in memory HR Walker
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(Also See Love Stories Section)


  1. April 22, 2018:: Stress Meets Its Match

  2. September 9, 2017: 50 Years of Camping with Alice and Jerry

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  3. March 31, 2017: My Dream,You Interpret

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  4. May 11, 2016: DNA and the Birds and the Bees

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  5. August 17, 2015: Alice's Mother and Father's Memoirs

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  6. July 24, 2015: Book Review: The Living Mind by Alan Scott

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  7. June 14, 2015: My Thoughts On Heaven

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  8. Sept. 2012: My War on Geese

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  9. Dec 2011: Conservatives Should Give Santorum A Second Look

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  10. October 2011: The Hottest Escorts on the MightyMo

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  11. May 2009: Stand Up For Freedom

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  12. September 2008: America's Energy Independence Future

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  13. April 2007: Fidel Climbs on Bandwagon
    (for Global Warming)

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  14. March 2007:: Global Cooling Is Back

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  15. February 2007: Global Warming
    (Anthropogenic Climate Change)

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  16. January 2007: Comman Sense About Doom's Day Clock

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  17. January 16, 2007: Surviving the Ice Storm

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Stress Meets Its Match

Sunday afternoon April 22, 2018 and I feel fine, thank you. All is calm, quiet and peaceful here at the Walker household except for the TV blaring in the background and the rizz-rizz sound of the drill Alice is using while trying to install new window shades in the kitchen. All that is normal around here as Alice is never happy unless she is working on some project. She is especially happy if the project includes the use of power tools. My stress hormones have bottomed out and all is well with the world.

IRS Rears Its Ugly Head

But that was not the case for the previous four days. To start with, upon returning home from Florida after being gone for eleven weeks we found our mailbox loaded. The post office had been instructed to forward the mail until further notice but apparently decided that forwarding it until the middle of March had been long enough. As is usually the case, the great bulk was junk mail which quickly met the waste-basket. But one envelope caught my attention. It was from the IRS office in Austin Texas. Just the sight of it set off the stress alarm hormones. And rightfully so. They really kicked into high gear when I read, " This is not a bill…but the IRS has taken exception to your 2016 Form 1040…" and all would be well if you just send $3700, accepting the IRS revision, by April 18. The IRS letter had been mailed on March 18 and this day of our first seeing it was April 17. Trusty old Turbo Tax had obviously failed us. Our tax returns are normally very simple and boring but there had been unusual complications commencing in 2016 which were obviously beyond our tax preparation capabilities. I don't think we owe the $3700. But the IRS is a nice organization and their nine page letter gave us the option of agreeing with them and sending in the $3700 by the 18th or "disagreeing" and providing proof of why by the 18th. IRS provided a contact phone number which I dialed early the next morning after a most restless night. The phone number, as expected, reached an automated system with several options. I tried all of them including just hitting zero. None of the options were applicable to my situation and failure to select an option desirable to the IRS computer just put you in a circle back to the beginning.

What Happened to Staples?

IRS did provide a fax number to which you could submit the form part of the IRS letter. I checked the "disagree" box and included a letter requesting a 30 day delay during which I could gain the assistance of a skilled tax accountant. The fax feature of our printer requires that you have a land line which we do not have. Not to worry, we'll just take it to Staples and pay a small fee for use of their fax. Over the last 18 years since moving to the Lake we have been a frequent customer of the Staples store just a few miles away. Having gotten the papers neatly organized and signed, we headed out and soon pulled in to the Stapes parking lot. We knew something was wrong. There was not a single car in the parking lot. The sign on the store confirmed our fears. This Staples store was closed forever. Another problem but one with an easy solution after a call to our credit union in Osage Beach confirmed that they would send the fax for us. I can just see an IRS agent in Texas laughing at my response but my stress level returned to normal because I had taken what I considered positive action.

Plans For Saturday

That was Wednesday and Thursday proved to be a restful day. We had plans for Saturday. Our son Jerry has started a fence building business in Florida and could expand his business if he had another truck. Since we no longer have a RV to tow we no longer need our 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel. We offered it to Jerry at a price he couldn't refuse. Plans were made for him and Jessica to fly into the St. Louis Mid America airport in Belleville Illinois on Saturday. Alice and I would drive the truck to the Belleville airport to meet them at 12:30 pm, They would then drive us to the St. Louis Amtrak station and then planned on having a late lunch with Jessica' father who lived in St. Louis before commencing their drive back to Florida.

