Category Archives: Culture

Dogs Aren’t People

slide_283037_2152956_free

I actually wrote the draft of this post about a week ago.  Here is what happened:

I was walking with my wife on the sidewalk.  A lady was approaching us from the opposite direction with her dog on a leash.  It was an older yellow lab.  As we approached, I moved over to the right (behind my wife) to give them space to pass.  The dog ignored my wife but stepped towards me as we passed and tried to bite me.  He got a hold of my shirt and snapped the belt loop off my jean shorts.  It happened so quickly, I had no time to react.

When this all registered in my brain, I heard the woman say to her dog, “That’s not nice,” as if she was talking to a child, and she kept walking.  She didn’t turn around or say anything to the guy her dog just tried to bite.

You can imagine, my original post had a different tone than this one.  Fortunately, I decided to sit on it for a week.  I had visions of doggy protesters waving signs in my front lawn, walking their dogs up and down my sidewalk, and pooping in my yard (Actually, with my single-digit readership it would probably be just some old dude with his chihuahua—sorry dad).  Can you imagine how embarrassed those dogs would be at their owners’ behavior?  That’s right, they wouldn’t be embarrassed because they are dogs, not people.

I guess I just don’t understand people why treat their dogs like children.  Maybe it’s because I have children, and have also owned dogs. Yes, I am a dog person, and I do believe they can be a part of your family.  Still, pet owners should understand that they are animals and not people.  They are responsible if their pet injures another person, or damages another’s property.  This means they are responsible to train their dog properly, not treat it like an errant child.

You don’t have to look hard to find headlines about dog attacks, even dogs that attack their owners.  It is not just pit bulls that attack people either.  Dogs of all breeds do it, like the yellow lab that wanted a piece of my shorts, and even the little chihuahua out protesting in my front yard.  The repercussions of a dog attack can be deadly.  As a pet owner, you owe it to not only your fellow humans to train your pet, but also to the pet itself.  It may be your pet’s life that you save through proper training.

I have no hard feeling towards the yellow lab, but I wouldn’t mind taking a bite out of the owner.  Of course, then she would demand that I be put down.

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Pets

My Latest Favorite Protagonist

My new favorite protagonist is Cullen Bohannan from the Television show Hell on Wheels.  I just finished watching the show on Netflix.

Wow, great writing, and great acting by Anson Mount.  The character is flawed, and yet you can’t help but cheer him on.  Throughout the show, the complexity of his character is revealed in measured doses, and the growth from a single-minded killer to a more complex character, but still a killer, is awesome.

I was planning to go into detail and talk about archetypes and flawed protagonists, and such, but decided that it is better to just recommend the show.  Why try to explain when seeing it would put my words to shame anyway?  Can I say “wow” again?

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Popular Shows

I Love Old Churches

DSCN1146 DSCN1157

Here is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The original church on this site was built in 1626 but was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo revolt.  This particular church was built in the late 1800’s.

DSCN1160 DSCN1161 DSCN1163 DSCN1167

The San Miguel Mission church in Santa Fe is the oldest church structure in the US.  It was originally built in 1610 by Franciscan Friars, or at least their indian servants.  The last picture is of the oldest house in the US, which stands next to the church and was where the builders/servants lived.

DSCN1177 DSCN1179

Here are two churches in Taos, New Mexico.  The first is the San Francisco De Asis Mission Church located in Rachos de Taos.  It was built around 1815 and is considered one of the most photographed churches in the country.  The second church is really the ruins of a church.  It is the original site of the San Geronimo de Taos Mission Church.  The church was originally built around 1627 at the Taos Pueblo.  It was destroyed during the Pueblo revolt in 1680 and was then rebuilt.  This particular church was destroyed around 1850 by US troops while putting down a rebellion in Taos.  This church has some significance to me because some of my ancestors were baptized/married here before it was destroyed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, History, Travel

So What is Wrong with a School Bus?

School bus

The new school year just started up in my area, and the traffic to go with it. I had forgotten, as I drove around town over the summer, just how crowded the roads get when parents drive their children to school. It makes me wonder, not for the first or last time:

What’s wrong with a school bus?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 58% of student traffic fatalities occur when teens are driving or traveling with friends, 23% when traveling with an adult, and 1% when traveling on a school bus. The odds of your child making it to school on a school bus is much better than when you drive them, so why must we drive our children to school?

I know the argument my wife used when our children were young. She was a stay-at-home mom and just felt better when she dropped the kids off herself. Also she was concerned about bullying on the bus. The bullying concern, I can understand. Still, isn’t that part of growing up? Kids should learn to handle themselves socially not just at school, but on the bus as well. I understand not all parents feel that way, but if bullying is the number one concern, isn’t there a better way to handle that as well?

Speaking from experience, bullying at the bus stop can be an issue. I rode the bus as a kid and was bullied at the neighborhood bus stop. It was not a fun experience, but I survived. Also, it occurred at the bus stop, not on the bus with an adult present. In those days (1970’s), parents didn’t walk their kids to the bus stop like I see them doing in my neighborhood today. Parents in my neighborhood will also wait at the bus stop with their children. I see this as a good change to ensure student safety and combat bullying at the bus stop.

