Something to Think About - keep (337)

          Our country is more divided than any time in its history. Brother against brother, fathers against sons, and the points of conflict are complicated. President Trump and the election are popular topics, but questions about the pandemic, censorship, and many others have our country paralyzed with division.

          Is there an answer or a simple solution? Probably not, but we are doomed if we don’t reverse this direction.

          My on-line church preacher spoke about this challenge Sunday and used scripture to illustrate a solution to the polarization that has the USA so stymied. His idea was simple – “love your neighbor as yourself.”

          Here’s my personal example.

          I did not vote for Donald Trump and I don’t much care for him, but he is our president and I’ve tried to respect him by trying always to call him Donald Trump or President Trump, not just Trump. I have not wished for or prayed for him to fail. I don’t have a “TRUMP IS NOT MY PRESIDENT” bumper sticker.

          I won’t claim that I love him, but I understand as a Christian I am called on to try.

          To make his point my Sunday Pastor lifted up a familiar scripture about love. One we’ve all heard many times. Heck, I even read it at a wedding some time ago.  

          But, let me explain Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians took on a whole new meaning for me Sunday when it was used in the context of “loving my neighbor as myself!”

          My hope today is that sharing these mighty words with you might help make our world a little kinder?

          Please listen carefully to these powerful words from 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13.

          Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.

          Love never fails…...

          “Love your neighbor as yourself!”

          I’m Steve Sauder


Never have I felt so conflicted about what to talk about! The situations surrounding the presidential election and pandemic are so discouraging it’s
easier to ignore them than to wade in. 
Before I share some positive thoughts I agree wholeheartedly with an editorial from the Topeka Capital Journal re-printed in Tuesday’s Gazette thanking the judicial system of the United States for doing its job in attempts to change election results. It said our judicial “stood strong” as a “pillar of democracy.” More accurate words have never been printed!
Secondly let me lift up my unsung hero award for the year 2020 in Emporia.
The Emporia Area Disaster Relief Fund is my choice. With the Covid 19 alarm barely audible 4 Emporia groups put their thinking caps on and created this amazing fund the collected $205,078.11 to help area businesses and organizations plow through the pandemic.
I’m not sure who dreamed up this idea, but I know the Emporia Community Foundation, the United Way, Main Street and KVOE were at the table.
Our community responded in a magnificent manner. This was a spur of the moment appeal. Not an annual drive. There were way more questions than answers, but the Emporia area responded. The funds were carefully distributed and became life saving difference makers for many of the recipients.
Becky Nurnberg from the Community Foundation shared that she had visited with leaders from other cities who were proud of raising ten thousand
dollars to help victims. We raised over two hundred thousand! We should be proud!

Becky pointed out “this is what makes this area so special is that people genuinely care for each other…” I agree!
Let me finish with a social media post for the new year.
If you want 2021 to be your year:
Don’t sit on the couch and wait for it.
Go out. Make a change. Smile more.
Be excited. Do new things. Throw away what you’ve been cluttering.
Unfollow negative people on social media.
Ge to bed early. Wake up early. Be fierce.
Don’t gossip. Show more gratitude.
Do things that challenge you.
Be brave.
And let me add, throw in a prayer once in awhile.
I’m Steve Sauder and “there’s some things to think about.”

          Finally, it is the next to last day of this frightful year. So, today as has become the habit I’ve stolen or maybe borrowed some thoughts former ESU Interim President Jackie Vietti posted on Facebook. Hopefully, you will agree these are a good way to end this year. Here goes.

  • The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.
  • I was so bored I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone. He asked me what I was wearing.
  • 2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020 stay away from positive people.
  • The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors.
  • This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog. It was obvious she thought her dog understood her. I came inside and told my cat. We laughed a lot.
  • Every few days try on your jeans to make sure they still fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.
  • Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?
  • This virus has done what no woman has been able to do. Cancel sports, shut down bars, and keep men at home.
  • I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him with a six-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are!
  • I need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator.
  • I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the backyard. I’m getting tired of the living room.
  • Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask and ask for money.

     I hope you enjoyed the corny humor. This has been a difficult year, but we are survivors and have lots of reasons to be optimistic about 2021.