Crisis Triggers Stress Hormones

On Friday afternoon my stress hormones went through the roof. I usually plan and prepare for contingencies better than I had that time. About 3 pm on Friday I told Alice we had best get the truck registration and insurance information together and put it in the truck glove compartment. Alice thought they might already be in the truck and went out to check. "We have a bigger problem than the insurance card" she said when she returned. "Oh, what"? "The license plate expired last November".

It was now 3:15 PM and we had hoped to leave by 8 AM the next day. The insurance card proved to be not a problem as a call to our insurance agent soon provided us with an email copy of the insurance card. "Call the license bureau in Camdenton to see what time they close". I called and was soon connected from the automated system to a live clerk who was very helpful. "We are open until 5 PM and can take care of your problem if you get here by then. But you'll need proof that your personal property taxes have been paid." They had been but we couldn't find that receipt either. Still, no problem, the license bureau has access to Camden County Tax records and can confirm payment online. "How old is the vehicle"? "It's a 1995 Dodge truck", I replied. "Oh, then you will need a current inspection certificate." It was now 3:30 PM. What are the chances of getting a truck inspected this late on a Friday afternoon and still making it to the license bureau by five?

Coincidence or God's Helping Hand?

As chance would have it, we had just had the oil changed and a new fuel filter installed in the truck that morning at our friendly repair shop and it was half-way between our house and the Camdenton license bureau. A panic call to the auto repair shop. "We'll get you in if you get over here right away." Alice and I jumped into the truck and Alice drove at max legal speed down the highway and to the shop. It was now 4:15 and we still had a chance. After sitting in the waiting room for a few minutes there came a call, "Alice". Returning to the counter we heard the embarrassed manager say, "It's a good thing you guys came back. You wouldn't have made it very far tomorrow. It's our fault but the fuel filter was installed wrong and diesel fuel is leaking all over the place. We have a new filter on the way over from O'Riley Auto Parts and we'll get it fixed right".

The good news was that our license problem saved us from what could have been a terribly serious problem the next day. God was watching over us. The bad news was that there was now no way we would be able to make the license bureau by 5 o'clock. I had great hope that the license bureau would be open on Saturday, called and had it confirmed that they would open at 9 AM but would have only two clerks on duty. The stress hormones had peaked but now subsided somewhat. We would get there on Saturday and be the first ones in line.

The Whining Millennial

We arrived at the license bureau at 8:45 Saturday morning only to find half a dozen cars there with people sitting in them. It was very cold. "We'd better go stand in front of the door" I told Alice as we got out of the truck and, shivering, parked our bodies in front of the office door. Seeing our action, everyone else got out of their cars and came to stand in line behind us. One guy, fairly young and in short sleeves only, came to stand immediately behind us, bumping the line of others. "I see it doesn't matter how soon you get here", he muttered, "I've been here since 8:30 and I still don't get to be first".

We were first in line when the clerk opened the door promptly at 9 AM. She said, "The computer waiting list system is down so file by the desk to get your names placed on the waiting list". We were first to do so. After the line had filed by the clerk she called the first name. It was the guy who had complained that he was not first. (Of course not, he had been sitting in the warmth of his car while we braved the frigid cold.) I was not happy. In fact, I was pissed. He obviously had complained to the clerk and she had acquiesced to his whining. To make matters worse, he took what seemed to be an unusually long time for his business. The longer he took the madder I got and was ready to jump up and raise holy hell if our name was not the next one called. Stress hormones peaked again. The whining millennial was finally satisfied and the clerk called, "Walker". It was about 9:45 before we finally got underway for our trip to the airport.

