Tag Archives: Old Car City

..It’s Redneck Country!

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I suppose that if there is anywhere in the United States that could qualify to be called “redneck country”, it’s Texas or Georgia…especially once you get away from the cities and into the back woods or rural areas.

Things are a bit different in redneck country.  Things that aren’t considered to be culturally appropriate, things which are politically incorrect…well, those things are pretty doggone normal in redneck country.

Life moves at a slower pace and people are easier going about most things.  They have strange senses of humor at times, too.

Today’s photo was taken in the woods near White City, Georgia as I was wandering around Old Car City.  It stood at the edge of a large circle of old, rusting cars, but by that time I’d seen so many things that reminded me that this was “good old Georgia boy” territory that I just had to shoot it.  (No, not with a gun…though that’s certainly a redneck thing to do, too!)

It was the combination of the sign and the beer can stuck on a branch that intrigued me and practically yelled, “Redneck!”  So, there you have it.

Please don’t angry with me…today is the 1100th post on this blog!  Celebrate and have a sense of humor!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1807, lightning hit a gunpowder factory in the small European country of Luxembourg, killing more than 300 people. Lightning kills approximately 73 people every year in the US, but victims are almost always killed one at a time. The Luxembourg disaster may have been the most deadly lightning strike in history.

In 1807, Luxembourg was occupied by Napoleon’s army. The French dictator used the country to stockpile weapons and ammunition. Many underground bunkers were built for this purpose. In the southern Luxembourg city of Kirchberg, a fortress built in 1732 was used as an armory.

When lightning struck the fortress on June 26, the ammunition housed within ignited on contact, causing a massive explosion. Two entire blocks were completely razed by the blast, which caused several other fires to rage nearby. The London Times later reported, “This city has been plunged into the greatest consternation and distress.”

The earth experiences 8 to 9 million lightning strikes every single day. In a typical year, the United States will see about 70,000 thunderstorms somewhere in its territory. This produces approximately 20 million lightning strikes annually. A bolt of lightning can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit in instant heat. There are 100 million volts in an average lightning bolt, which can be as much as five miles long.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?  Glad you asked!  It’s because in earlier times it was common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink.  To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host.  Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would only touch or clink the host’s glass with his own.

What Stories They Might Tell!

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Do you ever think about inanimate things being able to speak?  I have wandered through groves of mighty, ancient redwoods and have thought about what they have witnessed during their hundreds of years of life.  Don’t you wish that they could talk to us and describe the lives of those people and animals and weather that passed beneath their lofty boughs?  Or what of a  mountain?  They’ve been there for not just hundreds of years, but much, much longer!  How would they describe how it feels to have the wind and rain carving away part of their “skin”, or of the fire that ravaged their flanks?

There are stories in almost everything if we only knew what they were.  Take the car in today’s photo for instance.  Was it bought by some young couple who were in love?  Or was it bought by someone as a gift to a son or daughter or wife or husband?  Were the hours that were spent in this car happy and care-free, or were they burdened with heartache and sadness?

What was the cheapest price for a gallon of gas that this vehicle ever drank?  What was the strangest place it ever traveled?  Where would it go again if it could find the energy?  Was it happy with its owners?  Did someone famous every ride in it?  (Or infamous?!)

You have a story.  I have a story.  For those of us who are getting farther along in years, we need to record those stories for those who follow after us.  There is heritage in story.  There is wonder and emotion in your experiences.  It is important that stories are told and shared.  It is part of the fabric of family!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1881, on the streets of Dodge City, famous western lawman and gunfighter Bat Masterson fought the last gun battle of his life.

Bartholomew “Bat” Masterson had made a living with his gun from a young age. In his early 20’s, Masterson worked as a buffalo hunter, operating out of the Kansas town of Dodge City. For several years, he also found employment as an army scout in the Plains Indian Wars. His first shootout in took place in 1876 in Sweetwater (later Mobeetie), Texas. When an argument with a soldier over the affections of a dance hall girl named Molly Brennan heated up, Masterson and his opponent resorted to their pistols. When the shooting stopped, both Brennan and the soldier were dead, and Masterson was badly wounded.

