The Eyes Definitely Have It

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Double click for a larger version of the image.

One thing that I find truly amazing is eyes. They say that the eye is the window into the soul. I know that’s just a saying, but there may be something to it.

Take the eyes in today’s photo, for instance. This model was at the studio for the photo shoot last week that I participated in and I thought she had marvelous eyes. She was a small woman and thin, but her eyes were stunning. I have one like this where both of her eyes are looking straight forward, but I rather liked the mystery implicit in this image.

Whenever I shoot a model or person with special eyes, I always ask if I can get in close for a detailed shot of their eyes. I’ve not had a single person turn me down…yet.

In eyes you can see pain, wonder, laughter and sorrow. Perhaps they are the window to our soul after all.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1960, the first episode of the one-hour television drama “Route 66″ aired on CBS. The program had a simple premise: It followed two young men, Buz Murdock and Tod Stiles, as they drove across the country in an inherited Corvette (Chevrolet was one of the show’s sponsors), doing odd jobs and looking for adventure. According to the show’s creator and writer, Stirling Silliphant (best known for his acclaimed “Naked City,” an earlier TV series), Buz and Tod were really on a journey in search of themselves. “Call ‘Route 66′ ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’” Silliphant told a reporter. “The motive power driving our two characters is not a Corvette: it is the desire for knowledge–and for sentience; it is a quest through the perennially fascinating cosmos of personal identity.”

“Route 66″ was different from every other show on television. For one thing, it was shot on location all over the United States instead of in a studio. By the time its run was up in 1964, the show’s cast and crew had traveled from Maine to Florida and from Los Angeles to Toronto: In all, they taped 116 episodes in 25 states. (Silliphant himself arrived at all the show’s locations six weeks before anyone else. When he got there, he would acquaint himself with local culture and write the scripts on-site.)  The show was a serious drama with social-realist pretensions, but its nomadic premise meant that it could tackle a new issue–war, mental illness, religion, murder, drug addiction, drought–every week. By contrast, police procedurals and hospital dramas necessarily had a more limited range. The show’s stark black-and-white cinematography was likewise suited to its serious tone.

The real Route 66 was a two-lane highway that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.  From its completion in the late 1930s, it was one of the major routes across the American Southwest.  It was also probably the most famous: John Steinbeck called it the “Mother Road” in his book “The Grapes of Wrath,” and Nat King Cole’s version of songwriter Bobby Troup’s 1946 song “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66″ is still familiar to many people today.

In 1993, NBC developed a peppier, less gritty remake of the show–in fact, about the only thing the two “Route 66″s had in common was the Corvette–but it went off the air after just a few episodes. Today, fans of the original can watch it on DVD.

You can follow Route 66 today, too, though much of it has fallen out of repair and is impassable. Instead, it runs alongside a modern freeway, with Route 66 memorability and diners everywhere. If you’ve never been on Route 66, you should add it to your bucket list as it traverses some beautiful scenery, especially in the American southwest.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Even though almost equal numbers of men and women spend time in the ocean, no one knows why sharks seem to prefer to attack men. In fact, nearly 90% of shark attacks have happened to men.

Where do they get the nerve?


My wife and I have a “book” full of conversation starters for those times when we haven’t been talking much (which, much to her great consternation, is too frequent because I’m basically a huge introvert and very quiet by nature). The other night we were answering one question: “If you could do anything for a living, what would it be?”

For me, that’s not such an easy question to answer. You see, all I ever really wanted to be was a doctor (in particular, a neurosurgeon). I am old enough and wise enough now to realize THAT dream is never going to come true. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still imagine things that I’d love to do, and in the last 15 years or so since the photography bug “bit” me, I’ve come to realize that I’d love to be a professional photographer.

What keeps me from biting that bullet and giving it a go? Well, for one thing, I’ve never been a big risk taker. But the main thing is a lack of confidence. I mean, how do people get enough nerve and confidence in their photography skills that they feel okay about advertising their services, shooting weddings and portraits (that’s where the money is in photography) and “going for it”? I don’t know. I wish I had that kind of confidence, but I don’t. Still, I’d LOVE to be a professional photographer!

