a golf course please remember I would be carrying out my father’s last wishes.  It’s difficult saying goodbye, very difficult, a lot like dad trying to stay on the fairways.


Background Checks and Fingerprints

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

checks1Recently the State of Texas altered the requirements for the renewal process licensed locksmiths must complete in order to continue applying their skills in what used to be a free market system.  The Department of Public Safety/Private Security Bureau, (DPS/PSB) working under their interpretation of HB 4030 passed during the 84th session, has determined that locksmiths must haveyet another set of official fingerprints submitted along with a complete background check in order to maintain a valid locksmith license.

While visiting my father, holding his aging hand as we watched some insignificant golf show on the television, I noticed his fingers were a bit discolored as his circulatory system no longer functioned at peak efficiency. It’s just a guess; but you could bet the farm the fingerprints on his hands would be the same ones he’s had since birth, the same ones he had when he signed up with the Navy in WWII and the same ones he’ll have when he meets St. Peter on the other side of the veil.

Some where in Washington, as the singer Arlo Guthrie would point out in his tune, Alice’s Restaurant, there’s a study in black and white of his fingerprints…

These identifying marks don’t change all that much over time so it’s beyond my thought process as to why the State of Texas considers it necessary, requiring locksmiths to furnish a fresh set of these prints simply to renew a license… a license which has that very same set of fingerprints already tied to it and filed away collecting dust.

About the only thing such a requirement does is add $25.00 to the cost of doing business for each and every locksmith while accomplishing absolutely nothing towards the State of Texas’ goal, “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”

Then there’s the requirement of another complete and thorough background check in order to maintain an already issued locksmith license; that bothers me too.  Actually, the veins in my neck are pulsing and may explode while thinking about this.

checks2The State of Texas conducts a complete and thorough background check of each individual prior to issuing a locksmith license.  If the State wants to find out whether or not a licensed locksmith has committed a noteworthy criminal act since the last time he/she went through the licensing process then all the State’s investigators would have to do would be to bring up a standard criminal check on their computer, not much different than the way police officers are able to find out the same information while on patrol; it takes only a minute, sometimes less.

If someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths…locksmiths who’ve already been fingerprinted, had their background checked six ways to Sunday and then issued a license…if someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths a threat or danger to the public…  Could you hand me my blood pressure medicine; those veins are swelling some more.

Yesterday I received an email from the DPS/PSB letting me know my latest renewal efforts were finally accepted and that my pocket sized wallet card would be sent in a timely manner.

Do you see why the updated renewal process bothers me?

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


Watching someone drop the ball

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

Ball1Last night during the Astros’ game with the Minnesota Twins center fielder, Carlos Gomez, didn’t get the job done.  Perhaps that’s an understatement as he let a ball get by him and turned a single into an RBI two base error and permitted the batter to reach third.

Bad as that was, Gomez managed to follow that botched play with yet another screw up as he lost track of a fly ball that should have been caught; but instead landed several feet away.  Remember the man on third, the one who should have been at first except for a two base error, that man scored and the batter ended up with a ‘gimme’ triple since the ball was ‘lost in the lights’.

I won’t print what the pitcher, Collin McHugh said, use your imagination; but it was captured on film for all who can read lips.  Let’s just say it follows the thought pattern of, “You have got to be kidding!”, only with a more common street verbiage and tone.

I mention this as a lead in for what’s going on in our country.  ‘We The People’ are standing on the mound as the ball(s) get dropped  over and over.

We have an individual running for President of the United States of America who has managed to avoid being charged and prosecuted for crimes which would have the average individual before a firing squad, the gallows or serving life in prison without chance of parole.

Ball2The FBI made their case against Hillary Clinton only to back off at the last moment and have FBI DirectorJames Comey tell ‘We The People’ that the charges shouldn’t be filed because they couldn’t prove intent.

Did I hear, “You have got to be kidding me”, or was it the cruder version as stated by the Astros’ pitcher in last night’s game?

It should be noted, none of the felonies which Hillary violated in regard to lost email or improper us of email required ‘intent’; simply that the crime occurred, either by willful intent or neglect did not matter.

We could say the FBI and Justice Department lost it in the lights, much as Gomez let the ball avoid his glove.

