Essays & Commentary

The “Like” Button Conundrum….

Like Button 01

Faccebook

I have always had a bit of an issue with the infamous “Like” button that we often see on social media sites to include blogs of course. I feel reasonably certain others have had similar feelings also. “Facebook” seems to be the perpetrator of this communication icon so I am aware of the proper direction my disdain should be directed. And everyone has to be wondering why if you have a ‘like’ button that there isn’t a ‘dislike’ button.

One would initially assume that if you click on a ‘like’ button you are acknowledging your approval or at best some measure of affection for someone’s post or comment. But in reality it is more often used as simply a way of letting the person whose post or comment you are viewing know that you have seen it or acknowledged it. One has to presume that if a post is describing the passing on of dear old grandma that clicking one’s ‘like’ button doesn’t mean that you have enjoyed hearing about grandma’s passing.

I have a “Like” button on each of my WordPress blog posts but I view it on my blog as well as other blogs with similar buttons as an “I Was Here” button. In fact, I really would like it if they would just rename the button to exactly that. Usually if someone really likes someone’s post they are most likely going to leave a comment and by the same token, if they don’t like it they may also let you know about that!

I’m not fanatical with regard to folks commenting on my blog posts. I’m certainly happy if they do share a thought or two but I don’t get miffed if they don’t. But I do find myself enjoying and knowing who has dropped by and looked in on my post.

WordPress

There are plug-ins for blogs where you can create your own ‘like’ buttons and as a plus, you can name the button whatever you like. Only problem is you don’t know who clicked it. That is why I especially like the “WordPress” ‘like’ button because it leaves a calling card (avatar) of the visitor who clicked on it. I for one use the button for just exactly that. I like for someone to know I visited their blog but clicking that button does not necessarily mean I like or dislike their post. It simply means I took the time to stop by and read their post.

Hey! Got an opinion? Feel free to throw it into the pot.

“PONG” – King of the video games….

I guess I have always enjoyed playing video games and became a huge fan of the Sega Genesis video consoles and games in the 1980s. I am particularly a fan of the arcade type space games and golf video games. Of course, as always, all good things come to an end and Sega would eventually close up shop in 1997. But there is, of course, no comparison to the graphic quality of the games on the market today verses the quality of the older game consoles.

Always slow to embrace change, I finally broke down several years ago and purchased a PlayStation 3 and have been reasonably happy with it. It’s a no-brainer with regard to the quality of the graphics. My first game purchase had to be the “Tiger Woods 09″ golf game. I loved it! I then purchased the ever popular “Call To Duty” and didn’t like that game whatsoever. That turned out to be because I just had too difficult a time using the PlayStation controller. I ended up giving it to my brother-in-law who obviously loved it since my sister threatened to divorce him if he didn’t stop playing it. But all’s fair in love and war. This same brother-in-law gave me a racing game, named “A Need for Speed – ProStreet”, and I like it so well I went out and spent another $150 on a silly-ass steering wheel attachment for my PlaStation. Not to mention another $50 for the supposedly ultimate racing game – “Grand Turismo”!

Having said all that to simply get to the subject of this post, there remains one video game that will live forever and rightly so, deserving a front row seat in the video game Hall of Fame. The one that started it all…..”PONG”! I’m sure some of the younger folks are not going to be familiar with “Pong” at all. And even today with its complete simplicity, it is still a joy to play. Not to mention the fact that the controller consist of one knob rather than numerous knobs and buttons needed for today’s typical video game.

Pong Video Game(My Pong Video Game – Click to Enlarge)

A couple of weeks ago I, by chance, ran across a little graphic animation of a ‘pong’ game and it got the ole’ memories stirring. Then I remembered having an old ‘pong’ game stored somewhere in the attic. So up I went and sure enough there it was. Now it is sitting on a table in the den having been dusted, cleaned and made like new!

And I also ended up making a video clip to pay homage to this giant of the video game world. So you’re invited to share a nostalgic moment in time if you dare and to click on the video below. There is an unmistakable sound that emanates from a “Pong” game and if you ever hear it, you will never forget it. You may wish to forget it, but you won’t!

If you are also a fan of some measure of the “Pong” video game, be sure and visit The Pong Story, a website containing lots of historical information and technical tips regarding the game and its many faces.

Is the final demise of the dreaded Polio Virus finally here?

My generation was born into an era where the most dreaded disease affecting our Nation was that of polio. It could affect anyone at any age but it was most prolific in the children and young adults. Not unlike earlier generations, we lived with a palatable underlying fear of the polio virus visiting us and leaving permanent physical destruction within our families if not death itself. And without the dreaded but life-saving iron lung, death would have been almost certain for those in the photograph below.