Every now and then, though, I shoot a photo that I think might be a good portrait shot. I think the one I am posting today might be one such photo. This was shot in a studio last week when they had an open house and invited photographers to come in and shoot. They brought in about 12 models (male and female) and we got to shoot for 3 hours. It was SO MUCH FUN and only served to fuel my desire to be a photographer. I don’t have the money to pay for a studio with all the sets and lighting, but you know, you don’t have to do that. This particular studio, for instance, has “memberships” for as little as $50 per month, and for that $50 you can get two hours of studio time each month…using their sets and equipment. So, the money isn’t an issue…but the confidence is.

Oh, well. I probably will have to be content to going to studios when they have open houses and shooting there…as well as shooting scenery, family and friends at events where we gather.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1973, the surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces on Israel in October 1973 threw the Middle East into turmoil and threatened to bring the United States and the Soviet Union into direct conflict for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Though actual combat did not break out between the two nations, the events surrounding the Yom Kippur War seriously damaged U.S.-Soviet relations and all but destroyed President Richard Nixon’s much publicized policy of detente.

Initially, it appeared that Egypt and Syria would emerge victorious from the conflict. Armed with up-to-date Soviet weaponry, the two nations hoped to avenge their humiliating defeat in the Six-Day War of 1967. Israel, caught off guard, initially reeled under the two-front attack, but Israeli counterattacks turned the tide, aided by massive amounts of U.S. military assistance, as well as disorganization among the Syrian and Egyptian forces. The Syrians were driven back, with Israeli troops seizing the strategically important Golan Heights. Egyptian forces fared even worse: retreating back through the Sinai Desert, thousands of their troops were surrounded and cut off by the Israeli army. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, together with his Soviet counterparts, eventually arranged a shaky cease-fire. When it became clear that Israel would not give up its siege of the Egyptian troops (low on food and medicine by this time), the Soviets threatened to take unilateral action to rescue them. Tempers flared both in Washington and Moscow; U.S. military forces went to a Stage 3 alert (Stage 5 is the launch of nuclear attacks). The Soviets backed down on their threat but the damage to relations between the two nations was serious and long lasting.

Kissinger worked furiously to bring about a peace settlement between Israel and Syria and Egypt. In what came to be known as “shuttle diplomacy,” the secretary of state flew from nation to nation hammering out the details of the peace accord. Eventually, Israeli troops withdrew from some of their positions in both the Sinai and Syrian territory, while Egypt promised to forego the use of force in its dealings with Israel. Syria grudgingly accepted the peace plan, but remained adamantly opposed to the existence of the Israeli state.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: By the early fourth century, the Romans had built a road network of 53,000 miles throughout the empire. Each Roman mile was about 1,000 paces (about 4,800 feet) and was marked by a milestone.

The Alpaca…Gentle, Lowly…Loveable????

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Double click for a larger image…

Alpacas look like someone played a cruel joke on them, as if when God was designing them, He couldn’t quite make up His mind if they were related to sheep, goats, cows or just a combination of them all. But then again, perhaps He was just in a good mood and felt like having some fun, so He mixed things up a bit!

I shot this photo in Vermont in August as they ate their breakfast one morning.

To look at them, you’d think that they’re all sweet and cuddly, wouldn’t you? Well, let me invite you to watch this video about alpacas that was made by Polymath Innovations this summer. It’s only slightly over a minute long, and you’ll want to turn up your sound so you can get the full effect. Without further ado, I present you, “The Alpaca”:


ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln observed a balloon demonstration near Washington, D.C. Both Confederate and Union armies experimented with using balloons to gather military intelligence in the early stages of the war, but the balloons proved to be dangerous and impractical for most situations.

Though balloons were not new, many felt that their military applications had yet to be realized. Even before the firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861, marking the start of the Civil War, several firms approached the U.S. War Department concerning contracts for balloons. The primary figure in the Union’s experiment with balloons was Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, an inventor who had been working with hydrogen balloons for several years before the war. He had built a large craft and hoped to make a transatlantic crossing. In April 1861, he conducted trials around Cincinnati, Ohio, with the support of the Smithsonian Institutution. On April 19, he took off on a flight that floated all the way to Unionville, South Carolina, where he was jailed briefly by Confederates who were convinced he was a Union spy.

