Saturday, July 28, 2012

What's Going On

People go to the movies for escapism and fantasy. When you're watching a movie you can become part of the action. You can live vicariously through the characters on the screen. That's the beauty of movies. 

I used to love going to the movies with a few good friends who shared the experience with me. We fell in love with the characters, or wanted to be some of the heroes on the screen. We were transported to exotic or thrilling locations. The movies stimulated and inspired us. 

I think I saw every Hayley Mills movie ever made when she was a young movie star. I suppose she was my idol. I wanted to be a spunky, cheerful, bright young girl. I loved her English accent although it was hard to buy in the movie Parent Trap with two American parents. Still, I was willing to suspend reality to enjoy the movies.

That is why it bothers me so much that some crazy guy chose that location to  enact his heinous crime. He burst the magical bubble of fantasy, and he tarnished the joy of going to the movies.

At midnight July 20, 2012 James Holmes stood up front, in a packed theater, at the screening of The Dark Knight Rises, a Batman movie, and began shooting into the audience. He sent shock waves of terror through a crowd of movie goers, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. There has never been a theater shooting until that day. Less than a week later, another such plot was thwarted. Insanity breeds insanity. 

The first school shooting was August 1, 1966 at the University of Texas. Charles Whitman climbed a 28 story clock tower overlooking the campus around noon and killed 14 people, and his wife and mother beforehand. He ended up killing himself. After his death, officials found suicide notes requesting an autopsy. Whitman had been a model student, husband and son until recently before his rampage. He became an Eagle Scout when he was 12 years old. Nothing in his life could account for his bizarre murder spree. The autopsy revealed a brain tumor on the area of the brain that controls impulses. Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were created to prepare for any future attacks because of Whitman's massacre. 

There have been 27 mass casualty shootings since Columbine High School in Denver, Colorado on April 20, 1999. The Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, gunned down classmates, killing 13, and themselves. Ten years after the massacre, evidence came to light that everything that had been reported in the media about them was untrue. They were not in the Trenchcoat Mafia, they were not bullied, but they were bullies, and they hated everyone. Harris, by all accounts, appeared to be a psychopath. Klebold felt worthless and miserable. Together they created a caustic team. Information was gleaned from personal diaries, witnesses, police reports, and emails.

The most deadly killing was the Virginia Tech massacre which happened April 16, 2007 when Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks two hours apart. Six other people were injured escaping through classroom windows. Cho committed suicide.

The massacre at Virginia Tech was also the worst act of mass murder on college students on campus, since Syracuse University lost 36 students in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. It was better known as the Lockerbie bombing which happened on December 21, 2008 killing 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground from falling debris. 

A rash of killings has spread across our nation. The expression "going postal" refers to several postal carriers who carried out attacks on management, fellow workers, police, and civilians from 1986 to 1997. More than 40 people were gunned down in the workplace by irate postal workers.

November 4, 2009 another disturbing attack took place at Fort Hood Military Base when an American army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Hasad, age 39, fired on his fellow soldiers, attacking and killing 13 soldiers and civilians, and wounding 31. Hasad was shot and paralyzed by armed soldiers on the base. Hasad was a radical Muslim who exhibited signs of anti-Americanism, who disturbed his fellow soldiers but warnings were ignored until it was too late. He is awaiting trial.

Attacks have been carried out by lone gunmen, or sometimes two or more gunmen, working together to take down people. The Beltway snipers sent a chill of fear throughout Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia until they were apprehended in October 2002. Two men, John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, killed 10 people from the camouflage of a 1990 Chevrolet Caprice sedan, that had been altered for them to lie down and shoot from the car. One drove as the other shot victims. Mohammed was executed. Malvo is serving life in prison.

No normal person can understand how someone can go on a murderous killing spree and very few people can understand the grace of forgiveness. That is why it is so heartening to also mention the tragic and senseless killing of the children who were gunned down by a madman who held them hostage in a one-room school house in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. 

On October 2, 2006 a milkman, Charles Carl Roberts Jr., converged on a small classroom of students and adults with weapons and held them hostage. He released the women and boys but kept the girls behind. He terrorized the little girls until two girls offered to be the first to be executed, hoping to buy time for the others to escape. He killed 5 of the little girls, and wounded 5 others. He shot them in the back of the head. Suicide letters told of deviant, uncontrollable desires and past indiscretions which were later denied by the supposed victims.

The Amish communities reaction was unexpected and truly remarkable. They forgave the killer and even reached out in compassion to the shooter's family. Even in their sorrow they had compassion for a madman's family who were just as confused and shocked as the community around them. The Amish people do not believe in having insurance so the community raised funds to help them pay medical bills. Some victims will have medical requirements for the rest of their lives.

Three school shootings happened that week. Two others were the Platte Canyon High School shooting on September 27, 2007 and Weston High School shooting on September 29. The National School Safety and Security Services has statistics on school shootings.