Children’s Polio Ward - Iron Lungs

A Children’s Polio Ward

Polio Vaccine HeadlinesIt was the grandest of news therefore when in 1955 news was splashed across the the front pages of our state and national newspapers that a vaccine had finally been developed under the guidance of Dr. Jonas Salk that would begin to wipe the scourge of this disease from our mist which gave us a moment of pause and thankfulness to reflect on the past but more importantly, a much more secure future from the dreaded disease.

But the even better news of the this day is that we are apparently nearing a point where the disease will be completely eradicated from this earth. The disease left our nation’s shores and subject of conversation years ago yet continued to wreak its havoc across other areas of our globe. But here in the United States, out of sight – out of mind.

A piece was written and published on the NPR (National Public Radio) today that details the demise of polio and declares that quite possibly by the end of next year, 2016, the disease will be completely eradicated from the entire globe. You may review and read the article “here” along with several interesting interactive charts.

This news is surely something well worth noting, acknowledging and celebrating but due to our fortunes here in this country and medical research in general, only those mostly from my generation and earlier will make any note whatsoever of today’s news on one of the greatest nemesis of our lifetime. One down but oh so many more to go…. 🙁

Do you remember that very last time?

My little sister recently questioned me as to how I remembered some of the old personal stories I have related on my blog over the years. I’m actually not sure why I do remember, even remembering some of the finer details of those events in my life. I think it must have been because they were part of the really happy times of my life. I also remember a lot of bad times in my life in the same manner but those are moments I choose not to tarry in or share on my blog, regardless of their nature and/or entertainment factor.

Memory Loss - 02As I have gotten older, especially in the last few years, as appreciative as I am that even at age 74 my memory has kept itself fairly intact, I have realized that there are things that I have forgotten that were of some consequence in my life, at least from my perspective. I’m single and have been for over 30 years so my life experiences and the things my life revolves around will certainly be different from others, especially those who are married or were married for most of their lives. Also I have no children so that also plays a huge role in those memory moments I relate to in this post. Some of those moments I refer to were things that brought joy and pleasure, other moments not so pleasant and best left to their blissful demise in the halls of the forgotten.

The majority of things I “don’t do” any longer that I use to really like to do have been tabled for the most part due to health issues. As we all know health issues themselves certainly vary from person to person, especially as we become elderly, but I think for the most part it is those issues that drive our cessations of those things we enjoyed doing otherwise. Many of those things were just some of life’s little pleasures that make this life worth the living. Simple things usually like taking a walk in a park or riding a bicycle.

But there comes a time in those contemplative moments we often have with ourselves that we realize those mostly little things that were so important to us in living our lives are gone and what seems to make it worse is the fact that we can’t remember for the life of us when the last time was that we even had the pleasure of doing them. That is in fact what this post is all about.

Below is a list of some of those things that I refer to above that were part of my life, things I enjoyed doing but no longer do that fit into that unfortunate category of forgotten final moments….

The last time I went hunting in the woods….
The last time I went fishing….
The last time I made love….
The last time I rode a bicycle….
The last time I went to a movie theater….
The last time I sang or played in public….
The last time I sang or played in private….
The last time I put on a pair of roller skates…. (Probably around the year 1986)
The last time I went bowling….
The last time I danced with someone….
The last time I went out on a date….
The last time I smoked a cigarette…. (I use to know but have since forgotten)
The last time I played golf…. (I remember where, North Hills Country Club, but not when)
The last time I went swimming….

Perhaps I could go on for a bit longer but if just to make a point, I think these from my perspective fill the bill. There are other final moments and their associated dates that we do indeed tend to remember such as the last time we saw our mother, or our father or perhaps other deceased loved ones. On the other hand, there are many of us who had beloved pets in our lifetime and find that except for the pet itself which was so very special, we remember little else about them.

Memory Loss - 03It’s worth noting I think that these ‘last time’ moments of our personal lives are normally something that won’t be brought to one’s attention at the moment they’re happening. With regard to most of these things, you will never be conscious of the fact you are doing something for the last time. You will just wake up one morning and realize that there is something you use to do that you can no longer do, for whatever reason, and that memory of the last time you did them is gone. You know there was that “last time”, you just don’t know when it was or perhaps even where it was or who it was with.

