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Some 70% of leisure travelers and 63% of business travelers say a free hotel breakfast is important in their choice of a hotel. It’s convenient, generally saves a few dollars while saving a lot of time compared to breakfast in a restaurant, and gives you the option of grabbing a bite and going back to your room to work until a later check-out.

Some say a “free breakfast war” might develop among mid-priced hotels. Hope so. It would be good for road warriors. Here are a few ideas hotel executives could consider:

Better coffee. No one expects hotels to compete with Starbucks, but too often you get coffee that’s weak, not hot and at times actually tepid, or offered in cheap styrofoam cups with flat lids that are difficult to use.

Real eggs. You wouldn’t believe how many times you reach for the scrambled eggs only to discover they’re powdered, dry, and inedible.

Real Orange Juice. The watery orangey stuff that passes for orange juice—actually some kind of bad kool-aid—in most hotel breakfast bays is, well, awful.

Whole Milk. Some hotels provide a whole milk option but most do not. Most offer skim and 2%. Adding another choice wouldn’t cost the hotel more because people wouldn’t drink both, just the one they really want.

Variety. Hotels apparently think people stay one night only, yet most business travelers regularly stay in given cities for multiple nights. The same breakfast choices each morning is disheartening.

Hotels can't be expected to turn into restaurants unless they add a restaurant and charge accordingly. But "free" hotel breakfasts have been a welcome accommodations innovation in the past twenty years. Here’s hoping they take them to the next level.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


I love to read Westerns. Since at least the 8th Grade I’ve read hundreds of them, along with a mountain of other books. Through the mind and pen of Louis L’Amour and a long list of other authors I’ve reveled in the glorious history of the exploration and settling of the western frontier.

But the story of the exploration and settling of the West is also the story of the subjugation of the American Indian.

It’s like there’s two sides to the story. One is uplifting: rugged individualism, heroic figures, courage, risk, sacrifice, unspoiled natural wonders, “Go West young man, go West,” horses, guns, endless buffalo herds, Indian culture, wagon trains, Conestoga Wagons, trains, cowboys, cattle drives, gunslingers, Texas Rangers, the Cavalry, hope of a better tomorrow, and much else that went directly into the formation of the American character.

Then there’s the other side: cultural imperialism, racism, savages, village massacres, broken treaties, lies, dishonest Indian agents, spoiled meat and diseased blankets, land theft, “the only good Injun is a dead Injun,” might makes right, trails of tears, genocidal military orders, cultural assimilation-qua-destruction in Indian boarding schools, reservations, end of a people.

Not all White Eyes hated or were involved in killing Indians. Not all Indians hated or were responsible for killing Whites. There was wrong, evil, and brutality on both sides. Not all treaties were negotiated in bad faith, but most were, and even those established with good motives were eventually ignored. There were compassionate, gifted leaders on both sides, and there were ruthless killers in both camps. It’s a complicated history.

It’s real history, so it’s no wonder a checkered picture emerges in fiction too. But the sad story of the Native American taints an otherwise glorious era.

Most Western fiction writers don’t write with recognizable racism. But the time frame invites it.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan books are similar. Burroughs, writing in the early decades of the 20th Century, lets his worldview shine through in the jungles of central Africa. Blacks are ignorant, less than human, and fodder for the daily violence of the jungle. Yet Tarzan is one of the great characters of popular fiction, and Burroughs prescience created a superhero more than thirty years before Superman and all that came after him.

In more recent years we’ve seen some efforts to redress the story, presenting a more balanced picture or telling the story from the Indian’s point of view. Films like “Dances With Wolves” or “Geronimo: An American Legend” are two worthy cinematic examples. Authors of fiction literature, including Westerns, have made similar adjustments. Authors like James Alexander Thom, Allan W. EckertElmore Leonard, and Larry McMurtry have written widely acclaimed historical fiction that takes care to present characters and culture as accurately as possible.

