Friday, June 30, 2006

Remember the Movie Ben? Reality Is Strange But True


Every city has a cat lady. You don't know about her until you read in the paper headlines that say, "Police were called today to the home of Eunice Smith and found over 200 cats..." Well the same thing happened this week to some rat hugger in where else...California.

It all started four years ago when Roger Dier bought a baby rat to feed his pet Indian python. But when he saw the furry little critter squeaking for its life, the lifelong animal lover said he didn't have the heart to let it become just another snake snack.

"I couldn't stand it," he told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa. "I took the rat out of the cage and got to know it."

After that, Dier was hooked on the rodents, which he described as gentle, lovable and an endless source of entertainment. He later bought four more at the pet store -- but didn't think to spay or neuter them.

Last week, animal control officers discovered more than 1,300 rats in Dier's small one-bedroom Petaluma home, after a neighbor complained about the foul smell. He was cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Dier, 67, said depression, loneliness, denial and a recent bout of flu and bronchitis kept him from maintaining control of the fast-breeding population.

"I did not set out to do this," he told The Press Democrat. "I do acknowledge irresponsibility and there's a case for laziness, denial, incompetence and just plain foolishness."

But "it was not all my fault," he added. "It was this force of nature that overwhelmed me."

The infestation at his home wasn't Dier's first encounter with a rat pack.

In 1963, his Culver City apartment was used as a hideout by two of three men who were later convicted of kidnapping Frank Sinatra Jr., son of the legendary Rat Pack crooner. Dier said he later served two prison terms for an unrelated weapons charge and armed robbery.

"I was just a young kid. I was mixed up," he said.

Dier moved to Petaluma in 1978, working at an assembly plant and as a stained glass maker. He now lives off a small inheritance from his mother.

By all appearances, Dier looks like an everyday retiree, donning jeans and an Hawaiian shirt on a warm afternoon and driving a new Toyota Tacoma.

But his house, located in a quiet middle-class neighborhood, reeks of urine. The floor is covered with the chaff of feed mixed with rat droppings, and everything is gnawed on, including the sheetrock walls, according to The Press Democrat.

When animal control officers arrived, they found some rats stacked six deep in cages so overcrowded that many had missing eyes and limbs.

Dier admitted that he felt some relief when they were confiscated, noting the "crushing burden" of trying to care for them. He was up to buying 250 pounds of rat food a week.

Most of the rats have been euthanized, some because they were too sick or injured and others because they weren't socialized well enough to be adopted, said Nancee Tavares, manager of Petaluma Animal Services.

"We believe quality of life is important, and there was no quality of life for these rats," she said.

Rat lovers have expressed outrage at the euthanizations, but Tavares said the pace of adoptions have gone too slow to expect all the rats to find homes. As of Thursday, only 12 of the rodents had gotten new owners, while different shelters and animal rescue groups promised to take about 30 off the agency's hands.

"We've gotten a lot of people criticizing us, but not offering to take one or two," Tavares said.

Meanwhile, Dier, who was allowed to keep his seven cats, said he was grieving the loss -- and deaths -- of his furry friends.

"That's a darn pity," Dier said. "It's unfair to the animals. I'm not saying I wasn't unfair letting them be born into existence, but they didn't deserve to die."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Fightin' Side Of Me



I hear people talkin' bad
About the way we have to live here, in this country
Harpin' on the wars we fight
An' grippin' 'bout the way things oughta be

An' I don't mind 'em switchin' sides an'
Standin' up for things they believe in
When they're runnin' down my country, man
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of me
Runnin' down the way of life
Our fightin' men have fought and died to keep

If you don't love it, leave it
Let this song I'm singin' be a warnin'
If you're runnin' down my country man
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me

I read about some foreign guy
Who lives here but he hates the USA
And I wonder just how long
The rest of us can count on bein' free

They love our milk an' honey
But they preach about some other way, of livin'
When they're runnin' down my country, hoss
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of me
Runnin' down our way of life
Our fightin' men have fought and died to keep

If you don't love it, leave it
Let this song I'm singin' be a warnin'
When you're runnin' down my country, man
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of me
Runnin' down our way of life
Our fightin' men have fought and died to keep

If you don't love it, leave it
Let this song I'm singin' be a warnin'
If you're runnin' down my country, man
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me







By Merle Haggard - God Bless Him

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Ancestor's Dialect




My folks grew up in a strange land where people speak an unusual English dialect.

The land is called Appalachia. The dialect that is spoken has many descriptions: hillbilly, country, redneck, southern and some others with names that are less kind. Scholars say that this dialect may be closer to Shakespearean English than the dialect of the present upper class twits. I’m doubtful.

For instance when discussing the pipe that discharges returned air and gases from your furnace these folks use the word Chim-lee instead of Chimney.

A translation of some other words would be:

Car, truck or van is “Vee-Hic-ul”
The pronoun “I” is “Ah”A gathering of people is “You’uns”
The plural of We are is “We’s”Light bulbs are “Lat Bubs”
Crayons are “Crins”
Head is “Hade”Lord is “Lard”
Soft drinks, soda or Pop would be “Sodie” or actually RC since that is the official beverage.

Another unusual feature of this dialect is to place a plural pronoun before a singular noun. This happens ususally when describing something edible. i.e. “Them pork chops is good. Them shore was good apple pah.” Of course "pah" being "pie."

I am having a hard time imaging Elizabeth the First of England addressing her Royal Court:

“Ah would lak’ tah’ let all a' you’uns know them mutton were shore good. As for Lard Carbuncle, We'uns is gonna' execute his sorry arse. Off with his hade!”

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rush Limbaugh




I used to enjoy listening to this blabber mouth on the radio. He was spot on when Clinton was President. He jabbed and cajoled at all the politicos that were busily directing our countries monetary resources to their own needs and concerns. Rush shined a kleg light on them and made them scurry. He was pro-Republican. He became their top cheerleader. His voice assisted them in obtaining control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency.

“O’ for the gift the Giftie gee us, to see ourselves as others see us” are no truer words spoken by Mr. Burns. The Democrats made themselves into the collective town fool which was the biggest reason for their downturn. The Repubs have followed their lead and are taking a similar approach to their victory.

