A Die-Hard Reader

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I don’t know about you, but I love to read. I must confess, though, that I still prefer to read a paper and ink book over digital ones. How about you? I suspect that it depends on your age. Those of us who grew up holding a book in our hands probably prefer that to the electronic versions, while younger folk prefer electronic. I can see advantages of both.

I like to highlight passages as I read through a book, making notes, etc. That’s a bit more difficult to do when reading electronic versions…and it’s harder to find notes when you do. But, that’s all really beside the point.

Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta has some really interesting mausolea. (I just learned that is a word – plural for mausoleum, but apparently the spell checker here in WordPress has never heard of it.)  Just inside the gate to the right is this one. And it was the first picture I took within the cemetery itself. It was almost unnerving to look up and see a man sitting on top of the entryway, apparently holding a book in his hand. I didn’t bother to get the name on the tomb, just this photo. I suppose, maybe, one could say he is a die-hard fan of reading and of books!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1992, Mafia boss John Gotti, who was nicknamed the “Teflon Don” after escaping unscathed from several trials during the 1980s, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on 14 accounts of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering. Moments after his sentence was read in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn, hundreds of Gotti’s supporters stormed the building and overturned and smashed cars before being forced back by police reinforcements.

Gotti, born and educated on the mean streets of New York City, became head of the powerful Gambino family after boss Paul Castellano was murdered outside a steakhouse in Manhattan in December 1985. The gang assassination, the first in three decades in New York, was organized by Gotti and his colleague Sammy “the Bull” Gravano. The Gambino family was known for its illegal narcotics operations, gambling activities, and car theft. During the next five years, Gotti rapidly expanded his criminal empire, and his family grew into the nation’s most powerful Mafia family. Despite wide publicity of his criminal activities, Gotti managed to avoid conviction several times, usually through witness intimidation. In 1990, however, he was indicted for conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Paul Castellano, and Gravano agreed to testify against him in a federal district court in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.

On April 2, 1992, John Gotti was found guilty on all counts and on June 23 was sentenced to multiple life terms without the possibility of parole. While in prison, Gotti was severely beaten up by Walter Johnson, a fellow inmate. Afterwards, Gotti offered at least $40,000 to the Aryan Brotherhood to kill Johnson. The Aryan Brotherhood accepted Gotti’s offer. The prison guards surmised that Johnson was in danger and transferred him to another prison.

In 1998, Gotti was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent surgery to remove it. It came back in 2000 and he died in 2002 at age 61.  His son, John  Gotti, Jr., said after his father’s death: “If you look on his death certificate he choked on his own vomit and blood. He paid for his sins”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Memories that are triggered by scent have some of the strongest emotional connections and appear more intense than other memory triggers.

In Rare Air

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Every so often, a professional athlete comes along who does something that no one else has ever done. They are electrifying and they dazzle us with their brilliance and abilities. There are many who can run fast, but only one person at a time can carry the title of “world’s fastest human”, “world’s greatest basketball player” or “world’s greatest athlete”.  And even then, such things are open to debate. I suppose that’s just how life is…it makes for interesting water cooler conversations and betting pools, I guess.

But when someone does something that has never been done before, and never has been done since, THAT deserves some special attention!

Are you familiar with the name Robert Tyre Jones?  No?  Does Bobby Jones ring a bell?  Ah…that might work better for you. Bobby Jones was a golfer…but not just any golfer. To this day he remains the only golfer in history to ever win all four major championships in the same calendar year. This is referred to as the “Grand Slam” of golf. No one else has done it before or since…not Arnold Palmer, not Jack Nicklaus, not even Tiger Woods.  Tiger Woods was probably the one that folks though would accomplish the feat, but he got sidetracked with some horrible decisions in his personal life, health issues and bad swing advice. Tiger did win the “Tiger Slam” when he won four majors in a row…but not in the same calendar year. And so, Bobby Jones stands alone.  Bobby Jones is also credited with starting what is arguably the greatest even in golf: the Master’s Tournament, held each year in Augusta, GA.

His tombstone lies in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA, and he rests alongside his wife underneath the oak trees for which the cemetery is named. When I asked at the visitor center how to find his marker, they said I’d have no trouble – people always leave golf balls there.  They were right, as you can see.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1611, after spending a winter trapped by ice in present-day Hudson Bay, the starving crew of the Discovery mutinied against its captain, English navigator Henry Hudson, and set him, his teenage son, and seven supporters adrift in a small, open boat. Hudson and the eight others were never seen again.