So in the end, reading fiction is like reading non-fiction. It’s a mixed and messy story involving both noble and ignoble aspects of human nature. I don’t always agree with the author’s or the fictional character’s values, but they make me think, and that’s part of the joy of reading.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

A good joke I once heard, origin obscure, various versions all over the Internet:

I will warn you in advance, I am an equal opportunity offender and every religion in this case, including mine, is probably going to get something jabbed at it. So the topic today is how many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

Well, if you’re a Charismatic, it only takes one because your hands are already up in the air. If you’re Pentecostal, it’s going to take 10; one to change the light bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

If you’re Presbyterian, yes, it’s hitting home, it’s going to take none; the lights will go on and off at predestined times. If you’re Catholic, there’s a few of you here, it’s going to take none; you guys are candles only.

If you’re Baptist, it’s going to take at least 15, one to change the light bulb and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad. If you’re an Episcopalian, it’s going to take three; one to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old bulb was.

If you’re Methodist, it’s undetermined whether your light is bright, dull, or completely burned out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, a turnip bulb, a tulip bulb. Church-wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring a bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

If you’re a Nazarene, it’s going to take six; one woman to replace the bulb while five men review the church policy. If you’re Lutheran, it’s going to take none; Lutherans don’t believe in change. Church of Christ, we do not use light bulbs because there is no evidence of their use in the New Testament.

If you're Amish, what's a lightbulb?

And finally, if you’re a Unitarian, we choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, in your own journey if you have found a light bulb works for you that is fine. You are invited to write a poem, compose a modern dance about your bulb for next Sunday’s service during which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

I was somewhere in the middle, right?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


I remember our first calculator. It was August 1974. We’d been married about two weeks. We were newly weds and newly minted teachers, so we purchased a calculator for about $35 to use in grading. I think it could add, subtract, multiply, and divide. That was it. Today you can get more than that in a plastic toy “computer” in a cereal box.

I also remember the first computer I ever met. I say “met” because to interact with Oz was a close encounter of the third kind. It was a room-sized unit at the University of Akron in the late 1970s.

I was in graduate school and we’d spend hours keypunching our programs onto 80 column IBM punch cards. We’d carefully check the cards for hole errors, put the cards in the correct order, and take the stack to the computer center across campus from where the keypunch machines were located. Then we’d wait, hold our breath, and wait some more in fear and growing anxiety for the “Job” to be returned through the great window to Oz.

Finally, usually the next day, we’d go back to pick up our Job. The worst thing in the world, the absolute worst, was to see folded computer paper—thin not thick—being handed through the window. A thin fold meant something was wrong in the program, some hole, maybe just one, that wasn’t punched correctly. The thin fold was an error statement, so you had to go back across campus to the punch machines, re-punch that one card—once you found it, which could take time—place it correctly in the stack, resubmit, and wait.

Punch cards were gold, your data set. I knew doctoral candidates whose entire dissertation research was punched on cards. Huge stacks they’d wrap in plastic and put in their freezers “in case the apartment burned down.” Better to lose everything they owned than to lose a year’s worth of research punched on those cards.

A couple of years later at the University of Cincinnati we’d progressed to terminals. No more punch cards. Now we stared at huge blinking cursors you can still see on computers in 1980s movies. FORTRAN, COBOL, BASIC, than later, software systems like SPSS, Statistical Package for Social Sciences, or SAS, Statistical Analysis Software. What made these terminals and software packages so much of an advance over the old punch cards is that when a Job went awry you discovered it fairly quickly and could make changes in the program stored on the computer. To my knowledge, no one put a terminal in a freezer.

While a doctoral student, I was hired by the Behavioral Sciences Laboratory (BSL), later the Institute for Policy Research. It was a survey research think tank located on campus. This was Cincinnati, so almost all staff members had German surnames: Oldendick, Kraus, Tuchfarber, Stuebing. I made friends, learned a lot, and made a few shekels to help pay our way.

It was here we met our first P.C. In retrospect it’s a funny memory. We literally, excitedly gathered in the hallway, about 5 of us, than walked to another room to see the new arrival. It was like going to see a new baby. Our new little one was an IBM P.C., jet black, bigger than our terminals, square, and unwieldly, took up the whole desktop.

We oohed and aahed, commented on how it looked just like its father, and said we thought it had a bright future ahead of it. It was powerful. I think it could run a little BASIC. It was 1981.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

A young French woman was asked why she felt justified in protesting the government’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 years. She replied, “Because we’re French and we do things differently.”