Lowe became the head of the Union’s Balloon Corps in 1861 and served effectively during the Peninsular campaign of 1862. With the view provided from his balloon, he discovered that the Confederates had evacuated Yorktown, Virginia,and he provided important intelligence during the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia.

Lowe enjoyed a good working relationship with George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, but experienced difficulty with McClellan’s successors, generals Ambrose Burnside and Joseph Hooker, who were not convinced that balloon observations provided accurate information. Lowe became increasingly frustrated with the army, particularly after his pay was slashed in 1863. Feeling that army commanders did not take his service seriously, Lowe resigned in the spring of1863. The Balloon Corps was disbanded in August of that same year.

Lowe later became involved in a building a railway in California. He died there in 1913 at age 80.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A normal, healthy amount of food for an average teenager or adult is about 1,800- 2,600 calories a day. During a bingeing episode, it is not unusual for someone to eat 20 to 25 times that amount, which is more than 50,000 calories, roughly equivalent to an entire extra-large pepperoni pizza, a tub of ice cream, a package of cookies, a bag of potato chips, and an entire cake. Bulimics might engage in this type of eating several times a day.

Purple Haze

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Double click for a larger version of the image

The last post I made was about a large, colored glass ball that was sitting outside of a store in a small Vermont town. Today’s photo is of one of the purple balls that sat beside the one in the photo on Tuesday.

I love purple. Isn’t it interesting how people have different favorite colors? Why do you suppose that is? I wonder if any studies have ever been done to see if there is any correlation between personality traits and a person’s favorite color?

Jimi Hendrix sang of a Purple Haze that was in his mind. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and is included on lists of the greatest guitar songs, including at number two byRolling Stone and number one by Q magazine. Whether or not Hendrix liked purple, I have no clue, but “Purple haze all around, don’t know if I’m coming up or down; Am I happy or in misery, whatever it is that girl put a spell on me” helped propel the song to greatness. Somehow, I suspect many of us guys feel that way about the girls that stole our hearts!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow drowned off the North Carolina coast when a Yankee craft runs her ship aground. She was returning from a trip to England.

At the beginning of the war, Maryland native Rose O’Neal Greenhow lived in Washington, D.C., with her four children. Her deceased husband was wealthy and well connected in the capital, and Greenhow used her influence to aid the Southern cause. Working with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Jordan, she established an elaborate spy network in Washington. The effectiveness of the operation was soon demonstrated when Greenhow received information concerning the movements of General Irvin McDowell’s army shortly before the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. A female courier carried messages from Greenhow to Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard at his Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters. Beauregard later testified that because of the gained intelligence, he requested extra troops from General Joseph Johnston’s nearby command, helping the Confederates score a dramatic victory against the Yankees in the first major battle of the war. Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent Greenhow a letter of appreciation the day after the battle.

Federal authorities soon learned of the security leaks, and the trail led to Greenhow’s residence. She was placed under house arrest, and other suspected female spies were soon arrested and joined her there. The house, nicknamed “Fort Greenhow,” still managed to produce information for the Rebels. When her good friend, Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson, visited Greenhow, he carelessly provided important intelligence that Greenhow slipped to her operatives. After five months, she and her youngest daughter, “Little Rose,” were transferred to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. She was incarcerated until June 1862, when she went into exile in the South.

Greenhow and Little Rose spent the next two years in England. Greenhow penned a memoir titled My Imprisonment and traveled to England and France, drumming up support for the Southern cause. She then decided to return to the Confederacy to contribute more directly to the war effort. Greenhow and her daughter were on board the British blockade-runner Condor when it was intercepted by the U.S.S. Niphon off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The Yankee ship ran Condor aground near Forth Fischer. Greenhow was carrying Confederate dispatches and $2,000 in gold. Insisting that she be taken ashore, she boarded a small lifeboat that overturned in the rough surf. The weight of the gold pulled her under, and her body washed ashore the next morning. Greenhow was given a hero’s funeral and buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina, her body wrapped in the Confederate flag.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 600 B.C., the Greek Aesop told a fable about a bat that borrowed money to start a business. The business failed and the bat had to hide during the day to avoid the people it owed money to. According to Aesop, that is why bats come out just at night.