Brother Limbaugh denied his addiction to painkillers. Because he is a big man and is in the spotlight, the light only got brighter and now we are all aware of his issues. His prestige, wealth and connections served to get him off the hook. When confronted about his issues, he offered the “socko line” that he is cured and it was all a misunderstanding and we should overlook this bump in the road, after all he settled his legal battle. Let's move on

Because of this I no longer respect his opinion. I today's news we see that he has his ass in a sling one more time. Read on:

Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

Customs officials found a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra in his luggage that didn't have Limbaugh's name on it, but that of two doctors, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

A doctor had prescribed the drug, but it was "labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for privacy purposes," Roy Black, Limbaugh's attorney, said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection examined the 55-year-old radio commentator's luggage after his private plane landed at the airport from the Dominican Republic, said Miller.

The matter was referred to the sheriff's office, whose investigators interviewed Limbaugh. According to Miller, Limbaugh said that the Viagra was for his use, and that he obtained it from his doctors.

Investigators confiscated the drugs, which treats erectile dysfunction, and Limbaugh was released without being charged.

The sheriff's office plans to file a report with the state attorney's office. Miller said it could be a second-degree misdemeanor violation.

Limbaugh reached a deal last month with prosecutors who had accused the conservative talk-show host of illegally deceiving multiple doctors to receive overlapping painkiller prescriptions. Under the deal, the charge, commonly referred to as "doctor shopping," would be dismissed after 18 months if he continues to submit to random drug tests and treatment for his acknowledged addiction to painkillers.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hot Dogs

I love Hot Dogs. Who doesn’t? I think the best are Nathan’s, but that is just my opinion.

I’m old enough to recall wieners with skins on them. Boars Head Meats still sell this kind. Most companies have gone to producing skinless wieners that are cooked at the factory in plastic tubes that are removed once the cooking process is done. This saves mothers from having to peel off the skin once the kiddo is old enough to discover the liner is made from pork intestine.

Those old style hot dogs were very suspicious. Only the Good Lord knows what sort of meat was put into the mix. The meat was dyed to make it look pink. They still dye hot dogs. Some of the cheaper brands of wieners consist of various mystery meats and fillers.
What the heck are fillers? It turns out this is bread crumbs, oatmeal or cereal, flour, egg whites and spices. Of course there is sodium nitrate and preservatives added to the mix.
The sodium nitrate is there to help the weenies maintain their pleasant pink color and it helps to prevent botulism. Although botulism is all the rage and rich ladies are paying big bucks to have it injected into almost every body part. Maybe they should just eat hot dogs. Pass the mustard please.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Prisoners of War In the Year 2006


I think back on events that have happened that have set this country in a new direction. Specifically WWll and The Civil War. The same issues surfaced then as now.
What do we do with prisoners captured during wartime? How much information can be available to the general public without jeopardizing our armed forces.


Abraham Lincoln had a great answer to the latter. He put journalists and news publishers in prison. When that didn't work, he had them put on prison ships. During the Civil War prison conditions were rather poor for Confederate POW's. But you have to consider that times were bad for the entire nation, North and South.

During WWll German POW's were transported to the southern USA and treated rather well. They were put to work farming. They probably were treated as well or better than in their home country, considering the homeland was being bombed and invaded.

Now we have the ACLU and Amnesty International saying that the treatment of enemy combatants held in Guantanamo Bay is inhumane. According to them, the men have Constitutional rights and rights to a trial guarenteed under the Geneva Convention.

I happen to disagree with the ACLU and Amnesty International. The captured men are the enemy and are under military law. Therefore they should be tried before a military court. This is more than is offered to our brave men and women that have been captured, tortured, beaten, put before a video camera and told what to say. Most have sumarily been executed thereafter. What has Amnesty International or the ACLU done about this? Not a damned thing, because they know if they go poking their big noses into Al Qaida's goings on, or into the business of any of the terror cells in Iraq or Afghanistan they too will be killed.


This week the case of a former driver for Osama bin Laden may help decide the fate of dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and perhaps all of them, as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on his legal challenge to the first U.S. war crimes trials since World War II.

The court, which is expected to rule as early as Monday, is considering a range of issues in Salim Ahmed Hamdan's case, including whether President Bush had the authority to order military trials for men captured in the war on terror and sent to the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President Bush recently suggested the ruling will help him determine what should be done with all the prisoners at Guantanamo, where the U.S. holds about 450 men on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday that Bush doesn't need a court decision to close the prison, which has drawn intense international criticism. The case has nothing to do with the prison itself, they said.

"Bush can close Guantanamo, but this (court) decision can't," said Ben Wizner, an ACLU attorney who monitors Guantanamo. "That's not a question before this court."

The ruling, however, could determine whether the government can proceed with military trials for Hamdan and nine other detainees who have been charged with crimes.

Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief Guantanamo prosecutor, said about 65 more detainees being held at the U.S. base are likely to be charged with crimes if the Supreme Court upholds the process.

Prosecutors are preparing additional charges, including some that could incur the death penalty, Davis told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Washington.

"We're pressing on, anticipating a favorable decision," he said.

Hamdan's attorneys argued that the conspiracy charge filed against him is not legitimate. The government has charged each of the 10 detainees with conspiracy, and seven of them _ including Hamdan _ currently face no other charges.

If the Supreme Court upholds Hamdan's challenge, the government could "relatively quickly" file new charges such as aiding the enemy, Davis said.

Hamdan, a 36-year-old native of Yemen, admits working as a driver for bin Laden but denies conspiring to commit terrorist attacks on the United States. He fled Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan and turned over to U.S. forces.

The U.S. military says Hamdan was also a bodyguard for bin Laden and would have at least had knowledge of al-Qaida attacks. They also say he delivered weapons to members and associates of the terror network. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

His military-appointed attorney, Navy Lt. Cmdr Charles Swift, said the lawsuit is aimed at moving the case to the civilian court system or to a traditional military court-martial. Lawyers for several defendants contend the tribunals lack guidelines and favor the prosecution.

"This is about a fair trial, not a free pass," Swift said.

The Supreme Court was also asked to consider whether fair trial provisions of the Geneva Conventions apply to the military tribunals.

Another issue is whether the Supreme Court even has a say in the matter. The administration argues the Detainee Treatment Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 30, strips the federal courts of much of their jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees.

Let us hope that righteousness and good sense prevails.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Germany Fights England Again - Deja Vu


It's happening again folks minus the Blitzkreig. Germany and England at War.
The Krauts vs. The Limies. Sauerbratten vs. Bangers and Mash. Helles Weisbrau vs. Bass Pale Ale.

Riot police detained a group of around 100 rowdy England soccer fans in a square in the center of Stuttgart on Saturday after they had clashed with German fans, throwing bottles and chairs and trading punches.

