Monday, July 30

Ruby Lee, We Hardly Knew You...

I only got to hold her twice and then only briefly. She licked my nose and whimpered.

A couple of Saturdays ago my daughter Megan accompanied her roommate to Orlando ostensibly to help her adopt a specific dog that her roommate had seen on the Internet. Megan agreed to ride along. If I claim to have little knowledge about most things I do know my daughter...and I knew that if she went anywhere close to where an adoptable puppy might catch her longing eye, she most assuredly would have her tender heart touched and some special little dog would soon have a new home.

So it came to pass. Into our daughter's open arms came an eight week old, tiny bundle of unconditional love she named Ruby Lee. The future looked bright with promise. But as fate would dictate, such would not be the case. Ruby Lee became ill. Then she became very ill to the point that veterinarian care was required. Her condition only worsened. Ruby Lee had contracted a highly contagious and life threatening virus. A series of antibiotics were administered with no apparent improvement noted. Ruby Lee's condition became grave. It came down to two choices; put little Ruby Lee to sleep or admit her to an Emergency Veterinarian Hospital that would do their best to treat her condition with no guarantees of eventual success. On the surface it would seem like an easy choice, but the underlying condition for Ruby Lee's admission was that Megan had to give up all future rights of ownership. Even if Ruby Lee returned to full health, Megan could not again adopt her puppy, nor would she ever know if Ruby Lee regained her health. Megan made the courageous decision to give Ruby Lee a chance at life. I honor Meg for making that most difficult decision. Still it was a devastating choice. Meg's heart was broken. It continues even now to be slowly on the mend. I hurt for Megan because she hurts so much.

There are few things in life that can command so much of our emotions. Our parents, our children, and, for many, our pets. They indeed become "members of the family." They lavish affection on us with no expectation of receiving equal sums in return. They are the essence of innocence and trust. They become faithful and steadfast companions. They become a vital part of all that is familiar...all that is reliable...all that can be counted on to be there when we open the door to our inner sanctums. In time when they can no longer be any of these things there is a void that cannot be described or measured, and the prevailing sadness at their loss pours into the depths of our souls. We each then know we have loved for the ache in our heart tells us so.

"Goodby" Ruby Lee. We hardly knew you, but you were profoundly loved in the short time that you loved us.

Wednesday, July 25

The Thrill Of Stupidity...

It's an anual event for me. With great anticipation I await the release of the year's honorees who have been selected to receive the less than coveted Darwin Awards, the top honors going posthumously to those individuals who have managed to engineer their own untimely demise, and thus vastly "improve the (human) species by accidentally removing themselves from it!" The diligent chronicler of these early departures is an able organization of the same name. No successes of self-eradication goes unnoticed by these folks, as they glean from world-wide sources those reported instances where the human gene pool has been further "chlorinated" by individuals who while engaged in risky behaviors suffer an outcome decidedly far less than their obvious initial intent.

In 2006 a man-of-the-cloth made the "final cut" by attempting to convince his flock that he possessed sufficient faith to immolate the example of Jesus Christ's miraculous ability to walk on water. Apparently the spirit was more than willing but the fact that he could not swim a lick never entered into his calculations. The good pastor departed for a "face-to-face" with his maker and his flock was left earthbound to seek the services of a replacement minster whose demonstrations of "faith" might best be described as less flamboyant.

Being considered for inclusion in the 2007 awards is a South Carolina couple whose love-making escapade literally carried them over the edge, having fallen approximately 60 feet from a downtown Columbia rooftop to the city street below where both were discovered naked by a passing taxicab driver. Medical studies have long touted that sex is good for the heart, but doing so while in a free fall from such precarious heights was never included in any of the case studies.

