News & Current Events

Lexi Lu & Santa….

Back in June of this year we had a new edition to the family. I now have a new little “doggie niece”, compliments of my younger sister. She’s a cutie and they named her Lexi Lu. She had her first visit with Santa recently and I just had to share her photo….

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Home Christmas decorations already….?

Well, to each his own I suppose but seems to me it’s way too early to be decorating the outside of your home for Christmas. Thanksgiving is still three weeks away and Christmas is some eight weeks away but there my neighbor was yesterday decorating away. And besides that, the house is for sale and he hasn’t lived there for almost three months. As you take a look at the photographs below (click on photo to enlarge) it’s easy to see that there is no snow on the ground and the leaves on the trees are still green. Well, I’m just sayin’….

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Sidney, the lioness….

The Little Rock Zoo lost its oldest residing lioness, a 22-year old lioness named Sidney this past weekend when the lioness had to be euthanized for health reasons. Admittedly I had no long running personal ties with this lioness although on my last trip to the Little Rock Zoo in 2006 on a photographing adventure of sorts, I do definitely recall spending quite a bit of time at Sidney’s enclosure trying to get a nice photograph of her.

The press release regarding the death of Sidney read as follows….

The Little Rock Zoo has announced the death of 22-year-old lioness Sidney.

Zoo veterinarian Sarah Kline says the animal was euthanized Sunday after a corneal graft on her eye deteriorated.

Kline says the lion had surgery on her eyes in January and a rupture on her left eye was repaired in September. Kline said bloodwork indicated progressive kidney and liver disease and the decision was made to euthanize rather than put the animal through another surgery to remove the eye.

Sidney was born in 1994 and came to the Little Rock Zoo in 2000 as a donation from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri.

I was fortunate to capture a fairly nice photograph of Sidney as can be seen below when I was on that photographic adventure back in 2006 which I previously mentioned. Be sure and click on the image to see a much larger version of the photograph….

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It is always saddening to hear of a loss of one of our zoo animals but over the years certainly not unexpected. I’m at least glad in this case that I actually had a reasonably nice photograph of the animal….

Celebrity Encounters of the Third Kind….

dizzy-dean-3I sat and chatted with none other than Dizzy Dean on a flight from Dallas International to Adams Field in Little Rock in early 1967, passed little old Nick Adams, nick_adams-the-rebel-1959-2“The Rebel” in the Honolulu International Airport while changing planes in Hawaii in late 1965 and this past Monday shared my eye doctor’s waiting area with none other the NASCAR driver Mark Martin.

It’s a bit uncanny how you see these celebrity types a hundred times on television and yet when you actually stand in the presence of one you just can’t seem to make up your mind whether it’s the celebrity they resemble or just another clone of the human race. When I first saw Dizzy Dean I finally concluded he was the Governor of Arkansas and was on the plane sitting next to him before someone came by and addressed him as Mr. Dean. Nick Adams is the only one I got right off. As far as Mark Martin, for almost half an hour I sat in that waiting room and tried to decide if it was or was not the Mark Martin of NASCAR fame.

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At one point he got up from his chair and went outside to take a call on his cell phone. Got a good look at him at that point but he looked to skinny and small to fit my preconceived picture of him. It really wasn’t until one of the nurses came into the waiting room and called, “Mr. Martin” that I assured myself that was really him. Then as he disappeared down the hallway a couple of other men who were sitting closer to him began jabbering away at the fact it was Mark Martin.

As crowded as the waiting room was at that time I was somewhat amazed that no one had spoken to him at all. When there is a celebrity in the vicinity usually at least one person is bold enough to approach them but not the case here.

I did get a chuckle about how he got called out of the waiting room by the nurse. She called out “Mr. Martin” in his case. When any of the other patients were called they were simply addressed by their last names with no “Ms.” or “Mr.” The eye clinic personnel certainly were aware of the elephant in the room. 🙂

It should be noted that seeing Mark Martin in Little Rock should not be that big of a surprise at all given the fact that he lives in a small town northeast of Little Rock. Especially if he is coming to a well-known medical facility and eye clinic in Little Rock.

A true miracle or just simply serendipity?

It’s that time of year for us Medicare folks when we are given the opportunity to change our insurance plans or jump ship to another insurance carrier entirely. So from now through mid-December many of us will begin finding our mail boxes inundated with all those offers from all those other insurance companies touting the glory of their plans. Well a few days ago I got my “2017 Renewal Information” booklet from my Medicare Part D carrier who happens to be Humana.

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I’ve been on Medicare some ten years now and they have, for better or worse, been my Part D carrier that whole period. And each year when I receive my renewal booklet for the upcoming year it goes without saying that the monthly premium always seems to go up. Imagine that huh? Well it would seem rather than getting that old generic rate hike this year I would experience the miracle that was referenced in the title of this post. My monthly premium for this year will actually decrease $2.10 as you may note in the page below (click to enlarge the page).

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Now we could probably debate whether this is a true miracle or simply serendipity till the cows come home but given the fact we are talking about health insurance and the year is 2016, I don’t think there should be any question that this can not be anything but a miracle. Medical insurance never goes down…. we all know that! 🙁

Currently on the run from the IRS….

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Yesterday must have been “Black Friday” at my house. Received two calls from Arlington, VA, one at 11:15 AM and another at 1:51 PM. The calls were from two different IRS agents, one male and one female, letting me know that the IRS had discovered fraudulent information in my latest tax return. I had let my answering machine get these calls so both agents warned that I should return their calls or suffer the consequences. Here’s the information on the number of origin….

Arlington VA

(703) 879-8780

WASH-DC, VA

A quick check with Google and it was quickly confirmed this was a fairly well-known number associated with an IRS scam. Fortunately I had been made aware of these type scams via a number of previous media reports. Below is a statement issued by the IRS regarding theses scams….

“There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate. People should hang up immediately and contact TIGTA or the IRS.”

I should note that what is most disturbing regarding this matter is the fact that these scammers have my phone number. My phone number is unlisted but nevertheless by googling my name plus the text ‘phone number’ I was able to find a posting of the number. But where do the scammers get my phone number from, that is the worry-some question?

So life is apparently not quite over if I can still experience this type of excitement in what would have been an otherwise rather boring, mundane day. And whose to say…. I may just pack a small bag, grab some of that loot the IRS is trying to recoup and head to ‘Vegas’! 🙂

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Yahoo cries “WOLF!”…. Yea, two years late!

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Well, it was all over the news yesterday… “Yahoo Hacked – Over 500 Million Users Affected”. Being a Yahoo user now for as long as I can remember I immediately assumed I was one of those victims. So off I went to change my password and security information.

yahoo-hack-02Then several hours later I learn that the hack apparently occurred in 2014, some two years ago. Well thanks Yahoo for the warning. A person with any meaningful measure of common sense could easily assume that if something bad was going to happen to their account the hackers have already had two years to do their deed. And here we are two years later and you’ve got me jumping through the “change your password” hoop?

It is a bit baffling to me that often in these instances where hackers hijack user data that there always seems to be this delay on alerting the public. Makes little sense to me. Simply boils down to the fact that if we utilize the Internet in our day-to-day lives that we and our personal data are indeed vulnerable to the bad things that can happen. It’s like playing “Internet Roulette” I suppose.

Arkansas Loses Lock on 1st Place Obesity Ranking

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According to the latest data released as late as yesterday, Arkansas failed to hold on to its 1st place ranking in the adult obesity ranking held in 2014. The new rankings compiled for the year 2015 shows Arkansas as having fallen to 6th place behind Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi and Kentucky.

Taking over the Number 1 spot is Arkansas’ sister state Louisiana. Well make no mistake about Louisiana, they indeed serve up some great vittles down yonder in New Orleans and surrounding parishes. The top five ahead of Arkansas could all be said to enjoy similar cuisine I suppose.

I guess as a bit of a side note I should hi-lite the fact that I, myself have lost some 10 lbs this year so when the 2016 rankings come out I can only hope I am not the reason Arkansas falls completely out of the top ten.

You can go to “The State of Obesity” website and view their interactive map along with the overall ranking of all the states. Poor old Colorado came in sucking hind tit registering in last place. Well, there’s always next year Colorado….

Arkansas, the worst state to live in?

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Whoa now big boy…. that’s a quote! That’s not my own personal opinion. That’s according to a piece written by Scott Cohn who develops in-depth features, special reports and documentaries for CNBC and CNBC.com, including the influential annual series America\’s Top States for Business, which he created in 2007.

At any rate that’s the news that greeted me first thing this morning as I was reviewing the latest news on some of my personal news sources. Reading that your home state is considered the worst state in the United States to live in is not the news one cares to be greeted by first thing in the morning but this morning that was indeed the case. I’m sure many of my fellow Arkansans will be just as shocked as I am when they find out about their poor choice of states to live in. 🙂

During my tenure of some almost 75 years on this planet, during both my military service and civilian career I have lived and/or worked in several states to include Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas. And as for Arkansas, well I was born and raised here and that is where my family has always lived. As reflected in the referenced news release, the worst ten (10) states to live in are listed below with Number 10 being the best of the worst and Number 1 being the worst of the worst. And it seems I have lived in most of them. For more detailed information and the news release itself, you may click “here”. Additional information is also available in links available in the article itself.

  1. Arkansas
  2. Missouri
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Louisiana
  5. Tennessee
  6. Indiana
  7. Mississippi
  8. Alabama
  9. Kentucky
  10. Nevada

According to the author and the statistics used in the compilations, Arkansas’ “Quality of Life” ranking was 44th out of 50; it’s primary weaknesses were crime rate, air quality and health citing the high rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer; and it was concluded that Arkansas had ‘no strengths’ whatsoever since it was rated at the bottom in every metric used in the ratings.

When I decided to go into semi-retirement and move back to Arkansas it was certainly a conscious decision but admittedly, I have always been partial to Missouri since living there. I have to honestly say it was probably in total the state I most enjoyed living in of all the places I have lived including my home state of Arkansas. But if you refer to the list above you can see I’m not very good at picking favorite places to live since Missouri is only saved from last place of the worst places to live by the grace of Arkansas!

Then there is the Pacific Northwest which I have almost always been attracted to although I have never actually lived or even visited there. But that’s a place I shall never see, at least not in person. But then that’s why Al Gore invented the Internet I suppose, so we could visit places via Cyberspace we couldn’t otherwise visit!

But that is all water under the bridge at this point of my life. Here in Arkansas is where I live and here in Arkansas is where I will die. And although I haven’t as of yet run across any statistics addressing the fact, I hope Arkansas ranks a little better as far as the best states to die in, or maybe I should say buried in. I suppose as long as Arkansas is ranked somewhere above “Boot Hill” I’ll be gratefully dead (no pun intended)! 🙂