Friday, December 26, 2014

Loveable mastiff shot down like a dog

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have a soft spot for dogs--me myself being an owner of a sheltie and a bichon.

So when a dog is killed (for practically any reason--or for perhaps for an insufficient reason) I can't let that go without noting it.

Armed officers of the Mountain City (Tenn.) Police Department gunned down a mastiff a few days ago, and it's caused some folks, myself included, to second guess the officers' dastardly act.

The police claim the dog, a family pet, was being aggressive when they entered a woman's home looking for a burglary suspect.

So they shot it, stuffed it (in front of the little boy who owned the animal) in a trash bag and put it in cold storage at the police department.

Here's a blurb about the incident from a news story broadcast by a TV station in Johnson City, Tenn.:

The owner of the dog, Shatona Lunceford told News Channel 11, while away in Johnson City, she received several phone calls from neighbors about an incident involving police at her home.

When she called police to find out what was going on Lunceford said they told her, "my dog had been shot because my door was unlocked."

Lunceford said police told her officers were searching for an auto burglary suspect.

"They thought the man that was running from them was inside my house...I don't care if they thought he was in there or not they should've never opened up my door," said Lunceford.

Once the dog got out, Lunceford said he ran towards her fence and as he turned to come back towards the home an officer shot her dog.

Police Chief Denver Church confirmed that an officer shot the dog because he thought the dog was being aggressive.

But Lunceford and her boyfriend said he had no history of violence.

"They won't release us any information. They won't release us our dog. They're telling us that the dog is in the cooler down at the police department," said the dogs co-owner, Justan Bennett.

"My younger children were here and watched them put him in a trash bag and carried him away," said Lunceford.

Lunceford said she now hopes to get her dog back so she can bury him.

Police officers killed the family's beloved pet, but for what reason exactly? Could the officers have done something else, less drastic? Was the dog really being THAT threatening?

We may never know.

Rest in peace, mastiff.

And if you were shot in cold blood, for no good, legitimate reason, a pox on on the shooter or shooters.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spelling "booger"

I just got discharged from the Mountain Home VAMC (hospital) after suffering from acute UTI with sepsis.

UTI can be a killer. Don't know what it is? Google it now, and if you ever have symptoms get your butt to the ER. I feel like I got there just in time!

They took good care of me for the six nights I spent there.

Meanhile, one day while strolling around the hospital, I encountered this spelling booger on an office:

Spell check, anyone?

And here's another one I noticed a few days ago:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grammar gremlins everywhere

The longer I live (now in my 66h year), the more I see and hear people misuse the English language.

We used to call it "correct grammar" when we spoke and wrote appropriately.

Grammar is not at a premium in eastern Tennessee.

People in "them thar mountains" seem to have problems in particular with verb tenses. Note, for example, the picture (accompanying this blog post) that I snapped at the Veterans Administration Hospital Pharmacy in Johnson City, Tennessee: "If you seen a Dr today..."

Some examples of the verbal debauchery I hear in casual conversation quite frequently:

1. My husband ain't got no job.

2. He done it yesterdee.

3. I seen him in his car a goin' down the road.

4. He ain't done no good.

And here's one I heard in the mountains just the other day. (Breaks new ground in torturing our language):

"He's the spitefullest son-uv-a bitch you ever seen!"

When someone in East Tennessee refers to a crawfish, don't think about a creature that lives in a creek.

Rather, crawfish means to renege or go back on or violate what you previously promised, as in:

"Ole Tom said he'd git a job but he's a trying' ta crawfish outta it. He ain't done nothin' to go ta work."

If you read our novel (I have a co-author) Fish Springs: Beneath the Surface, you'll find many more examples of "mountain dialect."

It was a challenge to recall and write it, but it was also fun. I drew upon years of writing colorful colloquialisms I had heard in Tennessee (and elsewhere) to give readers a sense of how hillbillies talk.

So take it in that spirit.

One last tidbit: My Mom, who passed away in July 2013 at age 87 in Elizabethton, Tennessee, told me about hearing an acquaintance (an elderly gentleman) declare that he had to go see a "choir practice" because of his aches and pains.

Mom said she scratched her head in puzzlement, then later in the conversation deduced that the man actually had an appointment with a chiropractor.

To this day when someone tells me they're going to see a chiropractor, I correct them and say: "You mean you're actually going to a choir practice?"