Two years earlier, in 1609, Hudson sailed to the Americas to find a northwest passage to Asia after repeatedly failing in his efforts to find a northeast ocean passage. Exploring the North American coast, he entered the present-day Chesapeake, Delaware, and New York bays, and then became the first European to ascend what is now called the Hudson River. His voyage, which was financed by the Dutch, was the basis of Holland’s later claims to the region.

His fourth expedition, financed by adventurers from England, set out from London on April 17, 1610. Sailing back across the Atlantic, Hudson resumed his efforts to find the northwest passage. Between Greenland and Labrador he entered the present-day Hudson Strait and by it reached Hudson Bay. After three months of exploration, the Discovery was caught too far from open sea when winter set in, and in November Hudson’s men were forced to haul it ashore and set up a winter camp. Lacking food or supplies, the expedition greatly suffered in the extreme cold. Many of the crew held Hudson responsible for their misfortune, and on June 22, 1611, with the coming of summer, they mutinied against him. TheDiscovery later returned to England, and its crew was arrested for the mutiny. Although Henry Hudson was never seen again, his discoveries gave England its claim to the rich Hudson Bay region.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The devastating 2011 earthquake in Japan created a massive 186-mile long and 93 mile wide rift 15 miles under the ocean.

The Stuff of Legend

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It is Father’s day and I miss my dad. There are legends who walk the surface of this planet and they are mythic is scale and fame follows them like a shadow. Then there are legends who also walk the planet who go unheralded and spend their days in simple ways: working faithfully (sometimes at jobs they hate), playing with their children when there is no energy left in their weary bodies, teaching their young ones about right and wrong, how to be people of integrity, honesty and faithfulness. Most of those are nameless and faceless to the world at large, but to most of us, we have called them by the same name: father.

As I walked through a very large cemetery in Atlanta on Saturday, I saw numerous tombstones that had the word “Father” across the top – and my dad came to my mind so clearly and strongly. I could see him with my mind’s eye so vividly, even though he I haven’t seen him in the 18 years since he left to go “home”.  I could hear his voice as if he stood beside me.

His earthly remains, for the last 18 years, rest beneath the rich black soil and sod in a simple country graveyard in Iowa just a few miles from where he grew up.  The cemetery is surrounded by cornfields, fields of soybeans or maybe hay. It is where he chose to be buried…it was the place where he grew up, and I think until the day he died, it was where his heart still belonged. It was his heart that finally took him.

Very few people in the world ever knew my dad.  He was a quiet, some might say reserved, man.  But he was a man of integrity. He was a hard working man of integrity. And to me, he is the stuff of true legend.

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY: in 1942, General Erwin Rommel turned his assault on the British-Allied garrison at Tobruk, Libya, into victory, as his panzer division occupies the North African port.

Britain had established control of Tobruk after routing the Italians in 1940. But the Germans attempted to win it back by reinforcing Italian troops with the Afrika Korps of Erwin Rommel, who continually charged the British Eighth Army in battles around Tobruk, finally forcing the Brits to retreat into Egypt. All that was left to take back the port was the garrison now manned by the South African Division, which also included the Eleventh Indian Brigade. With the use of artillery, dive-bombers, and his panzer forces, Rommel pushed past the Allies. Unable to resist any longer, South African General Henrik Klopper ordered his officers to surrender early on the morning of the 21st. Rommel took more than 30,000 prisoners, 2,000 vehicles, 2,000 tons of fuel, and 5,000 tons of rations. Adolf Hitler awarded Rommel the field marshal’s baton as reward for his victory. “I am going on to Suez,” was Rommel’s promise.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The quality that ancient Egyptians valued most was called ma’at, which means good behavior, honesty, and justice. Ma’at is also the name of the goddess of truth who, according to myth, weighs every Egyptian heart after death.

Get Along Lil’ Cowgirl!

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I don’t pretend to understand what it is about the females of the species and horses. Don’t get me wrong, I really like horses and think that they are magnificent animals. I was thrilled when American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown, and I loved the movies Seabiscuit and Secretariat. They were great movies…and they were magnificent animals.

But there seems to be something about girls and horses. Cowboys loved their horses (maybe like guys love their trucks or cars today), but that’s different.