It’s Not Local, It’s Glow-ball

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Double click for a larger version…

When we were in Vermont back in August (sure seems like it was much longer ago than that!), we took some time to visit a small Vermont town. My lovely bride has a thing about walking around the town and checking out the stores. Outside of one store, they had some large glass balls that were really pretty and they captured my attention. I thought they were beautiful as they reflected the sky and their colors were gorgeous. This is one of them…the other was a rich purple color (maybe I’ll share it tomorrow!)

I don’t know how these things are made, do you? My hat is off, though, to the artist who made them!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1913, Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the engine that bears his name, disappeared from the steamship Dresden while traveling from Antwerp, Belgium to Harwick, England. On October 10, a Belgian sailor aboard a North Sea steamer spotted a body floating in the water; upon further investigation, it turned out that the body was Diesel’s. There was, and remains, a great deal of mystery surrounding his death: It was officially judged a suicide, but many people believed (and still believe) that Diesel was murdered.

Diesel patented a design for his engine on February 28, 1892,; the following year, he explained his design in a paper called “Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Engine to Replace the Steam Engine and Contemporary Combustion Engine.” He called his invention a “compression ignition engine” that could burn any fuel–later on, the prototypes he built would run on peanut or vegetable oil–and needed no ignition system: It ignited by introducing fuel into a cylinder full of air that had been compressed to an extremely high pressure and was, therefore, extremely hot.

Such an engine would be unprecedentedly efficient, Diesel argued: In contrast to the other steam engines of the era, which wasted more than 90 percent of their fuel energy, Diesel calculated that his could be as much as 75 percent efficient. (That is, just one-quarter of their energy would be wasted.) The most efficient engine that Diesel ever actually built had an efficiency of 26 percent–not quite 75 percent, but still much better than its peers.

By 1912, there were more than 70,000 diesel engines working around the world, mostly in factories and generators. Eventually, Diesel’s engine would revolutionize the railroad industry; after World War II, trucks and buses also started using diesel-type engines that enabled them to carry heavy loads much more economically.

At the time of Diesel’s death, he was on his way to England to attend the groundbreaking of a new diesel-engine plant–and to meet with the British navy about installing his engine on their submarines. Conspiracy theories began to fly almost immediately: “Inventor Thrown Into the Sea to Stop Sale of Patents to British Government,” read one headline; another worried that Diesel was “Murdered by Agents from Big Oil Trusts.” It is likely that Diesel did throw himself overboard–as it turns out, he was nearly broke–but the mystery will probably never be solved.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The Capuchin Crypt in Rome consists of five chapels and a corridor 60 meters long—and it is decorated with the bones of 4,000 deceased monks. The coffee drink Cappuccino takes its name from this order of monks who were known by their custom of wearing a hood or cappucio with their habits.

Ferocious Little Things

Fierce face...don't be scared!!!
Fierce face…don’t be scared!!!

There are lots of fierce things in the world: tigers, lions, leopards, great white sharks, orcas, wolverines, brizzly bears, polar bears…the list of great and ferocious creatures is long!

Not all fierce things, however, are large. Some are small: killer bees, scorpions, wasps, hornets, and believe it or not, hummingbirds. You probably didn’t know that hummingbirds are fierce. They have been known to attack much larger animals in an attempt to keep them away from the hummingbird’s food source.

Perhaps, though, the most ferocious small thing of all is my youngest granddaughter, the subject of today’s photo. Her dad asked her to show me her fierce face – and she did. If this isn’t fierce, I don’t know what is!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 48 B.C., upon landing in Egypt, Roman general and politician Pompey was murdered on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt.

During his long career, Pompey the Great displayed exceptional military talents on the battlefield. He fought in Africa and Spain, quelled the slave revolt of Spartacus, cleared the Mediterranean of pirates, and conquered Armenia, Syria, and Palestine. Appointed to organize the newly won Roman territories in the East, he proved a brilliant administrator.