Totally unrelated note: I love my "new" wheels--a 2012 Subaru Outback. Got it about 10 days ago, and it's really peppy, has loads of cargo space and grips (all-wheel drive) the road! Here's a photo:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Winthrop University should take a good hard look at football

Click here for a guest op/ed piece, written by yours truly, published a few days ago in The (Rock Hill, S.C.) Herald. In case the link does not work, I'm copying and pasting my column here:

By Larry C. Timbs Jr.
Special to The Herald

I know Winthrop University, where I retired after teaching journalism for 27 years in May 2013, likely has committees (full of smart people) and task forces or whatever studying the feasibility of football.

And the last thing anyone in the university power structure needs is another opinion on the matter.

But please indulge me briefly.

For the great majority of my tenure at Winthrop I thought having a football team there was an insane, silly idea--for the usual, familiar reasons: hard enough to support Winthrop's current teams/sports; local football enthusiasts would go to Clemson and USC games, not to Winthrop football contests; lack of money at Winthrop to fund football; extraordinary cost of building a football stadium. And the list goes on.

It so happens now that I am living in Johnson City, Tenn.--home of East Tennessee State University (a publicly funded university, as is Winthrop) of about 14,000 students. I walk almost every day on the ETSU campus. I hang around with ETSU faculty, staff and students, and with my two dogs, at the nearby dog park (one of my favorite spots in Johnson City.)

ETSU last fielded a football team in 2003, I believe. Some main reasons for terminating Buccaneer football: the university had increasingly scarce resources and felt it could no longer fund this sport; attendance at games—played in what some said was an inadequate inside facility (the ETSU minidome) had been declining for some time, with many folks around here seeming to get their pigskin high from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (about 100 miles away); memories of ETSU’s glory football teams in the late 1960s and 1970s, which had received national recognition in that era, seemed to have faded.

Over the last few years, the university, local community and many alumni and students have had a spirited (and sometimes cantankerous) debate on the pros and cons of bringing football back to ETSU.

Long story short: ETSU will field a football team in the Southern Conference in fall 2015. So football is being resurrected here.

(Word at the dog park is that when the last president of ETSU—just a few years ago—was a candidate for the top job, he was told/ordered by an alum with deep pockets to make the idea of a football team come true. That may or may not have actually happened. I share this with all you readers in Rock Hill somewhat reluctantly, because we have a rule here: what is said and done at the dog park stays in the dog park.)

A head coach has been hired. Phil Fulmer, fired a few years ago as UT's football coach, but still widely respected in the Volunteer state, has served ETSU as a consultant. A new multi-million dollar, outdoor stadium will be built--although the ETSU football team will play its first season at Science Hill High School's stadium. Much of the community and campus seems excited, revved, psyched. Press coverage here about ETSU football has been way positive (my opinion). Even people at the dog park are wagging their collective tails and tongues (in a good way) for ETSU football.

So there's excitement in the air here. A sense of positive anticipation and hope pervades this place. A recent scrimmage of the Blue and Gold teams at ETSU got a lot of upbeat attention throughout NE Tennessee.

All this might be something for Winthrop to take into account.
What can Winthrop do to capture the public's imagination? To stir people up in a good way? What can and should it do in light of its stagnant enrollment--very little growth, if any, that I can discern over the last 15 years or so?

What would a football team, playing its games outside in a nearby sun-drenched stadium on a Saturday afternoon, with a marching band all decked out in Winthrop’s colors, do for the community? For the university? For those who absolutely love the game of football? (Think pep rallies, parades and tailgating).

An administrator at Winthrop once told me: Winthrop can do whatever Winthrop REALLY WANTS TO DO.

Footnote: Those naysayers of football for Winthrop who point out we could never compete with the likes of a USC or Clemson ought to remember what happened a few years ago when Appalachian State University took down mighty Michigan in the Big House in Ann Arbor.
I’m told that news of that incredible victory was announced over the public address system at the Walmart in Boone, and shoppers, even those who were not football enthusiasts, went crazy. When the team, fresh from the victory, landed at Tri-Cities Airport just outside of Johnson City, a caravan of honking cars followed the ASU players’ and coaches’ buses all the way to Boone. (And all those smug but embarrassed folks in Michigan finally learned how to pronounce Appalachian).

Food for thought for Winthrop University and Rock Hill.

Larry C. Timbs Jr. retired as an associate professor of mass communication at Winthrop University in 2012. He is a lifelong University of Tennessee football fan and closely follows the Carolina Panthers.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mountains of East Tennessee full of color

It's fall, the season of color in the high country of East Tennessee.