Today's Message - A Public Service Announcement

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Perfect Vacation Place To Take A Relaxing Crap


No one likes to talk about bodily functions, at least no one young does. But when you reach my age that is all we talk about. Color, consistency, amount. Yep, that's what you youngsters have to look forward to.

So the next time I take a vacation, I'm thinking about going to Singapore. Based on the following news item, they have the cleanest crappers in the world.

Read on:

Singapore, famous for its spotless streets, is stepping up its campaign against filth in the restroom with a training program to boost the status and skills of the city-state's toilet cleaners, a newspaper reported Thursday.

More than 50 toilet cleaners will be promoted to "restroom specialist" upon completing the three-day pilot course taught by Japanese experts in the latest toilet technology, The Straits Times reported.

The program sponsored by the city-state's National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore-based World Toilet College _ aims to boost the image and wages of professional toilet cleaners by training them to do more on the job, The Straits Times reported.

The college has flown in three top Japanese trainers to conduct the course on improving cleaning techniques and technical expertise to the initial group of 51 cleaners.

"The plan is to expand the pilot course to a 64-hour one, after which trainees will be certified as 'restroom specialists,'" the article said.

"Cleaners have low morale and low skills," the paper quoted Jack Sim, the World Toilet College's founder, as saying. "We want to professionalize them and teach them to be proud of their jobs."

Sim said he plans to train all 5,000 toilet cleaners in the tiny city- state and raise their average monthly wage to 950 Singapore dollars (US$598), from the previous 750 Singapore dollars (US$472).

This cleanliness-obsessed nation has launched a number of campaigns to improve the city-state's toilets.

In November last year, the government released new guidelines for public toilet usage to cut down on long lines at women's restrooms. It has also published maps to Singapore's 500 cleanest public toilets, and awarded "five-star" or "Happy Toilet" ratings to those with spic- and-span interiors.

I definitely want to use a Happy Toilet!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Comments On An Editorial About The Bombing Of Al Zarqawi


A couple of weeks ago two 500 pound bombs landed on a house in a suburb of Afghanistan where serial terrorist, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was enjoying dinner with family and friends. This was a fitting end for an evil bastard. The words evil bastard are way too kind for this pathetic waste of humanity. It is a horrible epithet when the best that can be said about a person’s life is that the world is a much better place without them. But there are no truer words.

About a week after the announcement of his death, the facts surfaced regarding the sequence of events. Along with Al Zarqawi, his dinner guests were also killed. Among those were his spiritual advisor, Al Zarqawi's 16 year old wife and his 18 month old daughter. Al Zarqawi was 40 years old.

It was at this same time an editorial appeared in our local newspaper that was written by the wife of one of the town’s more prominent gentlemen. This lady was bemoaning the fact that the life of an innocent child was lost due to this bombing. Since the child was present it was her opinion that the bombing should have been cancelled or not have taken place.

It is a shame that this lady did not seek my advice. She may have at least delayed expressing her opinion until she had all the relevant facts.

First of all this evil man was responsible for the sadistic deaths of many, many people of his own country men and women as well as members of our military forces and Coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Let us not forget to mention the civilians employed from nations that are working in Afghanistan or Iraq to repair the infrastructure that he had kidnapped, tortured and murdered. He has beheaded people. Come on people, this is 2006 not the middle ages. He has trained his militia in the use of ricin along with other poisonous gases and bacterial weapons that could target civilians. He has trained his militia and others in bomb manufacturing. He is associated with Bin Laden and with Al Qaida.

He would have no reservations about savagely murdering this editorial writer’s entire family right before her eyes and then murdering her.

Al Zarqawi married a 14 year old girl when he was 38. What is up with that? In any culture this is just wrong on so many levels. You also have to ask yourself what was the family of this young lady thinking by allowing her to consort with a mad man who was not only well over twice her age, but also a sadistic murderer.

Al Zarqawi knew that he was on the most wanted list for the US Armed Forces and that he had a price on his head. He had to be aware that spending anytime with his family could potentially put them in harms way, a fact he blatantly disregarded.

His young wife also was aware that by being around him that she was putting herself and her child at risk. Perhaps at her young age or because of cultural issues she had no control over this fact. Yet she is ultimately responsible for the welfare of her infant.

The editorial writer was wrong that one child was killed during the attack. Two children were killed. She was also wrong on placing responsibility on the US Armed Forces.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mary Worth


Who doesn’t like reading the Funny Papers? I’ve been reading the comics since I was a little guy. Before that my Dad would read them to me every Sunday morning.

The “comics” have always been rather diverse. By that I don’t mean ethnically. I mean there are some strips that aren’t funny. These are mainly the serial strips. Some of these were adventure strips aimed at guys and some are soap opera strips aimed at the ladies.

In my humble opinion the most worthless of the serial strips is Mary Worth. What a nosey old biddy. She has been poking her snoot into other people’s affairs since 1938.

According to her creators, in 1938 she was a teacher and the widow of a wealthy tycoon. ( Are there still tycoons anymore? You seldom hear that term)

Do the math. The old girl is 128 years old and qualifies for the birthday segment on the Good Morning America weather report or a mention by Paul Harvey (who also is 128) on his radio report.

Mary has been a pest and a buttinski for 68 years now and most of us ignore her. I cannot fathom why her strip continues. The syndicate that distributes it must have some dirt on each of America’s newspaper publishers. (Why did you think that comic strip publishers are called a Syndicate?)

So I’ll end my rant of the day by joining the millions of other comic strip readers that over look the 3 panel blip taking up space on the page known as Mary Worth. Now I wonder what that zany Cathy is up to?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mormons



Now I really don’t have many issues with someone’s beliefs. The can worship Elvis for all I care. However when your beliefs infringe on my right to shave, well sir that’s when I have a problem.

Take for instance a Saturday afternoon about 25 years ago. The wife was off on errands and I had slept late. I got up, had my coffee and then took a shower and was standing in my all-together shaving my whiskers when I hear the doorbell.

I wrapped a towel around me and went to see who was there. I was hoping it was the Swedish Bikini team, but no. Standing before me are two young fellows both dressed in white shirts and ties and black slacks. One of them had a backpack. I could see their bicycles parked in front of the house.

“Hi there!”, says one of them, “We are here to tell you about the Book of Mormon. Is this a good time to talk?”

I removed my towel and said, “Does it look like it’s a good time to talk?”