In 60 B.C., he joined with his rivals Julius Caesar and Marcus Licinius Crassus to form the First Triumvirate, and together the trio ruled Rome for seven years. Caesar’s successes aroused Pompey’s jealousy, however, leading to the collapse of the political alliance in 53 B.C. The Roman Senate supported Pompey and asked Caesar to give up his army, which he refused to do. In January 49 B.C., Caesar led his legions across the Rubicon River from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy, thus declaring war against Pompey and his forces.

Caesar made early gains in the subsequent civil war, defeating Pompey’s army in Italy and Spain, but he was later forced into retreat in Greece. In August 48 B.C., with Pompey in pursuit, Caesar paused near Pharsalus, setting up camp at a strategic location. When Pompey’s senatorial forces fell upon Caesar’s smaller army, they were entirely routed, and Pompey fled to Egypt.

Pompey hoped that King Ptolemy, his former client, would assist him, but the Egyptian king feared offending the victorious Caesar. On September 28, Pompey was invited to leave his ships and come ashore at Pelusium. As he prepared to step onto Egyptian soil, he was treacherously struck down and killed by an officer of Ptolemy.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: No U.S. president has ever been an only child.

Where would we bee?

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Double click for a large image.

What do you think of when you think of bees? Chances are you think of one of two things: honey, or stings!

I don’t know of many people who like stinging insects: bees, wasps, hornets, scorpions…yuck.  Killer bees have been known to chase people over a quarter of a mile once they are angered (the bees, that is!) And then there’s all those that bite but don’t sting: mosquitos, black flies, horse flies, no-see-um’s, and the like.

But where would we be without bees? Most of us know so little about them! There are over 20,000 species of bees and the “average’ hive contains between 10,000 and 50,000 bees and 20-80 pounds of honey. If not for bees, we’d all have starved long ago as plants would have died out. So, if you see a bee, like the one in today’s photo I took in the late summer, thank it for the job it does to provide us with flowers and food!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1942, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress made its debut flight in Seattle, Washington. It was the largest bomber used in the war by any nation.

The B-29 was conceived in 1939 by Gen. Hap Arnold, who was afraid a German victory in Europe would mean the United States would be devoid of bases on the eastern side of the Atlantic from which to counterattack. A plane was needed that would travel faster, farther, and higher than any then available, so Boeing set to creating the four-engine heavy bomber. The plane was extraordinary, able to carry loads almost equal to its own weight at altitudes of 30,000 to 40,000 feet. It contained a pilot console in the rear of the plane, in the event the front pilot was knocked out of commission. It also sported the first radar bombing system of any U.S. bomber.

The Superfortress made its test run over the continental United States on September 21, but would not make its bombing-run debut until June 5, 1944, against Bangkok, in preparation for the Allied liberation of Burma from Japanese hands. A little more than a week later, the B-29 made its first run against the Japanese mainland. On June 14, 60 B-29s based in Chengtu, China, bombed an iron and steel works factory on Honshu Island. While the raid was less than successful, it proved to be a morale booster to Americans, who were now on the offensive.

Meanwhile, the Marianas Islands in the South Pacific were being recaptured by the United States, primarily to provide air bases for their new B-29s—a perfect position from which to strike the Japanese mainland on a consistent basis. Once the bases were ready, the B-29s were employed in a long series of bombing raids against Tokyo. Although capable of precision bombing at high altitudes, the Superfortresses began dropping incendiary devices from a mere 5,000 feet, firebombing the Japanese capital in an attempt to break the will of the Axis power. One raid, in March 1945, killed more than 80,000 people. But the most famous, or perhaps infamous, use of the B-29 would come in August, as it was the only plane capable of delivering a 10,000-pound bomb—the atomic bomb. The Enola Gay and the Bock’s Car took off from the Marianas, on August 6 and 9, respectively, and flew into history.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Ancient peoples, such as the Druids, considered mistletoe sacred because it remains green and bears fruit during the winter when all other plants appear to die. Druids would cut the plant with golden sickles and never let it touch the ground. They thought it had the power to cure infertility and nervous diseases and to ward off evil.