‘We The People’ are standing on the mound, figuratively speaking, watching this unfold before our eyes.   I can assure you my exclamation matched up with the Astros’ pitcher… and those who can read lips know what I said.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


If You’re in Trouble Find a Policeman

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

PoliceI’m sixty five years old and recognize the blessing in being able to call my mother on the phone; makes her claim of being 37 going on 38 much harder to believe, just sayin’.  The other day she expressed her gratitude that I’d served as a police officer; but at the same time was relieved I’d retired as each passing day brought headlines of police officers being ambushed and murdered.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say there’s a War on Cops.

Remember when children were taught to find a policeman if they got lost or were in trouble?  “Policemen are your friends” and we all nodded as the lessons were presented in 1st Grade.

I’ll never forget the first time I met a policeman face to face.  It was the middle of winter and my brother and I had been hiding behind a short row of hedges, giving us cover to throw snowballs at passing cars.  We’d pop up, let ‘em fly and watch as drivers skidded on the slick pavement when the snowballs slammed into them.  It was great fun.

Getting back to my first face to face meeting with a policeman…  We were hunched down listening to the tires crunching snow and waiting for the vehicle to arrive at precisely the right location in relationship to our planned attack.  We popped up, let ‘em fly and at that same moment realized that our intended target was a police car.

The blood in our legs froze solid as we stood silently, unable to move let alone run.  The policeman stopped, opened the door and quietly walked over to us with a wry smile on his face; we, on the other hand were having trouble breathing.

He placed us in the police car and drove us home, just a couple of blocks. Most of this part was a blur; but I remember my mother opening the door and talking briefly with the policeman prior to letting my brother and me enter the house.  She did thank him for being understanding and assured him it wouldn’t happen again.

Hard to believe that one day I’d join the police department and serve for twenty years.

I remember one night driving up on a bunch of kids who were ‘toilet papering’ a house during football season.  A couple of them ran off into the darkness as soon as they recognized the police car; but others froze in place, much as I had so many years ago.

Interestingly, the house these kids were ‘toilet papering’ belonged to one of their friends; it was something of an honor to have your trees, bushes and house covered with long streams of toilet paper following a big win.

I explained that it might be a good idea to clean up the mess they’d made, never getting out of the car.  They hadn’t really considered their actions as criminal mischief, at least not until a policeman pointed it out; never mind the healthy grin on my face.

Police1Reading about policemen being ambushed and murdered turns my stomach; officers shot while sitting in their patrol cars or walking up to quell a disturbance as assassins hid behind bushes. The officers in Dallas were protecting protesters, protesters protesting police when snipers hidden in a multilevel parking garage opened fire.

Dallas massacre of police: FBI investigating anti-police group that attended Dallas mosque
The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Islamic supremacist groups have assiduously courted Black Lives Matter, and linked their propaganda efforts against “Islamophobia” to the Black Lives Matter stand against perceived racism. In Dallas last night, we see where this is tending: as Kyle Shideler notes in the March article below, “At the event, MAS leader Khalilah Sabra openly discussed the importance of Muslim support for Black Lives Matter, and urged ‘revolution.’ Comparing the situation in the United States to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Arab Spring revolutions, she asked, ‘We are the community that staged a revolution across the world; if we can do that, why can’t we have that revolution in America?’” And with the mass murder of police in Dallas last night, we’re getting there.” (emphasis added)

These are cold blooded murders, planned in advance using tactical strategy as if it were a military operation; that makes it a War on Cops by an enemy with a long term agenda.

Perhaps one day our children will once again be taught, “If you ever find yourself lost or in trouble, go find a policeman”.  Our country is in trouble as each attack on a police officer is an attack on all of America.

Pray for our country; more specifically that all police officers make it home after their shift ends.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


When does Media Spin become a Lie?

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

MediaThere was another ambush of police officers, this time 3 officers were murdered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Many of the media outlets were quick to point out the ‘alleged’ shooter was an ex-Marine who’d served a tour in Afghanistan.

This was from Yahoo News; but the headline matched most other media outlets.

“BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – A former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition ambushed police in Baton Rouge, shooting and killing three law enforcement officers less than two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police there in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide.”