Found to have been acting in self-defense, Masterson avoided prison. Once he had recovered from his wounds, he apparently decided to abandon his ways and become an officer of the law. For five years, Masterson alternated between work as Dodge City sheriff and running saloons and gambling houses, gaining a reputation as a tough and reliable lawman. However, Masterson’s critics claimed that he spent too much as sheriff, and he lost a bid for reelection in 1879.

For several years, Masterson drifted around the West. Early in 1881, news that his younger brother, Jim, was in trouble back in Dodge City reached Masterson in Tombstone, Arizona. Jim’s dispute with a business partner and an employee, A.J. Peacock and Al Updegraff respectively, had led to an exchange of gunfire. Though no one had yet been hurt, Jim feared for his life. Masterson immediately took a train to Dodge City.

When his train pulled into Dodge City on this morning in 1881, Masterson wasted no time. He quickly spotted Peacock and Updegraff and aggressively made his way through the crowded street to confront them. “I have come over a thousand miles to settle this,” Masterson reportedly shouted. “I know you are heeled [armed]-now fight!” All three men immediately drew their guns. Masterson took cover behind the railway bed, while Peacock and Updegraff darted around the corner of the city jail. Several other men joined in the gunplay. One bullet meant for Masterson ricocheted and wounded a bystander. Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung.

The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns to stop the battle when a brief lull settled over the scene. Updegraff and the wounded bystander were taken to the doctor and both recovered. In fact, no one was mortally injured in the melee, and since the shootout had been fought fairly by the Dodge City standards of the day, no serious charges were imposed against Masterson. He paid an $8 fine and took the train out of Dodge City that evening.

Masterson never again fought a gun battle in his life, but the Dodge City shootout and his other exploits ensured Masterson’s lasting fame as an icon of the Old West. He spent the next four decades of his life working as sheriff, operating saloons, and eventually trying his hand as a newspaperman in New York City. The old gunfighter finally died of a heart attack in October 1921 at his desk in New York City.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Modesty laws were very strict in the early 1900s. In 1919, a woman was detained at Coney Island for wearing a bathing suit in public—under her street clothes.

Rustbucket

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When you hear the term “Rustbucket”, you probably picture an old car that is lacking paint, the floorboard may be corroding (Fred Flintstone would find that handy for applying his “foot” brakes!), the upholstery is ripped and torn…in short, something of not much value.

Well, you know, as I’m getting older I find the terms “rustbucket”, “geezer” and other such terms not so offensive any more.  It tells me that something has had a long life – it has been used, it had purpose that it fulfilled.  And that, folks, ain’t bad!

This old “rustbucket” has certainly had better days, but one could argue that it has a beauty all its own still.  It may be more photogenic now than the day it rolled out of the factory.  Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder (and the camera!)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1865 at 7:22 a.m., President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, died from an assassin’s bullet. Shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington the night before, Lincoln lived for nine hours before succumbing to the severe head wound he sustained.

Lincoln’s death came just after the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lincoln had just served the most difficult presidency in history, successfully leading the country through civil war. His job was exhausting and overwhelming at times. He had to manage a tremendous military effort, deal with diverse opinions in his own Republican party, counter his Democratic critics, maintain morale on the northern home front, and keep foreign countries such as France and Great Britain from recognizing the Confederacy. He did all of this, and changed American history when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, converting the war goal from reunion of the nation to a crusade to end slavery. 

Now, the great man was dead.  Secretary of War Edwin Stanton said, “Now, he belongs to the ages.” Word spread quickly across the nation, stunning a people who were still celebrating the Union victory. Troops in the field wept, as did General Ulysses S. Grant, the overall Union commander. Perhaps no group was more grief stricken than the freed slaves. Although abolitionists considered Lincoln slow in moving against slavery, many freedmen saw “Father Abraham” as their savior. They faced an uncertain world, and now had lost their most powerful proponent. 

Lincoln’s funeral was held on April 19, before a funeral train carried his body back to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. During the two-week journey, hundreds of thousands gathered along the railroad tracks to pay their respects, and the casket was unloaded for public viewing at several stops. He and his son, Willie, who died in the White House of typhoid fever in 1862, were interred on May 4.

How fitting that on this same day, in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  Some things take far too long…

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Scientists estimate that anywhere from five million to 100 million unique species of plants and animals currently live on Earth. However, only about two million of these species have been identified.

