Thursday, June 01, 2023

By Choice

 By Choice

By Bobby Neal Winters

I told my Paraguayan Elementary Statistics Class.  My Russian snake vodka story.  While it has nothing to do with statistics, every once in a while it is good to let the young people know you weren’t always the old boring thing that you are now.  

Anyway, if you catch me sometime, I’ll be glad to tell you, but for my current purposes we only need the end: I am on my Rotary Group Study exchange to Russia in June of 2000 in the dacha of my host’s father.  His father was retired military and had a nice summer country house, aka dacha.

Earlier in the day, I’d had a toenail ripped from my foot, and I was sitting in the dacha’s living room.  The father had made sure I was taken care of.  My foot was propped up; I had a beer in one hand and a glass of vine in the other; and the father was showing me his rifle.  I’d praised the rifle, perhaps too effusively, perhaps too politely, because then the father got a gleam in his eye.  

He spoke to me through a translator:

“I have some medicine that I brought back from China,” he said. “It will cure your foot.”  Then because I’d told him I had three daughters. “After you take this, your wife will give you sons.”

He then brought out a large jar of vodka.  Vodka with the body of a snake suspended in it.  The vodka had leached enough pigment from the snake’s dark green body to render the vodka in the bottle a clear yellowish green color.

I took a look at it and prayed, “Jesus, if you get me out of this, I will never miss church again.”

At that point the father’s wife came in to call us to dinner.  I said, “Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus.”

Then the mother spooned out the vodka into a shot glass. The father took the glass and put it in front of me.  

At this point in telling the story to my class, I stopped, looked at the young men in class, and asked, “What would you do?”

The answer came back almost immediately: “You’ve got to drink it.”

And I said, “I opened my esophagus as wide as I possibly could and threw the vodka down my throat.”

I woke up in the middle of the night and began to ponder the young man’s answer: You’ve got to drink it.

While everyone in the class understood, the sixty-year-old that I am now as opposed to the thirty-something of 23 years ago or the twenty-year-old from my class says: No, I chose to drink it. 

I’ve been meditating on the use of food in the Bible, in Genesis in particular. The serpent said, “Go ahead and the fruit; you aren’t going to die.” Eve did, then took some to her husband.  He chose to eat it.

Esau came in hungry from a hunt.  Jacob was making some stew.  Esau said, “Give me some of that stew. I am so hungry that I am about to die.” Jacob said, “Only if you give...your birthright...this me.”

Esau wasn’t going to die; he was hungry.  He chose to sell his birthright.

During the famine in Egypt, the people first gave all their goods, then all their animals, and finally themselves to Pharaoh in exchange for food.  The Children of Israel sold their descendants into slavery for hundreds of years for food.

On the flip side of this, Satan tempted Jesus and Jesus chose not to eat.  He chose not to turn the stones into bread and ultimately the Cross.

The point is to say, I chose to drink the snake vodka.  I didn’t have to.  Ultimately, we have very few things we can choose: I can’t choose to live forever; I can’t choose to jump over the moon; I can’t choose to lift the Empire State Building.

I can choose what goes into my stomach.  That day 23 years ago, I chose to drink the snake vodka. The reasons? To make my host’s father happy for one thing, but I think on a deeper level it was to make a better story.

This was before I began to write, but even then I was a storyteller, and the stories I brought back from Russia were the first ones I had appear in the paper.  It was then that I got printer’s ink in my veins.

It has been an addiction, but I choose to do it.  It has made my life a better story, don’t you think?

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at and He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Of Time Machines and Airplanes

 Of Time Machines and Airplanes

By Bobby Neal Winters

I am in Paraguay teaching Elementary Statistics.

Hop into a time machine and go back almost 40 years. It would be 1984 or 1985.  My father was still alive. He only had a couple of years left, but we didn’t know that.

A group of my friends from graduate school went to an Oklahoma Academy of Science meeting that was being held at East Central University that year.  It was only a little further from there to my family’s home, so I took my friends to meet them.

We were modest working people.  Our house was small, but we owned it. My friends met my family, and my father was very impressed as to how nice they were, how well brought up, how well-presented. 