     Let’s end this year and begin the next one with my favorite prayer.

     God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

     Happy New Year! I’m Steve Sauder

Today, a Christmas gift in the form of a workable and sustainable health hint to my friends who like me have fought the battle of the bulge for most of their lives. Translated this is a weight loss plan that is working for

My cardiologist hooked me up to a daily report called CardioMEMS which keeps track of the fluid level around my ticker. After a few weeks of bad numbers, my Doctor told scolded me, saying “if you don’t drastically change your diet you will be in serious trouble within a year.”

Fortunately, I followed his instructions and my new eating habits resulted in excellent results. How does minus 25 pounds sound?

Today I’m sharing the three changes that spelled success for me. One STOP, and two ADDS!

The STOP was table salt. This isn’t rocket science but it is working. The average American eats 5 or more teaspoons of salt each day. Our daily need is about ¼ teaspoon a day. We ingest 20 times more than we need!

I haven’t touched a salt shaker in months after years of salting everything even before tasting it! I’ve learned what foods are loaded with sodium in them. A good example is barbeque sauce. I still eat pretty much
what I like, but without salting any thing and it’s working. 

The ADDS are simple too. Water and Pop Sickles! My daily goal is 80 ounces of water. Five, 16-ounce bottles get me close, and once my body adjusted it has become a routine.

The pop sickles probably surprise you, but 3 or 4 a day of the single stick, the all-natural kind that Bobbi found, have helped me stay the course. 

I have tried so many diets I can’t count them all. They all worked as long as I didn’t cheat. But most diets aren’t sustainable. My low sodium plan does leave me craving salt on food like baked potatoes and watermelon, but there are substitutes and my success helps me maintain.

Like I said earlier – this is not rocket science, but it's working, and guess what? Christmas cookies don’t have much salt in them, so enjoy big boy!

Merry Christmas, stay safe and for this year please stay home.
I’m Steve Sauder

          Monday was a historic day in America when designated electors from all 50 U.S. States and the District of Columbia cast their votes for president and vice president of the United States in one of the steps our constitution outlines in a process designed years ago to protect the will of the people.

          There are 538 total electors. The slate representing the winner of the popular vote in each state becomes that state’s “Electors.” They then cast their vote on December 14. This starts the process that results in the official selection and inauguration of the new president on January 20th.

          No doubt the Electoral College method which is outlined in the U. S. Constitution is bulky, somewhat out of date calling for a paper record of each state’s votes be delivered in person rather than electronically, but it is the system prescribed by our constitution and will remain our system until the U.S. Constitution is duly amended.

          Monday was refreshing for me because the day-long process represented our democracy alive and working.

          You might remember several months ago I referenced a book  titled “On Tyranny.” This book warns that history tells us - as citizens of the United States – that democracies are not necessarily immune to overthrow.

          The book suggested:

          We might be tempted to think out democratic heritage automatically protects us …. Americans today are no wiser than Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism in the twentieth century.

           Maybe this history lesson does not concern you, but it scared me, especially as our free and open election process has been challenged repeatedly by the person most responsible for defending it.

          This becomes even more serious when a large number of the President’s supporters took up his imaginary issue without evidence of anything out of the ordinary in the election.

          Donald Trump appointed judge Stephanos Bibas stated in response to a suit filed in Pennsylvania: Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.

          When some call for the succession of their states from the union simply because they lost we see a threat to our democracy could be real!

          For these reasons the orderly manner in which the voting by the Electoral College was completed on Monday gave me hope our democracy is safe, at least for now.

          God Bless America, I’m Steve Sauder

          Thanks again to Facebook for today’s message!

T'was a month before Christmas,
And all through the town,
People wore masks,
That covered their frown.

The frown had begun
Way back in the Spring,
When a global pandemic
Changed everything.

They called it corona,
But unlike the beer,
It didn’t bring good times,
It didn’t bring cheer.

This virus spread fast,
Like a wildfire that starts
When fueled by gas.

Airplanes were grounded,

Travel was banned.
Borders were closed
Across air, sea and land.