Where Did That Come From?

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Have you given any thought to names these days?  I mean, there are some really weird names out there these days!  Here’s a case in point (believe it or not, this is a true story told to me by a nurse in a hospital): It seems that a mother had to take her daughter in to the hospital for some kind of treatment.  When she had to fill out the paperwork for the girl’s name, the mother wrote “A-A”.  The nurse in question was perplexed and pronounced it “AA” (kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?)  Well, the mother got furious!!!  She went ballistic and said something to the effect of, “I don’t know what’s wrong with people that they can’t pronounce my daughter’s name!  It happens all the time and I’m sick and tired of it!”  The nurse replied, rather calmly to the mother who’s veins were bulging and who’d been yelling about the mispronounciation: “Would you please pronounce it correctly for me?”  “Her name is AdashA!!!  Can’t you see?!?!?”  (I could tell you some others that she mentioned to me that she’d encountered which we spelled like dirty words but pronounced differently!)

It isn’t just the names of people, though.  I remember when a large petroleum company changed their name to Exxon.  I remember when cars were named after people or animals or something that was obvious…but no longer!!!!  I mean, what is a Daihatsu Charade and why would anyone want to buy something called a “charade”?  Or what about a Ford Probe?  (I don’t know about you, but when I go to the doctor, probes are not something I look forward to!)  The Chevrolet Nova  was a poor choice because in Spanish, Nova meant “it doesn’t go”.  The Dodge Swinger sounds like something you might find in the red-light district in Amsterdam (no, I’ve never been there!) The Nissan Moco was, fortunately, only marketed in Japan, because in Spanish, “moco” means “booger”!  The Oldsmobile Alero?  It’s not even a word in the dictionary, and the same goes for Chevrolet Lumina.  I guess if you can’t think of real names, just make one up.  That’s what people seem to be doing with their kids these days, right A-A?

Maybe I’m just getting old and nostalgic, but I recall the good old days when cars were named things that made sense…like the car in today’s photo, shot at Old Car City near White, GA.  The Ford Fairlane.  It evokes images of a nice lane to drive in, doesn’t it?  But the AMC Gremlin (as it turns out, it had gremlins).  Remember the Volkswagen Thing?  Talk about U-G-L-Y!

Thankfully, some cool car names have persevered: Mustang, Cobra, Corvette, Phantom.  Now you’re talkin’!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY:  in 1963, the USS Thresher, an atomic submarine, sinks in the Atlantic Ocean, killing the entire crew. One hundred and twenty-nine sailors and civilians were lost when the sub unexpectedly plunged to the sea floor 300 miles off the coast of New England.

The Thresher was launched on July 9, 1960, from Portsmouth Naval Yard in New Hampshire. Built with new technology, it was the first submarine assembled as part of a new class that could run more quietly and dive deeper than any that had come before.

On April 10, 1963, at just before 8 a.m., the Thresher was conducting drills off the coast of Cape Cod. At 9:13 a.m., the USS Skylark, another ship participating in the drills, received a communication from the Thresher that the sub was experiencing minor problems.

Other attempted communications failed and, only five minutes later, sonar images showed the Thresher breaking apart as it fell to the bottom of the sea. Sixteen officers, 96 sailors and 17 civilians were on board. All were killed.

On April 12, President John F. Kennedy ordered that flags across the country be flown at half-staff to commemorate the lives lost in this disaster. A subsequent investigation revealed that a leak in a silver-brazed joint in the engine room had caused a short circuit in critical electrical systems. The problems quickly spread, making the equipment needed to bring the Thresher to the surface inoperable.

The disaster forced improvements in the design and quality control of submarines. Twenty-five years later, in 1988, Vice Admiral Bruce Demars, the Navy’s chief submarine officer, said “The loss of Thresher initiated fundamental changes in the way we do business–changes in design, construction, inspections, safety checks, tests, and more. We have not forgotten the lessons learned. It’s a much safer submarine force today.”

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

Getting a Lift

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Now, if I were to tell you that someone got a “lift”, what would you think I was talking about?  A face lift perhaps?  Or perhaps some other part of the anatomy that was drooping?

We also use the term lift to describe an uplift of the spirit and emotion.  In England, a “lift” is an elevator.  We lift a box to put it on a shelf.  In an auto repair shop, a lift is what is used to hoist a car up in the air.