I guess for the record these type events in our lives would be best referred to as the ‘milestone’ dates of our individual lives. They are the dates that are for the most part, only important to us and have no consequence whatsoever on the lives of others or the fate of the world. They can, on the other hand, be the seeds of depression if we treat them with more importance than they deserve. When we get older and are fortunate enough to be able to retire that is often when the stark reality of those lost pleasures tend to have their greatest impact. There is a point in our lives when we become less and less able to do the things we use to do. We may recognize that point when it happens but it’s only later, often years later, when we reminisce about those things that we actually come to the realization that we don’t remember the last time we did them.

So if you find yourself approaching those elder years and you are a person who likes to keep close tabs on the milestones in your life, you might want to start jotting down on those calendars the when and wherefore of those little things you love to do that make this life worth living just to have the satisfaction that you “will remember” the last time you did them…. 😕

The Pit Bull Conundrum….

Yesterday morning while reading my local newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, I was greeted with yet another local headline only six days hence of a similar headline noting yet another dog attack by a pit bull. This time it was a 6-year old with serious injuries while just six days ago a 36-year old man was mauled to death by some eight pit bulls. Here’s a look a those subject headlines and just click on them to enlarge.

Pitbull Newspaper Article - 01
Pitbull Newspaper Article - 02

This subject has been at the forefront of my mind and has been for some time now given the number of serious to deadly attacks which have occurred in my home state over the past year and a half. The first of these fairly recent occurrences that comes to mind was in November of 2013 when a 75-year old woman in Hot Springs Village out walking one morning was attacked by a pit bull/mastiff mix named “Patrone” and died the next day after being taken to the hospital. Here is a brief excerpt of that news release:

Quote from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – by Emily Walkenhorst

On Nov. 21, Patrone attacked Joan Kappen as she walked by the 11 Ornado Lane property where the Coys live, according to an affidavit. Brande Coy heard screams and walked outside to see the dog biting Kappen in the street.

Brande Coy told investigators it took her 30 minutes to get control of the dog and take it back inside, after which she then called 911 and stayed inside while Kappen lay in a ditch by the road with injuries all over her body, the affidavit states. Brande Coy went outside once emergency responders arrived.

Emergency responders treated Kappen and took her to a hospital, where she died the next day.

The dog was impounded by Hot Springs Village Animal Control and later euthanized with Emily Coy’s consent. It was from the same litter as another dog that attacked and killed a 5-year-old Jessieville boy in June 2013. That dog belonged to the child’s family and was shot after the attack.

This past October the case came to trial and the following results and sentences are noted:

Quote from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – by Emily Walkenhorst

Brande Michelle Coy, 50, was convicted late Wednesday of negligent homicide and sentenced to 60 days in jail after investigators said she released a bull mastiff-pit bull mix dog with a history of violent attacks into an unsecured front yard and then left. Coy was also fined $2,500 and given a year of probation.

She was originally charged with manslaughter, a felony, but the jury convicted Coy of a lesser negligent homicide charge, a Class A misdemeanor.

Coy was also originally charged with unlawful dog attack, but deputy prosecutor Rebecca Bush said her team did not pursue the charge because it would not have added jail time to a felony conviction of manslaughter. “It was superfluous,” she said Thursday.

Emily Ann Coy, 25, was convicted of unlawful dog attack, sentenced to 120 days in jail, fined $2,500 and given a year of probation. The dog named “Patrone” belonged to Emily Coy.

From a personal viewpoint I strongly disagree with the sentences handed down and think that indeed, the felony charges should have easily held up given the events surrounding the attack and in particularly given the fact that the dog was known to have been aggressive in the past. It is also of considerable importance in my opinion to note that another dog from the same litter as the subject dog had attacked and killed a 5-year old boy just 5 months prior to this occurrence.

Within the world of dogs and pets, perhaps the more commonly known pit bull (American Staffordshire Terrier) is the most controversial of all the canines. Whether prone to just a nasty disposition or simply a part of the generic makeup of the breed, it seems they are constantly in the forefront of news reports involving attacks on other dogs and/or people. And a fierce debate continues to rage between those who love and own the breed verses those who consider the breed dangerous and prone to vicious attacks and calling for the breed to be outlawed.

American Pit Bull Terrier - 03

American Pit Bull

Cities and towns across America are increasingly passing more and more local laws directed at the breed and their owners. Some towns even banning the dogs from ownership by their local citizens. And not unlike the gun control debate where proponents claim that it is not guns that kill, it’s the people who own them. So it is that a similar response comes from those who are owners and lovers of the pit bull who contend that it is not the nature of the breed that is at issue with these dog attacks but rather the lack of care and training my the dog owner.

A favorite dog person of mine who has his own television series is the well-known Cesar Millan, known as “The Dog Whisperer” and featured on the National Geographic Channel. His programs and his talents in addressing the many issues facing dog owners with regard to their dog’s behaviors almost always come down to short-comings regarding the dog’s owners. Much of his time is spent teaching the dog owners how they need to interact with their dogs in lieu of some direct issue with their dog.

Of course if you are familiar with Cesar’s television show then you know that one of his dogs which is featured time and time again in his training exercises is his beloved pit bull named “Daddy”. Although the answer to my question surely would be quite obvious with regard to his opinion on the plight of the pit bull, I was nevertheless curious as to what he might have to say on the subject. And then I happened to stumble across a video clip of him addressing pit bull aggression when approached on the subject after the death of a young boy recently attacked and killed by a pit bull. Click on this link to hear what he had to say “Cesar Millan Comments on Pit Bull Aggression“.

Another item I ran across of exceptional interest on the subject of aggressive dogs was a chart published by DogsBite.org charting all the human deaths caused by dogs for the period 2005 – 2014.

10-Year Dog Bite Fatality Chart

Another important statistic that is missing of course are those attacks against other animals where they are seriously injured or killed by these same breeds.

So it is that the debate continues to rage as opinions continue to clash and no doubt will for a long time to come. Being a dog lover myself, I find it very difficult to condemn any breed to obscurity because every fiber within me screams that the majority of the fault in these cases does indeed rest with the individual dog owners. There is in fact a serious responsibility that goes along with owning any dog who can be aggressive and harmful to other people or animals and those owners need to step up and meet those responsibilities. If an aggressive breed owner does not in fact fulfill their requirements as owners of these type dogs, they should be fully responsible under the law for any adverse actions by their dogs and and subject to the full measure of penalties allowed under the law. And, if there is in fact a death incurred due to such an attack, nothing less than a ‘felony’ charge should ever prevail.

I personally would never own an aggressive breed of dog because I take that responsibility very seriously. I’m an “Irish Setter” person and intend to remain so but while on the subject of responsibility, all dogs whether an aggressive breed or not require responsible owners sensitive to the needs of their dogs and caring enough for those animals to meet both their physical as well as their mental needs.

A perspective on war and death….

I ran across this video this morning and found it to be quite sobering in its presentation of the lives lost, both military and civilian, specifically with regard to World War II but also inclusive of all wars which have occurred on this earth. With D-Day remembrances perhaps fresh in many minds I thought it most appropriate subject matter….

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo

Will the real Santa please stand up!

Santa-1964(Coca-Cola Santa – 1964 / Click to Enlarge)

Other than the fact that the Christmas season is now upon us, I am not quite sure why but recently I have been thinking a lot about Santa Claus. It has been around six decades or so since that jolly old character last visited me so it is not in anticipation of his visit and delivery of a list of goodies that has me engrossed in thought. At any rate, whatever the reason there has been a couple of things on my mind and this time of year certainly seems the appropriate time to share my thoughts with those of you willing to listen.

There must be thousands upon thousands of artistic representations of our beloved Santa circulating in this world. There are paintings, drawings and photos of Santa in every conceivable body configuration and attire imaginable. But as you and I know, there is only one Santa so all the varied assortments of representations certainly come from the minds of those who have not ever seen the real Santa. I have seen the “real” Santa.\r\n\r\nFor me, there is and has always been but one Santa Claus and everything this child could imagine about this man is embodied in the pictures accompanying this post. And that Santa, who is sometimes referred to as the Coca-Cola Santa, was created by artist Haddon Sundblom and his rendering of Santa had its artistic debut in a 1931 edition of “The Saturday Evening Post”.

Santa-1931(The Saturday Evening Post – 1931 / Click to Enlarge)

There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Mr. Sundblom actually met the “real” Santa and convinced Santa to let him paint his portrait. Without that magical moment, we would have been left with nothing but our own imaginations and thousands of fictional representations of our beloved Santa.

Santa-1951(Coca-Cola Santa – 1953 / Click to Enlarge)

Christmases may come and go as they do along with the many visions of Santa that are showered upon us but that is of no matter to me. Those visions fall as water off a duck’s back on me until someone shows me a picture of the Coca-Cola Santa. Now there is the “real”, non-fictional Santa!

Santa-1938(Coca-Cola Santa – 1938 / Click to Enlarge)

In concluding my recent thoughts regarding the “real” Santa Claus (shown above) I will be posting additional information regarding the subject matter of this post in a few days so stay tuned if this subject interests you…. :)’, ‘Will the real Santa please stand up!!

With Regard to Ferguson….

Every now and then someone comes along and seems to calmly explain to the masses that which you have been chomping at the bit to say in regard to a particular issue but they are much more uniquely qualified to make the point and catch the attention of your targeted audience. See attached video…..

(Barkley Interview Week of 11/24/2014 on Philadelphia Sports Radio 97.5)

Thank you Mr. Charles Barkley….

UPDATE 12/5/2014: Apparently the video I had originally posted has been pulled from ‘YouTube’ and other major news outlets due to copyright issues. I have subsequently found the interview on the subject radio station’s website where the interview was conducted. Interested individuals may listen to the interview by clicking “here“. Please note that the part of the interview regarding the Ferguson, Missouri situation begins at the 5-minute mark of the interview.

Music as seen thru the eyes of a genealogy chart….

Being a music lover, I ran across something I thought very interesting recently regarding the genres of music. Most of us tend to keep our music references to genres pretty basic I would say for the most part such as country, rock and classical for example. But in reality, much like a genealogy chart or scientific classification chart, there are many specific music genres seemingly tied to one another in a maze of interconnections enough to boggle one’s mind. Even candies have genealogy charts, much to my surprise!

Candy Scientific Chart(Click to Enlarge)

This was all brought to light several days ago for me when I ran across a news article in the Entertainment Section of a media website that had referenced the blog which is part of a website run by ConcertHotels.Com. Their blog contained a post entry titled “From Gospel to Grunge – A Rock Time Machine” which led me to the chart (partially shown below) I frivolously referenced as a genealogy chart in my post title which is actually titled “100 Years of Rock”.

Music Genres - 01(Click to Enlarge)

The chart is actually an interactive chart that allows you to follow how the various genres of music developed and also allows you to listen to selected samples of the numerous genres. The evolution of music will slowly evolve as the page opens. I actually found the chart to be quite educational along with being somewhat entertaining so I thought I would post it. Back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s it seemed aligning one’s self with a particular genre of music was a rather simple task but these days, not so much.

Perhaps it’s just that old age has taken me over but I haven’t listened to any popular music in quite a few years now. Music just isn’t as melodic as it use to be and the lyricists of today’s music lost me a long time ago.

By the way, if you do happen to visit the website I mentioned, check out their latest post “From Bowie to Bieber: What Makes A Singer Great:” and check out the chart listing the voice ranges of the world’s greatest singers. I was shocked to find Axl Rose of Guns & Roses leading the pack…

The Porterhouse Movies….

Porterhouse-Steak(The Porterhouse Steak – Click to Enlarge)

For me, there are a few really, really good movies that are much like dining on an excellent porterhouse steak. Now let me try to explain the intent of that comparison if I can. Typically when I eat a porterhouse steak I eat the main portion of the steak first saving the ‘filet’ portion until the very end, the filet of course being the juiciest and most tender part of the steak. Consumption of the entire steak is quite the enjoyable dining experience certainly but the filet, in the cuisine sense, encapsulates for me the complete experience of an excellent meal – the best of the steak and the best of the meal.

In comparison, there are some films whose plots and storylines are constructed in much the same way as a porterhouse steak. The movie is really good all the way through but when you get to about that last 20-30 minutes the movie explodes with feelings and emotions and a total sense of satisfaction. While the majority of the movie equates to the main portion of the porterhouse, the last 20-30 minutes of the film I reference is the obvious filet.

Now, there are many good movies obviously but only a few are constructed in such a manner as to be referred to as the porterhouse steak style movie in my opinion. The film I came across last night while channel surfing on the television was “He’s Just Not That in to You”, a romantic comedy, which easily fits in the category I’ve been discussing. It’s the film that got me to thinking about all my other favorite movies and which ones had that magical 20-30-minute conclusion, that “filet of film” if you will. After some deliberation I have concluded that those movies which for me fit into the porterhouse steak scenario are as follows and in no particular order….

Sleepless In Seattle (1993)

Trouble with the Curve (2012)

Notting Hill (1999)

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

He’s Just Not That in to You (2009)

Field of Dreams (1989)

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Obviously you would have had to watch the entire movie to truly understand the wonderful climatic scenes of these films but for me, when I watch that last thirty minutes it’s like seeing the entire movie again condensed into a 30-minute time frame. The real plus with regard to these movies is that you don’t have to watch the entire movie over and over again to enjoy the experience; you only have to watch the climatic 20-30 minute conclusion to in fact receive the complete benefit of having watched the entire film.

In conclusion, if you can relate to what I am trying to say then that’s good that you have understood my point. Perhaps you have a favorite movie or two you can relate to this comparison yourself. If you don’t have a clue as to what I was trying to convey, just chalk it up to an elderly man who probably needs to increase his medication dosages.