But then, that’s the problem. The French aren’t as different from the rest of the world as they’d like to think they are. They, like the Greeks and the rest of us, have to pay the piper. Wish though they might, there ain’t no free lunch.

The recognized retirement age in the United States stands at 65 years. Most European countries are similar: Britain-65 men, 60 women; Germany, Netherlands, Belgium-65; Austria 65 men, 62 women; Switzerland 65 men, 64 women, Norway and Denmark, 67. All of these countries are considering raising their retirement age in order to deal with deficit budgets.

Spanish citizens recently protested officials’ plans to raise their retirement age from 65 to 68 years. Greece made international news earlier this summer with riots protesting government budget cuts including changing their retirement age from 58 to 60 years. Italy bests them all with a retirement age of 57 years, 56 for manual workers.

This is all well and good, except someone must pay for the benefits being dispersed and, given global economic downturns, 35-40 years of pension contributions cannot now handle the expectation. So who pays?

The protesters would have us believe a) governments are stealing and/or hiding money, b) pension managers have mismanaged funds (which may to some extent be true because they aren’t infallible, but it’s not the root of the problem), c) the government can simply increase debt and take care of the challenge for now, or d) if you live in America, increase taxes.

Some of the French I’ve heard interviewed act as if an early retirement age is a birthright intrinsically French, that it’s been around forever and how dare anyone suggest anything different. But the French 60-year retirement age was adopted in 1982 by the socialistic government of Francois Mitterrand. His legacy is an indebted, burdened society.

Of course increasing debt or continuing unfunded benefits simply passes along the cost to pension-holders’ children and grandchildren.

The French think they’re different, but they have to pay for services rendered too. They, and many Americans, want to live beyond their means, which translates to live off the next generation. If we don’t change the path we’re on our legacy will be an indebted, burdened, possibly backward future for our grandchildren.

Retirement is not immoral, but it’s neither a biblical mandate nor an ideal. If you can afford it, more power to you. But the operative word is “afford.” If you or we can’t afford it and we forge ahead anyway we’ve got our heads buried in the sand. The French seem to be walking the beach ahead of us.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


Then there’s Bill. He was a guy who lightened the load no matter what was going on. I don’t remember Bill’s last name. I knew it then, but it never mattered. Everyone in Small Town and far beyond simply knew him as “Bill.”

To put it bluntly but still kindly, Bill was the Small Town Drunk, very much like the fellow Andy Griffith regularly tossed into the Mayberry tank “to sleep it off.” This was back when the word “drunkard” or “drunk” was used and people knew what you were talking about.

As many people know from harsh experience there are “Mean Drunks” and there are “Happy Drunks.” Bill was a Happy Drunk. In fact, I’m ashamed to say it, but Bill was a Hilarious Drunk, partly because he was funny to begin with and when he got just a little sauced, which was about every other day, he’d let loose with gut-splitting comments about everything from presidents to preachers to people close by.

I recognize that Bill’s addiction is a sad thing and that it plagued him through the end of his life. So I don’t celebrate his inebriation. But as a character he was classic. He was the kind of guy that looked for ways to get out of work, yet everybody liked him. He told raucous stories but never mean-spirited ones. He loved baseball, had I don’t remember how many wives, kids, and grandkids, and thoroughly, infectiously enjoyed life. People, even hard cases, brightened whenever they got within twenty feet of him.

I smile as I remember Bill but am saddened by the fact that this fellow who possessed great charisma and a Reagan-like sunny disposition still found it necessary to fill the hole in his heart with what used to be called demon-rum.

Bill and I talked a few times about spiritual things. He knew I was in Christian college, knew what I believed, and could talk his own basic Christian-knowledge, yet he stopped short of embracing the Lord. He took this stance primarily, I think, because he thought he’d have to quit drinking. I told him it wasn’t about drinking—it was about the Lord—but still, he didn’t or couldn’t trust the idea he could come to Christ without first discarding his bottle.

I feel for Bill now even as I remember. I’m glad I knew Bill, but his life, to me, is one of those over which you write “What could have been.”


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at