No matter what kind of lift you are talking about, the idea is the same: to raise something up!

In today’s photo, this truck got a “lift”, too, but it was caused a seedling that had to be in place when the truck was put in the woods.  Over the  years that the hulk of the truck sat there, the little seedling was patient – getting what water and sunlight it could – and it kept growing, patiently.  And look at the result!  The little seedling grew right up through the bed of the truck in order to reach its own goal – to be straight and tall and to touch the face of the sky!

It’s easy to give up sometimes, to feel that things are just too tough, too hard, to believe that our position in life isn’t adequate for human flourishing.  Maybe we can learn something from this little seedling.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1862, the Civil War exploded in the west as the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston collided at Shiloh, near Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became one of the bloodiest engagements of the war, and the level of violence shocked North and South alike.

For six months, Yankee troops had worked their way up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Kentucky was firmly in Union hands, and now the Federals controlled much of Tennessee, including the capital at Nashville. Grant scored major victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in February, forcing Johnston to gather the scattered Rebel forces at Corinth in northern Mississippi. Grant brought his army, 42,000 strong, to rendezvous with General Don Carlos Buell and his 20,000 troops. Grant’s objective was Corinth, a vital rail center that if captured would give the Union total control of the region. Twenty miles away, Johnston lurked at Corinth with 45,000 soldiers.

Johnston didn’t wait for Grant and Buell to combine forces. He advanced on April 3, delayed by rains and muddy roads that also slowed Buell. In the early dawn of April 6, a Yankee patrol found the Confederates poised for battle just a mile from the main Union army. Johnston attacked, driving the surprised Union troops back near a small church called Shiloh, meaning “place of peace.” Throughout the day, the Confederates battered the Union army, driving it back towards Pittsburgh Landing and threatening to trap it against the Tennessee River. Many troops on both sides had no experience in battle. The chances for a complete Confederate victory diminished as troops from Buell’s army began arriving, and Grant’s command on the battlefield shored up the sagging Union line. In the middle of the afternoon, Johnston rode forward to direct the Confederate attack and was struck in the leg by a bullet, severing an artery and causing him to quickly bleed to death. He became the highest ranking general on either side killed during the war. General Pierre G. T. Beauregard assumed control, and he halted the advance at nightfall. The Union army was driven back two miles, but it did not break.

The arrival of additional troops from Buell’s army provided Grant with reinforcements, while the Confederates were worn out from their march. The next day, Grant pushed the Confederates back to Corinth for a major Union victory.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  When a shark eats food that it can’t digest (like a turtle shell or tin can), it can vomit by thrusting its stomach out its mouth then pulling it back in.

Swamp Creatures

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It sits where it has sat for years now, the passenger side and front end partially submerged in a Georgia pond in the middle of the woods.  How long it has been stationed there on its lonely vigil I have no way of knowing.  How long it will last is another question entirely.

I looked at it and pictured snakes and alligators patrolling the ground and waters around the abandoned car, puzzled at this intruder into their domain.  Who was this huge interloper into their world?  Why had it come?  What was it doing there?  Was it going to harm them in some way?  Or, would they have to band together and drive this metallic monster away?

I almost could imagine that the car was a transformer of sorts, or at the very least, a sentinel, stationed there to keep the darker denizens of the watery world away from humanity.  At night, in the dark of a moonless night, does it change shape and patrol the woods, forcing sinister creatures back to their own world and away from the world of humans?

I guess we will never know, for surely if we were there at the witching hour, it would seem to appear as nothing more than a cast-off pile of metal and fabrics with no possible value to anyone or anything other than to stir our imaginations and fancies.  But we can imagine…

Shot at Old Car City, White, Georgia.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1865, the Rebel capital of Richmond, Virginia, fell to Union forces, the most significant sign that the Confederacy is nearing its final days.

For ten months, General Ulysses S. Grant had tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate the city. After Lee made a desperate attack against Fort Stedman along the Union line on March 25, Grant prepared for a major offensive. He struck at Five Forks on April 1, crushing the end of Lee’s line southwest of Petersburg. On April 2, the Yankees struck all along the Petersburg line, and the Confederates collapsed.