Meet Mike and Danny

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Double click for a larger size image…

I’ve shared a couple of pictures of scarecrows from a scarecrow festival in Dahlonega that we saw a couple weeks ago. I’ll admit, they weren’t very “scary”…Elvis and a mermaid aren’t exactly frightening. Today’s scarecrow picture does more to earn the name “scarecrow”.

This is Miner Mike and Donkey Danny. Dahlonega was a gold rush town in Georgia, in fact, it was the site of the first gold rush in the United States in 1828.

The United States Mint built a branch mint there, which it operated from 1838–1861. The Dahlonega Mint only minted gold coins, in denominations of $1.00, $2.50, $3.00 (1854 only) and $5.00. This was cost effective in consideration of the economics, time, and risk of shipping gold to the main mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dahlonega Mint was a small operation, usually accounting for only a small fraction of the gold coinage minted annually in the US.

The government decided against re-opening the facility after the Civil War. By then, the U.S. government had established a mint in San Francisco, California. Given the large amount of gold discovered in California from the late 1840s on, that mint handled the national needs of gold mint production.

And so, Mike the Miner and Danny the Donkey are reminders of the glory days of Dahlonega. And they’re not real, right? (I don’t think so anyway.)


A commuter train plunges off a bridge into Newark Bay in New Jersey killing 47 passengers on this day in 1958. The accident was the result of mistakes made by the train’s crew.

The first bridge across Newark Bay was built in 1864. In 1926, this bridge was updated. Now made of steel, it could be raised to allow large ships to pass underneath it. In order to avoid problems with the rail lines that used the bridge, there was an automatic warning system installed. If the bridge was raised, warning lights alerted oncoming trains 1,500 yards from the bridge. A second warning was put in place 200 yards before the bridge. Finally, a derailer was installed just before the bridge to force a train from the tracks if the bridge was raised.

As commuter train 3314 from Bay Head Junction was leaving the Elizabethport station, a large freighter was radioing ahead to have the bridge raised. As the train approached Newark Bay, its crew either did not see or ignored both warning-light systems. The train was traveling about 40 miles per hour when it hit the derailer.

The locomotive and one other car jumped the tracks and plunged into the bay below. A third car was left hanging over the side of the bridge. There were no people in the first car, but the 47 people in the second car all drowned. The people in the third car were able to escape just before it also fell into the bay. Forty-eight people were injured.

Some blamed the severity of the accident on the fact that the bridge was not fully raised for the freighter. When the bridge was fully raised, concrete counterweights came down and blocked the open gap in the bridge. The train would have hit this concrete if the bridge had been fully raised. However, the common practice was to only partially raise the bridge to save time.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Mars lacks an ozone layer; therefore, the surface of Mars is bathed in a lethal dose of radiation every time the sun rises. Sorta makes you want to be the first person to go to Mars, doesn’t it?

To Make a Little One Laugh

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Double click for a larger image…

You know, I love to hear little children laugh…especially if it was my own kids or now my grand kids. There is hardly a more beautiful sound in the world then their laughter. And that means, that as a grandpa, I will do darn near anything to make them laugh!

On Labor Day, our youngest son and his family came over to have a BBQ and spend some time with us. They don’t have a dog of their own and they always want to know how our dog is doing and they want to come and see her. Breaks our heart, don’t you know!?!?!?!

Anyway, when they came over, I thought it would be a good idea to smear almond butter on the bottoms of their feet so the dog could like them off. The picture above was taken as the dog was working on one foot. What was the result? Well, you’ll have to scroll all the way down to the end to get the reaction of the youngest to having her foot licked clean by our dog!

If I can hear my grand children laugh (and help to make that happen!), then I’ve had a GREAT day!


On this day in 1944, the U.S. 1st Marine Division lands on the island of Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands in the Pacific, as part of a larger operation to provide support for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was preparing to invade the Philippines. The cost in American lives would prove historic.

The Palaus, part of the Caroline Islands, were among the mandated islands taken from Germany and given to Japan as one of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles at the close of World War I. The U.S. military lacked familiarity with the islands, and Adm. William Halsey argued against Operation Stalemate, which included the Army invasion of Morotai in the Dutch East Indies, believing that MacArthur would meet minimal resistance in the Philippines, therefore making this operation unnecessary, especially given the risks involved.