There would appear to be no argument the shooter had been a Marine; and as we’ve been warned over and over by the Obama administration, returning military members are considered potential domestic terrorists.

Obama’s Homeland Security isn’t alone in their assessment of returning veterans being threats, unfit to own firearms.

“Sen Dianne Feinstein (D. Cal.) has long been a fanatic gun control advocate.  Yesterday, she upped the ante by declarating that all military vets, merely because they are vets, are mentally ill. On that ground alone she insists that vets should be denied any exemption to her extremist gun control bill.”

The media must have considered the Baton Rouge shooter’s having been a Marine much more important than his having been linked to Nation of Islam. Most outlets never even mention it, and if they did it was buried far into the article.

The ‘alleged shooter’, according to the Daily Caller, Gavin Eugene Long, was a ‘former’ member Nation of Islam.

“Videos on Long’s account show that he was a former Nation of Islam member. He also ranted against “crackers” and made references to Alton Sterling, the black man killed by police in Baton Rouge on July 5.”

You might recall Louis Farrakhan, founder of Nation of Islam, calling for 10,000 volunteers to “Stalk them and kill them”, referring to any White person.  I guess Gavin Eugene Long took Farrakhan up on the offer.  Does that make Farrakhan an accessory to murder?

Media1Which is more of a threat to society, being a former Marine or being associated with radical Islam?  

Obama refuses to use the term Islamic Terrorist and the lapdog media continues to minimize any link to radical Islam when reporting their version of ‘news’.

At what point does media spin become a lie?

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


I can’t sing the National Anthem

By: T F Stern | The Moral Liberal

Well, that’s not quite true; I can’t sing the National Anthem without tears dripping down my cheeks and a large knot forming in my throat.  You see, I know some of the story about how this tune came about.

This morning as we closed our church service the closing hymn was The Star Spangled Banner.  I wonder if other denominations have that in their hymn book; I would hope so.

The congregation arose as the choir master stood to lead us, the first notes played by the organist sent a shiver down my spine.  I really did try to sing out, honest; but emotions got the better of me so I let everyone else pay tribute to our nation while I mouthed the words, tears welling up in the corner of my eyes.

I’ve been battling a chest cold and these emotions got my sinuses going full blast.  I didn’t need this; damn it all, now I’m congested again.

As we stood through all three verses my mind imagined the night Francis Scott Key stood watching as Ft. Henry was to be shelled into oblivion by the British Navy.  You see, the British were still miffed for having lost the Revolutionary War and decided to give it another ‘go’ a few years later; historians called it the War of 1812.

The British had given the occupants of Ft. Henry a way out; simply lower your flag and become subjects of British rule.  Their situation was impossible as hundreds of British war ships pounded this insignificant fort all through the night…and yet the flag remained, lighted as it were by the bombs bursting in air.

The British commander was perplexed and couldn’t fathom why they didn’t surrender; there was no way they could win.

Francis Scott Key said he remembered what George Washington had said. He said, “The thing that sets the American Christian apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he’ll live on his knees.”

In the morning, by the dawn’s early light, the flag could still be seen from the deck of the British war ship, tattered and leaning at a peculiar angle it remained standing to everyone’s amazement.

Apparently each time the flag had been knocked down a brave man would stand it up in spite of the horrendous shelling.  Many died keeping that flag upright and standing and as far as I know their names were never recorded.

I guess some of our youth haven’t been properly taught the importance of our flag and some of what goes into being a citizen of this great nation.

Years ago during a baseball game someone recorded what has been called “the greatest play in baseball”.  It happened on April 25, 1976 when a couple of malcontents jumped onto the ball field in the middle of a game and tried to light an American Flag on fire.  Rick Monday, an outfielder for the Dodgers ran over, grabbed the Flag and saved it to the delight of most everyone watching.

Bill Ayers stomping American FlagFar too many folks go about disrespecting our country through their hostility when destroying or demeaning the Flag.  Some stomp on it, like home grown terrorist Bill Ayers, good friend and supporter of Barrack Obama.  Others use it like toilet paper while displaying obscenities at the camera.  Heaven help them should I happen by while they disrespect the Flag in my presence.