Old Faithful Gives Us A Scare

Our trusty old Cummings diesel engine truck is 24 years old but has only 160000 miles on it. The day before the garage manager with whom we dealt said that earlier in the week they worked on a similar Dodge diesel for a gentleman heading to California. That truck had 450000 miles on it. Aside from routine maintenance, the truck has had only one problem and it has had that same problem for at least the last ten years. Every now and then, for reasons unknown, it seems to lose its memory and the computer shifts the transmission into a lower gear. Normally it drives smoothly at 70 or 75 miles per hour with a RPM of just under 2000. When the problem occurs and you drive at 60 mph the RPMs increase to 2500. We had not had that problem on our last trip to Florida and back even pulling a fifth wheel. However, as we approached the St. Louis suburbs the engine suddenly shifted down and the RPMs went up.

And up went my stress hormone levels again. We were already running almost an hour late in picking up Jerry and Jessica but my main concern was that Jerry would be faced with the problem on his return trip to Florida. Alice's iPhone GPS routed us right through downtown St. Louis, over the Mississippi River and thence about 25 miles to the St. Louis/Belleville Mid America Airport. I didn't remember Belleville being so far away from St. Louis. We had no problem locating Jerry since he and Jessica were the only ones standing out front of the airport. In fact, I think they were the only ones other than employees even at the airport.

On To Amtrak

They threw their overnight bags into the bed of the truck and Jerry took over the wheel. He hadn't driven more than a couple of miles in the lower gear before the truck shifted back into high, the RPMs dropped, my stress hormone levels dropped and all was well. (Jerry made it home Sunday night and the truck had behaved well all the way.)

I don't know how any stranger would ever find the Amtrak depot without guidance of a GPS since it's buried in the heart of St. Louis underneath highway over-passes. Jerry's phone GPS took us right to it. We gave Jerry and Jessica hugs, prayed that they have a safe journey home and waved as they pulled away. Into the depot we went. The interior was not huge but larger than I had expected. Other passengers were few.

A Long Delay?

Neither Alice nor I had ridden a train for almost 60 years so we looked forward to this as a new adventure. Our dear friend Vera had agreed to meet us in Jefferson City to give us a ride back to the Lake. We hoped the train would be on time and arrive near the 6:22 PM we had told Vera.

Just as we entered we heard the PA system announcement of several delays, up to two hours, to various places including Jefferson City. Stress hormones began to stir as we walked over to the counter and asked "Did you say the train to Jefferson City would be delayed two hours"? "Aw, this is the Greyhound counter and the delay you heard was for the bus. Amtrak counter is over there on the other side." Stress levels dropped back to normal.

Time In The Depot

Because we were uneasy about the process we walked over to the Amtrak counter. "Do we need anything other than this copy of our online ticket for the Jefferson City 4 PM train"? The lady attendant looked at us like we were slightly demented and said "no, you're fine, boarding will be called at 3:35. Go to my left, through the hallway, up the escalator and to the train where the conductor will take your ticket." Although we still had over an hour to wait for boarding we proceeded to the indicated hall and into it a little way to where a security guard stood. We could ask him if we were on the right path. He was a mountain of a man but with a voice so low I had to ask Alice what he said. "He said we were in a restricted zone and could not pass this point until after the train boarding was called."

OK, no problem. We had not eaten since our breakfast protein shakes seven hours earlier and were happy to see that a KFC and Pizza-Hut were in the depot. We chose Pizza-Hut and each ordered a personal pizza and diet Pepsi. In our hunger state, the pizza tasted delicious.

We still had over half an hour to wait so decided to just circle the depot as compensation for having missed our normal two mile a day walk. That eventually became boring so we ventured into an off-set area in which the plate glass wall gave view to city streets. The mountain security guard sauntered over and spoke in his soft low voice I could not hear. Alice interpreted: "he said we are in a restricted zone and had to move". There were no signs anywhere saying this was a restricted zone but since we didn't care anyway and because he was certainly too big to argue with we quickly acquiesced.

All Aboard!

Our train boarding was finally called. We along with maybe a dozen other people headed for the hallway and proceeded to an up escalator. There was a wide platform at the top on the other side of which was a down escalator. (The Amtrak ticket agent had not mentioned that.) We rode down that escalator and entered a long concrete platform between two trains. We had no idea which train to get on so we laid back and let the experienced train travelers lead the way. They proceeded all the way down the platform to a car of the train on the right in front of which stood three Amtrak personnel. "Watch your step", one said as we stepped up to enter the train. We followed the others to the right after entering and since no one told us where to go, we sit on our right near the front of the first car we came to. We had our choice of almost any of the seats. No one had asked to see our ticket.

