Monday, May 25, 2015

How To Honor Your Special Vet

Today is Memorial Day, a special day set aside to honor those who fought for our country.  It's wonderful we take time to honor them.  It's hard to think of what they went through.  Not everyone went off to war.  Some were in service and were not called to make that effort, that sacrifice.  But they were there if needed, and they should also be recognized and honored.

Today I heard of a special way these fine men and women are receiving recognition for their time in service.  It's an oral history project to gather together their stories.  It's a project not just for the leaders, but also for the entire spectrum of military personnel.  They want the stories of all ranks, races, faiths, and gender.  Without that diversity the story is not complete.

To find information of how you can participate, either as a veteran or a volunteer, you can go to the website set up to give you the information on what to do and how to do it.  loc.gov/vet is your go-to place for all you need to know.

My dad served in the U. S. Army during WWII, serving in the CBI (China, Burma, India) Theater.  I've been interested in oral history since my college days.  I was able to get him on tape, but my success was limited.  He would tell some humorous stories and such, but he did not want to share the hardships they endured.  I was his daughter and he wanted to spare me such details.  I wish he had given me more, but he had to do what he was comfortable with.

Good luck and God bless you for helping tell their stories, not just for today but for the ages.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Is Longevity In Your Future?

I've been reading a lot lately about the outlook for an individual to live a long time.  Some things make sense, others make you think.

There appears to be a consensus the you are more likely to have a long life if you eat healthy and stay active.  That would appear to be a no-brainer.  Other traits include being conscientious, optimistic, happy, and socially connected.  That also makes sense.  Being extroverted was mentioned in one article, as well as a sense of spirituality.

Another study looked at men born in 1887 and who lived to be 100.  This was possible as they were able to study longevity records and find men lived to be 100, then cross-referenced to the beginning of the draft in 1917.  The men were all 30 at the time and had at least 4 children.

Why would the number of children make any difference?  The article mentioned that this may have provided a means for care as the parent aged.  It could be, but kids can be a two-edged sword.  They can be a source of great joy, and they can be a thorn in your side as you progress through life. 

My thoughts on this?  Now if you are a happy, optimistic man who likes to laugh and enjoy life, you may very well raise your kids to have these same traits.  The others could very well lead you to an early grave, and you wouldn't live to the age they were interested in.

Another interesting factor, the men who lived the longest were mostly farmers.  I can see how they could come to that conclusion.  There were a lot of farmers in 1917.  Farmers had a physically active and hard working life.  Today we have fewer farmers than were around then.  There are more diverse jobs available, and a lot of farms have now been converted to corporate farms.  Would today's population show the same results on longevity?

One major thought on my mind:  What about the women?  Obviously it would be difficult task to find a group of women available for a study with the same parameters as the one for men.  But it would be interesting to find out how a matched study of the gals would compare.

In the meantime I'll muddle through the best I can.  I'll laugh and be happy, at least most of the time.  I'll try to stay active and surround myself with family and friends.  If I make it to be 100, maybe I'll come back and let you know if I was successful in the task.  However, I do have quite a few years left to make it to that milestone, so I make no promises.

And I do hope you are successful in living a life of joy to a ripe old age.


Monday, May 11, 2015

What 10 Creative People Tell You About the Storms of Life

In life, there is no Yellow Brick Road.  We all have to endure times of trouble and strife.  Sometimes it can help to know what others have to say and how they get through these hard times without losing hope.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - poet, philosopher, essayist.  Born 1803 and died 1822.
     The wise man in a storm prays to God not for safety from danger, but deliverance from pain.

Morris West - Australian novelist.  Born 1916, died 1999.
     If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine.

Mark Twain - writer, humorist, adventurer.  Born 1835, died 1910.
     Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings.  It consists mainly of the storms of thoughts that's forever flowing through one's head.

Vincent van Gogh - Dutch painter.  Born 1855, died 1890.
     There is peace even in the storm.

Epicurus - Greek philosopher.  Born 342 BC.
     Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.

Amelia Barr - English author and teacher.  She was born 1831 and died 1851.
     It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.

Charles Kettering - inventor and business man, he held 186 patents.  Born 1867, died 1958.
     No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm.

Louisa May Alcott - American author. Born 1831, died 1888.
     I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Golda Meir - Israeli Prime Minister.  Born 1898, died 1978.
     Old age is like flying a plane through a storm.  Once you're aboard, there's nothing you can do.