I wish I knew the name of even one person who died at Ft. Henry while holding up that Flag, a symbol of never giving up in the face of insurmountable odds.  Perhaps they’ll forgive my not being a better historian; certainly they’ll understand my not being able to sing out this morning.

But I know the words to that familiar tune; yes I know them all too well as my chest swells with pride and my eyes fill with tears.

The Star-Spangled Banner

1 Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.

Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


2 On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep,

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;

’Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


3 Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land

Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

T.F. SternThe Moral Lib­eral’s Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.

Big Fish

Thinking of my father

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

Big FishThe movie, Big Fish, caught my attention while flipping channels.  The story had progressed nearly to the end, the part where the son arrived at the hospital, finding out his father was near death, having suffered a serious stroke.  The young man volunteers to sit by his bed all night and gives his mother a chance to go home.

If you’re familiar with the movie; his father wakes up momentarily and sits up wild eyed saying something that sounds like, “the river”,   His son reaches over as if to hit the Call Nurse button but instead waits to find out his father’s request.

“Tell me how it ends”, the young man wasn’t prepared with a response.  The father had never told his son what he’d seen in the old witch’s eye so many years earlier, a prophecy of how he was going to die.

The son being familiar with the many fantastic yarns his father had shared begins to carefully create the vision his father never told him about, pausing as details sprang to mind in such a way as to fit with other stories his father conjured up throughout his life; all having to do with the river.

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Erasing Christianity a piece at a time

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

erasingIn case you’ve just awakened, as did Rip Van Winkle, from a hundred year nap, sitting under a huge tree that had been a sapling when you first closed your eyes; a few things have changed.  The sun still rises in the East, grass is green and thunder follows lightning; but the foundations upon which our society sprang have been under attack for quite some time.

Let me bring you up to speed…

Printed books have for the most part been replaced with digital versions which can be accessed with the touch of a finger anywhere in the world.  Books can be accessed and purchased at a reasonable price, downloaded and saved for when you have time to read.  There’s no reason to take up space on a bookshelf with a hardcover copy of Moby Dick or any other classic now that they’re all digital.

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Mothers Day

Mother’s Day Thoughts

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

Mothers DaySunday is Mother’s Day, a chance to consider the many blessings we should be grateful for.  Years ago my friend Tim Andersen would be asked to give the Mother’s Day talk at church, something of a tradition that we looked forward to.  He was the youngest son in a large family and his older siblings were much older so his parents had one more child in order to give him a playmate more his age; which is why Dean Andersen came to be.

I saw Dean at the Houston Temple going through the men’s dressing area this past Thursday.  Knowing a little about his family and his brother Tim’s brave fight with Leukemia, a fight that Tim eventually lost; made for a quiet moment as I considered the eternities and how Tim must be carrying out ‘the good fight’ on the other side of the veil.  We quietly acknowledged with a nod and a smile how much we missed Tim without saying a word, interesting how that works.

I used to catch a plane and visit my grandmother, Granny as she was known to everyone, each May, it being her birthday and Mother’s Day, take her out to dinner and let her know what a special lady she was in my life.  As she got towards the end of her life she didn’t want to go out to restaurants, preferring instead a quiet dinner at home.

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Justifying the Locksmith Licensing Scam

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

LicensingI’ve been involved in the locksmith industry right at forty years.  As far back as the 70s those who taught me the ‘tricks of the trade’ could see the handwriting on the wall; eventually licenses would be required.  A couple of respected locksmiths vouched for my abilities and had me join the Associated Locksmiths of American (ALOA) with the understanding that having membership would be the key, no pun intended, the key to being ‘grandfathered’ by the State; they were correct.

Licensing came about in spite of many individuals pointing out it was a mistake; but as it was explained in no uncertain terms by our local ALOA representatives, it was either become licensed or find some other line of work.

I wrote some of my thoughts when it all came about, Business Licenses – Jump for Joy.  From that article:

I will start off with the stated mission of the Agency which is the “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”. It goes further and states its job as Agency in the State of Texas for “ensuring citizens and consumers of investigations and security services, that these industries provide reliable services, employ qualified and trustworthy personnel, and are free from misrepresentation and fraud”. With a mission statement as broad as all that; (*) who could complain that they don’t have everyone’s interests at heart?  (*sarcasm button engaged)

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