On the evening of April 2, the Confederate government fled the city with the army right behind. Now, on the morning of April 3, blue-coated troops entered the capital. Richmond was the holy grail of the Union war effort, the object of four years of campaigning. Tens of thousands of Yankee lives were lost trying to get it, and nearly as many Confederate lives lost trying to defend it.

Now, the Yankees came to take possession of their prize. One resident, Mary Fontaine, wrote, “I saw them unfurl a tiny flag, and I sank on my knees, and the bitter, bitter tears came in a torrent.” Another observer wrote that as the Federals rode in, the city’s black residents were “completely crazed, they danced and shouted, men hugged each other, and women kissed.” Among the first forces into the capital were black troopers from the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry, and the next day President Abraham Lincoln visited the city. For the residents of Richmond, these were symbols of a world turned upside down. It was, one reporter noted, “…too awful to remember, if it were possible to be erased, but that cannot be.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  When it comes time to give birth, the female shark loses her appetite so she won’t be tempted to eat her own pups.  Aren’t you glad that your mom wasn’t a shark?

More Old Paint

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Why do people refer to old horses as “Old Paint”?  Being the naturally inquisitive fellow that I am, I tried to find an answer on the web.  About all I could come up with is that “Paint” was one of three names that Tonto’s horse (from the Lone Ranger TV series) was called.  The other names were “Scout” (the most common) and “White Feller”.

“Paint horses” have been around as long as horses have been with us. The Paint horse has been popularized over the years on TV and through other media. They have large patches of color splattered around their body. In fact, the Paint horse was a type of horse identified by the patterns and colors on their coat before they were designated as a breed. Paint horse markings can be “loud” (very noticeable) or they can be subtle.

A Paint horse carries a base horse coat color, such as bay, and then has other coat colors that are in irregular patterns over it. These markings can be white, brown, black or any other coat color, as long as they contrast with the base coat color. Markings can be as small as 6 inches, or as large as nearly the entire body. Paint horses often have one or two blue eyes when the white markings cross their face.

What does all that have to do with today’s photo?  Absolutely nothing.  But I had to have something interesting to say about the title and about showing more “old paint” close-ups from Old Car City!

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY:  in 1946, an undersea earthquake off the Alaskan coast triggered a massive tsunami killing 159 Hawaiians.

In the middle of the night, 13,000 feet beneath the ocean surface, a 7.4-magnitude tremor was recorded in the North Pacific. (The nearest land was Unimak Island, part of the Aleutian chain.) Unimak Island was hit by the tsunami shortly after the quake. An enormous wave estimated at nearly 100 feet high crashed onto the shore. A lighthouse located 30 feet above sea level, where five people lived, was smashed to pieces by the wave; all five were killed instantly. Meanwhile, the wave was heading toward the southern Pacific at 500 miles per hour.

In Hawaii, 2,400 miles south of the quake’s epicenter, Captain Wickland of the United States Navy was the first to spot the coming wave at about 7 a.m., four-and-a-half hours after the quake. His position on the bridge of a ship, 46 feet above sea level, put him at eye level with a “monster wave” that he described as two miles long.

As the first wave came in and receded, the water in Hawaii’s Hilo Bay seemed to disappear. Boats were left on the sea floor next to flopping fish. Then, the massive tsunami struck. In the city of Hilo, a 32-foot wave devastated the town, completely destroying almost a third of the city. The bridge crossing the Wailuku River was picked up by the wave and pushed 300 feet away. In Hilo, 96 people lost their lives.

On other parts of the island of Hawaii, waves reached as high as 60 feet. A schoolhouse in Laupahoehoe was crushed by the tsunami, killing the teacher and 25 students inside. The massive wave was seen as far away as Chile, where, 18 hours after the quake near Alaska, unusually large waves crashed ashore. There were no casualties.

This tsunami prompted the U.S. to establish the Seismic SeaWave Warning System two years later. The system, now known as the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, uses undersea buoys throughout the ocean, in combination with seismic-activity detectors, to find possible killer waves. The warning system was used for the first time on November 4, 1952. That day, an evacuation was successfully carried out, but the expected wave never materialized.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The pursuit to become more attractive is a $160 billion-a-year global industry that includes weight-loss programs, cosmetics, skin and hair care, perfumes, cosmetic surgery, health clubs, and hormone injections. Americans spend more money per year on beauty enhancements than they do on education.