Vivian Greene - modern author, artist, speaker. 
     Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning to dance in the rain.




Monday, May 4, 2015

Makes Sense, Doesn't It?

Ben Franklin was a very savvy man, bordering on genius if not actually over the line with smarts.  He was the initiator of so many things that had a positive impact on a large population world-wide.  For one thing, he was concerned about the dangers of fire on the citizens. 

He belonged to a group of firefighting men in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Thinking through how things were done, he formed the Union Fire Company.  Under his direction it was decided to start a fire insurance company.  He met with other fire companies to form the Philadelphia Contributorship Insurance Company.

The fireman paid a premium to the company which would pay out for property damage from fires.  They signed on for seven years.  At the end of the seven year period they would receive back the monies they paid in minus the amount paid out.  The first year they had no fires among the insured.  At the end of seven years they all got some money back.

Franklin also noticed how mature trees interfered with fire fighting.  They prevented immediate access to the burning building which hampered firefighters when getting into position for their work.  After some thought he suggested the city council require the removal of all mature trees in town.  His idea was approved and made into a city ordinance.

The citizens were not as impressed with this idea.  Think about it.  This was a time where there was no air conditioning.  Without mature trees, there would be no shady areas to allow a person to get some relief from a brutal sun.  Being inside the house would not assure you a modicum of relief, especially since cooking was often over an open flame in the house.  You know those kitchens would get unbearably hot.

I'm sure many also sat outside to catch any breeze blowing through the area.  Without the trees, would they instead have straight line winds blowing through, possibly with greater force than the less intense breeze of the wind slowing as the wind met the trees? 

Whatever the reasons for the controversy surrounding the passing of this ordinance, the population had a vigorous say about the situation.  The ordinance was rescinded.

However, Franklin must have been proud of the citizens for protesting to the city and expressing their concerns and feelings.  He did believe in the democratic process, and that process does not assure you will always get your way, only that you can have your say.

How would you feel if a like ordinance were suggested where you live?

Monday, April 20, 2015

She's An American Soldier

Deborah Sampson is the only known female soldier of the Revolutionary War.  Disguised as a man, she served the country well on the battlefield, suffering the same hardships and battles of her fellow troops and maintaining her male identity throughout.

She was born in 1760 in Plympton, Pennsylvania.  Her father was a seaman who didn't come back from the sea, leaving her mother destitute with several kids to raise.  She was forced to give her children up to other families to raise, and then she died just a year after her husband.

Deborah was in two different families before entering the home of Deacon Benjamin G. Gannett, a farmer.  As an indentured servant, she had to work for the family until she was eighteen.  After leaving the family, she taught school for a while.  She evidently caught the eye of a wealthy young man who proposed marriage, but she had other plans.

The Revolutionary War had been raging for several years already.  She was young, healthy, tall and wanted to have an adventure.  She made herself a man's suit of clothing and ventured out in her disguise.  When she had no problems with the charade, she enlisted in the 4th  Massachusetts Regiment, using the first and middle names of her deceased brother, Robert Shurtleff.  She was off to War.

Like all soldiers in a war zone, her life was not easy, but she persevered and became a seasoned soldier.  She almost drowned once when they were crossing the Croton River, suffered a severe head wound in one skirmish, and took two pistol balls in the thigh.  She protested to her fellow soldiers that she did not want to be taken to the hospital, but they ignored her wishes.  At the hospital the head wound was treated and she managed to leave before they began work on her leg.  She used a penknife and managed to get one of the balls out of the thigh, but the other was too deep for her to reach. 

She was assigned to be a waiter in the service of General Paterson.  She fell very ill with a severe fever and lost consciousness.  She was sent to the hospital where the doctor was shocked to find she was a female, wearing a cloth to bind her breasts.  She was sure she would be immediately discharged.  However, the doctor kept her secret, transferring her to his home where she was under the care of the doctor's wife.

When she was able to return to her duties, the doctor gave her a note to take to her superior.  Knowing it must be a letter revealing her secret she was prepared to be sent home.  Instead it was a letter recommending her to be given an honorable discharge.  This was done in 783.

Back home in Massachusetts she met and married a farmer by the name of Benjamin G. Gannett.  The worked hard but lived in poverty as they raised their three children.