As I write this, from Johnson City--near the NC and VA borders--the mountains teem with reds, golds, greens, browns.

It's a spectacular season bursting with bright, uplifting colors.

Nature's unmatchable paint brush does quite the trick.

This morning I snapped a shot of a butterfly resting, of all places, on a butterfly bush. Maybe more summery than fall but stunning nonetheless. Here's the picture:

And a few days ago, I pulled over into a church driveway and captured a grove of trees ablaze with color:

Finally, to help commemorate my 67th season of fall, I ran upon this classic poem by Robert Frost:

By Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Monday, October 13, 2014

About death and life even after you've punched out

I wonder what it's like to be stone cold dead. (One famous person, according to a frequent and faithful reader of my blog, reputedly said, as he lay on the threshold of dying, "And now comes the great mystery.")

Not just dead out of answers or dead to the world (as in completely spent or tired to the nth degree).

But really dead.




Permanently asleep six feet (or more) under a cold slab.

Sealed in a metal vault to keep the corpse feeders at bay.

Maybe being planted, if you're lucky, in a peaceful, beautiful spot among trees, shrubs, flowers, butterflies, bumble bees and a gurgling stream.

I guess folks who contemplate taking their own lives don't give much thought to such.

For instance, take all those hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of distressed souls who have jumped to their death in the last several decades from the Golden Gate Bridge just outside San Francisco. I'm told it's a 220-foot drop to the cold deep waters below, meaning only 2 percent survive.

It would be a stretch to believe that many of them considered (truly considered) what would happen to them if they jumped.

They just wanted out. Out of this life. Away from their problems, worries, troubles.

Where they were going, they didn't much care--long as they went.

So sad. So depressing. So shocking to think of so many people jumping off the Golden Gate--perhaps the world's favorite spot for committing suicide.

And then there are the heartless, selfish motorists traveling across the bridge who see them teetering on a beam, thinking of the ultimate escape to darkness. Thinking of saying goodbye permanently.

Many of those cold-blooded motorists, according to a recent report in USA TODAY, yell: "Go ahead! Jump!"

Speaking of things deathly, I read an article (also from USA TODAY) that reported on a study of life-after-death experiences. It seems, according to interviews with hundreds of people who have been pronounced clinically dead but then were revived, that "the dead" can still have thoughts, visions, ideas.

The heart stops beating, but the brain--in some cases--still functions.

Here's a passage from that article last week on near death experiences:

"Scientists looked at 2,060 people who went into cardiac arrest (which they describe as "biologically synonymous with death") at 15 different hospitals in the U.S., U.K., and Austria. Of the 330 people who survived, about 40% recalled awareness while they were clinically dead. (The lead doctor tells the Telegraph that number could be higher if some of those people's memories weren't dulled by drugs or sedatives.)
Of those, 46% had memories not commonly associated with NDEs (Near Death Experiences).

• One person recalled, after he took his last breath, that he was told that he was going to die, and the quickest way to the hereafter was to say the last short word he could remember.

• Another person in the same circumstance remembers seeing "All plants, no flowers."

• Another saw lions and tigers, while one person's whose heart had stopped beating had the sensation of being dragged through deep water.

The researchers say caution is in order before we can conclude anything. Consider how the article ends: "This (having thought processes after death is pronounced) is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn't resume again until the heart has been restarted," says the study's lead researcher. "These experiences warrant further investigation."

Ok. Many of us always believed in life after death. Now we have an iota of titillating evidence.

Meanwhile, life goes on. And so does death, and so does jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's good, folks. to be alive! And it should never get so hopeless that we want to punch out of our own accord.

If it does (and I've been there, been diagnosed as clinically depressed): Don't isolate. Get a dog. Exercise. Breathe deeply. No sudden decisions. Try to have at least a few positive thoughts. Read. Blog. Listen to music. Attach yourself to someone who loves you. Stay away from those who would pull you down. DON'T JUMP! DON'T CUT YOURSELF! DON'T POISON YOURSELF! DON'T SMOTHER YOURSELF! DON'T OVERMEDICATE.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Petsmart finally agrees

I just got through with dealing with management at the Petsmart store in Johnson City, Tenn.

I had a beef: a chewable, squeaking dog toy I bought there three days ago was destroyed (the squeaker chewed up and the covering fabric torn).

The animal that did this?

My 5-year-old, 25-pound bichon frise Michael Jackson.

He's an adorable but destructive little thing.

He obliterated the $7.95 toy in just three days.