As the world entered lockdown

To flatten the curve,
The economy halted,
And folks lost their verve.

From March to July
We rode the first wave,

People stayed home,
They tried to behave.

When summer emerged
The lockdown was lifted.
But away from caution,
Many folks drifted.

Now it’s December
And cases are spiking,
Wave two has arrived,
Much to our disliking.

Frontline workers,
Doctors and nurses,

Try to save people,
From riding in hearses.

This virus is awful,
This COVID-19.
There isn’t a cure yet,
but, maybe a vaccine.

It’s true that this year
Has had sadness a plenty,
We’ll never forget
The year 2020.

And just ‘round the corner -
The holiday season,

But why be merry?
Is there even one reason?

To decorate the house
And put up the tree,

When no one will see it,
No one but me.

But outside my window
The snow gently falls,

And I think to myself,
Let’s deck the halls!

So, I gather the ribbon,
The garland and bows,

As I play those old carols,
My happiness grows.

Christmas is not cancelled
And neither is hope.

If we trust in Jesus
I know we can cope

So light up the tree

And sing in the mall
Because JESUS is king
And Lord of all.

          Amen and amen! I’m Steve Sauder

          In Saturday’s Emporia Gazette State Representative Ron Highland offered a piece titled: Putting COVID-19 in perspective.

          I do not know Mr. Highland, but I’ve been told he may be the most intelligent person in the Kansas Legislature and the scientific facts he shared about the virus indicated that might be true.

          Today I’m sharing different interpretations to several of Mr. Highland’s “perspectives.”

          Ron Highland lists numbers to point out that COVID-19 deaths in Kansas are significantly less than annual deaths from Abortions, Heart Disease and Cancer.

          Highland’s intent here confuses me. Is he suggesting we should be less concerned about COVID deaths because their number of deaths is significantly less than deaths from other diseases?

          Nearly 1600 Kansans have died from Covid this year compared to ZERO in 2019! That number means something!  

          The fact that far fewer Kansans died from COVID than Heart Disease or Cancer is of little solace to people having lost loved ones.

          Second, Representative Highland takes on “unintended consequences following government interventions” about which he says “I will be generous and say it was well intended.”

          I am in agreement with his prospective that the shut downs, stay at home orders, other restrictions and closing schools were poorly handled and caused much irrefutable damage.

          What Highland didn’t say was the main thing America lacked was a strong and well defined national plan. Hind sight is, of course 20-20 leaving no doubt America should have done better, but U.S. leadership was too erratic and our state leadership became politically challenged creating a patchwork response that has proven to be woefully ineffective.

          Mr. Highland suggested “local government, those closest to the people should have the ultimate responsibility to impose restrictions during a disease outbreak.”

          I respectfully disagree. I love my County Commissioners, but I’m guessing they would agree they were unprepared for many decisions in this area.

          As for the good old USA – the following numbers are the best indicator to illustrate a very poor and not defendable national response.

          About 300 million people live in the United States equaling about 4% of the world’s population, BUT, America’s nearly 270,000 COVID deaths and over 13 million cases of COVID-19 are 19% of the world’s total.

          Those numbers are hard evidence that America’s and Kansas’ response has been beyond lousy! A perspective it appears Representative Highland and I do not share.

          I’m Steve Sauder

            The word for today is difficult because there has never, ever been a Thanksgiving like this one! Twenty-twenty is our most challenging year ever making this message difficult to conceive.

            Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow and we all have a ton of blessings to celebrate. As always, I’m sure we will show our gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation for the many positive things and people in our lives.

            On the other hand, we each have losses this year to overcome and deal with. Loss of lives, businesses, jobs, friends, associations, and events too many to list but including senior years, graduations, weddings, funerals, trips, vacations, and on and on.

            So, what about tomorrow? How will you deal with Thanksgiving? Two of the so-called 4-F’s of Thanksgiving are in jeopardy if we heed the advice from leaders in defeating the Corona Virus. The Four are food, family, friends, and football. Two can be front and center, but we are being strongly advised to limit gatherings of family and friends.

            Remember: if you have to rationalize your Thanksgiving plans you likely are NOT following the suggested guidelines.