At a festival recently, we took our youngest grand daughters to have fun.  One of the options was to ride on a horse.  I think it was probably the first time that our littlest one had ever been on a horse, but you could see the happiness and joy on her face – even as she gripped the saddle horn.  She was a natural…I just wonder how long it will be before she asks her daddy for a pony!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:

in 1864, Union war hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was severely wounded at Petersburg, Virginia, while leading an attack on a Confederate position. Chamberlain, a college professor from Maine, took a sabbatical to enlist in the Union army. As commander of the 20th Maine, he earned distinction at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when he shored up the Union left flank and helped save Little Round Top for the Federals. His bold counterattack against the Confederates earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.

His wound at Petersburg was the most serious of the six he received during the war. Doctors in the field hospital pronounced his injury fatal, and Union General Ulysses S. Grant promoted him to brigadier general as a tribute to his service and bravery. Miraculously, he survived and spent the rest of the Petersburg campaign convalescing at his Maine home. He returned to the Army of the Potomac in time for Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, and he was given the honor of accepting the arms of the Confederate infantry.

Chamberlain returned to Maine after the war and served four terms as governor. He then became president of Bowdoin College–the institution that had refused to release him for military service–and held the position until 1883. Chamberlain remained active in veterans’ affairs and, like many soldiers, attended regimental reunions and kept alive the camaraderie created during the war. He was present for the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg in 1913, one year before he died of an infection from the wound he suffered at Petersburg.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A poll by the television show Animal Planet listed vampire bats as the third-most feared animal on the planet, right after wolves and gorillas and just ahead of piranhas.

Snakeman is also Birdman

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My last post was a picture of snakes made of wood, bottle caps and something flexible that passed through holes in the bottle caps and which formed the spine of the snake.  The man who created them was very creative!  But that wasn’t all he did…he also made birdhouses.  Now, these weren’t your your normal, run-of-the-mill bird houses.  They were all shapes and sizes, colors and they were beautiful!  Here’s a picture of one of them.  I wish I’d gotten the man’s name so I could have shared it with you in case you were interested in buying some of his products!

If I were a bird, I’d live in this house!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1837, Strong Vincent was born in Waterford, Pennsylvania. After working as a lawyer, he went on to become a hero at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he was mortally wounded defending Little Round Top. (If you saw the movie, Gettysburg, you may recall that he was the one that was the commanding officer to the character, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and Colonel Vincent placed Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at the far end of the Union line.  Chamberlain’s men held against ferocious charges from the Confederates, finally carrying out a down-hill bayonet charge when they had run out of ammunition.  Chamberlain would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroics on that day – it may have saved the Union.)

When hostilities erupted between the North and the South in April 1861, Vincent left the law to become an officer in the Erie Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. By early 1862, he rose to commander of the 83rd Pennsylvania. Vincent served in several campaigns with the Army of the Potomac, fighting at Yorktown, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. He was promoted to colonel after Yorktown, and prior to Gettysburg, Vincent was given command of the Third Brigade, First Division, of the Fifth Corps.

On the night of July 1, 1863, Vincent and his men were hurrying toward the battlefield under a bright moon. When the soldiers passed through a small town near Gettysburg, the regiment bands began to play and residents came to their doors to cheer the Yankee troops. Vincent remarked to an aide that there could be a worse fate than to die fighting in his home state with the flag overhead.

The next day, as Vincent and his brigade were arriving behind the Union lines, General Gouverneur K. Warren frantically summoned Vincent’s force to the top of Little Round Top, a rocky hill at the end of the Federal line. Warren observed that the Confederates could turn the Union left flank by taking the summit, which was occupied by only a Yankee signal corps at the time. So Vincent and his men hurried up the hill, arriving just ahead of the Rebels. The brigade held the top, but just barely. The 26-year-old Vincent was mortally wounded in the engagement and died on July 7. He was promoted posthumously to brigadier general.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: More than 2.5 billion pictures are uploaded to Facebook each month.

Beware of the Snake!

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You know, I hate snakes. I hate them with a passion. I like to look at them in a cage in a zoo, but I hate to see them when they are out in the wild. I have never liked them – they give me the heebie-jeebies. I really learned to hate them on the day that a rattlesnake bit both of our dogs when we lived in the wine country in northern California’s Sonoma County.

But, I have to say that I wasn’t afraid of the snake in today’s photo. Not one bit! This snake (and there was an entire brood of them!) was at the Lavender Festival in Roswell, Georgia, this past Saturday. Look closely. Do you see what most of the snake’s body is made of?  Yep, those are bottle caps! What an ingenious craft item – everyone was remarking on how clever it was! There was something that ran inside the bottle caps from head to tail that was flexible so you could twist the snake into whatever shape you wanted and it would hold that pose. I can’t even draw a squiggly line on a piece of paper…

Did I buy one? Nope. After all, I hate snakes!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1215, following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John put his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or “Great Charter.” The document, primarily a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the freedom of the church, and maintain the nation’s laws. Although more a reactionary than a progressive document in its day, the Magna Carta was seen as a cornerstone in the development of democratic England by later generations.

John became king of England after the death of his brother, King Richard the Lion-Hearted, in 1199. King John’s reign was by all accounts a failure. He lost the duchy of Normandy to the French king then taxed the nobility heavily to pay for his misadventures. He quarreled with Pope Innocent III and sold church offices to build up the royal coffers. Following the defeat of a campaign to regain Normandy in 1214, Stephen Langton, the archbishop of Canterbury, called on the disgruntled barons to demand a charter of liberties from the king.

In 1215, the barons rose up against the king’s abuses. John had no choice but to give in to their demands. Earlier kings of England had granted concessions to their barons, but they were vaguely worded and issued voluntarily. The document drawn up for John, however, forced him to make specific guarantees of the rights and privileges of his barons and the freedom of the church. On June 15, 1215, John met the barons at Runnymede on the Thames and set his seal to the Articles of the Barons, which after minor revision was formally issued as the Magna Carta.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses dealing mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any claim to absolutism by the English monarchy. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, stating “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England’s Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

In immediate terms, the Magna Carta was a failure–civil war broke out the same year, and John ignored his obligations. When he died in 1216 the Magna Carta was reissued with some changes by his son, King Henry III, and then reissued again in 1217. That year, the rebellious barons were defeated by the king’s forces. In 1225, Henry III voluntarily reissued the Magna Carta a third time, and it formally entered English statute law.

Four original copies of the Magna Carta of 1215 exist today: one in Lincoln Cathedral, one in Salisbury Cathedral, and two in the British Museum.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: More than 65 million men from 30 countries fought in WWI. Nearly 10 million died. The Allies (The Entente Powers) lost about 6 million soldiers. The Central Powers lost about 4 million. Approximately 20 million more were wounded.

Lavender Festival

Look what I found at the Lavender Festival!!!
Look what I found at the Lavender Festival!!!

So, what did YOU do on Saturday? We went to a Lavender Festival, held annually in Roswell, Georgia (quite different from the Roswell in New Mexico where aliens were reputed to have crashed in 1947.)  What is there at a lavender festival?  Lots of lavender and purple stuff!  My wife and I both wore purple shirts so we would look like we were in the spirit of things and I guess we did because there were lots of other folks there who had the same idea.

There were food booths and crafters in booths, a musical “stage” with live music…all in all, a pretty pleasant experience. I took my camera (of course!) and found a few things to shoot while my wife browsed the booths. One of the first pictures I took was today’s photo…and I thought it was appropriate for being at a lavender festival!

Did I mention that purple is my favorite color?  (Followed closely, very closely, by orange!)  I’m grateful that we didn’t encounter a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1951, the U.S. Census Bureau dedicated UNIVAC, the world’s first commercially produced electronic digital computer. UNIVAC, which stood for Universal Automatic Computer, was developed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, makers of ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer. These giant computers, using thousands of vacuum tubes for computation, were the forerunners of today’s digital computers.

The search for mechanical devices to aid computation began in ancient times. The abacus, developed in various forms by the Babylonians, Chinese, and Romans, was by definition the first digital computer because it calculated values by using digits. A mechanical digital calculating machine was built in France in 1642, but a 19th century Englishman, Charles Babbage, is credited with devising most of the principles on which modern computers are based. His “Analytical Engine,” begun in the 1830s and never completed for lack of funds, was based on a mechanical loom and would have been the first programmable computer.

By the 1920s, companies such as the IBM were supplying governments and businesses with punch-card tabulating systems, but these mechanical devices had only a fraction of the calculating power of the first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). Completed by John Atanasoff of Iowa State in 1939, the ABC could by 1941 solve up to 29 simultaneous equations with 29 variables. Influenced by Atanasoff’s work, Presper Eckert and John Mauchly set about building the first general-purpose electronic digital computer in 1943. The sponsor was the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, which wanted a better way of calculating artillery firing tables.

ENIAC, which stood for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, was completed in 1946 at a cost of nearly $500,000. It took up 15,000 feet, employed 17,000 vacuum tubes, and was programmed by plugging and replugging some 6,000 switches. It was first used in a calculation for Los Alamos Laboratories in December 1945, and in February 1946 it was formally dedicated.

Following the success of ENIAC, Eckert and Mauchly decided to go into private business and founded the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. They proved less able businessmen than they were engineers, and in 1950 their struggling company was acquired by Remington Rand, an office equipment company. On June 14, 1951, Remington Rand delivered its first computer, UNIVAC I, to the U.S. Census Bureau. It weighed 16,000 pounds, used 5,000 vacuum tubes, and could perform about 1,000 calculations per second. On November 4, 1952, the UNIVAC achieved national fame when it correctly predicted Dwight D. Eisenhower’s unexpected landslide victory in the presidential election after only a tiny percentage of the votes were in.

UNIVAC and other first-generation computers were replaced by transistor computers of the late 1950s, which were smaller, used less power, and could perform nearly a thousand times more operations per second. These were, in turn, supplanted by the integrated-circuit machines of the mid-1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the development of the microprocessor made possible small, powerful computers such as the personal computer, and more recently the laptop and hand-held computers.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Speed dating, invented by a rabbi from Los Angeles in 1999, is based on a Jewish tradition of chaperoned gatherings of young Jewish singles.

Just a Morning Shot

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There are times I rather enjoy early mornings.  Those are the times when I have a camera in my hands.  This is part of “our lake.”  I just liked the framing of the wooden swing posts, the tree, the reeds in the water and their reflection, and of course, the fountain in the background.  I think I could sit in that swing and relax for a long, long time!  Anyone wanna join me?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 2001 – Clint Messina, 21, of Lacombe, Louisiana, was arrested and charged in the attempted murder of a police officer after driving into a patrol car while attempting to flee from sheriff’s deputies. Soon after, police discovered that he was already a wanted man.

At about 3:30 a.m. on March 27, Messina and an associate, Rose Houk, 31, stole a Krispy Kreme doughnuts delivery truck in Slidell, Louisiana. The Krispy Kreme deliveryman had left the engine of the truck running and its rear doors open while he went into a convenience store to make a delivery. Upon returning to find the truck and the hundreds of doughnuts inside missing, the deliveryman called police, who pursued and caught up to the vehicle. Messina and Houk then led police on a 15-mile chase, leaving a trail of doughnuts behind them as they fled. The incident was the subject of nationwide media attention and, as it involved cops and doughnuts, kept late-night comedians busy for several days.

Eventually, Messina and Houk abandoned the vehicle and attempted to get away on foot. Houk didn’t make it and was arrested, but Messina, who was driving, managed to escape. Both were eventually charged with auto theft and resisting arrest by flight. Afterward, Lt. Rob Callahan of the Slidell police joked, “We’re glad he’s off the streets, but this unfortunately means we’re going to have to stop staking out all the local doughnut shops looking for him.” On a more serious note, he added, “We all had a lot of fun with the doughnut truck incident, but this is a sobering reminder that police officers put their lives on the line whenever they initiate a pursuit.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Sperm whales can dive as deep as two miles into the water, and their bodies have unique physiological adaptations to allow them to survive the intense cold and crushing pressure of these dives. They can limit circulation to the brain and other organs, slow the heart to 10 beats per minute to conserve oxygen, and collapse the lungs and rib cage to withstand pressure.

Floating in a Sea of Gold

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It is said of King Croesus that everything he touched turned to gold.  Maybe these geese are Croesus in disguise!

Here’s another shot of a recent morning on “our” lake.  The trees on the other side were ablaze with light, while it was dark where we were, so the reflections in the water were spectacularly colorful!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1968, James Earl Ray, an escaped American convict, was arrested in London, England, and charged with the assassination of African American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 4, 1968, in Memphis, King was fatally wounded by a sniper’s bullet while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Motel Lorraine. That evening, a Remington .30-06 hunting rifle was found on the sidewalk beside a rooming house one block from the Lorraine Motel. During the next several weeks, the rifle, eyewitness reports, and fingerprints on the weapon all implicated a single suspect: escaped convict James Earl Ray. A two-bit criminal, Ray escaped a Missouri prison in April 1967 while serving a sentence for a holdup. In May 1968, a massive manhunt for Ray began. The FBI eventually determined that he had obtained a Canadian passport under a false identity, which at the time was relatively easy.

On June 8, Scotland Yard investigators arrested Ray at a London airport. Ray was trying to fly to Belgium, with the eventual goal, he later admitted, of reaching Rhodesia. Extradited to the United States, Ray stood before a Memphis judge in March 1969 and pleaded guilty to King’s murder in order to avoid the electric chair. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Three days later, he attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was innocent of King’s assassination and had been set up as a patsy in a larger conspiracy. He claimed that in 1967, a mysterious man named “Raoul” had approached him and recruited him into a gunrunning enterprise. On April 4, 1968, however, he realized that he was to be the fall guy for the King assassination and fled for Canada. Ray’s motion was denied, as were his dozens of other requests for a trial during the next 29 years.

During the 1990s, the widow and children of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke in support of Ray and his claims, calling him innocent and speculating about a conspiracy involving the U.S. government and military. U.S. authorities were, in conspiracists’ minds, implicated circumstantially. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover obsessed over King, who he thought was under communist influence. For the last six years of his life, King underwent constant wiretapping and harassment by the FBI. Before his death, Dr. King was also monitored by U.S. military intelligence, who may have been called to watch over King after he publicly denounced the Vietnam War in 1967. Furthermore, by calling for radical economic reforms in 1968, including guaranteed annual incomes for all, King was making few new friends in the Cold War-era U.S. government.

Over the years, the assassination has been reexamined by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Shelby County, Tennessee, district attorney’s office, and three times by the U.S. Justice Department. All of these investigations have ended with the same conclusion: James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, Jr. The House committee acknowledged that a low-level conspiracy might have existed, involving one or more accomplices to Ray, but uncovered no evidence definitively to prove this theory. In addition to the mountain of evidence against him, such as his fingerprints on the murder weapon and admitted presence at the rooming house on April 4, Ray had a definite motive in assassinating King: hatred. According to his family and friends, he was an outspoken racist who told them of his intent to kill King. Ray died in 1998.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Rock star Ozzy Osborne saved his wife Sharon’s Pomeranian from a coyote by tackling and wresting the coyote until it released the dog.

He Rules the Lake

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Here in our RV park there are two lakes.  At various times of the year there are some number of Canadian geese moving through as they go back and forth from the north to the south.  When there is a large number of them they can make quite a ruckus – and there are devices around the edge of the lake that occasionally go “Boom!” in an effort to scare them away (not really sure why or who puts them there.)

Right now, there seems to be a family of geese that have, for the time being at least, taken up residence.  There is a mom and dad and one baby gosling.  Perhaps when it grows up they will all fly away together, but for now, they seem very content to stay and raise their young one right here across the road from us.

My wife, being an avid birder, was trying to get some pictures of them the other day, and then she asked me to try.  I never need much encouragement to shoot any photos, so a day or two later, I noticed that in the early morning when we were preparing to take the dog out for her morning walk, the geese were down by the edge of the lake closest to us.  We live on the north-eastern side of the lake and much of the lake was still held firmly by the morning shadows.  The opposite shore of the lake, however, was in the grip of the sunlight.  The morning was still and calm and the light from the reflections of the trees on the other side of the lake was strong even while the shaded side was very subdued.  It truly was the golden hour and made for golden reflections.  Some of the photos I got that morning made the surface of the lake seem like molten gold.

At one point, after I’d taken most of my photos of the geese, I turned and looked back at them one more time.  The gander was still standing in the shallow water along the edge with the mother and gosling were starting to swim away.  Just as I was about to take the photo, he rose up on his hind legs and spread his wings as if to say, “Stay away from my brood!”  It was perfect…and is the subject of today’s photo.  If you look along the left edge of the picture, you’ll see the mother, followed very closely by her gosling, heading away from me.

I guess the gander was just reminding me who was boss of the lake.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  On this day in 1942, Japanese soldiers occupied the American islands of Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska, as the Axis power continues to expand its defensive perimeter.

Having been defeated at the battle of Midway—stopped by the United States from even landing on the Midway Islands—the Japanese nevertheless proved successful in their invasion of the Aleutians, which had been American territory since purchased from Russia in 1867. Killing 25 American troops upon landing in Attu, the Japanese proceeded to relocate and intern the inhabitants, as well as those at Kiska. America would finally invade and recapture the Aleutians one year later—killing most of the 2,300 Japanese troops defending it—in three weeks of fighting.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: At one time, family members of those who died working on the Great Wall of China would carry a coffin on top of which was a caged white rooster. The rooster’s crowing was supposed to keep the spirit of the dead person awake until they crossed the Wall; otherwise, the family feared the spirit would escape and wander forever along the Wall.

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

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