What is the Answer to School Shootings?

“Arm the teachers!”

“Hire armed guards!”

“Backpack checks!”

“Locked entries!”

Are we talking about schools or prisons here? Because, in all honesty, it sounds like the first instinct to combat school murders is to turn those same schools into fortresses.

I had the good fortune to grow up in a different time–when it was inconceivable that someone might come into our school and literally blow us away. Unfortunately, those were the good old days. Children today live with the fear–no, make that HORROR–that such a thing can happen. And it does. Again and again. It’s unconscionable that we allow these shootings to continue in America. What will it take? Does 51% of America have to lose a son or daughter before enough votes are cast to force a change?

Like all complex problems, this one will take a complex solution. And some of the suggestions so far are rather simplistic, not to mention ineffective. Let’s look at them.

1–Full background checks and longer waiting periods. This will be an important and needed first step, but it isn’t enough. (It wouldn’t have prevented the Las Vegas shooting.)

2–Raising the legal age requirement for purchasing automatic rifles. Another important step, though there are already millions of these weapons floating around.  It might not prevent a determined shooter from simply taking their parents’ weapons.

3–Better mental health assessments, and flagging those with issues. Won’t stop the idiots who carefully avoid the appearance of their craziness, or those who slip under the radar in other ways, but another important step.

4–Better reporting of aggressive and threatening language on social media. A slippery slope, if you ask me, for there have even been times I’ve been known to lose my cool on social media. But on the other hand, I haven’t directly threatened to shoot up a school, which actually happened with the Florida case. All in all, probably needed as well.

5–An improved approach to bullying. Though not always the case, too many of these shooters were victims of bullying. Did we have bullying in our day? Hell, yes, we did. But we (fortunately) didn’t have the idea to shoot kids in retribution. Or, if we did we didn’t act on it.

6–Arm the teachers. There might be some instances it would prove effective, if the teacher is in the right place at the right time, has their weapon locked and loaded, and is mentally and physically prepared to shoot a student. Think about that for a second. I’m sure there are thousands of educators who will balk at this idea.Continue reading

Tame Thrones

SPOILER ALERT: My thoughts on Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 1 “Dragonstone” follow:

Though season seven began pretty much where season six left off, it was curiously bereft of the drama and excitement that had been building all of last year.

I didn’t necessarily expect dragons to burn armies or White Walkers to tear down the wall, but for a series that has promised “everything is building to a crescendo,” and with only seven episodes in this season, I did expect things to begin ramping up a bit.

Anyone who followed season six’s events would have immediately figured out what was going on at the Freys’ place during the cold open–and who was behind it. There are far-reaching implications after this “Red Wine-Tasting,” but the scene was a bit restrained for my taste. Arya’s previous “unveiling” there was more satisfying.

Jon and Sansa bickered at Winterfell, with a skulking Little Finger watching. Did we learn anything new? I don’t think so.

Bran finally arrives at the wall

Bran arrived at the wall with visions of an approaching “white” army, complete with giants. (Are there dead dragons as well? If so, that might be a game changer.)

The Hound is becoming a bit of a softie. Who knew a conscience was even possible with him?

Arya broke bread, er, a rabbit, with Ed Sheeran, and that took me completely out of the story. (Big mistake, I thought.)

Cercei and Jaime literally stood on fresh paint as it dried, which is somehow a good euphemism for the entire episode.

Euron Greyjoy stopped by the Red Keep long enough to make a half-hearted proposal to now-motherless Cercei. After insulting Jaime, he made Cercei the vague promise of a “gift,” then swaggered quietly away (taking his “two good hands” with him). Euron is something of a wild card this season.

Sam had perhaps the series’s most disgusting job (so far) cleaning slop and latrines–a scene which, though funny and brilliantly edited, went on for far too long. (I hope no one was eating while watching.)

And FINALLY, Daenerys arrived at Dragonstone. The dragons circled the castle while Dany dusted the map table. You know, the one where Stannis was ravaged by the Red Woman in another life.

That’s it. End of story. (Oh, and Jorah Mormont is alive but not well, the Greyscale having bloomed to cover his entire left arm. Pity.)

An interesting episode, if not exactly inspiring. As Dany said to Tyrion, “Shall we begin?”