            We all desire this lifestyle caused by COVID 19 to end and fortunately, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines nearly ready for use.

            I firmly believe we are being tested. Our individual behaviors will determine how successful we are in the final accounting. Thanksgiving is traditionally our most group-oriented holiday. Add in colder weather meaning more time inside and large gatherings give this virus a leg up against us. Every holiday thus far this year has resulted in a spike, but we do have the ability to limit the negative effects from this one.

            I’ll end with two thoughts from dedicated health care professionals. The first described her advice as cheesy, but I disagree. It was simply: Give Thanks, not COVID!

            Then simply: If you let the virus out of the box it’s impossible to put it back in!

            Enough said. Please celebrate wisely. Let’s show our thanks by being responsible citizens in our conduct and prayerful in our thoughts.

            I’m Steve Sauder

          Today I’m having an imaginary lunch with President Donald Trump. After introductions, I’d let know that while I am honored to be with him, that to be candid, I did not vote for him either time.

          I would share with him that I don’t totally understand his delay in acknowledging the election results, but I suspect it involves his long term plans and a likely run for President in 2024. I understand that’s his choice and I am impressed with his belief that he will be physically capable since we are the same age!

          What I really wanted to visit with him about is the Corona Virus that is ripping a giant hole in the United States. I do not understand his position of basically ignoring Covid 19. I’m guessing he’s bought into the Herd Immunity theory but isn’t saying so publicly.

          Hopefully, he’d let me share Dr. Scott Maley’s post from last Sunday saying “Walking out of the hospital feeling utterly defeated. Out of 21 patients today, 14 with COVID. Some are relatively stable; others are on absurd amounts of oxygen. This is way worse than it was in the spring. Probably just a matter of time until I get it too. Please, please, please take this thing seriously or we are in for one hell of a winter,”

          After listening to President Trump’s response I’d ask permission to share my idea.

          I’d say, Sir, I am sure you are concerned about your legacy. I understand you can’t switch policy on COVID right now, but what about this idea?

          If you would use your tremendous influence to get a really well-planned stimulus package passed and implemented it could do wonders! Such a package would likely put economic concerns on the back burner.

          You are the ONLY person than make this happen.

          Such a move would allow governors and other officials to take the necessary actions in their states to fight this virus with the confidence businesses and citizens needing to sacrifice would have meaningful economic help available from you and the federal government.

          If this proposed stimulus has positive results I predict you’d be a hero and combined with the vaccine you have championed your legacy would not only be protected but enhanced!

          What do you think Mr. President?

          I’m Steve Sauder

            Writing about Rick Tidwell who died Saturday at age 65 from advanced melanoma is difficult because Rick was not only as valuable a business partner as you could ever have, he was also a friend.

            Interestingly, I wouldn’t list Rick as my closest friend, but one of my “best” friends because he was so reliable. Our fellow longtime business partner Stormy Supiran put it best saying “if you ask Rick for a favor, you could consider it done!”

            Several weeks ago Rick told me about his bad diagnoses telling me he likely would not be able to speak at my funeral as I had requested but that maybe…well....he broke down, but I’m sure he wanted me to talk at his. So, with his services delayed due to Covid here goes.

            Rick was a veteran EMT and firefighter in the early ’80s when he inquired if my company, Valu Line Long Distance would consider selling small telephone systems in Emporia? Rick saw an opportunity. We started a partnership with Rick working on his days off. It wasn’t long before success forced Rick to join us full-time.  Shortly thereafter we recruited Stormy and our lifelong partnership was born.

            Rick’s importance to Valu Line’s success was enormous with maybe most impressive being his grasp of regulatory and legal matters. Heck, we never employed a telecom lawyer even though we appeared regularly before the Kansas Corporation Commission and the FCC.

            The Bell Companies told the FCC they were willing to cooperate with CLEC’s – Competitive Local Exchange Carriers like us, but no one had requested their assistance. Valu Line changed that and our request was rewarded with a contract from Southwestern Bell that was 4” thick. Tidwell took it home. The next morning he summoned Stormy and me to share his findings. Quickly we decided we could sign and return that massive document!