At some point her service in the War as a male soldier became known.  In 1792 she petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for monies available to veterans.  Her petition was denied because she was a woman.  She provided letters verifying her service and she finally received 34 pounds plus interest dating back to date of discharge.

Still needing money in 1802, she went out on a lecture tour, the first woman to do so in the United States.  Speaking to audiences composed of both and women, she would extol the value of a woman pursing her womanly duties to the best of their ability.  She would then leave the stage, change into her Army uniform, and come back to talk about her military experiences.  She did this for a year, but barely made enough to cover her expenses.  More than once, Paul Revere would give her money to help her out.

In 1805, and with the help of Paul Revere, she again petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for a military pension given to men who had served in the Revolutionary War.  After some debate she was awarded $4 a month for her service.

She died at the age of 66 in 1827.  After her death, her widower petitioned for pay as a spouse of a soldier.  Though they were not married at the time of her service, the committee concluded that the history of the Revolution "furnished no other similar example of female heroism, fidelity and courage."  He received the pension.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ain't It The Truth

Pity the reputation of the poor little "ain't."  It's been around since sometime in the 1700s, showing up in the speech of just about everyone in England.  Rich, poor or middle class, it found a home in the language usage of just about the entire population in that great nation.

But then something happened sometime in late 1800s.  Rich and poor still made use of it, but the middle class took a disliking to it.  I have no idea just why this happened, but once the idea took hold it wouldn't let go.  Then in the early 1900s the rich decided they could do without it as well.  Then the evil eye was cast upon it and it became a castaway in proper usage.

However, it could not be entirely discarded.  Sometimes there's just no better way of putting a little emphasis to what you're saying.  Consider the everyday saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Also "This ain't my first rodeo."  Don't forget "You ain't seen nothing yet."  And as Will Rogers said, "Common sense ain't common." 

And where would songwriters be without it?  Louis Jordon sang "There ain't nobody here but us chickens."  One of Fats Domino's songs, "Ain't That a Shame" spoke to a whole lot of folks.  Let's not forget the Ira and George Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess that gave us the classic, "Ain't Necessarily So."  Another favorite was "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Nickolas Ashford and Valeria Simpson.

Dizzy Dean, Baseball Hall of Famer and announcer, summed it up when he said, "A lot of people who don't say ain't, ain't eating."

I'll just close by relating something said to be a common Texas saying (though I'd not heard it before) that tickled my fancy: If that ain't a fact, God's a possum.

Monday, April 6, 2015

No Flies On Him

Flies have been around probably since the beginning of time, or at least since the existence of life on this earth.  And I'm sure even the earliest of homo sapiens have been aggravated more than once with their presence.  And they didn't have rolled up newspapers to get rid of the pesky critters.

In 1900 Robert Montgomery received Patent No. 640,790 for invention of the Fly-Killer, a "cheap device of unusual elasticity and durability."  It was made of wire netting, "preferably oblong," attached to a handle. He did not specify the material to be used in the making of the handle.  After all, the netting was the important part as it reduced wind drag, allowing the user to apply a "whip-like" swing.

In 1903 he sold his patent to John Bennett.  The designation of "Fly Swatter" for the apparatus was made in 1905 by Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine of the Kansas City Board of Health.  He was attending a ball game in Topeka, but his attention was focused on a major health issue.  How could they reduce the spread of Typhoid Fever by flies?

It was the bottom of the eighth inning and the score was tied.  Topeka had a man on third.  The fans began screaming at the batter, yelling "Sacrifice Fly!" and then "Swat the ball."  Inspiration struck the good doctor.  A few days later he wrote an article about the situation for The Fly Bulletin with the headline:  Swat The Fly!  And thus, a new phrase came into common use.

Over the years there were adaptations to the common fly swatter.  In 1913 jazz bands were everywhere as folks loved to dance to that sound.  One problem was that the drums were too loud.  There were no sound systems that are now everywhere, and the drums would overpower the other instruments. 

At that time there was a fly swatter with metal brushes and an expandable handle .  One night there was a bright drummer decided to give that a try during a set.  He loved the quieter sound, and soon it was copied by many others.  Their new brushes allowed them to create new and innovative sounds and soon every drummer incorporated them into his set.

Don't you love the creative spirit of people?