© Wade Kingston

Travelling Shoulders

Knoth’s Amazing Barbecue Followed Me Around the South

It was always there. On the 4th of July, Memorial Day, family reunions—even Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had other food on those occasions, but a genuine hickory-smoked shoulder from Knoth’s was the prized chunk of goodness on the table. The one that made us go “ah.”

Pork Barbecue Sandwich
Pork Barbecue Sandwich

We eagerly gathered around when it was brought in—still wrapped in the white butcher’s paper—hot from the pit. We stood smiling with buns open on our plates. It’s no exaggeration to say we salivated as the paper was unwrapped, finally revealing the crusty brown skin and that Heavenly aroma.

Some wanted a fatty part, some wanted crispy crust, and some only lean. I wanted some of it all. I would grab the tongs and tear off a tender piece of moist pink, then stick some crispy skin and hot fatty parts on top. Drench it all over with half mild sauce and half hot. Mmm, unbeatable.

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Urgent Message from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet RE: Eclipse in August

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet l District 2   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Keith Todd 270-824-7080 (office) 270-210-8009 (cell) keith.todd@ky.gov   Transportation Cabinet urges businesses to prepare for August 21 influx of visitors Total solar eclipse expected to impact food and fuel deliveries HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (June 19, 2017) – It’s an event …

Russell Kingston–From Farm Boy To Prisoner of War

The following was taken from a tape my father, Russell Kingston, made for me several years ago. He shares some of his experiences growing up, as well as his time as a prisoner of war in North Korea. I would like to point out a couple of things up front: One, these are not all of his P.O.W. stories.  Some are just too disturbing to include here. There are times I wish I hadn’t heard them myself. Two, Dad jumps around a lot in his telling. I could tell when listening to the tapes that he became emotional and had to switch back to the farm years, or something else more comforting. The words are his, just as he spoke them, with no changes.

I’m happy to add that, as of this writing, Dad is very much alive and doing well. –Wade Kingston


Young Russell Kingston with catfish

This is Russell Kingston.  I’m gonna tell a few things of my life history.  I was born 12/21/31 to John and Gola McKinney Kingston.  I have lived on a farm all of my life, my childhood, and when I became a teenager I decided I would go in the army, which I did.  I joined the army May 11, 1950, went to Ft. Knox, taken seven or eight or ten weeks training and I was sent home for 18 days delay in route.  I went to Chicago, transferred from that train to another and went to Seattle, Washington and stayed there for a day or a day and a half, caught a plane and went to Tokyo, Japan. I spent one afternoon, one night and part of one morning in Tokyo.  Caught a train and went to Sasebo (Nagasaki), Japan.  From Sasebo I caught a ship which they said was Japan’s second-best ship and when I woke up the next morning I was in Pusan, South Korea and when we got off the ship, they told us to take a look at our enemy, which there were prisoners lined up on the railroad as far as you could see—North Koreans, so they issued us more ammunition and told us to go to our outfits.  I asked them where was I going and they said “You are going to the First Cavalry, Eight Regiment, K Company,” and I said, “Where is it?” and they said “Somewhere between here and the 38th Parallel.” I said, “How will I get there?”  And this officer said, “Well, soldier you have two feet don’t you?”  I said, “Yes, sir.”  And he said, “Well, use them.”Continue reading

Recalling 14,610 Days Ago

I remember 40 years ago today, though it began like any other.

It was a beautiful, sunny day in Murray, Kentucky, on May 27, 1977.  I lived on Main Street, above Owen Food Market, one block from Murray State University. Just before noon I began a walk across campus. I had gotten as far as 15th and Olive when a new (and loud) Mustang Cobra pulled up alongside me. My good friend, Tilford Gaines, called out to me from behind the wheel. “Hey!”

I leaned down and saw Tilford’s excited face. “What’s up, Tilford?”

“I’ve been looking for you. Man, you have got to come with me right now!” he said, eyes gleaming.

“What for?”  (I had learned to be wary of those Delta Sigs.)

“You’ll see. I promise, you will love it. You will thank me. Just get in the car.” I had rarely seen Tilford this worked up. And he wasn’t given to hyperbole, so I figured it must be something special. Plus, it wasn’t like my walk across an empty campus was all that exciting.  With the college students gone MSU was a lonely spot. So, I agreed and folded my skinny, 6’4″ inch frame into the passenger side. Tilford took off down Olive Street like they were giving away free food somewhere.

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The Miracle of You

The miracle of you is that you exist at all.The miracle of you is that you shouldn’t even be here. Not if you consider the odds.