They were nice, they had been well brought up, but I knew then and I know better now that they weren’t perfect. Not that anything in particular was wrong with them, but they just weren’t perfect. No one is.

What I know now is that this was a meeting of classes, a place and time where boundaries came together.  My family was working class.  The people I was going to grad school with were middle class.  These are not the same.  Someone who knows something about sociology--which I do not--would know how to classify all the differences with great nuance.

For my part, I will stick to what I’ve seen as one who’s made the journey from working class to middle class.  All I know is what I’ve seen with my own eyes, interpreted through my own lens.

Fast forward four decades.  And I mean fast.

Now hop on a plane and fly 5000 miles south to Asuncion, Paraguay.  I’ve got to wonder what Dad would’ve made of it through his lens.  He’d been to Europe, both England and the Continent, with a group of close friends of his (about a million of them) in the early 1940s.  He and those friends made quite an impression on the place.

He was also an avid reader of National Geographic and daydreamed about visiting the Pampas of Argentina, which is not far from Paraguay.  It would be nice to see the places I’ve been reflected back through his eyes with the benefit of his insight.

I guess I am seeing that to a certain degree when I am interacting with my students.  They are polite, respectful, friendly, and kind.  They are sharp in their studies.  They not only study, but they know how to study.  They have been taught.  

They have been in private schools where the instruction has been in English for at least half the day from Kindergarten on up.

Now, as said above, they are not perfect. No one is.  Indeed, they may have faults that working class kids never dreamed of having because money and privilege open all sorts of doors, not all of them good. 

But one thing I’ve seen, and this is important, is that they are able to interact with authority figures with an ease and comfort that I could never have dreamed of at that age.

As I said, I am in Paraguay teaching Elementary Statistics.  Most of my students will be coming to the United States eventually in order to finish their education. I would like them to come to Pittsburg State because I believe the rest of our students can benefit by being around them.  

While a great deal of this is the value of being around students from another culture in the sense of being from another country, a lot of it is the value of being around students who’ve this level of people skill, who’ve been raised so as to be confident and at ease around authority.

Looking back, I realize I benefited from that myself with my middle-class friends from graduate school.

There are all sorts of poverty. The sort of not having much money comes to mind.  But there is a poverty of experience with reality.  For those of us who came from a rural environment, that’s a big thing.  You don’t meet many different kinds of people; you don’t see many different kinds of things.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s TV; there’s the internet. 

It ain’t the same thing.

There is something to being there. There is something to seeing it with your own eyes.

Were I to have my own way, I would drag every student in the university down to Paraguay to see it with their own eyes.  I can’t.  Many can’t afford it financially, which is understandable; many would have a poverty of the spirit, which is a shame, but which can be fixed with time. 

But to bring a bit of Paraguay to Kansas, to Pittsburg, Kansas is something we can do.  To let our Kansas students meet the Paraguayans; to let our Paraguayan students meet the Kansans, it is a good thing.

I think my father would like it.  I think my father would like them.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at and He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Seeking Black Pepper and Cottage Cheese

 Seeking Black Pepper and Cottage Cheese

By Bobby Neal Winters

My wife and I have been seeking black pepper, pimienta negra in Spanish.  It’s been a hard thing.  We’ve been able to find the pepper corn easily enough, but pre ground black pepper is rather elusive.  Fear not, we have found it, but it has been a challenge.

We’ve decided to cook for ourselves a lot here in Paraguay.  It is a matter of having control of how much we eat.  As I’ve mentioned from time to time, I’ve lost a lot of weight recently, and I have absolutely no desire to gain it back.

For this reason, we are cooking for ourselves in the place we are staying. Well, lunch and dinner at least; breakfast is provided.

Food is basic to who we are, and it is a pathway through which trouble can enter our lives.  This is recognized in the Bible: The Serpent tempted Eve with the fruit of Knowledge of good and evil; Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage; the children of Israel sold themselves into slavery for need of food.  

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus is tempted by Satan to turn the stones into bread, but he does not. He shows that we can control our hunger. He later performs the miracle of turning a few baskets of bread and fish into enough to feed 5000, proving in a case where he was in control that he did have the ability to perform the miracle.

