Tag Archives: AZ


This is one of those rare occasions when I don’t have a strong opinion on such a hot topic. Let me rephrase that. I do not have an adamant stance, one way or the other, concerning illegal immigration. I almost always see everything as being black and white, cut and dry, and crystal clear because I often find the “gray area” to be reserved for the uninformed and frequent “flip-floppers.” I pride myself on being informed and listening to both sides of an argument before coming to a definite conclusion on any given matter. In the case of the current illegal immigration debate the answer is not so crystal clear to me since I understand the concerns presented by both sides on the issue at hand. Many times I wish I was serving my country as a congressman, aiding in the decision making process, because most problems can be promptly resolved by simply using basic common sense. This isn’t one of those times.

If we’re completely honest with ourselves we have to admit that our ancestors, at one time or another, migrated to America from numerous other countries, and most of us were just plain lucky to have been born in the greatest country in the world. Even with all her faults, there’s way too many to mention in a single blog, America still stands head and shoulders above the rest, in countless categories, also way too many to mention in a single blog. That’s why everyone wants to come here! However, this country’s population already seems to be at full capacity. That’s probably the reason why foreigners must endure a painstaking process to eventually become U.S Citizens. Apparently our nation no longer welcomes the “tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free” as is written at the base of the Statue of Liberty. When exploring the topic of illegal immigration I find myself having more questions than finding plausible solutions to the complex problem.

In the not so distant past I viewed illegal immigration as just that – illegal immigration. I was part of the chorus denouncing illegals with the renowned, “what part of illegal don’t they understand.” I thought rounding them all up and sending them back to their homelands seemed like the correct, black and white solution, but I sure didn’t know exactly how that would work. I still don’t. How easy would it be to force millions and millions of undocumented people out of the United States? I do still think something needs to be done about the illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. Most of them tend to be male adults looking for work and longing to join their wives or girlfriends, and quite possibly their U.S. born children, already living here. Many of them have been sent back only to return time and time again. Would sending away cheap labor hurt our already frail economy? Would legal citizens of this country be willing to fill all of those low paying, manual labor jobs left behind?

We most certainly have a problem with drugs and guns being smuggled into the Southern states of America from Mexico, but the current illegal immigration situation is very different and deserves to be treated as such. The recent wave of illegals are unaccompanied children migrating from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I see the need for following laws, but I also see the necessity of showing some compassion for these undocumented children. They are purportedly fleeing from the rampant gang violence in their countries and not just into the United States for safety but into other countries as well. I do have a slight problem with the parents, who are choosing to send their children away, but I can at least understand the thought process behind their decision. I cannot fathom trying to raise a child under those extreme conditions, but I am positive I would rather fight by my child’s side than to send him away.

Unfortunately, there invariably seems to be grandstanding idiots, usually from both sides of the political aisle, who are more consumed with advancing their political careers than addressing current issues with any common sense. For example, The Arizona Republic reported that Pinal County Sheriff, Paul Babeu, recently told the media about some children who were caught crossing the Texas border and who were going to be bused to Oracle, Arizona. He then shared the explicit details of the supposed event, and the circus began. Some demonstrators showed up carrying signs, to welcome the children, which read “Return to sender,” and “Stop dumping your illegals here.” As usual, as is the case with most protests, there were protesters protesting the protesters. Sheriff Babeu was right there in the middle of it all, but he insisted he was only there to keep the peace and not as a political photo opportunity.

Likewise, Adam Kwasman, Arizona’s House Representative and congressional candidate, appeared to welcome the free publicity by showing up to the controversial event. As two school buses full of children arrived on the scene they were immediately surrounded by the demonstrators. Mr. Kwasman tweeted, “I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces. … This is not compassion.” The funny thing is the busload of migrant children never did show up as predicted by Sheriff Babeu. The pair of buses that did arrive were actually transporting local children to a nearby YMCA day camp. In Mr. Kwasman’s defense, I reckon not every child is excited to spend part of their summer vacation at camp, so there probably were some fearful faces on board the school buses.

Illegal immigration is a serious problem, in the United States, but is typically ignored until election time or when a special circumstance of great magnitude, as is currently the case, is brought to light. Is dealing with this issue worth adding $3.7 billion to our nation’s already inflated deficit as is proposed by President Obama? I wholeheartedly believe the first step in curbing illegal immigration is for the U.S. to rid itself of it’s current stance, albeit bad policy, “if you’re born here, you’re an American.” That principle should only apply to those born in this country with at least one legal parent, but if neither parent is here legally then the child should not have automatic citizenship. Other than my aforementioned proposal, which I believe is long overdue, I won’t even pretend that I know what the proper course of action to take is regarding illegal immigration. As previously stated I seem to have more questions than answers on the subject. I can’t imagine our current elected officials getting this one right, but at least I don’t have to deal with this mess.