It just seems to me that with the proper planning and safeguards in place, we could save resources and time by allowing our children to ride the bus to school. I doubt many would agree though. It seems that many Americans today want to raise their children in a bubble of parental protection. Even though the numbers show our children are safer riding the school bus to school, our parental angst tells us otherwise.

Has the world gotten that scary that we don’t feel comfortable letting our kids ride the bus to school? I would guess that the bus ride to school is no more dangerous than attending school itself. If you will send your children to school, why not send them on the bus?

I feel a bit hypocritical writing this post, because my own children were driven to school. My wife and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on this issue, and since she’s the one that prepared them for school in the morning, I conceded the point. Still, I think it’s a discussion that should take place. I feel that my children missed out on an experience that could have taught them to be more independent and confident. Of course, I wouldn’t mind having all that gas money back either.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Society

I am an Anime Junkie

I’m not quite sure why I’m so embarrassed to admit this.  Well, I know that I’m a grown man that likes to watch cartoons, and some people think that’s weird, but I’m starting to get old enough that I don’t care.  To tell the truth, I’ve never truly cared about what other people think, but I’ve always been introverted, which makes me predisposed to not share such information with the world.

So, I’ve always liked cartoons.  I watched them as a kid, I watched them as a young adult, and I watched them with my kids when they were young, but at some point I stopped watching cartoons.  My kids got older, and I stopped watching TV in general for a while . . . and then I discovered anime.

It took me some time to appreciate the form.  My first introduction to anime was several years ago when Sailor Moon was on American television.  My daughter watched it, and so I watched it with her.  She liked it so much that we bought her the first season on tape (yes, I said tape.  You know—VHS ).  I liked Sailor Moon okay, but it didn’t floor me or anything.  My daughter started watching other anime, but at this point she was a teen and watched it up in her room – it was the “parents are uncool” phase, or maybe we were disconnected.  It depends upon your perspective.

We connected again after high school, and I watched Pretear with her.  Again, I wasn’t blown away, but it was enjoyable.  Finally, a couple of years ago I procured a Netflix account, and I started checking out different anime shows, and realized how good they can be.  Check out Darker than Black: it is still my favorite anime series.

For me, the best thing about anime is that it is made for adults.  Not all of it—there is some goofy stuff coming out of Japan too, and I’m not talking adult cartoons, but cartoons produced with adults in mind.  I like the fantasy & sci-fi ones the most, but I like other genres as well.  Anime has helped me regain my love of cartoons without having to watch the stupid cartoon crap that’s out on American television.

So if you like cartoons, and you like a good story, give anime a shot.  There are so many to choose from, you’re bound to find a story you like.

1 Comment

Filed under Anime, Culture

Invocation to the Blarney Stone

BLARNEY CASTLE 2_crop

I ran across some old picture files from a trip I took to England and Ireland back in 2003.  One of the highlight of that trip was visiting Blarney Castle.  It is the first medieval castle that I ever visited and it was fascinating to me.  I remember climbing the stone spiral stairs and feeling a bit claustrophobic in the tight space.  Most of the castle was in need of major repair, but it did give me a good idea of the living conditions in such a small stone keep.

Of course I could not visit Blarney Castle without kissing the Blarney Stone.  Well, I kissed what the attendants at the castle said was the Blarney Stone.  Irish legend says that a person who kisses the Blarney Stone receives the gift of gab.  Being a writer, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Blarney Stone

Hanging upside-down wasn’t exciting, but the experience did inspire me to write my Invocation to the Blarney Stone:

If it were that with just one kiss,

I could be transformed by your cold gray lips.

Words come slow to one such as I,

but with your eloquence my verse could fly.

If I came to you, my soul laid bare,

would you be moved enough to share,

your gift of gab with a supplicant true,

So that I could become as famous as you?

I don’t think it worked.  Maybe I should have bought it a drink first.

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, Travel, Writing

In The Mood?

I saw In the Mood last night at the Knight Theater in Charlotte.  The event featured big band music from the 1940’s.  There was comedy, dancing, singing, and awesome music.  The group tours throughout the year across the U.S.  My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the show.  If you like big band era music, it is worth the trip to the theater.

I was a bit surprised that there were not many young people in the crowd.  Yes, it is the music of an older generation, like my grandparents era and I’m fifty, but it was entertaining and I expected a more eclectic crowd.  Ballroom dancing seems to be more popular today, and there was a swing dancing craze a few years ago.  I guess 1940’s music just isn’t a big thing right now.  No surprise, I’m totally oblivious to what’s popular.

I had to laugh when we asked our twenty-something daughter if she wanted to go to the show.  She gave me a look which basically told me just how out of touch I was.  So I asked her what she was going to do instead.  She was going contra dancing.  Contra dancing is basically square dancing like I had to do back in junior high school during recess on rainy days.  Okay, not quite the same, but close enough.  So square dancing is in, but big band music isn’t?  I think I’ll just embrace my old man, uncool, out-of-touch self.  Eventually that’ll be popular too, right?

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Society