In spite of the lack of spice in Paraguayan cuisine, I do like it.  It has lots of meat, lots of protein, and they tend to eat in social situations.  One of my students says his family--and most families--has an asado (barbecue for lack of a better word) every weekend. It’s an event for the whole family.

Since my diet, I’ve been given a good book on nutrition by a friend of mine.  A good diet is not only about calories, it is about the type of food we put in our bodies.  It is an old cliche, we are what we eat.

In the Gospels, food is a frequent metaphor for something else: Spiritual Wisdom.  When Jesus answered Satan’s temptation, he said, “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.”

Just as the food we eat with our mouths makes our bodies, the spiritual food that we take in through our eyes and our ears makes our spirit and eventually our soul.  I do distinguish between the spirit and the soul: the spirit is part of who we are; the soul is who we are.

If you listen, read, and look at things that encourage lust and greed, you will become licentious and greedy.  If you listen, read, and look at things that encourage generosity and kindness, you will become generous and kind.

If you want to encourage certain parts of yourself, you should feed them regularly.  The right things in the right portions.

Often these things are all around you.  We can find all of the meat and bread, fruits and vegetables that we want here.  Other things are more difficult to find, black pepper would be an example.  It is not a necessity, but it does help baked potatoes to go down more easily.

There are sometimes things that can’t be found, however.  We’ve not been able to find cottage cheese here for neither love nor money.  It is not a concept that exists.  They don’t see a reason for it.  The Paraguayans who were educated in the US did not develop a taste for it there, so it is not imported.

I will have to live without it until I come home.

As I press my metaphor, I would say that black pepper would represent a spiritual food that we don’t have to have, is not easy to come by, but we can have by putting out great effort.  This would be like in depth Bible Study.  Cottage cheese would be knowledge that we are just going to have to wait until God tells us directly. 

In the meantime, my wife and I have another week to spend in Paraguay before we come home to decadent pleasures of cottage cheese and mountains of black pepper at every turn.

Nos vemos pronto.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at and He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Going by Landmarks

 Going by Landmarks

By Bobby Neal Winters

The street that I am staying on while I’m in Paraguay is Legion Civil Extranjero.  Google translate makes this out to be Foreign Civil Legion.  This makes no sense to me, so I am going to simply believe it means Foreign Legion for no other reason than it just seems romantic.  (This street runs parallel to one called Senador Huey Long, named for the US Senator, who is either famous or infamous depending upon your point of view.) 

So I am staying on Foreign Legion Street in Asuncion, Paraguay. I don’t know the address or even that it has one.  The only thing I’ve seen is Legion Civil Extranjero casi de Las Palmeras.  “Casi” is Spanish for “almost” and Las Palmeras refers to the street that runs east-west just south of us; and we are “almost” on the corner.  

In a city of a million people, this might seem kind of imprecise, but I’ve given those coordinates to a cabbie downtown, and he got us there without a blink: 

“Nos gustaría a ir Legión Civil Extranjero casi de Las Palmeras, por favor.”  


And we arrived without adventure for the price of less than $5.

Walking can be an adventure.  Street signs are rare compared to the US, and you don’t always want to be checking the map on your phone because it’s never a good idea in any city to let strangers know that you don’t know where you are.

You learn to navigate by landmarks.

One of my favorite landmarks is El Colegio Las Almenas, which I had been mis-translating as “The German School,” but that is not correct.  The German School would be Colegio Aleman.  This is School of the Battlements.  When you look at their website, it appears to be an all girls school.

Regardless, it is my favorite landmark because it is at the corner of Legion Civil Extranjero and Dr. Toribio Pacheno.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the second street, and it is important.  Take it going to the east, and you will very shortly find yourself at a “Biggie” store.  You could think of “Biggie” as an upscale Dollar General Store which has a greater selection of food, or you could just think of it as an old-fashioned neighborhood market for the modern age.

Come down here and make up your own mind.

In the other direction, there is a restaurant called “O Gaucho.”  This is in Portuguese.  It can be translated roughly as, “The Cowboy.”