At first, when I complained, the store manager said there was nothing he could do. He added, parenthetically, that his own dog destroys Petsmart's toys in as little as 30 seconds.

"Then why are you selling a whole aisle full of defective toys?" I asked.

He mumbled something along the lines that I didn't have my receipt and even if I did, there was nothing he could do.

But I reminded him that I spend a chunk of money at Petsmart every month.

"I know you do. I've seen you in here a lot," he replied somewhat nervously.

"You need to make me happy," I countered. "You HAVE to make me happy."

Long story short: I appealed to his supervisor. She agreed to let me pick out a new (replacement) dog toy at no cost.

It pays to go up the line. Also pays to remind them that you are a good, long-time paying customer.

Guess I should be a consumer advocate.

Speaking of dogs, that's Michael Jackson (he of the toy-chewing, destructive ilk) in the photo with this blog post.

Also speaking of dogs, my favorite commercial on TV right now stars a dog who lovingly encourages his owner to drink responsibly. Turn up your sound and enjoy:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Houses that Larry Jr. and Larry Sr. have lived in

As some of you know, I've been sifting through my Dad's slides. (Who creates slides anymore??!!)

Click here for a really short slideshow of places we've lived in Colorado, Kentucky and South Carolina. These are the former abodes of Larry Timbs Jr. (yours truly) or Larry Timbs Sr. The brick ranch house (with the vermillion Ford Maverick in the driveway) was the first house I ever bought. Paid the lofty sum of $27K for it in Campbellsville, Ky. The brick home with all the pine trees in the front yard? It was a rental that served our purposes very well in the early 1970s in Columbia, S.C.

You'll also see a rare slide of my Mom at work in a pharmacy in Newport News, Virginia. Mom hardly ever worked outside the home, but she did help bring home the bread--for a few years--when we lived in Colorado, Virginia and Tennessee.

That's my sales clerk Mom, by the way, in the photo accompanying this blog post.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Memories of Granny Jenkins and her family

I keep plowing through my Dad's slides. He left me hundreds of them and I'm trying to preserve some (hopefully for a long, long time) on the Internet. Quite a task to go through all those slides (does anyone create slides anymore?!?) and digitize them and upload them to the Net.

Click here for a slideshow of my Granny Maude Jenkins (my Mom's Mom) and her family. Granny and company are choreographed to the music of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. Thank you, Jimmy, for your tunes. Bet Granny Jenkins (shown in photo accompanying this blog post) never, ever heard of the singer of "Margaritaville." But maybe she's listening to him now from Heaven.

Turn up your sound and click here for my slideshow dedicated to my Granny.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

More family memories

I dedicate this slideshow (and coming slide presentations) to the memory of my parents--Lawrence C. Timbs and Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs.

I miss you, Mom and Dad!

Turn up your sound and click here for the show.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Memories of my Mom and Dad

My Dad passed away in early 2012. But during his lifetime he took thousands of photos. He especially loved slides.

I've been working to turn some of his slides into a slideshow.

Turn up your sound and click here to enjoy the first of many (hopefully) such shows.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Farewell to a friend

We had a farewell luncheon for a good friend and colleague a few days ago.

Jamie Low has been the key go-to person in the Department of Mass Communication at Winthrop University for the last several years.

But now she's leaving the university (and understandably so) to pursue other interests.

(That's Jamie in the photo with this blog post--third female, with glasses propped up on her head, on right side of the table.)

We all wish you the best, Jamie. Thanks for putting up with us, working with us, boosting us, saving us, keeping us focused. You name it, without Jamie we couldn't have done it. Couldn't have survived professionally, let alone succeeded.

She was the best at what she did for us, and now she deserves the best in her new endeavor.

God speed, Jamie.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This is the air I breathe

I love this song. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. First heard it a few years ago at West End Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C.

Speaks to the soul, I believe.

I wonder if I have a soul?

I wonder why all those innocent people--298 of them--had to die in that airliner that fell out (or was shot out) of the sky over Ukraine. Burned alive. Their bodies, in many cases, reduced to tiny unrecognizable pieces.

Never again will they breathe.

Why did they die? And why so suddenly and horribly?

Never again will they take in this big, beautiful, enchanting, magnificent world.

Never again anything.

Their remains--what was left of them--began being returned to their home countries yesterday.

For whatever reason, in focusing on the tragedy of the ill-fated Malaysian Flight 17, this song came to mind. Turn your sound up and enjoy and say a prayer for the dead and their families. Maybe all 298 of them are in Heaven.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Music and our memories

Sometimes we lose our memory.

We forget who we are. Close family members that we've known for a good part of our life--husbands, daughters, sons--become strangers.

We forget where we live, where we came from, what we like to do, what foods we enjoy, even how to eat or sleep or bathe.

I know such a person. It's not her fault. She is 80 and has severe dementia. She constantly talks about "going home" even when she's at her own home. Paces restlessly, seems constantly tormented, always searching (but for what?) Her friends and relatives hardly ever come to visit her. Rarely call her. Rarely make contact of any kind. It falls almost entirely on the shoulders of her only daughter to take care of her. Perhaps others don't know how to handle her memory loss and thus feel uncomfortable around her.

But now there's a glimmer of hope for those with Alzheimer's--which today affects about 7 million Americans. If we don't yet have Alzheimer's, we fear it greatly. Dread that we, too, will one day lose our precious memory.

I say it's precious, because what do you have if you've lost your memory?

Here's the hope, the fervent prayer, the miracle if it truly works:

Pipe music into the ears of an Alzheimer's patient. Let them listen to what they once loved to hear or dance to. Some of them will suddenly come alive and jive and remember.

Music can really work its magic on a person suffering from dementia, according to a new documentary--Alive Inside. Dan Cohen, head of the non-profit Music and Memory program which created the film was recently quoted: "Ninety-nine percent of these people (in nursing homes) are still sitting around and doing nothing all day when they could be rocking to their music."

Says a doctor who personally has witnessed how music can transform those with Alzheimer's: "Music has more ability to activate more parts of the brain than any other stimulus." He has seen person and after person--barely alive and seemingly living in a dark, vague world full of strangers--put on headphones, listen to the music of their youth and light up.

While not a proven cure for Alzheimer's and maybe not effective for everyone stricken with the debilitating condition, music might be key to helping restore the memory of many.

If I lose my memory, pipe me in some tunes from the Mamas and Papas, the Beatles, Toby Keith, the Four Tops and Aretha Franklin. Rock me, baby!

Meanwhile,here's an exciting clip about Alive Inside:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Men and women

Who can know what makes men and women tick and sometimes color outside the lines?

It happens all the time.

Makes no difference who they are or how much money they have.

Power and status seem irrelevant when a man (or a woman) decides to stray.

Think of a few of the thousands of examples (all of these from the rich or famous):

1. Ex-NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Rebecca Woodard

2. Ex-SC Gov. Mark Sanford and Maria Bellen Chapur

3. U.S. President Warren G. Harding and Carrie Fulton Phillips

4. Ex-U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart and Donna Rice.

5. General David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell

6. U.S. President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski

7. U.S. President John Kennedy and who knows what her name was?

8. Jim Bakker and Jessica Hahn.

9. Anthony Weiner and Sydney Leathers.

10. Beloved TV journalist Charles Kuralt and secret mistress Patricia Shannon (whose photo seems to be hard to find on the Internet):

Below is an old photo--from the late 1970s or early 1980s, I believe--of Charles and Patricia:

And the infamous list goes on. More names than I can list or care to chronicle even in cyber space (where space seems to be infinite).

All of them sultry, steamy, sensuous. All ripe, seductive fodder for the press.

Some have long since ended. Warren Harding, for example, was our country's 19th president; that was so long ago that he could have been on the Titanic. Could have fought in WWI. Could have personally known the Wright brothers.

We never, ever talk about Harding today. But that all changed a few weeks ago when a press-described "treasure trove of love letters" emerged between Harding and his mistress Carrie Fulton Phillips.

In one of them, the president wrote: "I love you more than all the world, and have no hope of reward on earth or hereafter so precious as that in your dear arms, in your thrilling lips, in your matchless breasts, in your incomparable embrace."

Men and women-even those in the most committed relationships--sometimes stray.

That's what they do. They stumble and fall and become bad. As the Bible says (paraphrasing here): The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Such is life. It makes things interesting. When people have the libidinal itch, they want to be scratched--in the worst (or best) way.

What names would you add to my list?

Speaking of doing it, here's a scene from a J-Lo movie that will get your blood flowing:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Signs of our times

You see them everywhere.

On the windows of storefronts. In front of churches. On shirts and motor vehicles and next to roads and beside mailboxes and on the sides of trucks.

Everyone, it seems, is in the business of creating or posting signs.

The last few months, in my travels in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri, I've taken pictures of some of the more interesting signs I've encountered.

Here are a few: