Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good News

In spite of any "bad" news from around the world, and the negativity being produced here in the U.S. by the presidential candidates, one can always find something to smile about. 

In the midst of all the nasty rhetoric about "Mexicans" spewed out by Donald Trump, this video resurfaced on a site called Sunny Skyz. The Mariachi band performed at a Chicago White Sox game in July, 2015. A wonderful rendition of our national anthem. "This is what America is all about."

In spite of the gloom and doom, and fearmongers among us regarding terrorism, this article will probably shock most of you. From 2015: The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being in the online Atlantic website:

"..terrorism, war, and murder together remain a minor cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 119,463 people died in incidents of “collective violence and legal intervention,” such as civil war, and 504,587 died from episodes of “interpersonal violence,” such as homicide, in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. In the same year, according to the Global Terrorism Index, 11,133 people died in terrorist attacks—suggesting terrorism accounted for about 1.8 percent of violent deaths worldwide." 

So if terrorism is not killing as many people as we are led to believe, what is? (From the same article.) "Rabies was responsible for three times as many deaths as terrorism that year. (2012) Stomach cancer killed more people than murder, manslaughter, and wars combined."

The article contains many interesting statistics such as worldwide famine and undernourishment, childhood mortality, the success of vaccines, and the (stuttering) spread of civil and political rights. It's a good read for GOOD NEWS. 

Although instances of police brutality and even what appeared to be killings of innocent people abounded in the news last year, there also have been good news stories like the one below, that was documented only recently. Positive Images of Police After this video hit the news, it was followed by the report that Shaq O'Neal later joined Officer White and some of his fellow officers for a pickup game. One can only imagine how thrilled these kids were.. and what a positive role model Shaq provided as well.

Sadly, racism is still a problem in much of American society. The uproar over the Confederate flag this past year is an example. GOOD NEWS: Thankfully, many states have taken the flag down, and moved them into museums or in less prominent places. The so-called "heroes" of the Confederacy have statues commemorating them all over the south. Texas has more than their share. GOOD NEWS: Public outcry has come a long way in having many of the memorials moved, as well as having names of schools changed that honor those same men. The notion that by doing this we are somehow denigrating important events and people in history is ridiculous. Slavery as well as the Holocaust are part of history as well. We do not have statues, memorials, and schools named after any of the participants in those horrific events. Maybe many folks need to be reminded - or taught better - that the Confederacy was formed to resist the termination of slavery in the United States, and protect the southern white slave owners.
Image result for Whitesboro, NY Logo Public Domain
GOOD NEWS: I salute the city of  Whitesboro, NY for listening to the Native Americans who said the logo for the city was offensive to their heritage. They have redesigned the sign (above), removing the offending picture. Sign of the Times

At first, this may not sound like "good news", as a small creature (let's call it like it is, rodent) became too possessive of my outdoor belongings. This one was active throughout the daylight hours, destroying cushions on my porch and deck, planting pecans in all my pot plants and subsequently, digging them up -- leaving dirt, broken leaves, and pecan shells all over the porch and deck. When I moved in, I thought the squirrels were cute, even when begging for nuts at my front door. My son also discovered a baby rock squirrel, pictured below. The rock squirrels like to forage at night, and I believe a grown-up version of this cute little baby was the guilty culprit in what proved to be a very expensive habit by one of these little creatures. A few months back, son Matthew looked under the hood of my car. He discovered pecan shells scattered over the battery. (I had heard a noise when driving, and was fearful one of the squirrels was under there when I drove off). A couple of weeks ago the car refused to start. After having it towed to a nearby garage, they gave me the news. It seems the "cute" little creatures had chewed up the electronic wiring, and to repair it cost over $800. So much for cuteness. I declared war.

GOOD NEWS: Having dealt with squirrels in my attic years ago, I recalled the name of a repellent to keep them from hanging around. It's called Fox Urine. Yep, it really is that -- only we bought it in dried, granule form. In reading articles regarding keeping these little creatures away, I found one funny suggestion.. I don't know if it's true, but this one man said not only would fox urine keep them away, but human urine would do the same. However, I couldn't talk my son Matthew into doing that. 

Peace, love, and smiles,

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


"Selfies show the body. 'Shelfies' show the soul." ..Maggie Galehouse

I recently read a wonderful article Shelfies - I'll Show You Mine.. by dewtx on Daily Kos that reinforced my intention to keep all of my books. Having moved five times in the past 15 years, I had to leave a lot of books behind. Most of those were fiction.. (I really love crime fiction.) A lot were books from a book club that I discovered were not worth what I paid for most of them when I tried to sell them to a used book dealer. In recent years, when I wish to read fiction, I usually visit my local library. Recently, I sometimes turn to e-books. My older son has generously gifted me with gift cards to Barnes & Noble, so I will be adding to my cache of nonfiction.

The bookcase above is in my office/guest room, and the one to the right is in my bedroom. All of the books in my home are accompanied by many "little treasures" on the same shelves -- photos of my loved ones and often small gifts from family and friends. Like a lot of people, the little table beside my bed has more than a few books that I have not yet finished reading or that I am reading again.

In the article I mentioned at the beginning of this post, was the following quote by J. Frank Dobie that was published in a column in the Houston Post, Sunday, November 1, 1959:

"For me, no mere design in paint is as beautiful as a wall of books, some old, some new, some with paper jackets still on, some without jackets. The colors in a whole wall of books are multitudinous: the arrangements, infinite. A house without books is as undecorated as a Hollywood decorator could make it. ... It doesn't matter to me that I can't read all the books. I can only read an infinitely small fraction of them: indeed, only a small fraction of them do I want to read. But it is wonderful to have hosts of good books around, and it's wonderful to look at walls solid with shelves of books, books, books."

I have to agree with Mr. Dobie with an exception. I have read most of my books. The big coffee table books in my living room, shown at the right, are some I probably have not read completely, however, I obtained them mostly for reference. That I have done, especially when creating Indian art work.

The invention of the Internet has sadly put an end to reading by the younger generations. All three of my children are extremely well-spoken, and talented writers (when I can coax them to write!). I read to each of them when they were very young. Consequently, my oldest, Craig, taught himself to read at age 5. I started when the youngest, Matthew, was a babe in arms. At nap time, as soon as he could walk, he brought me a stack of his books he wanted read to him while I rocked him. My mother bought sets of books that he received once a month for years. By the time he was eight years old, I was told he had the vocabulary of a sixteen-year-old. He was winning spelling bees consistently as well. 
When his son Travis was about a year and a half, I visited frequently. He did the same thing with his books -- bringing them to me to read to him. I have to admit the reading had to be interspersed with watching DVDs of Nemo and Monster, Inc.  An eighth grader now, he and his little sister are both good students and read very well.. especially on their computers.
As the old saying goes, "Children will not always do what you say, but they will always do what you do." I hope the children of my grandchildren learn to read something other than the emojis on their smart phones, or posts on their Facebook page!

You can tell a lot about a person by the books or lack thereof in their homes. It can be fun to sneak a peek at the titles.

Love and good reading,