For those of you who know what a churrascaria is, it is a churrascaria.  For those of you who don’t know, a churrascaria is a meat restaurant.  I could call it a barbecue restaurant, but then we get into deep philosophical territory.  Does barbecue require sauce?  What is the quintessence of barbecue?  

There are those who charcoal a steak and call it a barbecue.  There are those who say barbecue can’t be beef. There are those who say it must have sauce, but the sauce can’t be sweet. (This reminds me of the distinction between homoousios and homoiousios in the arguments surrounding the Arian Heresy.)

So we flee the English language for the sake of avoiding religious arguments.  A churrascaria is a place where they have a buffet of side dishes, many of which are quite substantial, but the main attraction is that well-muscled young men come around to your table with skewers of meat that have been cooked over wood fires.  The meat is in various levels of doneness from medium-well to “put me back in the cow and I will live again.” 

There will be the occasional platter of chicken hearts and finally a dessert cart. 

All for about $25 a head.

Yes, Colegio Las Almenas is one of my favorite landmarks.

When you travel by landmarks, you have to be more tuned into your environment.  Traveling with a GPS nav-system makes you lazy, it makes you soft, you ignore your environment and take orders from a Godless machine.  You might as well be ruled by Skynet because you’ve turned over your freewill to a machine already. 

When you give up GPS and even give up street names, you pay attention to where the construction is, which yards have dogs, what the businesses are, where the sidewalks are good, where the new paint is. You tune-in to your environment. You are more alive than you ever have been.

They do have GPS here.  It does work.  Getting around by learning the neighborhood is a personal choice I’ve made.  I don’t know when I will pass this way again, if ever, and I want to soak up every moment.

Greetings from Paraguay. Dios te acompañe hasta que regresemos.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at and He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Learn How to Swim

 Learn How to Swim

By Bobby Neal Winters

We are going through a time of change in higher education. Our enrollment is down.  This is true not only locally, but over the country.  There were 4 million fewer university students in the US in 2022 than there were in 2012.  That’s a 10 percent decline. At the same time, the baby boomers (like me) are getting older and in greater need of medical care.  This needs to come from doctors and nurses, who both need education.

And just so that my point is not missed, these people need to be smart.  They need to know how to do stuff.

At the same time, everybody needs to know how to work some kind of machine or other.  We need people who can fix those machines.  This greater need is happening at a time when the birth rate in the US is going down.

With this said, let it also be said that the US has never had enough people to do all the work it wants to do, but we found ways to deal with it.  More on this later.

Now, right here and right now, we have a release of artificial intelligence of a higher quality than has been available before.  While there has been the occasional clap of thunder and flash of lightning before, the release of  ChatGPT was the first big drop of rain, and since that time a few months ago, it’s been a toad-strangler as my old grand pappy would say.

As so happens at times of rapid change, there have been those who’ve looked at the heavy rain, proclaimed it a devastating flood, and have started seeking higher ground.  And to be fair, the potential for disaster, especially in individual cases, is huge.  Again, to quote from the First Book of Dylan: “You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’.”

Before I mentioned that we’d never had enough people to do the work we wanted to do, but we’d found ways to deal with it.  One of those ways was immigration: African slaves to pick the tobacco and cotton; Irish and Chinese to build the railroads; Mexicans to pick the fruit; the brain drain on Europe after WWII; physicians and scientists from Asia.  But even that was not enough at times, so we have done a lot of mechanization:  Cotton gins and reapers; tractors and combines.

In all of these cases of mechanization, we’ve still needed people to do the work, but their reach has been extended by machines.

The recent developments in artificial intelligence are tools that can help extend the reach of our intellectual workers. And this has already been going on for years, for decades, but the rate of change has been so slow we’ve not noticed much.  Some of us remember times before word processors, before spreadsheets, before PowerPoint(good times!), and these tools extended the reach of those of us who work more with our words than our hands.

But this has been like a heavy dew or a light mist.

What’s happened since the release of ChatGPT has been more of a flood.

