Month: September 2015

In Remembrance – Yogi Berra (1925 – 2015)

53Topps - 013(Topps Baseball Card – 1953)

When I was a young boy most of my baseball heroes were players on one of four teams. Either the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Braves or St. Louis Cardinals.

And certainly among them was Mr. Yogi Berra. At my age the passing of these childhood heroes doesn’t come as a great shock because we understand that they are of that age and it is that time in the circle of life. Nevertheless the role they played in our youth are as much a part of us as life itself and they will never be forgotten.

Thank you Yogi and may you forever rest in peace…

Remembering those paycheck to paycheck days….

shredit1Here at the house recently I embarked on a cleaning out and shredding project that involved some eight copy boxes full of my old financial records dating all the way back to 1961, some 54 years ago according to my calculator. Decided to take them to a local commercial shredding company and in the end was actually pleased I did. They charged me $45 for shredding those eight boxes whereas it would have taken me months using my little home/office shredder.

In preparing for the shredding I went through all the material removing stables and paper clips only to find out later that usually when dealing with a commercial shredder that wasn’t necessary. Of course during this process I was to encounter all my income tax returns going back to my very first real job. After just looking at a few of the earlier ones I was just totally amazed at how little money I use to live on.

Other than mowing a few yards around the local neighborhood and a short tenure as a bagging and stocking clerk in a small food market, my first job was really my induction into the United States Air Force in August of 1961.

My first full year of employment in the USAF was 1962 and my gross income for that year was $1,129.59 while my net income was $1,089.45. Of course it is necessary to put that in some perspective since I was in the military and did have free housing, free food and free medical. So I would say my entire salary was pretty much just pocket money in the beginning. But then let’s put that into perspective also. That net income equated to $90 a month, not exactly a monetary bonanza so there was little else one could do anyway.

empty-walletSix years later when I got out of the military my gross income had risen in 1968 to $4,641.52 while my net income was $4,484.26. I was up to a whopping $386 a month. By that time, still having free lodging, food and medical, I was able to squeeze a low car payment out of it. Cigarettes, a tank of gasoline or two and a burger here and there and I was pretty much spent.

In 1969 after leaving the air force I had secured my first civilian job with Timex Corporation who had a manufacturing plant located in Little Rock, Arkansas where I lived and my gross income for that year was still only $5,006.41. I lived at home with my parents for a while so lodging and food was still pretty much free but not much else. In the latter part of 1969 I moved into an apartment and things really got tight then.

Early the next year I was to get laid off but a month or so later fortunately got a job with Bechtel Corporation in Russellville, Arkansas where they were starting construction of a nuclear power plant and my salary jumped to a gross income of $9,762.97 the next year. Look out ladies… I was rolling in cash now! 🙂

For me, that was the last time I really had to live from paycheck to paycheck. Finally, as low as it may seem by today’s standards, I had reached the point where there was pretty much constant daylight from paycheck to paycheck and no more doom and gloom that loomed almost constantly in those first ten years. 🙁

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.

The Art of Dying….

Little-Boy-Cowboy

Another blogger whom I frequent, Pied Type, just yesterday published a serious post regarding a 10-year old boy who was suspended from his school for pointing a make-believe ‘finger gun’ at another student. It’s worth your time if you get a chance to drop by and read the post. The post on the other hand reminded me of something that I wrote several years back regarding my childhood and playing with make-believe guns, whether finger guns or cap pistols. Thought I would share that this morning…..

“The Art of Dying”

I suppose for some of us as we get older and we become ‘AARP’ eligible…..and beyond, our minds may tend to wander from time to time pondering our end days and trying to always put into perspective the fact that ‘dying’ is just part of the normal scheme of things. Will I go gently into the night or in some much more unpleasant manner? It was in one of those personal think-tank moments that I began to think back to my days as a young boy when dying was not something to ponder or even fear but rather a talent to master as one would do were they an Olympian in quest for the gold.

I must have only been around six years old, maybe seven, when I discovered that even at that very young age there was, indeed, an apparent art to dying. With a steady diet of the Saturday afternoon matinee at the neighborhood theatre (‘picture show’ in those days of course) there was Hopalong Cassidy, Lash Larue, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, the Cisco Kid, just to name a few who filled the screen issuing out their brand of frontier justice. And I learned early on that the bad guy couldn’t just drop to the ground dead when they got shot. No.…there was style and technique involved. I quickly noted that apparently the longer it took to hit the ground after being shot, the better. And so it was that I set out to master this talent and become the best that I could be with regard to dying.

In the beginning I would practice for hours in my small bedroom. First I had to learn how to vocally perfect that gunshot sound. Having successfully accomplished that, I would make a few gunshot sounds and fall mortally wounded across my bed but…… not before holding my gut while twitching, jerking and staggering till the fatal end finally came. There were times when it would seemingly take me at least a full minute to finally reach the point of collapse from my wounds. There were other times when after being mortally wounded and falling to the ground, I would manage to pull myself back up to my knees reaching for my adversary in one last effort of desperation, only to levy yet more gunshots at myself till I finally gave up the ghost. It was a thing of beauty! Then when I had my style and technique perfected, it was time to take my act on the road and apply it to a good game of ‘Cowboys and Indians’ with my playmates where I could finally put my dying skills to the test.

Now as it turned out, I found that if you were really good at dying your friends would holler at other friends to come over and watch you die when they shot you. Competition, however, was tough among my playmates. They all seemed to understand the importance of it all and each of them thought had a lock on the best way to die. From my viewpoint however, it was really no contest and those hours of practice were paying off.

Then a couple of years later, probably around eight or nine years old, I realized that this dying act might be a good way to impress the girls in the neighborhood whom I seemed to be taking an interest in for some reason. Sure enough….every now and then I would run across a girl who would clap with glee and jump up and down after I went through my dying act. That, by the way, is when you knew you had really made it.

Now the girls, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue as to how to die. If one would even allow me to shoot them to begin with, they just seem to collapse like a wet wash cloth. It was somewhat embarrassing and humiliating just to be close by when they did their dying act. Based on that, I would almost never shoot a girl if the rest of my gang was anywhere near. And as far as girls making gunshot sounds, it sounded a bit like someone stepping on a wet sponge. At any rate, I just don’t think the girls really understood the importance of it all.

But that was then and this is now. So now as I approach the ripe old age of 73…..and hopefully beyond, I can only hope that I can carry what I learned back then as a young boy with regard to the art of dying forward to the day when it all becomes quite real. I hope that I still possess the grace and class that I exhibited back in those much younger years when it all seemed so real – yet manifested itself in a simple game of make believe.

Blog Subscriber’s Heads-Up!

series-heads-up

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be republishing several of my old posts from my previous version of this blog. I am backdating the published date of these posts to the original date that they were published but have been informed by my sister, who is one of my subscribers, that even though I have backdated the post, it still gets emailed as a notification of a new post to my subscribers.

I apologize for this inconvenience and will try to complete this update process as quickly as possible. The original comments associated with these posts have been lost but nevertheless, I am not making comments available on these posts since my subscribers have probably already seen and or commented on these posts when they were originally published.

A week or two after these republished posts have been re-established on the blog I will be turning the comments section back on for future visitors. Obviously any of my subscribers are welcome to make additional comments at that time if they so choose.

Thanks again for your patience… Alan G

What’s wrong with this picture?

A couple of weekends ago I went over to visit with my older sister and her husband. Now during my visit she happen to mention that our younger sister had come over to her office one day that week and picked up a bag of home grown tomatoes. You see a couple or three years ago they began planting a vegetable garden in a small area of their backyard and began raising a few different types of veggies and my sister, whose quite the cook, even started canning a lot of them.

And I should mention that according to un-named sources, the little foot-tapping country ditty posted below is what she plays the whole time she is in the kitchen canning…

(“Homegrown Tomatoes” – Guy Clark)

Below are just a couple of photographs my sister has posted on her Facebook page this summer showing off their harvest and some of her canning projects….

Sisters Home Grown Tomatoes(Click on photograph to Enlarge)

I then mentioned to her while we were sitting there talking that I would like to get a few home grown tomatoes myself if they could spare them. My brother-in-law almost immediately got up and went out to their garden to apparently harvest me a few of those scrumptious tomatoes.

Now at this point perhaps some of you are thinking well what a nice brother I must be for showing off my sister and brother-in-laws veggie horn-of-plenty on my blog. And obviously how proud I must be of them… right? Well no, that’s not exactly the point I wanted to make.

As I was leaving my sister handed me a small plastic zip-lock bag noting that they hoped I enjoyed my tomatoes. My brother-in-law noted that a couple of them were still a little green so I might want to give them a day or two to ripen a little more. I then thanked them of course and left.

Needless to say as reflected in the photograph below, I was a little taken back by my sister and brother-in-laws generosity when checking out my presumed tomato bonanza. Oh, and in case you’re curious, the quarter seen in the photograph was put there just to put a perspective of the sheer volume of the vegie bounty that was shared with me.

My Tomato Bounty(Click to Enlarge)

I need to remember to do something really special for my sister on “National Sibling’s Day” next year. You know what I mean….? 🙁

The Turntable Time Machine….

I stumbled across this video a few weeks ago and it became an instant favorite….

After a knock on her door a young lady goes to the door and finds someone has left a small package at her door. She opens it to find it is a 45-rpm record titled “A Single Life“. She places it on her small turntable and begins to play the record and shortly after realizes that dependent on where the needle is placed on the record, it has the effect of moving her life backwards and forward in time….

My Resident Female…. Up close and personal!

I have been spending some time lately trying to improve my photographic skills when it comes to photographing hummingbirds. My recent posting showing a bit of jousting between a Ruby-Throated male and female at my feeder seemed sufficient enough to display the action but lacked the ‘pop’ I like to see in a photograph.

In pursuit of that goal here are a couple of photos I took a couple of days ago of the female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird who is the favorite of my summer visitors this year. Since I don’t have but a few regular visitors anyway, it is fairly easy to keep up with who’s who.

By the way, if you look at the enlarged versions of the photos you can actually see bits of pollen on top of her head apparently gathered from a recent visit to a flower, especially in the second one. Thought that was sort of cool….

Hummer 07(Click to Enlarge)

Hummer 08(Click to Enlarge)