Those Mormon guys went scurrying off. Apparently the sight of Boudinot Jr. put the fear of God into them young’uns.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Next Door Neighbor Has Obsessive Compulsive Lawn Disorder


My next door neighbor lady has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder. She has planted well over 100 varieties of flowers and she mows her lawn three times a week. Because our side yards abut and she is unhappy with the length that I mow my grass, she mows my side yard so it conforms to her high standards. She stays up at night worrying about the deer and other varmints that dine on her shrubbery. She has spent well over $100 a bottle for pepper flavored plant spray that deer and other critters are not supposed to like. It doesn't work. Infact the deer enjoy it as a condiment. A few years ago we had an attack of moles and the poor dear nearly had to be institutionalized.

My old friend Kent lives in Las Vegas Nevada and has a front lawn full of large sized gravel. I envy Kent. What little foliage that he has surrounding his house, he can only water several times in a week because of the water shortage. I have not met Kent's next door neighbor, but I could safely wager that she does not have obsessive compulsive lawn disorder.

How did a plant species like grass that is ill suited to the United States and the patrician taste for a rolling expanse of green take root from the shores of the Atlantic to the desiccated terrain of Southern California? The short answer is that it didn't, not until after the Civil War. Although Washington and Jefferson had lawns, most citizens did not have the hired labor needed to cut a field of grass with scythes. Average homeowners either raised vegetables in their yards or left them alone. If weeds sprouted, fine. If not, that was fine, too.

Toward the end of the 19th century, suburbs appeared on the American scene, along with the sprinkler, greatly improved lawn mowers, new ideas about landscaping and a shorter workweek. A researcher investigating the psychology of suburbanites in 1948 observed shrewdly that the American work ethic coexisted uneasily with free time, and that "intense care of the lawn is an excellent resolution of this tension." This psyche also sprouted a new industry of mowers, wackers, chemicals and telephone agents that call incessantly to inform you that for a small fee their company will make your yard beautiful or at least as nice as my obsessive compulsive neighbor lady's yard. At least until the moles arrive.

I used to feel guilty that I was not out there every other day mowing, weeding, seeding, watering, trimming and mulching. I worked too much when I was younger and now my back aches, my arthritis bothers me, the summer sun is too darn hot and I just plain don't give a tinker's dam.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right, But 3 Lefts Do


A priest, a Pentecostal preacher and a Rabbi were talking one day when someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear. So they decided they would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it. Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience.

Father Flannery, his arm in a sling and on crutches, goes first. "Well," he says, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the
Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts and he says, " Well BROTHERS, I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quickly DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. The rabbi looks up and says, "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start."

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Screaming Eagles

An old Army buddy came up and threw his arm around Paul Bebout's neck Thursday morning in the Ploughmans Room of the Drawbridge Inn, where Bebout and about 60 other World War II veterans from the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment gathered for a reunion. "Bebout, you still alive?'' his buddy said; and the two men, both in their 80s, threw back their heads and laughed.

What is a little gallows humor to men who, as young soldiers fighting their way across Europe, cheated death more than 60 years ago?

Of the thousands of units that went to war in Europe then, few saw more opportunities to die in battle than the 501st, a unit of the "Screaming Eagles'' of the 101st Airborne Division.


They parachuted into Normandy behind enemy lines in the pre-dawn hours of D-Day; they fought in the frustrating Allied failure in Operation Market-Garden, an attempt by the Allies to seize bridges so armored troops could advance into the Lower Rhine Valley; and they became legends in the Battle of the Bulge, surrounded and outnumbered by the Nazi forces in the freezing cold of the Belgium village of Bastogne, where they earned their nickname - "the Battered Bastards of Bastogne.''

It was there, in Bastogne, when the Germans sent in a message seeking a surrender of the 101st Airborne, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe sent back the famous one-word reply that mystified the Nazis: Nuts.

About 60 men of the 501st have come to the Drawbridge for their 32nd reunion - many more are too infirm to come; and the list of those who have passed away since their last convention a year ago is almost as long as the list of those in attendance.

"Everyone here is family,'' said Glenna Amburgey of Wilder, Ky., whose late husband Eugene was a proud veteran of the 501st and one of the organizers of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment Association.

Amburgey and her daughter, Valerie, also of Wilder, have been organizing reunions since 1976.

This time, they brought the group to their own backyard for a weekend of meetings, banquets, sight-seeing and reminiscing with old pals that runs through Sunday.

Thursday morning, about 30 of the soldiers - along with their spouses, children and some grandchildren - gathered in the hospitality room to sit around tables for snacks and to catch up with old friends.

Bebout, who came with his wife, Annabelle, from the southeast Ohio town of McConnellsville, stood and traded stories with a buddy, Duane Harvey, a native Oklahoman, who now lives in Albuquerque, N.M.

Pretty soon, the two were playing a friendly game of can-you-top-this with a visitor.

Harvey didn't parachute in with the rest in the Normandy invasion; he stayed behind in England for more parachute training and didn't parachute into Europe until that fall.

"Those were some pretty good months in England,'' Harvey said. "The rest of the guys were over there; and that meant there were more English girls for the rest of us.''

Both men, though, were among the American soldiers of the 101st Airborne surrounded by the Germans at Bastogne in December 1944, freezing in the cold, living on bland K-rations and holding off the Nazis with dwindling ammunition until Gen. George Patton's Third Army could break through and free them.

"There were five or six guys in my platoon who had no weapon and no ammunition,'' Bebout said. "The company commander ordered me to take the squad and go out and take a hill, with bayonets drawn. Take a hill with what? Half of them didn't have a rifle, much less a bayonet. But we did it anyway, somehow.''

Bebout and Harvey walked through the hospitality room, introducing their visitor to old buddies.

"Tell him about the bucket of peaches,'' Harvey said to John Primerano of Manchester, N.H.

Primerano laughed before launching into a tale about how, before they loaded onto the planes for a parachute drop into Holland, he grabbed a big can of peaches - "I was kind of a chow hound'' - and passed them around among his fellow paratroopers.

"Next thing you know, everybody was heaving,'' Primerano said, his buddies doubling over in laughter. "I don't know if it was the peaches, the plane or both, but I was so sick I can't even remember going out the door. I do remember throwing up on the way down.''

A Dutch farmer and his wife found the deathly ill Primerano lying in their field and nursed him back to health. Primerano said he returned to Holland in 1986 and found the woman who had helped him.