            When we called SW Bell to inform them the signed contract was on its way back to them – well you could hear the proverbial pin drop. You see, the offer Ma Bell was making to us was a ruse. We had called their bluff - a fact that later was not lost at the FCC! Rick Tidwell became an industry hero!

            Valu Line had a great team with Rick’s contributions absolutely irreplaceable!

            After the merger with Birch, Rick commuted to Kansas City for 5 years and was a major player, but his skill and knowledge were never fully appreciated. The merger was a stressful adventure for all former Valu Line members.

            After Birch, Rick applied his creative talents in several places. You see, Rick was a very unique person. Being the son of parents who both possessed very strong personalities he was never lost for words or ideas.

            Rick’s biggest dream was to see Emporia better served by the internet. Meaning by someone other than Ma Bell. During our Valu Line days, a company put fiber in abandon natural gas lines crossing northwest Emporia. Rick and I visited with them about letting us hook up but they refused.

            We talked and dreamed many times about what a fiber connection could mean for Emporia. Rick never forgot!

            His persistence paid off about ten years ago when he learned the old Kansas Cellular owners were building a new fiber network in Kansas with Emporia in their plans!!

            His dream was now for real! This was Rick’s project and he invited me in because of my experience in building a company and in fundraising - certainly not for my telecom knowledge. We made a trip to Nebraska where a former colleague had created a functioning “fiber to the premises” company.

            We considered becoming a subsidiary. After creating a rough business plan we invited Bobbie Agler, our CFO at Valu Line to take a look. He critiqued our work as only Bob could do. The three of us plowed ahead.

            Suddenly we collectively concluded that if we added Stormy to our team we could make ValuNet FIBER a reality in Emporia without outside help.

            That statement was partially true. All we were missing with Stormy on board was about 6 million dollars!

            Amazingly, the rest is history. We were able to raise over 8 million invested dollars with most of it coming from Emporians!

            It was a team effort, but Rick was definitely our leader with Stormy and Bob adding invaluable contributions. Our investors were richly rewarded recently with a very successful merger with Sparklight.

            All these business stories are just a part of Rick’s life.

            Rick was rightfully proud of his family - mom Margie, dad Bill, brothers Dale, and Lon.

             Mrs. Tidwell,  Rick’s wife Sarah, a retired nurse and educator might have been the only human capable of standing up to Rick. Their relationship was epic.

            Proud is a massive understatement when Rick talked about his sons!

            Phillip, a Professor of Architecture lives in Finland with his wife Liesl. They often spend time in the States teaching at the collegiate level.

            Christopher grew up around race cars and wreckers and now is a valuable NASCAR mechanic living in North Carolina with his wife Stephanie and their children, Ryder (4) and River (18 months). And, yes, the grandkids controlled Rick !

            Friends? I said earlier that Rick was one of my “best” friends. No doubt many other people are saying Rick Tidwell was one of their “best” friends too.

            Not knowing all Rick’s friends I won’t mention any names, but I do know he and his friends liked practical jokes. Can you imagine a smoke alarm hidden in your attic with a bad battery chirping away? Rick could!

            Rick’s legendary coffee club will undoubtedly miss his playful presence!

            Rick liked things with wheels - like cars, trucks, race cars, motor cycles, motor homes, tractors, backhoes, dump trucks, bucket trucks, wreckers, and so on. If asked to participate in anything involving wheels Rick was “in!”

            Rick was a good citizen too. He was currently on the RDA Board and Chair of Emporia Enterprises. He had previously served on the Newman Hospital Board and Emporia Community Foundation Board. He and Sarah we strong supporters of SOS, Emporia State University, and the United Way.

            Rick was so damn smart, especially if the topic was telecom related. What’s amazing is he was completely self-taught. Paired with Stormy and their dedicated and talented associates no challenges were too big. Emporia internet users are indebted to Rick and his crew.

            So sad it has to end this way.

            My life is much richer because Rick Tidwell was a part of it. I loved and respected him and I am extremely proud to have been his partner. Rest in Pease Rick and please Lord, take care of my friend he was loved!

            I’m Steve Sauder

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