Peleliu was subject to pre-invasion bombardment, but it proved of little consequence. The Japanese defenders of the island were buried too deep in the jungle, and the target intelligence given the Americans was faulty. Upon landing, the Marines met little immediate resistance—but that was a ploy. Shortly thereafter, Japanese machine guns opened fire, knocking out more than two dozen landing craft. Japanese tanks and troops followed, as the startled 1st and 5th Marine regiments fought for their lives. Jungle caves disgorged even more Japanese soldiers. Within one week of the invasion, the Marines lost 4,000 men. By the time it was all over, that number would surpass 9,000. The Japanese lost more than 13,000 men. Flamethrowers and bombs finally subdued the island for the Americans—but it all proved pointless. MacArthur invaded the Philippines without need of Army or Marine protection from either Peleliu or Morotai.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Research suggests that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. Studies have also found that dark chocolate can improve the ability to see in low-contrast situations (such as poor weather) and promote lower blood pressure, which has positive effects on cholesterol levels, platelet function, and insulin sensitivity.

And here is the aforementioned picture of the little one as the dog was licking her foot…

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Double click for a larger image…


Double click for a larger image...
Double click for a larger image…

Who said that scarecrows are of necessity scary looking things? I grant you, I shot some in Dahlonega last Saturday that were rather ghastly in appearance (you’ll see some before long in this blog), but not all of them were that way. For instance, the Elvis scarecrow I shared a couple days ago, and how about this one today? Isn’t she a knock-out?

Well, maybe not. It would be interesting to do a study of the difference between male and female scarecrows to see which are more effective at scaring away the crows from the corn. Almost all the scarecrows that I’ve seen in my life were definitely of the masculine gender (if a creature made of straw can be said to have gender anyway!).

Which do you think would be more effective? Why?

This scarecrow has a real problem with proportions, but it was eye-catching and different, and that’s what caught my attention.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1881, tensions neared a breaking point between the Earp brothers and the Clanton-McLaury families, the two major power centers in Tombstone, Arizona.

Two days earlier, a stagecoach had been robbed and the Tombstone sheriff formed a posse that included Morgan and Wyatt Earp to find the culprits. On the basis of a boot print found in the dust, the posse arrested Frank Stillwell, a sometimes deputy of the Cochise County Sheriff, John Behan. Stillwell’s actual guilt or innocence aside, two of the leading Cochise County ranching families, the Clantons and McLaurys, saw the arrest as a deliberate attack by the Earps on their continued control of the county.

Many country-living ranch families like the Clantons and McLaurys deeply resented the city folks who increasingly dominated law and politics in Tombstone–especially the ambitious Earp brothers: Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil and James. The ranch families maintained tenuous control over the wide-open country surrounding Tombstone, thanks in large measure to the sympathetic support of Cochise County Sheriff Behan. Sheriff Behan detested the Earps–a sentiment that was entirely mutual–and made a point of ignoring their well-founded complaints that the Clantons and McLaurys were stealing cattle and horses. Likewise, while the Earps often acted as law officers and posse members, Behan and the ranchers knew the brothers were not above ignoring the law when it came to their own questionable dealings in the Tombstone gambling and saloon business. So when the Tombstone sheriff and the Earps arrested one of Behan’s own deputies for the stagecoach robbery, the Clanton and McLaurys claimed they were being unfairly harassed and warned the Earps that they would retaliate.

Both sides publicly accused the other of corruption and collusion with criminals, leading the governor of Arizona Territory to report later that month, “Many of the very best law-abiding and peace-loving citizens [of Tombstone] have no confidence in the willingness of the civil officers to pursue and bring to justice that element of out-lawry so largely disturbing the sense of security…[The opinion] is quite prevalent that the civil officers are quite largely in league with the leaders of this disturbing and dangerous element.”

The governor was right, and the situation would not be resolved without violence. The Earp brothers and Clanton-McLaury families were headed for a showdown at the O.K. Corral in October.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Bears have been known to eat almost anything, including snowmobile seats, engine oil, and rubber boots.

Pictures and Thoughts from a Day in Galen Dalrymple's Life


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