He visited her every year from then on until she died at the age of 100 years, 10 months.

"She was like a mother to me,'' Primerano said.

Bill Sefton, a former 1st lieutenant in the 501st, greeted the men as Primerano finished his story.

Sefton, who lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., has written a book about the unit.

"The thing you have to remember is that the biggest motivation for a man in battle is that you don't want the guys on each side of you to know how scared you are,'' Sefton said. "That's how we were.''

"There were a lot of good men in that outfit,'' Bebout told Sefton. "A lot of good men.''

"And,'' said Sefton, "a lot of good men who didn't come home.''

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Calendar vs The Atheists

In the news I happened to read about a decision in a state court of Kentucky. I guess properly addressed Kentucky is a Commonwealth. But I digress.

An atheist sued the state because the cornerstones of all governmental buildings were marked with the A.D. and the year of the construction.

A.D. usually understood as the abbreviation for Anno Domini.


Of course the politicians from back in the day were part of a world-wide conspiracy to inflict their religious beliefs on the poor downtrodden folks that God has endowed with breath, life and the ability to not believe in Him. So this “idjit” took his issue to court.

His goal was to change the markers to say CE. This stands for Common Era and is used on Hebrew buildings, Synagogues and publications. They also use B.C.E. instead of B.C. as a designation. It stands for Before the Common Era.

In these days of trying to make everyone happy and take into consideration their tender feelings it would seem that perhaps this godless joker might have a point. That would hold water unless you did your homework, which I have done and will share the answers with you. There may be a test on this at a later date, so pay attention.

Different cultures in different parts of the world devised ways to mark the passing of time and we know these as calendars. You may be familiar with them as the things your insurance guys sends you at Christmas or Holiday Season, depending on your preference. Calendars have provided the basis for planning agricultural, hunting, and migration cycles, for divination and prognostication, and for maintaining cycles of religious and civil events.

They are based on different criteria that were important to a culture. It could be based on astronomical observations, lunar cycles, solar cycles, significant historical event beginnings and or religion. The principal astronomical cycles are the day (based on the rotation of the Earth on its axis), the year (based on the revolution of the Earth around the Sun), and the month (based on the revolution of the Moon around the Earth).

The calendar that most of us follow is the Gregorian calendar. Although the legal code of the United States does not specify an official national calendar. Use of the Gregorian calendar in the United States stems from an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1751, which specified use of the Gregorian calendar in England and its colonies. No one has ever questioned its use until 2006. The Gregorian calendar was created to serve the needs of the Roman Catholic Church for the ecclesiastical days and feasts.

Pope Gregory I

Since the atheists have never seemed to be able to hold a group meeting and string together a list of timely events into a calendar, well based on the fact that we got tired of waiting for them to do this and went ahead and used the Gregorian calendar. It was already there. What can we say?

The Gregorian calendar is also based on an epoch or a significant historical event that would mark a beginning of a period of time. In this case the birth of Jesus Christ.

This epoch was established by the sixth-century scholar Dionysius Exiguus, who was compiling a table of dates of Easter. An existing table covered the nineteen-year period denoted 228-247, where years were counted from the beginning of the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian.


Dionysius continued the table for a nineteen-year period, which he designated Anni Domini Nostri Jesu Christi 532-550. Thus, Dionysius' Anno Domini 532 is equivalent to Anno Diocletian 248. In this way a correspondence was established between the new Christian Era and an existing system associated with historical records. What Dionysius did not do is establish an accurate date for the birth of Christ. Although scholars generally believe that Christ was born some years before A.D. 1, the historical evidence is too sketchy to allow a definitive dating.

Given an initial epoch, one must consider how to record preceding dates. Bede, the eighth-century English historian, began the practice of counting years backward from A.D. 1. In this system, the year A.D. 1 is preceded by the year 1 B.C., without an intervening year 0. Because of the numerical discontinuity, this "historical" system is cumbersome for comparing ancient and modern dates. Today, astronomers use +1 to designate A.D. 1. Then +1 is naturally preceded by year 0, which is preceded by year -1. Since the use of negative numbers developed slowly in Europe, this "astronomical" system of dating was delayed until the eighteenth century, when it was introduced by the astronomer Jacques Cassini. Hence we have BC.

The Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar. It’s currently 5766 according to the Hebrew calendar. It is based mainly on the cycles of the moon. It start was attributed to the Era of Creation or Era Mundi which corresponds to -3760 October 7th on the Julian calendar.

The codified Hebrew calendar as we know it today is generally considered to date from A.M. (Anno Mundi) 4119 (+359), though the exact date is uncertain. At that time the patriarch Hillel II, breaking with tradition, disseminated rules for calculating the calendar. Prior to that time the calendar was regarded as a secret science of the religious authorities.

The Islamic calendar is based on the cycles of the moon . Years of twelve lunar months are reckoned from the Era of the Hijra, commemorating the migration of the Prophet and his followers from Mecca to Medina. This epoch, 1 A.H. (Anno Higerae) Muharram 1, is generally taken by astronomers to be Thursday, +622 July 15 (Julian calendar). This is called the astronomical Hijra epoch. Chronological tables generally use Friday, July 16, which is designated the civil epoch. In both cases the Islamic day begins at sunset of the previous day.


The National Calendar of India is a formalized lunisolar calendar in which leap years coincide with those of the Gregorian calendar as set by the Calendar Reform Committee in 1957. However, the initial epoch is the Saka Era, a traditional epoch of Indian chronology. Months are named after the traditional Indian months and are offset from the beginning of Gregorian months.

The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar based on calculations of the positions of the Sun and Moon. Months of 29 or 30 days begin on days of astronomical New Moons, with an intercalary month being added every two or three years. Since the calendar is based on the true positions of the Sun and Moon, the accuracy of the calendar depends on the accuracy of the astronomical theories and calculations.
Although the Gregorian calendar is used in the Peoples' Republic of China for administrative purposes, the traditional Chinese calendar is used for setting traditional festivals and for timing agricultural activities in the countryside.

The Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in -45, was a solar calendar with months of fixed lengths. Every fourth year an intercalary day was added to maintain synchrony between the calendar year and the tropical year. It served as a standard for European civilization until the Gregorian Reform of +1582. Today the principles of the Julian calendar continue to be used by chronologists. The Julian proleptic calendar is formed by applying the rules of the Julian calendar.

The year -45 has been called the "year of confusion," because in that year Julius Caesar inserted 90 days to bring the months of the Roman calendar back to their traditional place with respect to the seasons.

