Tag Archives: dogs

Sobering Sight at the Moonshine Festival

One might think that at a Moonshine Festival all would be cheery and light-hearted, and for the most part it was. But as I wandered around, I spied what I first thought was a stuffed animal sitting on top of a large wooden wine/whiskey barrel. But there was something about it that made me look closer – and when I did, I realized it wasn’t a stuffed animal at all…but a real, live dog that was sitting perfectly still atop the barrel holding a sign in its mouth:

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As you can see from the sign, they were seeking donations to fight canine cancer. That is a subject that hits close to my heart as we lost three of our boxers to cancer, including our most recent one, Casper.

Cancer is a terrible, terrible disease – whether it is in humans or in animals. I don’t mean to minimize the horrible impact cancer has on people and families. It is an awful thing when anyone or anything gets cancer. Sometimes the things people do, like smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco, are known to be carcinogenic…but people do it anyway. But I don’t know of a dog or cat or any other animal that willinging and knowingly did anything to cause their cancer. I know that most people don’t, either. I hate cancer.

Did I make a donation? Of course! And I think you would have, too.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1415, during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, Henry V, the young king of England, led his forces to victory at the Battle of Agincourt in northern France.

Two months before, Henry had crossed the English Channel with 11,000 men and laid siege to Harfleur in Normandy. After five weeks the town surrendered, but Henry lost half his men to disease and battle casualties. He decided to march his army northeast to Calais, where he would meet the English fleet and return to England. At Agincourt, however, a vast French army of 20,000 men stood in his path, greatly outnumbering the exhausted English archers, knights, and men-at-arms.

The battlefield lay on 1,000 yards of open ground between two woods, which prevented large-scale maneuvers and thus worked to Henry’s advantage. At 11 a.m. on October 25, the battle commenced. The English stood their ground as French knights, weighed down by their heavy armor, began a slow advance across the muddy battlefield. The French were met by a furious bombardment of artillery from the English archers, who wielded innovative longbows with a range of 250 yards. French cavalrymen tried and failed to overwhelm the English positions, but the archers were protected by a line of pointed stakes. As more and more French knights made their way onto the crowded battlefield, their mobility decreased further, and some lacked even the room to raise their arms and strike a blow. At this point, Henry ordered his lightly equipped archers to rush forward with swords and axes, and the unencumbered Englishmen massacred the French.

Almost 6,000 Frenchmen lost their lives during the Battle of Agincourt, while English deaths amounted to just over 400. With odds greater than three to one, Henry had won one of the great victories of military history. After further conquests in France, Henry V was recognized in 1420 as heir to the French throne and the regent of France. He was at the height of his powers but died just two years later of camp fever near Paris.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A massive 8.8 earthquake in Chile moved the city of Concepción 10 feet to the west on February 27, 2010. This quake also shortened Earth’s day and slightly changed  the rotation of the planet.

Over the Rainbow Bridge

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There is a “poem” that you can find on the internet called “Over the Rainbow Bridge”. The version of it that I’m familiar with is about how when dogs die, they go over the rainbow bridge where they play and frolic with others of their kind until their owners finally arrive and they are reunited.  (Here’s the link if you want to read it: https://rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm)

I don’t know if there is really a rainbow bridge, but I can’t read the “poem” without tears coming to my eyes because of the dogs I have loved and miss, especially my Ramses and Casper, my boxer boys.  I hope it (or something very similar) really is true, because I really want to be with them again and to watch them, and all the dogs I’ve had throughout my life, playing together and never age or get sick again.

In the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is this “rainbow” bridge. It is a very popular spot in the garden and it is hard to find it without folks on it…but it helps when some of those on the bridge are loved ones as in this photo.

Here’s to rainbow bridges…real ones, and ones hoped for!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1846, in an ominous sign of the troubles to come, the Donner party found a note warning the emigrants that their expected route through the mountains ahead was nearly impassable.

The Donner party had left Springfield, Illinois, three months earlier. Led by two wealthy brothers, Jacob and George Donner, the emigrants initially followed the regular California Trail westward to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. From there, however, the emigrants decided to leave the established trail and take a new and supposedly shorter route to California laid out by a unscrupulous trail guide named Lansford Hastings. Hastings was not at Fort Bridger at the time-he was leading an earlier wagon train along his new route. He left word for the Donner party to follow, promising that he would mark the trail for them.

Reassured, the group of 89 emigrants left Fort Bridger with their 20 wagons and headed for Weber Canyon, where Hastings claimed there was an easy passage through the rugged Wasatch Mountains. On this day in 1846, they reached the head of the canyon, where they found the note from Hastings attached to a forked stick. Hastings warned the Donner party that the route ahead was more difficult than he had thought. He asked the emigrants to make camp there and wait until he could return to show them a better way.

Hastings’ note troubled the emigrants. To return to Fort Bridger to pick up the established route would have meant wasting several days. They decided to wait for Hastings. After eight days, when Hastings had still not arrived, the emigrants sent a messenger up the canyon to find the guide. The messenger returned several days later with instructions from Hastings to follow another trail, and the emigrants complied. The alternate route, however, turned out to be even worse than the Weber Canyon road, and the emigrants had to carve a fresh road through thick trees and boulder-strewn ground.

The Donner party finally made it through the Wasatch Mountains and arrived at the Great Salt Lake. Hastings’ route had cost them 18 valuable days. Unfortunately, their difficulties were only beginning. The “short cut” to California had cost them many wasted days, and the Donner party crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains late in the season. On October 28, a heavy snowfall blocked the high mountain passes, trapping the emigrants in a frozen wilderness. Eventually reduced to cannibalism to survive, only 45 of the original 89 emigrants reached California the following year.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women. The average American woman is 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds. The average model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds.

Boss Dude

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There are always bosses, aren’t there?  It is an inescapable situation…even if you are self-employed or own your own business, there’s a myriad of tax and regulatory agencies that that you’d swear are your bosses. If you work for someone else, you have a boss, a manager, a supervisor (even if in California you can’t call them that any more because it might make employees feel inferior in some way or another.)

Not all bosses are bad. Some are wonderful! I’ve been fortunate that almost all the bosses I’ve had in my life were wonderful people.  There’s only really one that I thought was bad…and I won’t mention his name, but after he got fired from the company I worked for, we learned that at his prior place of employment, when he got fired there that the people in the office stood up and cheered as he was walking out. That is enough to give you an idea of what he was like!

This dog seem to me that he’s got a-t-i-t-u-d-e…he seems to know that he’s the boss and wants everyone else to know it. In his case, it’s not bad…in fact, I think it’s cute!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1911, American archeologist Hiram Bingham got his first look at Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a summer retreat for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years afterwards, its existence was a secret known only to the peasants living in the region. That all changed in the summer of 1911, when Bingham arrived with a small team of explorers to search for the famous “lost” cities of the Incas.

Traveling on foot and by mule, Bingham and his team made their way from Cuzco into the Urubamba Valley, where a local farmer told them of some ruins located at the top of a nearby mountain. The farmer called the mountain Machu Picchu, which meant “Old Peak” in the native Quechua language. The next day–July 24–after a tough climb to the mountain’s ridge in cold and drizzly weather, Bingham met a small group of peasants who showed him the rest of the way. Led by an 11-year-old boy, Bingham got his first glimpse of the intricate network of stone terraces marking the entrance to Machu Picchu.

The excited Bingham spread the word about his discovery in a best-selling book, sending hordes of eager tourists flocking to Peru to follow in his footsteps up the Inca trail. The site itself stretches an impressive five miles, with over 3,000 stone steps linking its many different levels. Today, more than 300,000 people tramp through Machu Picchu every year, braving crowds and landslides to see the sun set over the towering stone monuments of the “Sacred City” and marvel at the mysterious splendor of one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the biological sign for the female, a circle placed on top of a small cross, is also the symbol for the planet Venus. The symbol is believed to be a stylized representation of the Roman goddess Venus’ hand mirror.

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 HISTORY: in 1944,

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…

Seeing Triple

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Double click for a larger size image

“Hey, doc!  I think something is wrong with my vision.  I’m seeing double!”  If that were true, you’d have a real problem on your hands and would need to be seen by a specialist to determine the cause.  I used to know a set of triplets.  The two girls were really hard to tell apart…their brother was easily distinguished from them, of course.  I’ve often thought it would be fun to be identical twins.  Just imagine all the trouble you could get in to and then you could blame it on your sister or brother! (Is it even possible for there to be identical triplets?!?!)

Well, I digress.  Today’s photo is of our dog and her mother and sister.  When the three of them are together, it is a bit hard to tell them apart – especially from a distance.  In this photo, our dog, Lucy, is the one at the top.  She’s somewhat easier to tell from the others because she is a bigger dog, and decidedly more FAT.  But I still think that the three of them make for interesting pictures.  And they sure have fun when they are all together!  Alas, we are now in Georgia and her mom and sis are in California, so it is unlikely that the three of them will ever be together to play again, and that saddens me.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: if there is one song that has been played more times by more bands in more garages than any ever written, it is probably “Louie Louie,” The Kingsmen’s classic 1966 hit. But if any other song warrants a place in the conversation, it would be “Wild Thing,” the three-chord masterpiece that became a #1 hit for The Troggs on this day in 1966 and instantly took its rightful place in the rock-and-roll canon.

“Wild Thing” was written in 1965 by a New York songwriter named Chip Taylor (born James Voight, brother of the actor Jon Voight and uncle of actress Angelina Jolie). After an unsuccessful version of the song was recorded and released by a group called The Wild Ones, Taylor’s demo made its way to England, where Reg Presley (born Reginald Ball), lead singer of The Troggs, fell in love with it. Like Taylor himself, who never took his biggest hit very seriously, Presley initially found “Wild Thing” to be a ridiculous trifle, but that didn’t stop him from having his then-hitless band take it into the studio. In a single take of “Wild Thing,” The Troggs captured a raw and thrilling sound that not only gave them a #1 hit, but also served as a formative influence on some of the key figures in the development of punk rock, including Iggy Pop, the Ramones and the Buzzcocks, all of whom credited The Troggs as forerunners.

There were other hits for The Troggs, including “With A Girl Like You” (1966) and “Love Is All Around” (1967)—but nothing to match “Wild Thing” in terms of success or influence. In fact, the most influential recording they made after 1968 was not of a song at all, but of an intra-band argument during a troubled 1972 recording session that was bootlegged out of the studio and passed around as “The Troggs Tapes.”  On it, various Troggs can be heard bickering and cursing (137 times in 10+ minutes) in accents and language that served as the direct inspiration for This Is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner’s 1984 seminal “mockumentary.”

“Wild Thing” was memorably performed by Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, complete with burning guitar, and it was covered with some success by the L.A. punk band X in 1989, but it’s the Troggs’ version that has become a staple of movie and television soundtracks. With royalties earned from his band’s signature hit, Trogg frontman Reg Presley has emerged as one of the world’s foremost experts on and largest sources of funding of research into the mysterious phenomenon of crop circles.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The average temperature on Mars is -81° F and can range from -205° F in the winter to 72° F in the summer.  Humm…at least for the summers, it sounds preferable to Georgia!

…a Beaut!?!?!?!

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Double click the image for a larger version…

There was a song a good number of years ago now, sung by Neil Diamond, and the lyrics went something like this:

“Mary-Lou Jane, such a fine name, she ain’t nothing like those girls from New York City.  Front teeth missin’, but that’s fine for kissin’, she’s as loyal as my dog Sam and twice as pretty…”

When I saw this dog a week ago last Saturday, I couldn’t help but think a couple strangely divergent thoughts:

FIRST: I thought that the poor dog must be terribly embarrassed to be gussied up like she was.  I mean, after all, if the good Lord had meant for dogs to have ribbons in their hair, I think He might have told us!

SECOND: I thought of the Neil Diamond song…and decided that I’m glad I never dated Mary Lou Jane!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1875, mistakenly believing Frank and Jesse James were hiding out at their family home, a gang of men–likely led by Pinkerton detectives–mount a raid that leaft the outlaws’ mother permanently maimed and their nine-year-old half-brother dead.

The Chicago-based Pinkerton Detective Agency had been pursuing the James brothers and their gang since 1874, when several big railroad companies first hired the Pinkertons to stop the outlaws. Responsible for a string of bank and train robberies, the James brothers were already famous for their daring style, and some even viewed the men as modern-day Robin Hoods. The Pinkertons, though, had no such romantic illusions about the outlaws. One of their best operatives working on the case, John W. Witcher, had been found dead from a bullet wound to the stomach, with his head, shoulder, and face eaten away by wild hogs. The Pinkertons were convinced Jesse James and another gang member had murdered Witcher, and they were determined to stop the outlaws.

In late 1874, the Pinkertons learned that Jesse and Frank James periodically returned to their old family farm in Clay County, Missouri, to visit with their mother and other family. On the night of January 26, 1875, a gang of men surrounded the James farm in the mistaken belief that the James brothers were inside. In an attempt to flush the outlaws out of the house, the gang threw several flares through the windows. Unexpectedly, one of the flares exploded instantly, killing Frank and Jesse’s young half-brother and blowing away their mother’s arm. Though the identity of the gang members has never been determined with absolute certainty, contemporary admirers of the James Brothers and modern-day historians agree that the Pinkertons were probably responsible. Regardless, the incident gave credence to the popular view that the men were innocent victims of the powerful railroads that had hired the Pinkertons to wipe them out.

After the attack on the James farm, the Pinkertons appear to have backed off from their more aggressive tactics. One of his own gang members, not a Pinkerton operative, killed Jesse James for a bounty in 1882. Frank James surrendered shortly thereafter, but no jury would convict him, and he remained a free and law-abiding citizen until his death in 1915. The grave of Jesse, who was buried in the front yard of his mother’s farm, became a popular tourist attraction. For many years, tourists could pay Mrs. James 25ÝF to visit the grave and listen to her tearful and melodramatic account of how venal Pinkertons and evil railroad barons had so unjustly persecuted her good and utterly innocent sons.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  One third of the tap water used for drinking in North America is used to brew daily cups of coffee.

…Came in Colors?

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Double click for a larger image

How many colors can be found in all the species of birds in the world?  How about fish?  It must be astronomical.  I would imagine that just about every color you can imagine can be found on some kind of bird or fish or both.

What what about dogs?  I mean, if I were a dog (no snide remarks about that, honey!), I would feel cheated.  Dogs come in black, brown, white, gray and well, that’s about it.  Sure, sometimes they are spotted and multicolored, but they’re all really just variations of those few colors…again, unlike fish or birds.  Why, I think it’s enough to drive a good dog to bite!

If I were a boring-colored dog like the one I photographed here, I’d want to be half purple and half orange, or have a orange background color with purple stripes or spots.  What color would you like your dog to be?

I think that when I get to see God that I’ll ask Him why He didn’t make dogs come in more colors.  I can’t wait to hear His answer!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1959, Carl Dean Switzer, the actor who as a child played “Alfalfa” in the Our Gang comedy film series, died at age 31 in a fight, allegedly about money, in Mission Hills, California. Alfalfa, the freckle-faced boy with a warbling singing voice and a cowlick protruding from the top of his head, was Switzer’s best-known role.

As a child, Switzer, who was born August 7, 1927, entertained people in his hometown of Paris, Illinois, with his singing. On a trip to California to visit relatives, Switzer’s mother took Carl and his brother to the Hal Roach Studios, a film and television production company that launched the careers of comedy legends like Laurel and Hardy. The Switzer brothers were signed by Hal Roach and Carl was cast as Alfalfa in the Our Gang series, which Roach began producing as silent films in the early 1920’s.

Our Gang revolved around a group of ragtag children and their adventures. Along with Alfalfa, other popular characters included Spanky, Buckwheat and Darla. Our Gang was considered groundbreaking in that it featured white and black child actors interacting equally. Switzer played Alfalfa from the mid-1930’s to the early 1940’s. In 1955, the Our Gang films were turned into a hugely popular TV series called The Little Rascals; however, Switzer never received any royalties from the show.

After Our Gang, Switzer found small roles in movies and on television, but his most successful days in Hollywood were behind him. He made money working odd jobs, including stints as a hunting guide and bartender, and had several run-ins with the police.

On January 21, 1959, Switzer and a friend went to the Mission Hills home of Moses “Bud” Stiltz, to collect a debt Switzer believed he was owed. A fight broke out, during which Stiltz shot and killed Switzer. A jury later ruled the incident justifiable homicide.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  According to one study, a first-time drunk-driving offender has already driven drunk more than 80 times before being arrested.

…a place in Paradise

My buddy, my friend...
My buddy, my friend…

I don’t normally post on Friday nights, but I just had to post tonight.  I don’t know if you watched the NBC evening news tonight, but they did a story about something that the pope said today to a little boy who was missing his dog who had died.  The boy wanted to know if his dog would be in heaven, waiting for him.  The pope reportedly told the boy, “All God’s creatures have a place in Paradise.”  I don’t know if the pope is right or not…the simple fact is that we just don’t know.  But, I can tell you this: I sure hope he’s right!

Today’s photo is of my late dog, Casper, a white boxer, who died three years ago on December 20, 2011.  One thing I know: if there is, indeed, a place for all of God’s creatures in Paradise, I know he will be there, waiting and eagerly watching for me – as I would be for him if the tables were turned.

Casper, I thought of you when I heard Brian Williams reporting the pope’s comments…and I cried.  I still miss you so much.  No other dog has taken your place in my heart, nor will they ever.

I just wanted to tell you to be patient and wait for  me like you always did while you were here.  One of these days I’ll show up and you can come running to greet me!  Until then, know how much I love you…and that I can’t wait to see you again and feel your strength and exuberance…and see the delight as we look each other in the eye.

I miss you, good friend.  It won’t be long…until then, play and have fun, and keep your eyes open for me coming over the rise!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1980, American oil tycoon Armand Hammer paid $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the Leonardo da Vinci.

The manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety of subjects. It contained 72 loose pages featuring some 300 notes and detailed drawings, all relating to the common theme of water and how it moved. Experts have said that da Vinci drew on it to paint the background of his masterwork, the Mona Lisa. The text, written in brown ink and chalk, read from right to left, an example of da Vinci’s favored mirror-writing technique. The painter Giuseppi Ghezzi discovered the notebook in 1690 in a chest of papers belonging to Guglielmo della Porto, a 16th-century Milanese sculptor who had studied Leonardo’s work. In 1717, Thomas Coke, the first earl of Leicester, bought the manuscript and installed it among his impressive collection of art at his family estate in England.

More than two centuries later, the notebook–by now known as the Leicester Codex–showed up on the auction block at Christie’s in London when the current Lord Coke was forced to sell it to cover inheritance taxes on the estate and art collection. In the days before the sale, art experts and the press speculated that the notebook would go for $7 to $20 million. In fact, the bidding started at $1.4 million and lasted less than two minutes, as Hammer and at least two or three other bidders competed to raise the price $100,000 at a time. The $5.12 million price tag was the highest ever paid for a manuscript at that time; a copy of the legendary Gutenberg Bible had gone for only $2 million in 1978. “I’m very happy with the price. I expected to pay more,” Hammer said later. “There is no work of art in the world I wanted more than this.” Lord Coke, on the other hand, was only “reasonably happy” with the sale; he claimed the proceeds would not be sufficient to cover the taxes he owed.

Hammer, the president of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, renamed his prize the Hammer Codex and added it to his valuable collection of art. When Hammer died in 1990, he left the notebook and other works to the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Several years later, the museum offered the manuscript for sale, claiming it was forced to take this action to cover legal costs incurred when the niece and sole heir of Hammer’s late wife, Frances, sued the estate claiming Hammer had cheated Frances out of her rightful share of his fortune. On November 11, 1994, the Hammer Codex was sold to an anonymous bidder–soon identified as Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft–at a New York auction for a new record high price of $30.8 million. Gates restored the title of Leicester Codex and has since loaned the manuscript to a number of museums for public display.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Russian poet Sergei Esenin (1895-1925) wrote an entire poem in his own blood that served as suicide note.

…for the Kids!

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Parents go to extraordinary lengths for the well-being of their kids.  Where I come from, this is only to be expected.  There’s nothing especially heroic about it – it is part and parcel of being a parent.  After all, if you decide (or happen!) to bring a child into this world, you need to get over lingering selfishness and become a bit more selfless for the benefit of your children.  In my never-so-humble opinion, that’s the way it is supposed to be.

I think that it is worth every sacrifice we make for our kids.  I have been blessed with a long and wonderful marriage…to one woman!  And while there are those who stay together “for the sake of the kids”, that’s never been an issue for us as we’ve been very happy together and expect to be together as long as we both live.  I know not everyone is so fortunate and blessed.  That’s where the sign today comes into play.  I saw it in Helen, Georgia in a shop and thought it was cute…and shows what lengths we go to for our four-legged, furry “kids”!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1959, the Malpasset Dam in France collapsed with the resulting flood killing more than 400 people. The city of Frejus, dating back to Caesar’s time, was devastated by the massive flood.

Frejus was built by Roman Emperor Caesar as a port city on the French Riviera. Over the years, the city center moved a few miles inland near the Reyran River. The river ran through a narrow gorge miles from the city and, in the 1950s, it was decided to build a dam to control the river’s flow.

In late November 1959, a week-long rain storm stalled over the French Riviera. It was the middle of the night on December 2 when the rock beneath the Malpasset Dam gave way under the weight and pressure of the water. The entire dam collapsed and the water rushed down the gorge with tremendous power. Miles away, windows and doors were blown out of homes by the water. Some victims were buried in mud, while others are believed to have been swept out to sea.

Rescue and relief efforts were extremely difficult as all access roads were destroyed. Even when help arrived, the mud was so thick that it took days of work to dig out the bodies. The best estimate is that approximately 412 people perished.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The fifth-century B.C. text Surya Siddhanta approximated Saturn’s diameter at 73,580 miles. The calculation was only 1% off from the currently accepted estimate of 74,580 miles.

…Wear Fatigues

Photo taken with Microsoft Surface 2 tablet, Oct. 12, 2014.
Photo taken with Microsoft Surface 2 tablet, Oct. 12, 2014.

Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Gender doesn’t matter, either, nor does nationality, language, ethnicity or religion.  A hero is a hero…even when they don’t wear fatigues.

At the Airborne and Special Forces Museum in Fayetteville, NC, most of the museum is devoted to the brave men and women who have faithfully and heroically defended our country.  Outside there are several sculptures of some of the more famous ones, but off to one side is the sculpture in today’s photo.  It is a sculpture dedicated to the faithful canine heroes of the armed forces that, like so many of their human fellow-soldiers, have paid the ultimate price.

I recently read a National Geographic magazine issue that was about dogs in the military.  I highly recommend it.  They, too, deserve credit and honor!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1863, the C.S.S. Hunley, the world’s first successful combat submarine, sank during a test run, killing its inventor and seven crew members.

Horace Lawson Hunley developed the 40-foot submarine from a cylinder boiler. It was operated by a crew of eight—one person steered while the other seven turned a crank that drove the ship’s propeller. The Hunley could dive, but it required calm seas for safe operations. It was tested successfully in Alabama’s Mobile Bay in the summer of 1863, and Confederate commander General Pierre G.T. Beauregard recognized that the vessel might be useful to ram Union ships and break the blockade of Charleston Harbor. The Hunley was placed on a rail car and shipped to South Carolina.

The submarine experienced problems upon its arrival. During a test run, a crew member became tangled in part of the craft’s machinery and the craft dove with its hatch open; only two men survived the accident. The ship was raised and repaired, but it was difficult to find another crew that was willing to assume the risk of operating the submarine. Its inventor and namesake stepped forward to restore confidence in his creation. On October 15, he took the submarine into Charleston Harbor for another test. In front of a crowd of spectators, the Hunley slipped below the surface and did not reappear. Horace Hunley and his entire crew perished.

Another willing crew was assembled and the Hunley went back into the water. On February 17, 1864, the ship headed out of Charleston Harbor and approached the U.S.S. Housatanic. The Hunley stuck a torpedo into the Yankee ship and then backed away before the explosion. The Housatanic sank in shallow water, and the Hunley became the first submarine to sink a ship in battle. However, its first successful mission was also its last—the Hunley sank before it returned to Charleston, taking yet another crew down with it. The vessel was raised in 2000, and is now on exhibit in Charleston.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Zorba, an English mastiff, is the biggest dog ever recorded. He weighed 343 pounds and measured 8′ 3″ from his nose to his tail.