But ChatGPT is a tool.  It will extend the reach of writers, computer programmers, and educators to begin with

I am interested in all of these.  As a writer, I was curious, so I fed it in a few of my columns (it likes my writing by the way; I asked it) and had it write something on a particular topic in the same style. What it wrote sounded like me.  Maybe not the best version of me; I hope. But like me.  I don’t know if I will ever do anything with that but there are possibilities there.

My interest in programming comes from my job at the university.  I’ve been involved in rebooting our Computer Science program. We rebooted it because there is such a pressing need for computer scientists.  While I was initially worried that the fact that ChatGPT can write programs would hurt our major, I believe the reverse is the case.  There will be an even greater need for programmers, but they will need to be properly prepared.

Even a tool like a hammer is just a chunk of iron if you don’t know what to do with it.

As for education, this might wind up being the largest application of artificial intelligence. (It is hard for me to refrain from putting a joke about curving tests in, so there.)  There are numerous resources online. I’ve personally used them to teach myself a number of things.  Having some sort of guide would’ve saved many false starts. I’ve recently read a story where people are using ChatGPT to guide them.  I’ve got to think there is a way that we teachers can take this and leverage it to help extend our reach in the classroom.  I might leave this as something for the younger ones to figure out, though.

In closing, I’m reminded of an old joke from the 1950s or 60s, I think.  They had just programmed a very sophisticated computer, much more advanced than ever before.  They gave careful thought to the first question they would ask it.

They keyed in the question: “Is there a God?”  The tape turned; the relays clicked; the printer printed; they read the printout.

“There is now,” it said.

We are not there.  This is a tool, and if you are in some professions, you either need to learn how to use it or learn how to swim.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at and He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )

Saturday, May 06, 2023

The Rest of the Story

 The Rest of the Story

By Bobby Neal Winters

I’ve been doing two things lately that have intersected in a surprising way.  

I’ve been involved in an online Bible Study where we’ve been going through a book called “When the Church Was Young” by Marcellino D’Ambrosio. I’ve learned about various historical events in the life of the early church including the Donatist Schism.  To make a long story short, the church was persecuted: some of the members of the church folded under the persecution, but wanted to come back later; the Donatists didn’t like that they were forgiven, so they split. 

I’ve also been listening to some country music from the 1960s in my workshop while doing my woodworking.  While doing this, I’ve noted a certain characteristic of most of the songwriters from that era.  They are lost and they know it.  They want to find their way back.

Combine these two, and I’ve had the Parable of the Prodigal Son on my mind. 

As I’ve mentioned from time to time, I grew up as a Southern Baptist, where the emphasis is on saving the lost.  

Not a bad mission statement, but it provides a lens through which every bit of scripture is viewed and if you only use that one lens some details can be obscured.

In any case, for years my view of the Parable of the Prodigal Son had been from the point of view of the prodigal: If you go home people will be happy. Your Father (God) will kill the fatted calf and there will be rejoicing.  And that is true, but the problem is that all of the preachers I’d ever heard stopped at that point.

There’s more.

There’s the stay at home brother. He sees a party going on and wonders what the hell is happening.  Dad, why are you throwing a party for that whore-mongering son of...yours? I’ve been here; I’ve done the right thing; I’ve worked every day for you know what he’s been up to, eh?

I’ve got some insight here. My lot has been more like the stay at home brother’s.  I’ve not had a lot of practice doing the prodigal thing.  The prodigals go out, do their prodigal thing, and come back and everyone is just so happy to see them. 

That old green-eyed monster arises within us: Jealousy; anger; resentment.  It makes you think of another story about brothers: Cain and Abel.

As so often happens in the Bible, this is a retelling of that story. It happens again and again and again. The younger is favored over the older.  Here the younger prodigal is seemingly favorer over his older stay-at-home brother.

As we recall, Cain killed Abel and tried to cover it up, but God knew.  After God rejected Cain’s offering, He told Cain to not be downcast but to just try to do better.

In the parable, the Father has a similar talk with the older brother: “My son you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

The parable ends there.  We are not told whether the older brother ever comes around or not.  Does he embrace his brother?  Does he pretend to embrace his brother to stay in good stead with the father, but kick him out when the old man dies? Does he make continual references to his brother’s activities for the rest of his life?