At exactly 4 PM the train came alive and chugged slowly down the track. "Next stop in 20 minutes will be Kirkwood" blared the train's speaker system. Kirkwood is a close suburb of St. Louis and the train never really got up to speed as it proceeded thru the city. The conductor came by and asked to see our ticket. I was ready and handed him the ticket along with our IDs. He ignored the IDs, glanced at the ticket and said "Jerry and Alice"? "Yes sir". He handed them back and proceeded on his way.

Riding On The Missouri River Runner

The train was clean but obviously not new. Seats reminded me of those on airplanes since they reclined slightly and had pull-down trays in front. We were impressed that they also had 110 volt plug-ins at every seat. I'm sure more modern train cars also have USB ports for charging phones and other electronics..

Next stop was Washington Missouri. The name of this train is the Missouri River Runner. I realized that the Missouri River would be to the right of us and we were on the wrong side to enjoy the view so we moved. I gave Alice the window seat so she would have the best view. Except for the comforting click-click of the rolling train all was very peaceful and quiet. Alice promptly fell sound asleep. She remained that way until the conductor announced "next stop in five minutes will be Hermann. Those leaving us here please have your things together and be ready to get off quickly because we have 80 passengers coming aboard". "Did he say eighty or eight"? "He had to have said eight. Couldn't be eighty getting on in this tiny town of Hermann". I thought to myself, "This is quite an operation and cost for such few passengers". (Amtrak subsidy costs the average taxpayer $100 a year and the average passenger pays only 40% of the actual cost. I had purchased these tickets through an online discount service at only $23 each. Thank you Mr. Taxpayer.)

Hermann Passengers

Nope. Eighty was right. Our peace and quiet had ended. I thought they'd never quit piling by as our empty car soon became over-crowded. And the noise was deafening. Yelling, laughing and screaming at one another. Eighty ladies heading home after their day of wine tasting in the wineries of the heart of the Missouri wine country. Nine wineries in the Hermann region and these ladies must have not missed a one. Four of them rotated the two seats across from us so as to sit facing one another and yelled at the conductor "is the lounge car open yet? We need a drink". It was open as soon as the train chugged away from the station and three of those ladies immediately headed out for the much needed drink.

Meet The Lady Stranger Or Is It The Strange Lady?

"Well, no more snoozing for you", I told Alice. Then I felt a poke on my shoulder and looked over seeing the remaining lady of the four trying to get my attention.

"What kind of socks are those you have on there"? she demanded. "Why, these are Trump socks", I proudly proclaimed as I pulled up my left pants leg and raised my foot into the air. She laughed hilariously such that I thought she'd never stop. "Wow! I never heard of such a thing. Can I take a picture of your socks"? "Sure, be my guest" I replied, pulling my left sock up to its' full glory. She leaned over and down to ankle height with her phone camera and began snapping pictures.

Trump Sock

The Altruistic Social Club

Having now made acquaintance with the lady, I felt comfortable in asking "what is this group you're with"? "We are the ‘Facebook Social Club Ladies of South Kansas City", she informed me. "Our club mission is to get together to have a good time". Sounds to me like a noble mission indeed. I never dreamed I'd become famous and have my picture plastered all over the Facebook of South Kansas City. Well, at least the picture of my left ankle. I wonder if Facebook's facial recognition system includes ankles?

Stress Defeated

Thus the stressful week ended on a high note. The train arrived in Jefferson City at 6:22 right on schedule and good friend Vera, with friend Kim, were waiting for us as we stepped down from the car. Vera got us home safe and sound.

Don't let stress get you down. Know that better days are ahead. Face your daily problems with a positive attitude, take action when you can and put the problem in God's hand when you can't. For me, no matter what the situation, I take comfort by touching, holding hands, and hugging the love of my life for the last 58 years. The love we have for one another overcomes whatever life throws our way.

stress quote

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Copyright © June 14, 2000 Jerry Lee Walker Sr.