Each time a violent attack happens people debate the value of stricter gun laws and whether or not we as a society perpetuate the violence and rage that people experience because of music, or video games, or movies, or some other nonsense. The debate has been going on since Charles Whitman climbed the tower steps on his fateful journey into madness 46 years ago. The same debate goes on today.

Violence and destruction are ingrained in our culture. Television has taken us into the midst of war. The power of television helped end the Vietnam war. Seeing death and carnage on the evening news, watching human suffering and an endless war gave us no appetite for war during my youth. Too bad young men grow up to be old men ready for war. Young men dance on marionette's strings. 

I don't know how we can stop people from going on a murderous rampage but I do know that it is too easy for people to get weapons. I cannot understand how anyone would think it's a good idea to have an assault weapon. The only people that need to handle them are the military and law enforcement. Hunting with an assault weapon is unsportsmanlike.

The government should have a national computer data base and require every gun buyer or seller to register all guns and ammunition bought or sold. Anyone buying and stockpiling artillery in patterns or large quantities could be red flagged and local law enforcement could investigate suspicious activity. We have data bases tracking automobiles and drivers licenses and auto insurance. It would be very easy for the government to monitor gun sales and safeguard our country so that we don't put ourselves in the hands of people who would do us harm when we least expect it. Homegrown terrorists are a frightening reality. 

I'm not saying every gun owner should have to register his weapons. I'm just saying that we can start from here to create a safer society in which we will be able to trace a terrorist stockpiling weapons if all weapons bought or sold are put in a monitored data base.

When we grew up, boys went hunting all the time and knew how to use a shotgun. Society has changed and most men don't go hunting anymore but the ones who do deserve the right to own and use their weapons. They provide a valuable necessity to the community keeping the animal population manageable. But owning powerful, dangerous, weapons that can kill dozens of people in seconds should not be condoned in America.

We need to invest more time and money in medical and psychiatric care. Too many people fall through the cracks. There are bound to be more instances of violence in the coming years. God help us all. 

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

What A Week

I had to make an emergency appointment with my dentist this week when I noticed my gums were inflamed. My gums weren't the healthy pink color they normally are. They were a greyish pink color and swollen. I pressed on my gums with my finger and some puss oozed out. That sent me into a frenzied shock because I have worked so hard trying to take care of my teeth after surgery a couple of years ago. My dentist had used donor tissue to help build gums around my loose teeth. I could hardly wait to call his office the next morning and schedule an appointment to be checked.

Dr. Phillip confirmed my suspicions about having infection in my gums. He gave me antibiotics to take to fight the infection and told me that I was lucky because if I hadn't had the previous surgery I would have likely lost my front teeth. I will have to go back to see him in 10 days to make sure the infection has cleared up. I'll let you know how it goes.

The other day a man knocked on my front door and told me he was cutting the trees on the right-of-way and wanted to let me know he was going to cut my beautiful Magnolia trees. I saw how they cut our neighbor's Magnolia trees and told him not to cut ours that drastically. Only cut the limbs that are next to the power line. He told me they would have to cut them ten feet away from the power lines, straight up the trunk. I was furious! I cuss like a sailor when I get mad. After blasting them with my salty language, the leader of the crew promised to have someone from the electric company come down to discuss it with me.

I had trouble with the tree cutters last time when they tried to butch my Magnolia trees. I don't know what it is about me, but I'll fight anybody over cutting a tree. I had a meltdown with them last time and they told Don to contact them if we ever had any trouble again. We lost the phone number, and the name of the guy, so I guess that won't help this time. I'll just have to stand up to them and demand they don't destroy them.

We have two beautiful big Magnolia trees in our front yard parallel to the highway. The trunks of the trees are very big around so they are pretty old. We've been living here 23 years, and they were grown trees when we first came. I don't know how old they are now but they are too beautiful to be destroyed by some idiot in a lift-bucket and a chainsaw. They are my favorite part of our front yard. I have a little park underneath the Magnolia's. Sometimes I sit out on a bench, enjoying the shade, and watching cars go by.

I used to try to figure out what my purpose was in life, or what I was meant to do and the only thing I have come up with is the fact that I am not afraid to engage anyone in a battle if I think I am in the right. I get sick of having to stand up to people and argue with them about every little thing in the world, it seems, but I realized that if I don't protect the things I care about somebody is going to come along and try to destroy them. It doesn't matter if it's a tree, or a dream, or a person. When it concerns me, I don't give up without a fight.

My grandparents used to have a beautiful, majestic Live Oak tree. It was in the backyard near the creek. I've seen them hang hogs up in the branches to butcher them. When we were little we played in the hard packed dirt underneath the tree like it was a sandbox. We took little sticks to make fences and mark off our 'farms' and homes. We played with little cars and plastic farm animals creating what we thought were magnificent farms.

My grandparents threw scrap metal at the base of the old oak tree and lightning struck it once. It had a scar down the trunk of the tree. The tree still looked strong and health but my uncle and cousin convinced my grandparents that the tree was rotting and becoming dangerous. 

My grandparents hired someone to cut down the beautiful old tree before informing anyone of what they were going to do. I didn't realize they were going to cut it down until I saw a crew out there, starting to cut on it. 

I went out to my grandparents and demanded to know why they were cutting their old tree. My grandmother said that my uncle and cousin thought the tree was dying and needed to be cut down. I blew up and pitched a bitch fit about it. I kept saying "Why are you cutting the tree?" I was so mad. I've never been as mad at my grandparents as I was that day.

I couldn't stop the tree cutters from cutting down the tree and I was disgusted to see my uncle and cousin standing by with their chain saws getting ready to cut the tree up for firewood. 

The sad thing about cutting down the tree was when the Dalton Daily Citizen News sent a man down to document the cutting of the tree and wrote in an article that the three was over 150 years old! And, it was not damaged, or diseased, or rotting. It was a perfectly healthy tree that had been willfully destroyed because of ignorance and manipulation. I'll bet dollars to donuts that my uncle called the paper to get the story in the paper.

All my uncle and cousin cared about was the free wood that they would get out of the deal. I couldn't understand why my grandparents agreed to have the tree cut down. 

Years later I figured out that my grandparents must have come to despise the tree because it kept growing and being strong and beautiful, year after year, while their own bodies were weakening and becoming more useless as the years went by. They probably knew the tree would be here long after they were gone so they decided to have it cut down so that it wouldn't survive after they died. That is the only explanation I can come up with for them cutting their beautiful old oak tree down. Instead of getting a professional to assess the tree, they got a tree cutting company to come check it out. Naturally, they said the tree was unhealthy and needed to be removed.

If the tree had survived it would be nearly two hundred years old today. I am sickened to think how destructive, and disrespectful people can be towards nature. I think that is why I get so upset when I see a magnificent tree and fight for it not to be cut down.

We used to have an old pine tree in our backyard. Don wanted to cut it down but I wouldn't let him. It finally became infested with Pine Bore Beetles. Limbs started falling out of the tree. 

We had to hire a tree cutting service to remove the tree because we didn't want it to fall on the house or the neighbor's house. The beetles had sucked out all the sap and the wood was hard as a rock. It took a long time to burn up all the wood and the huge chunks of the trunk laid in the backyard for years getting harder and harder.

I hated having to cut down our big pine tree but realized it couldn't be saved. I don't believe the same rules applied to the oak tree at my grandparent's. I certainly don't believe the road crew should be butchering our beautiful, healthy Magnolia trees in our front yard. Magnolia's grow slowly and don't get close to the power lines for years. A little snip and cut around the power lines, about three feet back from the lines should take care of any problems until the next time they come through here cutting overgrowth.

I know I'm being a bitch but who else is going to protect my trees? Not the power company, that's for sure.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Americans are a sturdy lot. We have the advantage of being a melting pot. That's a polite way of saying that we're mongrels. Everyone is a mix of nationalities and cultures and ethnicity's. I wonder what American's will look like in the next hundred years. I imagine the face of America will be much different than it is today.

Speaking  of  Mongrels . . . 

The other day I took a dip in our backyard pool. It's one of those with the blow up ring around the top. It's big enough to hold a floating chair, a couple of beach balls, and two rubber duckies. It's a cheerful little pool. 

I've been trying to get Don to come swimming with me. I was playing in the pool one day when I saw him trudging toward the pool wearing his swimming trunks. He finally took the plunge, so to speak.

It's very pleasant floating around in a warm pool of water looking at the clouds in the sky, and the tops of the trees touching the sky. It's almost hypnotic lying on a float relaxing in the water.

Tuesday I bought a big beach ball and got Don to help me blow it up with the air compressor. I left it in the pool and came inside. I went into the washroom and looked out the window and noticed the ball wasn't in the pool anymore. Then I saw the top of Colt's head bobbing in the pool. 

Colt popped up and jumped out of the pool, marching towards the bridge in our backyard. Before I could figure what he was doing, he grabbed Buddy up and pivoted around, marching to the pool. He threw Buddy in the pool and then jumped in with him. I ran to open his bedroom window and yelled at him for throwing the dog in the pool! 

What is the matter with that boy? You'd think I wouldn't have to keep an eye on him all the time but that's not true. There's no telling what he might do. I thought I wouldn't have to monitor him after he was grown but I guess I was wrong.

Wednesday is the fourth of July. Don promised to cook chicken on the grill so I invited family over. Maybe we can have a nice peaceful 4th of July. I just doubt anybody will want to take a dip in the pool after Buddy's been in it. 

Temperatures are still dancing around a hundred degrees and this is just the beginning of summer. Whew! It looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer. Stay cool y'all and Happy Fourth of July. Welcome to the early dog days of summer.

Krista, Jeremy, Athena, Connie, Jennifer, Christy, Nathan, Madison, Holly, Coven, Tristan, Evitt, Tillie, and
everybody celebrating this month

everybody celebrating this month

the 4th of JULY
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