I had an excellent statistics teacher at Murray State University. A couple of them, in fact. One of the first things he did was show us the folly of playing the lottery. He patiently explained the basics of statistical mathematics so that we understood completely how small our chances of winning the big prize is. And how casinos use long odds to build massive amounts of wealth. As he put it, and as we all inherently know, “The house always wins.” And that’s true. The house always wins, even when it loses. (Because a huge payout inevitably garners publicity, which draws even more poor schmucks in to play the wheels of fortune.)

The odds of winning the lottery, or in Vegas, are usually calculated to be somewhere in the millions. Often it’s compared to the odds of getting struck by lightning. But consider this: the odds that you are alive here on this planet are so large as to be almost incalculable.

Let’s go back 250 years in our example. (The further back you go, the higher the odds that you would never have been born).

First, you have to consider the odds that one of your ancestors would survive, much less procreate. Then you have to figure out the odds that they would conceive of a child. (It’s one in several million for each try). Then the odds that their child would survive. Then you have to figure out the odds that their child would survive and procreate and the offspring live, etc. and on and on. All the way down to you, continuously, in an unbroken or uninterrupted line.

If you go back 10 generations (250 years) the chance of you being born at all is  at most 1 divided by 6 x 10100 or 1 in 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

I don’t even know what you call that number. Maybe bazinga-trillion? Whatever it is, the odds put your chance of being here at essentially ZERO. (Even lower as you go further back in time.)

I’m sure you have read all your life about how we are miracles of creation. This proves it.

Are you feeling lucky now?


© Wade Kingston


Nuts over Basketball in the Bluegrass State

Nuts over basketball in the Bluegrass State
                 UK–Louisville-Murray State

Yes, we are nuts over basketball in the Bluegrass State. But it can’t be helped.

I’ve enjoyed reading all the tweets during the NCAA tournament. One in particular last night read, “I am SICK, SICK, SICK of always watching Kentucky and Michigan teams in the NCAA.”

Sorry about your luck, buddy.Continue reading

Kentucky vs. Louisville – Why the Data Doesn’t Matter

You can’t predict with any degree of certainty who will win when Kentucky meets Louisville on March 28.

And the reason you can’t has to do with something called unknown variables.

Statisticians love to work with numbers. Batting averages, free-throw percentages, average yards thrown–they all mean the same thing. Someone, somewhere sat down with a long list of numbers and came up with a statistical average, sometimes weighted, sometimes not.

Before last Sunday’s game featuring Kentucky vs. Wichita, I read seven “expert” opinions about who was going to win. ALL OF THEM chose Wichita. What they were looking at were statistics. But pouring over a long column of numbers and coming to a conclusion often ignores the rather unpredictable nature of sports. There are a number of factors which, by their nature, do not show up in the numbers.

1–An injury during the game. They can’t be predicted, and they can be serious. Not only for the player, but for the morale of the team.

2–Illness. It could be something as innocuous as a bad meal the night before, or something serious like food poisoning. It could mean a cold or the beginnings of a flu, both of which could seriously undermine a key player’s ability.

3–Disruptions. Weather is unlikely to be a factor, but it’s not impossible that a game could be interrupted due to inclement weather. A disruption in the crowd, a technical foul, faulty equipment (a broken backboard perhaps), may all seem unlikely, but are not impossible. They’ve happened before. It’s their likelihood that can’t be accounted for, therefore they can’t be calculated in the statistics.

4–Attitude or outlook, by either team. Attitudes can be caught. Sometimes teams get “fired up,” and conversely they can be discouraged. It could even be something catastrophic to do with a key player’s family, causing them to worry or lose focus. Those types of things simply can’t be forecast with any certainty.

My point? There are probably dozens of unlikely but possible scenarios that could genuinely affect the outcome of any game. Just because a player has shot 65% from the free-throw line all year doesn’t mean they won’t go suddenly cold in a championship game. We’ve all seen it.

It’s the unpredictability that makes for the excitement of watching two well-matched and determined teams.

At this point, however much I may want one team to win over the other, it could honestly come down to one point.

That’s when my grandpa would have said, “It might as well have been a million.”


© Wade Kingston


If I Had a Time Machine

If I had a time machine there are many places in the past I would like to visit.

According to scientists, time travel is theoretically possible, but only if we move forward in time, and only for very small increments.