Well, as this story has played out countless times over the ages, I think it is safe to say that all those things have happened.

This parable is rich. Jesus meant for it to be used in all stages of church life.  Those who are lost can find their way back. That’s right there; take it and put it in your pocket. God and all the angels in heaven rejoice, yeah, yeah, yeah.

But those people who never let their feet wander down the more...uh...interesting paths of life need a little help too.

It is less easy for them, less easy for us to see ourselves as needing help. We’ve never squandered our inheritance on prostitutes after all, and it sounds like it could be fun.

The prodigals know that whatever fun there is comes at a very high price: smoke-filled honky-tonks; lonesome Sunday morning sidewalks; D-I-V-O-R-C-E. 

We know how Jesus would want the story to end. The older brother embraces his younger brother with love; he listens to the reasons he came home; he realizes his secret envy of his brother was misplaced; he learns grace.

Let’s end there, with that hope.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at and He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. 

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Providing a Pattern

 Providing a Pattern

By Bobby Neal Winters

We are now in a time of year when students will begin graduating from school. I am now an old professor. I’ve come a long way personally from the backwoods of Oklahoma to my life here among the shimmering spires of southeast Kansas.  

Life’s been good to me so far.

The question arises: Have I learned anything?

I mean, not from a book, but from life.

What advice would I give to a younger self?  What would I tell my kids and grandkids if they actually listened to me?

I’ve made lists before. Longish lists.  Tongue firmly in cheek for the most part.  But more seriously, I have one thing I would like to suggest.

Take up a discipline.

I don’t mean a career.  I mean take up a practice that you do on a regular basis--every day, every week--and keep at it.

Take it seriously.  By this, I mean to keep at it.

It doesn’t have to be something that is hard.  In fact, if it is too hard you won’t keep it up.  It is better to start with something that is easy.

Like going to church.

You get up in the morning; you put on some nice clothes; you go and sit for an hour; you come home.


Even if you don’t believe in God; even if you don’t listen to the music; even if you don’t listen to the scripture being read; even if you don’t pray; the discipline of this will organize your week.  It will mark your time.

And, while I am at it, another discipline you can practice is prayer.

Set a time every day and pray.  Again, you don’t even have to believe in God.  Think about the people in your life and think about the good things you would like to happen to them. 

It doesn’t cost a dime. No one has to know about it: it’s better if they don’t. In particular, pray for the people who annoy you. Every day, as a discipline.

Or you could exercise.  This might be the best entry point to the practice of a disciple for young people. Daily exercise.

You know me. I love walking.  Every day that weather permits. Mostly around my neighborhood, but lately I’ve been doing an orbit around the Kansas Technology Center. The weather has just been so nice.  At lunchtime, I throw a sandwich down my throat and then I walk to the KTC and back. No dogs and very little traffic to dodge.  If it’s convenient for you, you should try it.

I kind of tipped my hand when I said it was a good entry point for young people because here’s the thing: Once you’ve instituted one discipline, it is easier to institute another.

If you go to church every week, you can piggyback something else on that: calling your mother; calling a sick friend; mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor.

If you pray every day, you can tack on reading a chapter from the Bible or the Koran or Ayn Rand (shudder).

Once you learn to institute a discipline, you can try out different things.  Learn a language? Learn woodworking (be careful!)?  Associate with groups of people who are interested in the same thing.

You can change yourself; you can connect with others.

It’s best to learn this when you are young so that you can benefit from it your whole life.

Here is the tragedy.  I am pretty sure no young person--or at least so few as to be statistically insignificant--ever started a disciple because they were told it would be a good idea.  Those who do do so because they see others doing it.

Those who are interested in sports in school have a leg up, as it were.  But because of structural constraints, there is a bottleneck there.

So this is to you old guys who read my column. If you want a young person who is near and dear to you to take up a discipline, take up one yourself.

Go to church; pray; exercise; read; make sawdust from one by threes.  And try not to be a bore about it. Provide a pattern for the young ones to see and have in their minds.

They might remember it and follow it when you are gone.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at and He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )