:: Volume 607 ::

January 19 '08
Volume 607

Fringe Benefits  Friendships Are At The Top

Were the income derived from my employment the sole benefit found in my working for SUPERVALU, I’d be grateful, but that’s only a small part of the big picture. Few, who work for others ever feel their income matches their worth or contribution to the success of his or her employer and perhaps their claim is valid, but I decided long ago to be content with my earnings and to strive to live within my means.

That’s not to say I’d turn down an annual raise with, "No thanks, I’m already making enough to meet my needs," or another foolish comment, but there’s more to a job than income alone.

These days, benefits are a huge consideration, especially health benefits. Health benefits have become so huge that employers struggle in striking the proper balance of coverage for all employees, and in the face of ever-rising costs often pass some of their costs along to employees.

Medical insurance, prescription drug coverage, dental, and vision plans, along with flexible spending accounts, savings, and retirement plans are other offers corporations use to attract and keep employees. I’m lucky enough to qualify for a company car and all the benefits associated with it. According to SUPERVALU, their share of my total benefits is fifty-five percent of my annual salary, with thirteen percent of this for health care and none of these calculations include the company car. But, there’s more to work than wages and corporate benefits.

In any organization, people make the difference, and in my working for SUPERVALU over the last half-century, or there about, people have certainly made a difference in my life. Some of the finest people I know, I’ve been privileged to work with in an office setting, or as a field associate, and I must include a few of my bosses along the way. Certainly, I would be remiss in not including those customers I’m also privileged to know and serve. I’ve been blessed with friendships and employee relationships in the workforce.

This week, I had the opportunity to renew several friendships as I traveled to Wisconsin for a department meeting. My boss and two of my counterparts represented the Southeast Region. Also, there were several more of my associates and a few bosses from the Midwest Region in attendance, and there were some business partners present, too.

When told I could fly or drive, I chose to drive, as I considered the three-hour layover in Atlanta as time I could be spending counting hawks and taking in the landscapes and flavors of places along the land route. It takes almost ten hours if I drive to Memphis, fly to Atlanta, and then fly to Milwaukee and drive to Kenosha. It takes about another hour to drive all the way from Pontotoc.

I don’t care to drive anywhere north of the Mason Dixon line in January, so I contacted an associate, Wayne Hunter, who lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, about carpooling with him. Since he planned to drive to Champaign and connect with two other associates before continuing to Kenosha, it was necessary for me to spend a night in Cape Girardeau prior to our traveling to Wisconsin.

Wayne offered to make my room reservations, for which I was grateful, and suggested I join his wife and him for dinner.

"Finally," I thought, "a chance to meet the illusive Mrs. Hunter."

Mrs. Hunter, Joyce, changed jobs since my last visit to Cape Girardeau and is now working for the Southern Missouri State University. Her prior job required a lot of travel and had resulted in my not getting to meet her on my previous trips. She no longer has to drive to work; she just walks up the hill each day.

Wayne and Joyce picked me up at my motel on Monday night. We ate dinner at a local restaurant, Port Cape Giradeau, which specializes in barbeque. I enjoyed a pulled pork barbeque sandwich with sides of onion rings and fresh broccoli salad. The food was delicious, and I enjoyed the atmosphere of the scenic downtown restaurant.

I had learned from Wayne on my earlier trips that he and Joyce both exercised and she was an occasional marathoner.

"Have you been in any marathons, recently?" I inquired.

Joyce laughed and responded, "No, but I’m training for some half-marathons."

Wayne, it seems, has been letting his exercise regimen slide.

Joyce explained her work with students at the University involved teaching them how to write a resume, something that she states few are able to do on their first attempt.

Wayne Hunter confessed he’d fallen behind on reading Ridge Rider News but had mentioned my hobby to his wife. Joyce asked what I wrote about, and I tried to explain that it’s largely about my experiences, travels, and topics which interest me. I’m still puzzled that other people find it interesting. I gave her an RRN business card and promised to email her the current issue.

It wasn’t that our stomachs weren’t full from dining, but when my hosts told me there was a cheesecake eatery in town, I had no trouble deciding to eat a dessert.

The Hunters explained the cheesecake was first sold in a restaurant by a young waitress whose father, a college professor, promised to supply her with four cheesecakes per week.

She promoted them locally by asking diners if they’d like to try a slice of "my daddy’s cheesecake." Soon the professor had his hands full meeting the demand. Nine years later the business was sold, but the new owner retained the original name, "My Daddy’s Cheesecake."

My Daddy’s Cheesecake sells assorted other goodies and sandwiches, but our interests were dessert-based. Wayne chose key lime cheesecake. I chose the Classic original, while Joyce opted for a chocolate raspberry tart. Joyce mentioned the turtle cheesecake had won national acclaim, but before deciding on the Classic, I strongly considered one labeled "Egg Nog."

Like our dinner, our dessert proved equally delicious, but with everyone rising early the next morning, we soon left the eatery, and I bade my hosts good night as they returned me to the motel.

Certainly, I’m fortunate to have good fringe benefits from my employer, but I can also thank SUPERVALU for making it possible to work with interesting associates and to occasionally meet interesting members of their families. And, if I could choose only one fringe benefit and be required to forfeit all others, I’d choose to keep the benefit of friends.

To be continued…

Hawks Galore  Recent Sightings

W hy are there more hawks than there used to be? I’m not prepared to answer authoritatively, but I do have a few thoughts to share. It could be that restrictions on the use of DDT as a pesticide have had an impact on the perceived population boom of these majestic birds of prey. Maybe, we simply see more hawks because we’ve become aware of their presence and notice them. And, perhaps, loss of habitat brings them ever closer to humans. Certainly, laws protecting hawks and other birds of prey haven’t hurt.

In my case, I sometimes purposively notice hawks when I travel, especially when traveling through deltas or large tracts of agricultural land almost devoid of trees. Hawks spend a lot of daylight hunting prey from a perch, and they’ll use just about anything for a perch, utility poles and wires, billboards, road signs, fence posts and fence wire, housetops, tree branches, anything they can wrap their arms…er feet around or balance atop.

When Barbara and I kept a house in Greenville for our workweek, we often passed the hours of our long drive to and from Pontotoc on weekends by counting hawks in the Delta. We regarded it a good day of hawks, if we counted forty or more. A few weeks ago I sighted sixty-seven hawks between Indianola and Batesville, a score more than I’d counted at any time during November and December.

On my drive to Cape Girardeau, this week, I saw no less than ninety-four between Memphis, TN and Cape Girardeau. Had Barbara been aboard to help me look, I am sure the total would have been twenty to thirty percent higher, since I have to devote part of my time to keeping an eye on the traffic.

Not every sighting was of a perched hawk. I saw one hawk sitting in the median of I-55 that took to the air as I zoomed toward it. I saw several hawks in flight and witnessed a spectacular capture by one as it dove into the median, righting itself at the last minute to grab a critter with its talons, and without ever coming to a complete stop it flew away giving me a glimpse of what appeared to be the tail of a field mouse dangling beneath its talons.

Neither Wayne Hunter nor I paid much attention to hawks as we traveled to Champaign on Tuesday morning as we spent a lot of time talking about our work. However, when we left Champaign in the company of Mark Frank and Dennis Conn, hawks became one of the many topics of conversation. The four of us sighted a total of sixty hawks before we reached Kenosha.

Strong winds and light snow kept me a little tense as we drove back to Champaign Thursday afternoon, and while I looked for hawks, I only sighted one as we neared Champaign at dusk. Wayne and I drove back to Cape Girardeau that evening. Friday morning, on my return drive to Pontotoc, I counted an even hundred hawks along the same route, where I had seen ninety-four a few days earlier.

As people clear more land for development, I expect the number of hawk sightings will increase proportionally, unless somehow there is a reduction in the number of critters that comprise a hawk’s diet. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy my every opportunity to watch for hawks.

35th Anniversary Roe v. Wade

On Tuesday, the most tragic Supreme Court fiat in America’s history will turn 35. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision federalized a legal issue that historically had been individually decided by each state. Seven unelected justices struck down Texas’ abortion law—and by extension, those of the other states—instead of having elected legislators properly decide the matter. The primary issue, of course, remains the right to life affirmed in our Declaration of Independence.

Since Roe, nearly 50 million babies have been denied this foundational right, trumped by the so-called "right to choose." At the time, however, abortion advocates couched the decision as a privacy issue under the "penumbra" of the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. Justices Byron White and William Rehnquist, who were the lone dissenters, wrote, "The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers, and with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes. The upshot is that the people and the legislatures of the 50 States are constitutionally disentitled to weigh the relative importance of the [issue]..." Thus, seven black-robed despots circumvented the will of the people.

Of course, there is hope. The latest survey by the Guttmacher Institute found that there were fewer abortions in 2005 than any year since 1976—1.2 million babies. That number is still about 1.2 million too high, but progress is being made through the continued proclamation of the message of life, incremental regulation of the practice and new technology that reveals far more about what exactly is in the womb than ever before. It’s impossible to look at a 4D ultrasound image of the womb and fail to see a baby human within.

Abortion is also a deeply personal issue. For those mothers and fathers seeking healing from a tragic loss and the ensuing emotional distress, the peddlers of abortion offer no comfort or understanding. If you or someone you know suffers silently the anguish of abortion, we encourage you to read "Empty Arms"—60 stories of hope and healing from across the nation. (100 percent of the proceeds go to the National Memorial for the Unborn.)

Source: Patriot Post Vol. 08 No. 03 | 19 January 2008

Bodock Beau What Are You

Crunch time is closing for politicians who want to be our country’s next president. Area Liberal columnist and feminist, Rita Grimsley Johnson, revealed in her most recent column that she will vote for Hillary Clinton, which comes as no surprise to Rita-watchers. However, it is surprising that the nomination of Hillary Clinton is a foregone conclusion.

If readers of this column need help in their political decision making, the following test, shared with us by Ken Gaillard of Albequerque, may help.

Are you a Democrat, Republican or Southerner?
Here is a little test that will help you decide.  The answer can be found by posing the following question: You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you. You are carrying a Glock 9 mm., and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Democrat's Answer:
Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!
Does the man look poor or oppressed?
Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
Could we run away?
What does my wife think? 
What about the kids?
Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand? What does the law say about this situation?
Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it? 
Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?
Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?
Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?
Should I call 9-1-1 ?
Why is this street so deserted? We need to raise taxes, have paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior. This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends for few days and try to come to a consensus.

Republican's Answer: BANG!
Southerner's Answer: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click..... (Sounds of reloading) BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click 

  • Daughter: 'Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tip Hollow points?'
  • Son: 'Can I shoot the next one Daddy?'
  • Wife: 'You ain't taking THAT to the Taxidermist!'


Jay Leno: According to a new survey, 11 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 could not find the United States on a map of the world. How pathetic is that?

President Bush commented on this today, he said, "Why do we need our kids to find the U.S. on a map? They’re already here."


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