This was Caesar's first step in replacing a calendar that had gone badly awry. Although the pre-Julian calendar was lunisolar in inspiration, its months no longer followed the lunar phases and its year had lost step with the cycle of seasons Following the advice of Sosigenes, an Alexandrine astronomer, Caesar created a solar calendar with twelve months of fixed lengths and a provision for an intercalary day to be added every fourth year. As a result, the average length of the Julian calendar year was 365.25 days. This is consistent with the length of the tropical year as it was known at the time.

Following Caesar's death, the Roman calendrical authorities misapplied the leap-year rule, with the result that every third, rather than every fourth, year was intercalary. Although detailed evidence is lacking, it is generally believed that Emperor Augustus corrected the situation by omitting intercalation from the Julian years -8 through +4. After this the Julian calendar finally began to function as planned.

So the next time the local atheist sob sister decides to involve the ACLU and announce that their calendrical rights have been violated because the cornerstone of the courthouse says it was built in A.D. 1920 and they want it to say 1920 C.E., please let them know that they are wrong since it would have to read 5680 C.E to reflect the religious calendar that uses those linguistics.


You may want to remind them that most calendars were designed to reflect the religious mores of a culture and ask them to do a historical review of any atheist formalized calendars. Or they could just look at the A.D. on the cornerstone as an abreviation for Anno Diocletian.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Super Heroes

When I was a kid we had Superman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman and a few other super heroes. These were all a bunch of white folks saving America by running around in costumes so tight you could tell what religion they were.

The world has changed so much. And that’s a good thing.

Captain America used to fight the Nazi bastards. Now he’s fighting Al-Qaedae and the jack asses that make meth. That's pretty good for a guy who is older than me.

The Green Lantern used to be a redheaded white guy. Somewhere along the line he became Black.






This is the French version of Batman
known as The Night Runner.



Could it be long before we have a Middle Eastern Super Hero that fights terrorism? Oh wait….

Monday, June 12, 2006

Thought of the Day



When in touble, when in doubt,
run in circles scream and shout


WHY GUITARS ARE BETTER THAN WOMEN




Guitars don't get pregnant.
You can play your Guitar any time of the month.
Guitars don't have parents.
Guitars don't whine... unless you want them to.
You can share your Guitar with your friends.
Guitars don't care how many other Guitars you've played
Guitars don't care how many other Guitars you have.

Guitars don't care if you look at other Guitars.
Guitars don't care if you buy Guitar magazines.
You'll never hear, "Surprise, you are going to proud father of a new Guitar" unless you go out to buy one yourself.
If your Guitar is flat you can fix it.
Your Guitar doesn't care if you never listen to it.
Your Guitar won't care if you leave up the toilet seat.
You don't have to be jealous of the guy who works on your Guitar.
If you say bad things to your Guitar, you don't have to apologize before you play it again.
You can play your Guitar as long as you want and it won't get sore.
You can stop playing your Guitar as soon as you want and it won't get frustrated.
Your parents won't remain in touch with your old Guitar after you dump it.
Guitars don't get headaches.
Guitars don't insult you if you're a bad player.
Your Guitar never wants a night out with the other Guitars.
Guitars don't care if you're late.
You don't have to take a shower before you play your Guitar.
If your Guitar doesn't look good you can refinish it or get new parts.
You can play your Guitar the first time you meet it, without having to take it to dinner, see a movie, or meet its mother.
The only protection you have to wear when playing your Guitar is a decent thumb pick.
When in mixed company, you can talk about what a great time you had the last time you played your Guitar.
and last, but not least:
If you decide to part with an old Guitar, you don't have to give up half of everything you own.

Playing the Guitar


One thing you ought to know about me is that I am a guitar player. And I like to fingerpick. There are ome folks call it thumb picking.

This was a style made popular by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. It was originally developed by Mose Rager and Ike Everly. They were a couple of Kentucky boys from way back in the day. I guess originally the style came from some of the old blues players. Though not commonly used today, the term "Travis picking" was once widely understood to describe the common style of alternating-bass fingerpicking used by American fingerpickers from the 1950s into the 1970s, after the great country guitarist and songwriter Merle Travis.

American fingerstyle guitar is commonly played on steel string acoustic guitars with 6 or 12 strings. While it is played on just about every type of guitar, these are most common and characteristic. Music arranged for American fingerstyle playing can include chords, arpeggios and other elements such as artificial harmonics, hammering on and pulling off with the fretting hand, using the body of the guitar percussively, and many other techniques.

American primitive guitar is a subset of American fingerstyle guitar. It originated with John Fahey, whose first record album Blind Joe Death (1959) inspired many guitarists such as Leo Kottke, who made his debut recording of 6 and 12 String Guitar on Fahey's Takoma label in 1969. American primitive guitar can be characterized by the use of folk music or folk-like material, driving alternating-bass fingerpicking with a good deal of repetitious ostinato patterns, and the use of alternative tunings (scordatura) such as open D and drop D

Saturday, June 10, 2006

PIN THE STAMP ON THE TRAMP



Cut out tattoo and see
if you can pin it on
the girls butt
I need to raise some extra money, so I invented this game. I haven't heard from Parker Brothers yet.

In the meantime I offer it to you.

The directions are simple.

Print out the pictures and blow them up. Now cut them out

Put the girl's picture on the wall. Put a piece of tape on the picture of the tattoo.

Now blindfold your friend and spin him or her around a couple of times or just get him to drink a Jaegermeister. Then see if he can Pin The Stamp On The Tramp.

The Three Explorers Story


You probably don't recall the story about the three explorers. It happened years ago.

They discovered an ancient tribe in the jungle. The tribe was called the Whodos. They were a very fierce tribe. When the explorers met up with the tribe, the Whodos whisked them off to their chief. The chief was called Grand Moodoo,the great leader of the Whodos.

The Moodo happened to speak English, since these men were not the first to come across the Whodo tribe. The Moodo said to the frightened men, "If you are to remain alive then you must pass the test of the three caves. In the first cave you will find a bottle of toxic rum. You each must drink out of the bottle. And if you survive you will go to the next cave. In this cave is an angry lion with a thorn in it's paw. You must remove the thorn or be eaten by the lion. If you live in the last cave you will find a woman who has never been satisfied. Satify her and you will live."

The men looked at each other and one of them said, "I will go first." And he walked into the first cave and there he saw an ancient bottle. He unsealed the wax and removed the cork and took a drink of the bottle's contents. A loud thump was heard by all as he fell over dead.

The two other explorers looked at each other and finally one said, "I shall go." And off he went. He picked up the bottle and took a drink. Amazingly he only felt the warm rum pass down his throat and he walked out unscathed. He next went to the cave with the angry lion. After a few minutes of silence loud roars and screams of agony came from inside the cave. Then there was no noise.

The Moodo looked at the last explorer and said, "It is your turn now." And the last explorer went to the first cave and drank the poison rum. He felt fine and finished off the bottle. He then came staggering out of the cave and went right into the lion's cave. The villagers heard loud roars and screams, but then they heard a loud purring sound from the giant cat. The remaining explorer staggered out of the cave unharmed.


He went into the woman's cave. After about fifteen minutes he came staggering out and was shaking his head. He looked at the Moodo and said, "I couldn't find any thorn in that woman's foot!"

Friday, June 09, 2006

Old Guy Barbershop

There is a barber here in town named Bob Buffalo. When he was young his family once owned a bar during prohibition and sold beer illegally. I lost track of him over the years, but it turns out he has been barbering.

His shop is a small place with about 7 or 8 old kitchen chairs from a 1950’s dinette. He has copies of vintage magazines scattered all over the place. Most are hunting-fishing or sport related. The floor is covered with clumps of grey and black hair. Today's newspaper is in sections on a couple of vacant chairs.

An ancient window air conditioner hums in the window as Bob gives a fellow a “regular.” He offers two styles of hair cuts. The Regular, which he leaves about an inch or so of hair on the top and gives you a close trim on the back and sides with his clippers. The other is The Butch, which the kids call the Buzz-cut. This is the military style of practically shaving your head with the clippers to leave your head covered in stubble.


The great thing about going to his shop is not the haircut, but getting to shoot the bull with the other guys. We talk about the old days and how bad things have become. We swap jokes and comment on the gawd-awful haircut Bob just gave someone. Bob doesn’t seem to mind. He just squirts some more oil on his clippers and motions to the next customer.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Generic News

This is good for any city and I offer it for use in any publication. I offer:



Today’s generic news.

Shootings occurred today in the bad part of town. Gang violence and drug dealing are the suspected cause.

Teen drivers are blamed for a bad wreck today on a hilly road in a nice suburb. Alcohol may be a factor.

Police are accused of using excessive force in the arrest of a suspect from the bad part of town.

Local attorney indicted in fraud scheme.

Local female teacher accused of having relationship with male student.

Democratic leaders accuse GOP coalition.

Republican leaders accuse Democratic coalition.

Priest is accused of molestation

Hospital planning new building addition.

School system contemplates request on next ballot for additional funding.

Homeless man taken to emergency room.

Taxi driver robbed at gunpoint.

Saint Francis Festival this weekend.

Today’s weather is sunny, overcast, cloudy with chance of rain perhaps thunderstorms, but maybe not. Temperatures in the high digits or low digits depending on how things go.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Illegal Immigrants


I am not happy with the way that the media is treating illegal immigrants. Every article that I have read states how hard they work and how many hours they put it every day at their job. According to the writers, most of the immigrants work 10 to 14 hours a day without complaining and only earn about $10 an hour.

Well big friggin whoopeee! I have been doing that all my life. Many jobs I've had paid me less than $10 an hour. Hell, I would have been grateful to be making $10 an hour at some of my jobs. And guess what? My employers all took taxes and social security payments out of each of my checks, so I netted less than $10 an hour.

When I was a young guy I worked at a nursing home as an orderly. I had to lift wet, naked old people in and out of bathtubs and in and out of beds. I had to clean their butts and give them baths. I'll tell you what, minimum wage was only about $1.25 back then and I was making about $2.25 an hour at that job. I had to work 12 hours a day to try to pay my bills.

Those immigrants are making 10 bucks an hour working 14 hour days, 7 days a week, so they are clearing $980 bucks a week and not paying any tax on it!

I say deport all their asses! The argument that American workers would not do their jobs is lame. There are plenty of out of work folks that are standing in line and happy to take any job.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Today is the Anniversary of D



Battle of Normandy

A Coast Guard-manned LCVP disembarks troops at Omaha Beach.
A United States Coast Guard LCVP disembarks troops at Omaha Beach
Conflict: World War II, Western Front
Date: June 6, 1944 – August 25, 1944
Place: Normandy, France
Outcome: Allied victory
Combatants
Allied Powers Nazi Germany
Commanders
Dwight D. Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander)
Bernard Montgomery (land)
Bertram Ramsay (sea)
Trafford Leigh-Mallory (air) Gerd von Rundstedt (OB WEST)
Erwin Rommel (Heeresgruppe B)
Strength
326,000 (by June 11) ?
Casualties
53,700 dead,
18,000 missing,
155,000 wounded about 200,000 dead, wounded and missing,
200,000 captured
Normandy - Sword – Juno – Gold – Omaha – Utah – Pointe du Hoc – Villers-Bocage – Epsom – Goodwood – Spring – Cobra – Bluecoat – L├╝ttich – Totalise – Tractable – Falaise – Brest – Paris

The Battle of Normandy was fought in 1944 between the German forces occupying Western Europe and the invading Allied forces as part of the larger conflict of World War II. Sixty years later, the Normandy invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord, remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in occupied France.

Twelve Allied nations provided units that participated in the invasion: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Normandy invasion began with overnight airborne paratrooper and glider landings, massive air and naval bombardments, and an early morning amphibious assault on June 6, "D-day". The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to establish, expand, and eventually break out of the Allied beachheads. It concluded with the liberation of Paris and the fall of the Chambois pocket.

Although ultimately successful, the Normandy landings were extremely costly in terms of men, military supplies and equipment. The 3rd Division's failure to take Caen, an overly ambitious target, on the first day was to have serious repercussions on the conduct of the war for well over a month, seriously delaying any forward progress. The fortuitous capture of Villers-Bocage followed by the failure to reinforce it, and its subsequent recapture by the Germans, was again to hamper any attempt to extend the Caen bridgehead and push on. By D+11, June 17, the assault had stagnated.

A lot of the problem came down to the nature of the terrain in which much of the post-landing fighting took place, the bocages. These were essentially small fields separated by high earth banks covered in dense shrubbery, which were eminently defensible.

In the end, the Normandy invasion succeeded in its objective by sheer force of numbers. Many more troops and equipment continued to come ashore after D-Day. By the end of July 1944, some 1 million Allied troops, mostly American, British and Canadian, were entrenched in Normandy.

The success of the battle opened up the long-awaited Western Front. Germany had to divert much-needed manpower and resources from the Russian and Italian fronts to fight on the new battlefields in western Europe.

The toehold established at Normandy was vital for the Western Allies (largely the British Commonwealth and the U.S.) to bring the war to the western border of Germany. By this time the Soviet forces had the capacity to crush Germany in Europe on their own, and therefore a western invasion was not strictly required to defeat the German Reich. On D-Day, the Red Army was steadily advancing towards Germany and four-fifths of the German forces were in the East. In France, the Allies faced only about 20% of the German army. The second front, however, certainly diverted German resources and attention from the eastern front, and shortened the war.

May God Bless the courageous men and women of the United States and all the Allied Countries that fought to maintain the freedom of the world during these years. May their names and memories never be forgotten.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Annuities


Annuities are a type of retirement plan that will give you an income on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis through your lifetime. You will not amass a penalty on your federal tax even if you retire early since you would be taking your payments over time.

HOWEVER! Be advised that many insurance agents like to set annuities up because it provides them with the most commission of any product that they offer. Be aware of all fees associated with annuities including annual fees and maintenance fees. Be especially aware of the large surrender fees associated with annuities.

A better alternative would be an IRA that could be invested in mutual funds that you choose or could be chosen for you by a financial advisor. You would be able to set up systematic withdrawals from an IRA in a simalar way to an annuity.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Letter From My Insurance Company



Bastards!

Update On the Insurance Claim



Well I finally heard back from my insurance agent James Skinner. I guess when I signed on with the Rippem, Fleecem and Skinner Agency I should have had some second thoughts.

As you may recall during a bad storm a tree was uprooted and landed in my front yard. There was no property damage to my home or porch. There are also two trees in the back of the house that are precariously appearing as they may topple over onto the house.

So Mr. Skinner tells me that he is sorry that the tree did not land on the house or at least across the driveway so he could approve the claim. Since it didn't my insurance does not cover the removal of the tree. Even though there is a massive hole in the front yard where the roots used to be.

Too bad, so sad.

Bastards!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Today's Salute: The Flip Flop

One of the world's greatest accomplishment is the Flip Flop shoe. This is not only the official shoe of third world nations, but the official footwear of Indiana, Kentucky, Southern Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia. The Flip Flop is singly responsible for lowering the rate of athlete's foot and tetanus. One would think it is named for the familiar sound of the shoe flopping against the wearer's heel, but no.

Footwear historian, Winston Hall provides us with information on the origin of the Flip Flop.

Spring break, warm temperatures, sunshine and longer days are all basically designed to bring about one thing: flip-flops. That’s correct. With the birth of spring comes the resurgence of the flip-flop. Anywhere on campus, if you pause and partake of the sounds, you can hear the whimsical pitter-patter of these wonderful warm-weather accessories. But, you cannot fully appreciate the uncluttered elegance of flip-flops without delving headfirst into the reasons behind their existence as well as the perils and bonuses of being the proud owner of some.

George & Ira Flop
Flip-flops were invented in 1956 by brothers George and Ira Flop. The brothers were inspired late one spring afternoon while frolicking on the beach. According the history books, Ira Flop, irritated by the complexity of everyday footwear, was motivated to find a new and unique way to protect his feet without housing them in confining things such as socks or loafers. He and George threw some ideas around and eventually the two inventors came up with the revolutionary idea of placing the support strap from a piece of foam BETWEEN the first two toes on your feet then having it loop loosely around the foot and connect again with the foam.



The lax nature of this restraint allowed pedal freedom unparalleled in modern times. The brothers knew what they had was gold, so they began marketing their invention immediately.

Initially, flip-flops were seen as unacceptable in public. They were labeled lude, vulgar, and even “the devil’s own handiwork.” Eventually, the free-spirited beachcombers of the West Coast discovered flip-flops. From there the popularity mushroomed.

 In the late 70’s, college students all around the nation discovered that by wearing flip-flops to class, they could conceivably gain 4-7 more minutes of sleep. Because of this, flip-flops have become a mainstay on the college scene.

You might ask yourself if there are any dangers in owning a pair of flip-flops. The answer may surprise you. According to a recent study by Reginald and Walker Research Firm, an astounding 78.9 % of America’s college students have experienced the socially demoralizing problem of “falling out” of their flip-flops. This has become a chronic problem in the past ten years. I can even vouch for this one on a personal level. Last week, while ascending the stairs in the Academic Building, I, too, fell out of my flip-flops. Had this occurred on level land, I might have been okay, but the fact is, I was on a series of progressive 90 degree angles in a pair of flip-flops.

As my ability to balance lessened with every second, I knew something must be done to prevent disaster. In both a literal and figurative attempt to save face, I quickly shoved both feet forward. While this did prevent me from falling up the stairs it also caused me to do something that, since the invention of the foot, has never been documented. I somehow managed to stub all ten of my toes simultaneously.



Eyewitnesses to this event were astounded that I could contort my feet to such an angle that this was physically possible. It did happen and I have the limp to prove it.

However, I was not deterred by this unfortunate incident simply because there are also many advantages to owning a pair of flip-flops. When considering the immense amount of responsibility that goes into the ownership of anything, the first thing you must consider is the price. Flip-flops, including original cost and maintenance, are actually cheaper than the average taco. In fact, flip-flops are SO cheap that, in many circles, they are considered disposable. In addition, flip-flops allow you to go weeks without washing socks. The end result: flip-flops save money as well as useless wear and tear on your washer and dryer.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked qualities of a flip-flop is that they always match. How many times have you ever heard the phrase, “That shirt clashes with your flip-flops?” I have never heard this. Flip-flops will never make an outfit mismatched. They will simply make it eclectic.

If you are debating whether or not flip-flops are in your future, you should probably just go ahead and buy some. Perhaps you aren’t ready to sink money into a pair of flip-flops just yet. That’s okay, too. Just take a set out for a test-flop. If anything, you will gain appreciation for all the other flip-flopper folks out there.

(For you English buffs out there, I just instantaneously morphed the word flip-flop into an adjective.)

However, there is no hurry. The flip-flop, a symbolic representation of American ideals, is not going away anytime soon. Appreciate what they stand for and why they exist. If you can understand these, nothing can stop you. So go to the nearest thrift store and start flopping today!