The other night it rained and I felt this sudden urge to go outside, into the backyard, and lay naked on a lounge chair. I’m sort of strange like that. I mention my nudity only because it would have been quite silly if I had laid outdoors during a rainstorm fully clothed. I’m not totally insane. My wife and I have only experienced about a dozen steady rains in Peoria, since moving here over seven years ago. We live in the desert for goodness’ sake, so we really shouldn’t be too surprised by the lack of rainfall. Raindrops are so scarce in Arizona, that many residents flock to their covered patios to witness the oddity when it happens. I’m not one of those people. At least not yet.

I had my fill of rain while living in Iowa, for the majority of my life. Many times tornados, hail, or flooding accompanied the rain, so there wasn’t much to like about that kind of weather. I think what irritated me the most though were the incessant discussions, about the rain, which lasted all spring and summer long. The tiresome conversations about whether there was too much rain, or not enough rain, for the local farmers’ crops were almost too much to bare. I can’t remember a time, as a Newton citizen, when the amount of rain was “just right.” Now, many years later I unexpectedly had found myself not only wanting to be a spectator but actually longing to be amongst the rainfall. My lovely wife wasn’t interested in joining me (she’s mostly sane), so I experienced the rarity of the condition on my own.

In the beginning the large raindrops were cold and a bit maddening. There was definitely an initial shock to my body, but then I remembered a relevant line from the movie First Blood. The classic film also happens to be what was playing at the drive-in when my wife and I went on our first date on June 3rd, 1983. In the classic film, Col. Samuel Trautman is describing his protégé, John J. Rambo, to an egotistical, small-town sheriff who is trying to capture the former Green Beret. The Colonel warns the sheriff that Rambo is, “a man whose been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that would make a Billy goat puke.” I subscribe to that notion, of mind over matter, so I fully expected the elements to change, for the better, as I continued laying motionless on the lounge chair.

Although my eyes were closed, during this rare occurrence, I could see continuous flashes of light through my eyelids, and I could hear the intermittent thunder as if it were in surround-sound. At first I couldn’t tell if God was crying or simply nourishing His creation. I know there’s a lot going on in this world worth crying over, but this rainstorm seemingly carried with it a message of peace and happiness with each and every raindrop. The rain increasingly became secondary to my profound thoughts which were typically reserved for the still of the night when nestled in my bed. I found myself praying, as if it was bedtime, and thanking the Lord for who He is and what He does. The rain was no longer cold and annoying, but warm and comforting, and I was filled with an unheralded contentment.

After soaking up the unique experience for awhile I was ready to go back inside, but I then suddenly felt challenged to ride out the gentle storm. It seemed as though I was being offered a chance to play a friendly game of “who’ll blink first” with God. I was just stubborn enough to remain there on my back, another several minutes, for the duration of the rainfall. I won the game but only because He was gracious enough to let me win. That’s what Father’s sometimes do for their children. After claiming victory, and entering the confines of my warm, dry house, it immediately began to rain again as if God was enticing me back outdoors for a rematch. I knew I’d probably lose this time, and I no longer had the yearning to be outside, so I decided to remain inside with my newfound memories of the unique experience. Laying naked outdoors during a rainstorm may be a bit unconventional, but at least I’m not one of those “patio people.” Not yet, anyway.

Trying To Fly The Friendly Skies

Here we go again. I’m on yet another flight with my wife, from our home in Arizona, and headed to our old home in Iowa. Literally. My mother-in-law now lives in the house we use to call home for ten years, prior to moving across the country, and as usual that’s where we’ll be staying while we’re back in Newton. Albeit “mom” has made many changes and a few improvements, to the ranch-style dwelling since we left, so “our home” is hardly recognizable to me at this point, especially since my wife and I sleep in what use to be our son’s room, but there certainly still is a familiarity with our temporary living arrangement. The view of the sunrises from the back deck are still breathtaking, and relaxing in the nearby hot tub is like reuniting with a long lost friend.

We love our family immensely, so we return to the Midwest every Christmas because it’s a promise my wife and I made to each other before moving away. Why else would we be willing to sacrifice the comfort of Arizona’s typically sunny and 70* weather, during the month of December, for Iowa’s blistery winter conditions? The snow, ice, sleet, slush, and freezing cold, so prevalent in the Midwest, doesn’t seem to make Iowa an attractive destination during the winter months. If truth be told I actually do like the state’s bitter cold and fresh fallen snow but only at Christmastime and only for about a week.

My wife and I recently decided that seeing the clan only once a year was no longer adequate, so we planned an extra trip to the Hawkeye State, during the month of June, and most of the family knows nothing about our upcoming visit. We are going to just show up on my parent’s doorstep and holler, “Surprise!” Every time we head back to Iowa, we fly the friendly skies. I cannot imagine using any other form of transportation for the thousand miles-plus journey. I think taking a cruise ship could be nice once in awhile, but I don’t know exactly how that would work with so much land in between the two states. I suppose I could check out a map to see if it’s at all possible, but as usual – I’m too lazy.

We have flown many times before, so you’d think it would all be routine for us by now, but there always seems to be some sort of occurrence to make the experience a little more interesting than it should be. Even our first Christmas, coming back to Newton, we had the customary but unfortunate experience of losing a piece of our luggage. Luckily, we had arrived a couple of days earlier that year, so we did have some time to recover the lost bag before the 25th. It’s a good thing the airline was able to track it down because most of the presents we had purchased for our loved ones were in that bag. There have been a few times when we have had to rush through the airport, for fear of not making our flight, although our pace was nowhere near the extent of frenzy, compared to the McCallister family, as seen in the classic Home Alone movies.

Last year I was stopped on the freeway by an Arizona Highway Patrolman while heading to the airport. I knew I wasn’t speeding (not too much anyway), so I respectfully kept changing lanes to let the approaching officer get by me; therefore, allowing him the opportunity to capture whatever fiend he was pursuing. I couldn’t imagine why he insisted on staying directly behind me, but when he eventually flipped on his siren I then knew I was the fiend. The officer explained how my annual registration was overdue by a couple of days, but the patrolman was nice enough to only give me a warning. I did tell him how I had not received a bill in the mail from the Department of Transportation, as I had every single time before, so I honestly was unaware I had been driving illegally.

After our vacation was over I contacted the D.O.T. about the incident. Their lame response to my untimely situation was that they weren’t obligated to send out reminders but they sometimes would simply as a courtesy. After five straight years of the Department being “courteous,” and my becoming dependent on the annual notifications I had been receiving each year, I guess they ultimately had me right where they wanted me. I quickly came to the realization that their suspicious policy, of being inconsistent with the public, was probably a newfound way of generating some easy income by preying on responsible yet unsuspecting drivers.

All was going well this time, unlike our previous traveling experience, at the start of our Summer trip back to Iowa, until we took some ill-advised advice from a shuttle driver. He had just driven us from the parking lot to a free baggage check-in service located a great distance from the actual airport. He insisted the lines inside the airport would be much longer than the line, consisting of about eight fellow passengers, formed on the sidewalk right in front of us. We reluctantly took his advice, and after a twenty minute wait the man behind the counter informed us his computer would not allow him to check in our bags since it was now less than 90 minutes until our scheduled flight. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case when we first got in line.

Besides, wouldn’t that have been a perfect reason why he should have accepted our luggage, and sent us on our way, instead of making the check-in process so challenging? The seemingly long ago leisurely start to our trip had now become another chaotic dash through the terminal. Five minutes! It took us a measly 5 minutes (less actually) once we finally arrived at the spot where we had intended to go in the first place to check in our luggage. We then got to the airport security checkpoint and again encountered somewhat of a line. This time though it appeared the line was manageable enough, so we felt like we no longer needed to worry if we’d be arriving at our boarding gate destination in time.

However, airport personnel suggested almost immediately, for those of us towards the back of the line, to go to a different security checkpoint because the wait time there would be significantly shorter. Sound familiar? He also said the wait would be approximately 30 minutes or more if we remained where we were. I didn’t even consider, for one moment, taking the airport employee’s suggestion at that point. I am so glad I know and trust in the famous adage, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” Fifteen minutes! That’s all it took for us to get completely through security. A mere 15 minutes and not the threatened amount of twice that time. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected with our flying endeavors, so I’m not too surprised anymore whenever our carefully planned itinerary eventually goes awry. My parents, on the other hand, were utterly surprised when we “just showed up.” The priceless expressions alone, on their faces, made our summer trek to Iowa worth the while.