Still, it’s fun to think about the places one could visit if traveling backwards was an option. Let’s play a game. Let’s assume we had a time machine and that we could travel backwards in time to any location and at any point in history.

I can think of five times/places right off.Continue reading

Time to Mow the Wild Onions

Time to Mow the Wild Onions
Oh merciful Heaven! Wild onions! Get the mower, quick!

It’s time to mow the wild onions, I suppose.

Last week, on our first warm day after the latest round of sleet, snow, and freezing rain, I was out for a long walk. I passed a house where an older gentleman had apparently decided he would be the first in the neighborhood to mow his lawn. Never mind that there were piles of snow still melting against his house. There were wild onions out there, and they had to go! I could smell them before I even heard the riding mower.Continue reading



Grandpa’s mule was sick.

Sam watched as the pitiful old animal walked around in a never-ending circle. “Toby” had been walking for days, plodding steadily through the hot sun and humid nights.

When Grandpa first discovered Toby making his circle, he called to the animal. But Toby’s ears did not turn toward Grandpa as they always had, nor did he falter in his gait. The big animal did not alter his steadfast plodding, even when Grandpa laid a strap across his broad back. Grandpa had not the heart to continue beating the faithful animal, so he let him be after that. The veterinarian told Grandpa to just shoot Toby. Grandpa told him thanks, that he would do that. But when it got right down to it he couldn’t. Grandpa told Sam, “Toby will come to his senses. You just wait and see.”Continue reading

Why I am a Proud Kentuckian

The reasons I am a proud Kentuckian are many and varied. They have nothing to do with the ridiculous stereotypes outsiders often assign the Bluegrass State.

I have been fortunate enough to travel far and wide in these United States. I’ve visited all of the “lower 48” states, some of them many times. All of those states had many things to commend them beyond their stereotypes.Continue reading

Ten Things that Cheer Me Up

Here are ten things that cheer me up – all the better when they are unexpected.

Ever notice how you can be having a “down” day, or just a ho-hum day, and all of a sudden have it brightened by something unexpected?

  1. Finding unexpected money. It could be when you run your hand into a pocket on a jacket you haven’t worn since last winter, or a pair of jeans with a couple of laundered bills. Either way, any unexpected money at all brings a smile to my face. And that includes finding coins on the pavement!
  2. When my cat does something ridiculous. Callie can do some rather silly-looking things, particularly when she’s grooming herself. At other times she can be startled into making what I call the “manic cat jump.” You know the one, where a cat is startled into jumping straight up in the air. It’s always hilarious and makes me wish I had been filming her.

    Ten Things that Cheer Me Up - Callie's favorite grooming position
    Callie’s favorite grooming position
  3. When the weather is better than expected. You know the day. Forecasters called for mostly cloudy and cool, but the sun has other ideas, shining brightly and warming everything. Always a treat.
  4. When you hear a song you forgot all about. Sometimes when I’m flipping through the radio I’ll hear a song I hadn’t thought of in decades (yes, I’m that old). One of those oldies that you love to sing to, and I do.
  5. Chocolate. ‘Nuff said.
  6. A ride/walk/drive in the country. You can’t beat getting out in rural Kentucky, especially in the spring.
  7. Getting a Facebook “like.” It may be shallow, but I’ll take what I can get. Everyone wants to be liked.
  8. Getting on the bathroom scales and seeing a lower number. Oh yeah. Nothing like it. Talk about a boost!
  9. Arriving at a matinee to discover you are the only one in the theater. I love having the auditorium to myself. I can sit wherever I want, prop up my feet. It’s like having your own personal movie theater. It doesn’t happen often, which makes it even more special.
  10. When mom calls out of the blue. She’s always saying things like “I don’t want to run up your minutes,” and I’m always explaining that I have plenty of minutes. Nothing cheers me up more than seeing her number flash on my phone as an incoming call.

What cheers you up?


© Wade Kingston


A Valentine for Poodle

A Valentine for Poodle, my sister.

I was almost six when Wilma Jean was born. She was the first baby I can remember. She didn’t cry much at first–just lay quietly between two pillows in the middle of the bed. Despite warnings from relatives not to bother her, I couldn’t stop sneaking into the bedroom. She was pink and pudgy, with a full head of red hair.  She stared upwards out of blue eyes and gurgled.  It was still very warm that September, so her legs and arms were bare. She waved her limbs about as a warm breeze rustled plastic patterned curtains. I was mesmerized.Continue reading