A Horse on a Car!

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It is one of the last things that I expected as I wandered among the cast-off carcasses of old cars was to find a horse in the woods.  Perhaps that is why I found it so delightful!

No, I didn’t stage this picture…I promise.  I had just turned a corner among the graveyard of rusting hulks and saw the scene in today’s picture.  Someone, obviously, had placed the horse on the trunk of the car, but it wasn’t me!

Still, I enjoyed it and snapped off a couple shots.

Giddyap, horsey!  Hi-o, Silver, away!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1865, the final offensive of the Army of the Potomac gathers steam when Union General Philip Sheridan moves against the left flank of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia near Dinwiddie Court House. The limited action set the stage for the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia, on April 1.

This engagement took place at the end of the Petersburg, Virginia, line. For 10 months, the Union had laid siege to Lee’s army at Petersburg, but the trenches stretched all the way to Richmond, some 25 miles to the north. Lee’s thinning army attacked Fort Stedman on March 25 in a futile attempt to break the siege, but the Union line held. On March 29, General Ulysses S. Grant, General-in-Chief of the Union Army and the field commander around Petersburg, began moving his men past the western end of Lee’s line.

Torrential rains almost delayed the move. Grant planned to send Sheridan against the Confederates on March 31, but called off the operation. Sheridan would not be denied a chance to fight, though. “I am ready to strike out tomorrow and go to smashing things!” he told his officers. They encouraged him to meet with Grant, who consented to begin the move. Near Dinwiddie Court House, Sheridan advanced but was driven back by General George Pickett’s division. Pickett (of the ill-fated Gettysburg charge on the last day of that battle) was alerted to the Union advance, and during the night of March 31, he pulled his men back to Five Forks. This set the stage for a major strike by Sheridan on April 1, when the Yankees crushed the Rebel flank and forced Lee to evacuate Richmond and Petersburg.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Pope Innocent VIII condemned cats as evil and thousands of cats were burned. Unfortunately, the widespread killing of cats led to an explosion of the rat population, which exacerbated the effects of the Black Death.

Tail Lights

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A broken tail light can earn you a ticket!  I’ve not received a ticket for such a thing, but I did one time receive a “fix-it” ticket when I was pulled over and didn’t know that I had a light that was out.  I got it fixed, had the vehicle re-inspected, and all was fine.

This tail light in the picture today won’t be fixed.  It is on a car in Old Car City. The tail light will never function again and now it serves as “art” for people like me.

This is an HDR image.  I find HDR photography interesting because it captures a much richer range of lighting in a scene.  But, some HDR imagery is too garish for me – I don’t like the surrealistic look of some HDR.  I think that I have found that after one processes an HDR image in Photomatix Pro 4.0 (for example), it is a good idea to then open the .tiff file in Photoshop and turn down the colors a bit because HDR can make the colors too pronounced.  That’s what I did with this file.  I liked the result.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1981, On this day in 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.  When asked about his motive for shooting the president, Hinckley revealed that he was seeking to gain the attention of the actress Jodie Foster.

After growing up in an affluence in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado, Hinckley moved to Hollywood in 1976. That same year he saw Martin Scorsese’s dark drama Taxi Driver. Hinckley watched the film some 15 times and apparently strongly identified with the title character, Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro). A violent loner, Bickle seeks the attention of a socialite by trying to assassinate a political candidate and later becomes obsessed with protecting a child prostitute by shooting her pimp. The screenwriter, Paul Schrader, based the character on Arthur Bremer, who shot the Alabama governor and U.S. presidential candidate George Wallace in 1972. In his diaries, Bremer expressed that political assassination was a way to escape anonymity and powerlessness.

As was recounted in testimony given at his 1982 trial, Hinckley began mirroring Bickle, wearing similar clothes, drinking the same peach brandy and amassing a collection of firearms. He also became fixated on Jodie Foster, who played the young prostitute in the film. During the 1980 presidential campaign, Hinckley stalked PresidentJimmy Carter, getting himself arrested in the process when he was caught at the Nashville airport with firearms. After sending him to a psychiatrist, Hinckley’s family cut him off financially. When he read Foster was attending Yale, Hinckley went there repeatedly, seeking some grand gesture he could make that would earn her attention.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley made his gesture, managing firing six bullets in three seconds at Reagan in the middle of the crowd outside the Washington Hilton. One of the bullets struck Reagan underneath the left arm; it failed to explode on impact, leaving the president seriously injured but alive. Hinckley also shot a police officer and a Secret Service agent and seriously wounded Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady. Upon his arrest, Hinckley reportedly asked the officers if the news would disrupt the Academy Awards ceremony, scheduled for that night. The ceremony was indeed postponed until the following night, only the third time in history that the Oscars had failed to go ahead as scheduled.

At the conclusion of his trial, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was confined to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., and has remained there ever since. The case led to legislation limiting the insanity plea in several states and, 12 years later, to the signing of the Brady Bill, which required a waiting period and background check on people wishing to purchase a handgun.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  White, rather than black, is the Chinese color for mourning and funerals.

Peeling Paint

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There are so many fascinating things to photograph in an old car junk yard! Last week I posted the first of what will probably be many photos that I took at Old Car City near White, Georgia.  Boasting that they are the largest old car junk yard in the world, I suspect that they probably live up to that billing.  But, they aren’t like what you think of as a normal junkyard where you might go to get a part off of an old car that has been “junked”.  While the cars at Old Car City have also been junked, they aren’t just parked somewhere stark and barren…they are interspersed throughout the Georgia woods.  To be sure, some are stacking on top of on another, but even those are surrounded by trees, leaves, fallen pine needles from the Georgia pines.  In short, they let nature join in the process of creating art out of the old cars!

As I was walking around taking photos, I ran into a man who said he was focusing his photo taking that day on old paint.  I thought, “Not a bad idea!”, so as I found some of the interesting colors and rusting paint, I fired away  myself and came out with some very interesting images.  Another man I encountered who was also shooting images said that he was focusing on broken window glass, that it was all very unique.  I started to notice the broken glass and also started to copy his idea – and to my delight, got some great shots!

Of course, there were any cars there worthy of pictures themselves, and I’ll share some of them, too, but today I’m sharing this photo of peeling paint on the side of one old car.  It appears to me that this car had been painted several times, with new paint just slathered over the top of the old.  Regardless, it’s old and of no use now for anything – except for perhaps photography.  Humm….that kinda sounds like a good description of me, too, don’t ya think???

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1913, a horrible month for weather-related disasters in the US culminated with a devastating tornado ripping through Nebraska, near Omaha. It was the worst of five twisters that struck that day in Nebraska and Iowa, killing 115 people.

The week prior saw all types of weather throughout the country. Blizzards hit the Northeast while hurricane-strength winds were battering Alabama and Georgia. In Florida, a late freeze devastated much of the citrus crop. But the worst weather came in Nebraska on the afternoon of March 23.

Rain began falling at 5 p.m., southwest of Omaha. Twenty minutes later, the first tornado touched down in Craig, Nebraska. At 5:30, another twister hit the town of Ithaca and began a 70-mile run through the countryside. In Yutan, a woman was reported to have been carried a full quarter-mile in her home before coming down unharmed.

It was the third tornado that did the most damage. It began near Ashland, 65 miles from Omaha. The people of Omaha believed that due to the location of the city, separated from the flatlands of the Nebraska plains, they were protected from tornadoes. On March 23, this belief was proven to be mistaken. The tornado roared and cut through the city for 12 minutes. Witnesses reported seeing houses explode or collapse in seconds. Seven people at the Idlewild Pool Hall were killed when they were struck by a pool table thrown violently into the air. Fires broke out all over the city, forcing the delivery of electricity to be discontinued. Lanterns were needed to guide rescue workers. Fortunately, the heavy rains put out most of the fires.

Meanwhile, another twister traveled from Berlin, Nebraska, into Iowa, killing 26 people total in both states. Within two days, heavy snow hit the area, complicating clean-up efforts. Overall, 115 people were killed, hundreds of homes were demolished and millions of dollars in damages were incurred by the tornadoes. The next deadly tornado in Omaha did not strike until 1975.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Chronic stress floods the brain with powerful hormones that are meant for short-term emergency situations. Chronic exposure can damage, shrink, and kill brain cells.