Thursday, May 24, 2018

What Memorial Day means to me

I lost a son in a war.

He went to war to fight for freedom.

Freedom from oppression.  Specifically, radical Islamist oppression.  Those folks would have it one way and it's all their way.

That ain't America.

But, Memorial Day is much bigger than this one fight.

America is a land of freedom.

And, in order to protect our freedom, sometimes, war is the only answer.  If an oppressor of American freedom comes along, our military is there to keep them at bay.

Memorial Day honors the 1.4 million in our history that fought for our freedoms and died in the process.  They gave all for your freedom to think and act however you want.

Freedom means you are free to be who you want to be.  And you are free to become anything you can figure out how to accomplish.

We are the only country in the world that allows this.

I am free to be a professing Christian.

My next door neighbor is free to be an Orthodox Jew.

My next door neighbor is free to be an atheist.

My next door neighbor is free to believe in UFOs.

My best friend can be black or brown or any other color.

My best friends can be gay.

I don't have to agree with any of them on religion or morals.  So long as we all agree that America and our ideals of freedom are what's important.

Our enemy is anyone that wants to reduce our freedoms.

Freedom of worship.

Freedom of assembly.

Freedom of protest.

Freedom of speech.

At Pete's funeral, the folks from Westboro Baptist Church were there proclaiming there spew of hate.  Pete died, as did all of the others, to protect their freedom of speech and assembly.  Odd, disturbing, but true.

America was created by folks that wanted out of tyranny of feudalism and a governing religion.

America was not formed by the Southern Baptist Convention, the Roman Catholic Church or any other one group.

America was formed by folks that wanted to be free.

There's a reason we don't have an official language.  America welcomes all.  It makes life complicated, but that's our program.  All are welcome.

For all of us, let's respect those men and women who died for this idea of freedom.

Take a few minutes on Memorial Day to say thanks for those that have given all.  And, for those who are currently wearing the Cloth of the Nation and willing to give it all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Why SIXSITE won't be having a Memorial Day Sale

SIXSITE Closing on Memorial Day in Push to Remember Heroes Who Died for Our Freedom
Veteran-owned retailer will go dark on one of the biggest sale days of the year; challenges others to do the same

Dallas (May 1, 2018) – While millions of Americans celebrate Memorial Day as the start of summer, veterans and loved ones of fallen military members wish the holiday that honors more than 1 million people who died serving their country would command more respect.

“In an effort to encourage Americans to spend time thinking about these sacrifices, we won’t be having a Memorial Day sale,” SIXSITE founder, designer and veteran U.S. Navy SEAL Stephen Holley says. “In fact, our website will go dark on Memorial Day. We hope other retailers will follow.”

SIXSITE is a high-performance hunting and outdoor apparel and gear provider. It manufactures its products exclusively in America. To keep prices reasonable, SIXSITE sells direct-to-consumer at, but on this major shopping day its online store will go dark.

Alan Burks, general manager and chief operating officer at SIXSITE and Gold Star Father, adds, “For most of us here, there is a fallen soldier buried somewhere nearby. Please go visit their grave and ponder their life and death. If you can’t get there in person, join in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time to pause in an act of national unity for some who gave it all.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A hat without a home

Men are weird.

We like uniforms.  

The exception is ball caps. That's one place we like to stand out.

If you are lucky enough to find one, a totally unique hat is gold.

We compete on the uniqueness and cool factor of our hat.

Recently, I thought I'd won. 

I found this hat in an a Irish bar in  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania during an 11 day stint at the Great American Outdoor Show.

In the upstairs section of McGrath's, there was a hat.  

Nasty, not really protected from weather or the grease from the kitchen.

Disco Biscuits it read.  

I asked the attendant what the story was with the hat.

"Oh, some cook left it here years ago.  We should have thrown it away years ago,"

"Would you be willing to sell it?"

"You'd pay money for that nasty hat?

"Yes ma'am.  I'll give you $10 for that hat."

Bingo Bongo, I'd found the hat that would win with my crew.

For the next few days, Dicso Biscuits shut down all the challengers.  It was King of Hats.

Fast forward to last Tuesday.  We had a board meeting.  But, we had a special guest show up.  

Jason and Austin Jones came to visit.

I work for a very special company.  

Founded by a Navy SEAL.  A guy with a heart as big as all outdoors.  
Board members are incredibly supportive of the mission.

Jason and Austin stopped by at lunchtime.

Austin was born with muscular dystrophy.  

He lives in a wheelchair.  

His dad, Jason, is his buddy, a caregiver (along with his wife).  

Jason and Austin are outdoors men.  They love to hunt.  

Austin has learned to shoot a crossbow with his dad's help.  He's a champion.  

When Jason and Austin came into our office, it was an emotional time.

The board meeting stopped.  They were our focus.

About five minutes in, Jason asked me what the story was behind the Disco Biscuits hat.  I'd hung it in the warehouse for all to see.

I told him the short story.

Jason said, "Disco Biscuits is the name of our dog."

You can believe in serendipity or Divine Intervention.

Jason now has the Disco Biscuits hat.  

And, we have made two new friends for life.   

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Death of Innocents

Ten years ago, Pete was alive.

He was in Baghdad, Iraq.  He was doing what his commanding officers told him to do.

He was doing what the Commander in Chief, George W. Bush, told him to do.

Pete was part of, The Surge.  The Surge was an infusion of military to deal with what our government failed to plan for.

Ten years ago, Pete was part of a Cavalry Regiment sent in to deal with crap that our government never expected to deal with.   But due to their bad planning, they sent innocent young men and women into the their worst nightmares.  And, their nightmares became real.

Those nightmares are now shared by over 4,000 families who have no answers as to why.

We share in those nighmares of the 50,000 parents from Vietnam.  Why?

As I understand it, Pete's platoon was on an overnight mission in a part of the city where bad guys thrived.

The bad guys were Shia militiamen, supported by Iran, who were deeply involved in killing as many American troops and Sunni Iraquis as possible.

Pete's partner unit had discovered a huge cache of Iranian weapons hidden in a soccer stadium a few days before. The weapons were blown up in a huge explosion.

The prevailing belief is that Pete's unit was attacked as payback.

Ten years ago, Pete was alive.

What in the hell was he doing there?  What in the name of God was our Commander in Chief thinking?

Saddam Hussein had been captured years before.

Iraq was overrun by Iranian assholes with artillery, bombs and training.

Nobody bothered to tell the American people or the families of American military what the fuck was going on.

It was several years after Pete's death that I met a senior official at the Pentagon who was the guy in charge of monitoring Iran.

"Mr. Burks, I guessing nobody told you that your son died in a proxy war with Iran."

He said it like a good military man would.  No emotion.  No commentary.  Just fact.

My precious boy died in Iraq in a proxy war with Iran?  What?  What the fuck?  What the fucking fuck?

And today, the place where he died and where thousand of Americans died and bled is overuun by Iran?

I'm still trying to recover from that statement.

Ten years ago Pete was alive.

Pete told us he had hoped he would be deployed to Afghanistan.  He could understand that military intervention due to the Taliban and Bin Laden and the now defamed al Qaueda.  Many had died and are still dying in Afghanistan.  We still don't have a clear strategy there.

Sweet boy, you died serving your country.  You went to war as a result of 9/11.  You went to war knowing it was a less than 1% chance that anything could happen to you, yet you were part of the 1%.

God Bless and Godspeed to those who died in Iraq.  God Bless and Godspeed to those who were injured in Iraq.  God Bless and Godspeed to all those who served in Iraq.  God Bless and Godsp[eed to all who have served, bled and died in Afghanisan.

God Bless and Godspeed to all who wear the Cloth of our Nation.

I hope one day we will have an answer as to why.  But, I doubt we will.

Damn you Iran.  Not the people, but the towelheads in charge.

Damn you terrorists.

I will go to my grave fighting your terrorism.  I will go to my grave educating people about how evil you are.

A young man recently said to me, "America hasn't had a good clean war since WWII."  He's 30.  All he knows is the last 18 years of crap in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We need to understand what the misuse of our military has done to our young people.  What it has done to the trust of parents.

Damn you, Iran.  Damn you, radical Islamists.

Damn you, leaders without spines or souls.

God Bless America.

Thank God for men and women who are brave enough to wear the Cloth of our Nation.

Let us pray for clarity and proper use of our military going forward.

Good night, sweet boy.  I love you.  I miss you.  I thank you.  I'll see you soon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Beware the BIPLIR

A dear friend is a really good golfer.  Really good.  Carries a 6 handicap.  That means he shoots in the 70s everytime he plays.

When you're that good at golf, the separation between you and a scratch golfer is all mental.  You've already mastered every shot in golf perfectly.  You just can't replicate it every time.  The problem is you have a mental lapse each round and those 6 strokes add up quickly.

My friend has coined a term that golfers will identify with.

If he's playing a casual (non-tournament) round of golf, and is playing a hole badly, he'll pick up his ball and announce to his playing partners, "BIPLIR".

"Ball In Pocket Losing Interest Rapidly".

Then one of two things happen.  Either that golf humor relaxes him and he goes on to finish a fine round. 

Or, he can't get it out of his head, has several consecutive BIPLIRs and then announces he's done and will be the beer caddy for the rest of the day.

I think the BIPLIR has meaning in life beyond golf.  At work.  On a home improvement project.  In relationships. 

It's easy to just quit on it.  Even for a short period.

But implemented too often, we lose interest in all of it.  Being the beer caddy isn't a coveted position in any endavor.

Finish and finish well.  In whatever we are involved in.  That's the objective.

Use the occasional BIPLIR when it's appropriate.  Bad hair days happen.

Remember that the only problem with life is that it's just so daily. 

It's 18 holes.  It's four quarters.  It's till the kids are grown.  It's for better or worse, till death do us part.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Most Important Job in Retail


Grocery carts.  

Walmart carts.  

Target carts.  

Kohl's carts.

If the carts aren't there, we don't shop.

There is a human being charged with going out in the parking lot to pull those carts back in. Regardless of weather.  Seattle rain.  Michigan snow.  Houston heat and humidity.  

The job is given to to the lowest on the corporate food chain.

Who else is going out there in the hot/rain/snow/ice to get those carts?

Certainly not the geinuses of retail.  They're too busy going out of business.

Or, those of us shoppers in those places.  We demand customer service.

Think about it.

If there's not a cart available, we'll walk back to our SUVs and go somewhere else.  

Yet, the performance of that person has so much to do with the performance of that store.

These folks don't scale.  It's hard frigin work store by store.  And, in the world or retail, they get paid minimum wage.

The next time you go to a store and use a shopping cart, say thanks to the person in the parking lot getting those buggies of commerce.  They're just happy to have a minimum wage job. 

The most important person in retail isn't the head of Amazon, Costco, Kroger or Walmart.  

It's that man or woman with a family retrieving carts for us to put more stuff in.  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Lesson for the Piano Teacher

Lone Oak, Texas is a town in East Texas that has had a population of about 500 for the last 70 years.

Not alot of change.  A few families make up the majority of the population.

It's quiet.  It's rural.

Sometime in the 1950s, the following true story happened there.

There was a piano teacher in town.  In fact, she was THE piano teacher in town.

Every little girl from any family that could scrape together a living sent their daughter to the piano teacher as part of a proper upbringing.

The piano teacher knew her stuff on the keyboards.  And, she knew her stuff when it came to managing little girls who might not be focused on becoming the next church music leader.

One afternoon, the piano teacher got a call from a mother asking if she could drop her daugter off early along with her friend who had the lesson scheduled right after her daughter.  It was a passive-agresssive means of asking the teacher to babysit while she gave a lesson.

The teacher agreed.

The two little girls arrived at the same time as the girl who had a scheduled lesson.

The teacher pulled out a coloring book and told the two litle girls to busy themselves coloring whilst she taught her pupil.

After a few minutes, the teacher had to interrupt her lesson to ask the two interlopers to hush.  They were much too busy talking instead of coloring.

For a few minutes, they were quiet.  But, then they couldn't stop themselves from chatting about their school teacher, that cute boy in Sunday School, who would be their first kiss . . .

"ENOUGH", said the piano teacher sternly.

She grabbed the two little girls by their shoulders and placed them each in a closet in her lesson room.  "Now, BE QUIET.  NOT ANOTHER WORD FROM EITHER OF YOU."

The teacher restarted her lesson.

Out of one closet, she heard one girl crying.  "Oh no.  My mother is going to be so upset.  I've been so bad.  I'm a bad girl.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry."

Aggravated, the teacher opened the door and let the little girl out.  Nose running, tears down her face. She let her out.

Then the teacher walked over to the other closet.  Not a peep.  No crying, no wailing.

"What are you doing in there", asked the teacher of the silent objector.

"I'm spittin' in your shoes and prayin' for more spit."