It never ceases to amaze me to what precarious lengths individuals will go to be utterly and profoundly stupid. Here in the State of Florida motorcycle operators have the legal option to operate their two-wheel death traps sans helmet. For every motorcycle tooling the highways there are dozens upon dozens of senior citizens behind the wheel of their vintage Cadillacs and Buick Electras that have major difficulty just maneuvering their steeds out of their driveways without knocking over their own and their neighbor's mailboxes and trashcans. The possibility that these good citizens may see, much less avoid, an approaching motorcycle is even further reduced by the fact that their ability to merely peer over the steering wheel to get just a glimpse of the road ahead is "job one." Operating a motorcycle certainly makes good economic sense in view of the ever increasing gasoline prices., but to do so without one's head being at least semi-encased in a helmet is just plain fool hearty.

Then there's the annual collection of idiots in Pamplona, Spain where literally thousands of people come to view the spectacle of the "running of the bulls." With loud shouts of "Ahi va! Ahi va!" - translated "There it goes...there it goes!" - but perhaps should be more aptly ascribed as, "Fire up the ambulances!" - a dozen or so fear crazed bulls are let loose to charge down the narrow village streets on the heels of less than fleet-footed fools who tempt fate by trying at a full run to stay a hair's breath away from the slashing bull's horns. This year thirteen unsuccessful participants made personal acquaintances with the business end of a 1,300 pound rampaging bull, two of which were U.S. citizens, which goes to prove once again that we Americans will not be slighted when it comes to making complete imbeciles out of ourselves. Said one of the brothers, "I started yelling at my brother to show him I was bleeding everywhere, but he showed me he was bleeding everywhere!" How nice... From his hospital bed one of the brother's was proudly displaying a copy of the local newspaper with its front page photograph showing the bull that had gored simultaneously both brothers. Their mother, I'm sure, would be so proud. Said the younger brother as his parting words to the interviewer, "I think my brother and I underestimated the speed and danger of it." I don't think the operative word in that sentence was "think." Since records began being kept for the festival in 1924, thirteen participants have meet their end. Seems the number "thirteen" holds a special allure for this particular event. To my knowledge The Darwin Awards have yet to date to honor any of these dearly departed, but I bet they will be keeping a close eye on the results of all future events.

As I grow older the prospects of attempting anything remotely dangerous becomes increasingly to the fore as I contemplation even the mundane of tasks that may inadvertently place me in harm's way. I regard electrical appliances with a wary eye and believe ladders are best left minding their own business. Hopefully my final moments will be passed in restful sleep at some far distant rendezvous with the hereafter. Although being shot to death by a jealous husband at the grand old age of 93 while making passionate love to his young wife admittedly holds some allure. In the mean time I'll satisfy my passing curiosity for the macabre by reading the exploits of the truly stupid who in their misguided desires to live their lives to the fullest inadvertently do so at least to its final conclusion. "Bon voyage."

Friday, July 20


I have friend, whom I've never met, who lives in Texas...and today is her birthday! I know this fact about her because I have become a fan of her "blog." - I won't reveal her age, but it is easily discernible if one takes the time to research her archived posts. I also won't attempt to explain why she adopted the pen name "Norman" as her blog handle, as that too is explained in her profile. Suffice it to say that it all makes perfectly good sense when one takes the time to become engaged in her's and her family's day-to-day life that she so freely and unabashedly writes about in her frequent posts.

I find her musings to be honest, unpretentious, real and, above all, humorous. There are few subjects (if any) that "Norm" won't tackle with abandon and let the chips fall where they may. She may be on occasion a little "blue" on some subject matter for perhaps some folks taste, but I like the fact that she approaches life with the refreshing attitude of "It is what it is." Her stream of conscience style of writing is compelling to the point where one feels one is sitting in her living room enjoying a good cup of coffee and even better conversation. I look forward with much anticipation to her frequent personal slices of life that can make even the most mundane observations of her day-to-day life become fodder for light-hearted thought and mutual comparison. I am sure that there are events in her life that give her worry and pause, but for the most part she embraces life with a glint in her eye, taking neither herself or life in general too seriously. I like her approach. I like her style. As a fellow "blogster," I am proud to call her "friend."

Happy Birthday Norm. Keep being who you are and keep getting as much happiness out of your life this special day and in all the days yet to follow.

Wednesday, July 18

The Fallacy Of Perfection...

"The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are the entire banquet." Thus wrote Mark Twain in the late 1800s as he surveyed the political and economic climate of his era. Decades later Twain's words still ring valid in our modern day ears, but any semblance of humor concerning the antics of present day government officials, particularly on the Federal level, leave the majority of Americans with a decidedly sour taste in their mouths. It serves no beneficial purpose, therefore, for this author to categorize even minimally the degrees of quagmire and stalemate that our elected Washington officials have deliberately infused upon themselves and their constituents each is allegedly elected to represent. Partisan politics have long ago dissolved from a mere difference of opinions to a veritable war of intractable wills, wherein each side of the political spectrum spews vitriolic epitaphs of course disdain, twisting fact into fiction to suit their own ambitious ends to secure and maintain power "at any cost." Our elected leaders have forsaken undertaking that which is good for the country and adopted that which is the most expedient for themselves and their respective political party, and ultimately will gain them the most votes in the up-coming 2008 national elections, which still remains - God help us all - sixteen months distant.

Which brings me to the point of this dissertation. Elections at all levels of government have become much like Florida hurricanes; we just get our heads above water when another one blows through. The off-year elections of 2006 had barely been tabulated when potential candidates for President began coming out of the woodwork like termites in search of their next two by four. It is now "standing room only" only on both sides of the aisle, with potentially more undeclared candidates waiting in the wings to join the fray. Except for the radical fringe elements of both parties and the over-analytical radio talk hosts, very few Americans are at this juncture giving even minimal credence to the barrage of accusational rhetoric and hollow promises that are spilling like so much bilge out of the would-be candidates. In this interim between candidate declarations of intent and the first presidential primaries, Americans more productively engage themselves in the more pressing business of meeting the demands of our day-to-day lives. The war in Iraq goes on, gas prices continue to climb, home owner's insurance becomes increasingly unaffordable, as does the cost of health insurance, and the Democrat controlled Congress seeks additional avenues to increase their tax revenues believing they know better how to spend our hard earned money they do we the people who earn it. Is it any wonder that the American people as a whole have little interest in politics when politics provides nothing of value for the American people?
The season of decision is coming soon when the American populace will become more actively re-engaged in the attempt to determine which of the myriad of jostling candidates for the higher elected positions appear to be best qualified to take the mantle of "leadership." If past pre-election cycles are any indication, there shall be much noise and fury, but little substance. It is, therefore, vitally important that as individual voters we assess our own personal priorities as to what is the top one, two or three issues that most affects our lives and that of our families. It is one thing, as a personal example, to be concerned about environmental issues, but should that concern take precedent over the ever looming reality that there are radical religious factions in the world which have vowed even unto their own demise to destroy the fabric of our society? It is an honorable and worthy priority to assure that we all have clean and and water to drink. But does this objective warrant first place on our personal list of priorities if a dirty nuclear bomb detonates in one of our major population centers and the very idea of clean air and water become disastrously mote?
Do not allow yourselves to become caught up in the rhetoric of irrelevancies. Every candidate will vow that they have only our best interest at heart and have the leadership abilities to do a more competent job than their opponent. Here's the bottom line. No candidate, regardless of their credentials, is perfectly suited to confront the problems and challenges of this 21st Century world. If we are seeking the "prefect" candidate that can address all of the issues that grab the headlines today, we will be sorely disappointed. Carefully select the candidate that best emulates your personal beliefs on the issues you have identified as being the most vital to your well-being and accept as "acceptable" those other positions that may not exactly align with your ideologies. Candidates that promise to be "all things to all people" can no neither. In this world the fallacy of perfection is the belief that mankind can be so.

Wednesday, July 4

Saving Us From Us...

Happy 4th of July, y'all! As my lovely wife, Judi, is fond of saying, "Well great...enjoy the day 'cause next week's it's gonna be Christmas!" Seems that way doesn't it? Especially as we pack a few years under our belts...time just seems to fly by. Except when you have a nagging tooth ache or a prolonged bout with constipation...then time just stands still!! Oh well, such is life. You got to take the good with the bad.

It is traditional on this our nation's birthday for those with or without credentials to claim themselves to be pundits to take this day to wrap themselves in the flag and wax patriotic. God bless 'em. I choose not to go that route, believing my personal efforts to add anything of lasting merit to that overall dissertation would fall woefully short. Suffice it to say that I am daily thankful that I am a citizen of this great country that remains, despite it's numerous imperfections, the best experiment in self-governing freedom ever devised by man and ordained by God. We must still be doing something right . Look at all of the millions of people who seek by any means - legally and otherwise - to be embedded in our country. These throngs of people are coming not just because they are particularly addicted to our fried chicken.

My thoughts this day turn to how "We the people" govern ourselves closer to home. I read recently a capsulized report published by the folks at the Pew Research Center ( wherein were listed the various new state laws that went into effect on July 1st. Some of these newly adopted ordinances certainly illustrated a genuine concern to address a particular shortcoming when enacted would benefit the greater good. Others were a bit more dubious. I suppose, like an inside joke, one had to be there to fully appreciate its intended nuance.

Take for example the Iowa law that now makes it a crime to dismember a body to conceal a crime. On face one would think that the mere act of murder would suffice to put the perpetrator behind bars. But apparently there were sufficiently large loopholes in the existing statues that warranted this added provision. I'm waiting for the TV show "Law & Order" to make sense of this one. "Ripped from the headlines," as it were.

And in the Volunteer State of Tennessee, no matter how old you may be, if you wish to purchase beer you had best be prepared to show some identification. The law, however, does not apply to wine or liquor. What? Don't you just hate it when an octogenarian tries to purchase a six pack of beer using a fake ID?

In Indiana the state legislator found it necessary to pass a law that makes it illegal for a widow or widower suspected in the demise of their spouse to be the person who has the final say in making the funeral arrangements for "their dear departed one." I would suppose this is a good law if one stops to consider how overly ripe the deceased would become if the convicted spouse was sentenced to serve a life term in prison and out of pure spite declared, "The ole gal is your problem now!" New Mexico became the 12th state to outlaw cockfighting. That leaves 38 states yet to see the wisdom of such a prohibition. I am expecting the chicken lobby any day now to renew its crusade to rectify this egregious lack of concern for our feathered friends.

In Virgina it is now a misdemeanor crime to smoke within 20 feet of gasoline pump, and if the sucker catches fire, the violators could face a year in prison. I'd think that would be the least of their worries. Mississippi felons will have stiffer penalties meted out if in the commission of their crimes they employ the use of "guns or weapons such as butcher knives or metallic knuckles." Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't one think that merely robbing someone would be sufficient to warrant them spending a considerable amount of their otherwise free time behind bars? I guess if one robs someone in Mississippi and only employs a rolled up newspaper or a sausage roll to persuade one's victim to give up their worldly possessions, the courts will take a more gentile approach in allocating punishment. And South Carolina is taking a dim view towards gang members who can't seem to bring themselves to break the habit of vandalism, telling them. "Okay guys, if you keep this up we're going to fine you $3,000. And if that doesn't get your attention, we may just send you to jail for up to three years. Now stop it!" Yeah, that's going to get these gang members to tow the straight and narrow. They're such bulwarks of the community anyway.

Part of the national Junior Chamber of Commerce creed is the sentence, "That government should be of laws rather than of men." Our country was founded and continues to operate under that premise. We broke away from a dictatorial government 231 years ago today, declaring that we would be ruled not by a monarch or any form of despotism, but would govern ourselves, allowing free men and women to define the limits and the expanse of their own freedom. And by the continuing grace and protection of God, we continue to do so today. In this effort, "We the people" may go overboard with some of our laws, but in the final analogy, we are all in the same boat together.

Have a wonderful 4th of July. And if I don't get back to you before next week...Merry Christmas!