2/25/2013

Predators in Your Home - Cats and Dogs








A couple of weeks ago I saw a startling bit of news that really shocked me.  A report was published which stated how cats are starting to have a disturbing effect on our natural ecological systems.  It was estimated that our feline friends kill 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds just in the United States.  That was an astounding number to me.  But, it went on to say that world-wide the problem was even worse.  World-wide cats kill an estimated 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals, such as meadow voles and chipmunks, each year.  That is just in one year, astoundingly enough.  Things have gotten so bad in New Zealand that the government is trying to get rid of cats or, at the very least, make the owners keep them indoors. In the United States, those deaths represent about 15% of the total bird population.  Each house cat is thought to have killed between four and 18 birds a year, and between eight and 21 small mammals per year.  But, before we start heaping all the blame on cats, dogs have now been brought forth for their "crimes" as well.

Another report stipulates that dogs pose an equally or even, in some cases, a worse effect on eco-systems. The report talks about how one single German Shepard (and I dearly love this breed) in  New Zealand's Waitangi State Forest, was responsible for killing up to 500 kiwis. The dog had a collar, but was unregistered, and its owner was not found.  Amazing.  But, most of the problems that dogs pose for humans is disease according to the researchers of this report.  Dogs are responsible for an estimated 55,000 human rabies deaths world-wide.  Dogs are also responsible for passing on rabies to other species in Africa. Despite the health risks, very few people are willing to offer solutions for conservation issues as a result of dogs.  Researchers say that the general public is reluctant to eradicate dogs due to the historic nature of the Human-Canine relationship.  Dogs are thought to pay their own way by guarding property and herds of cattle.  So, very little or no chance of any change in whatever problems dogs may cause humans or the eco-systems world-wide.

I'm still a bit shocked over the cat statistics.  That just doesn't seem possible. They neglect to include the positives of cats who kill untold number of disease carrying rodents each year.  I never considered dogs but nothing more than a positive influence in our daily lives.  I still think dogs and cats are a good influence despite whatever scientific evidence may show to the contrary.  Dogs and cats have their own place in our daily lives.  I don't see that ever changing, especially in my life.  I admit my beagle, Ralph, has killed more than his share of squirrels and birds in my yard.  But, that is his territorial instinct kicking in to do this.  Ralph is just being what he is; my faithful companion.  I plan on keeping my little buddy around despite what some obscure scientists say.

2/22/2013

House at the End of Satter Field Road






 Once again, prepare to settle in and read another long blog post concerning my experiences with the supernatural.

[Editor's Note:  This story is written by the former blog owner and author, JD Weldy. This is not a guest post]




My last post on my experiences at Crybaby Bridge in Saraland, Alabama, as a small boy, got me to reminiscing about other supernatural or unusual occurrences that I experienced over the years.  I was 12 years old at the time of my Crybaby Bridge experience.  What I'm about to talk about occurred about 3 years earlier when I was all of 9 years of age. It is something I'm relatively sure you have heard mentioned before or seen on TV.  A house at the end of a cul de sac that seems spooky, the owner who seems strange and kids who simply can't resist going there.  That was me and my aforementioned friend, Charlie Foster, who I mentioned in the Crybaby Bridge post.  Charlie was killed after stepping on an anti-personnel mine in Vietnam in 1969.  Poor Charlie had only been in Vietnam 3 months.  Anyway, Charlie and I simply could not resist sneaking onto the property of Mrs. Wiezten's house at the end of Satter Field Road, which was about a block or so from where I lived.  She had these old Spanish moss oak trees on her property that made it appear as if ghosts were dancing in mid-air at night.  The house itself screamed "haunted" to anyone who saw it.  But, even more, Mrs. Wiezten was a strange person.  Many said she was a witch.  This was heady stuff if you are 9 years old and looking for adventure.  Mrs. Wiezten constantly was yelling at us and other kids to get off her property or you will regret it.   The last 4 words are what caused us to always come back for more.  We were kids and kids being kids, we couldn't resist snooping around.

It was early May as I recall (two weeks before the end of school for summer) when Charlie and I thought we going to be sent straight to hell.  It was a Saturday night, which is when we always got ourselves in trouble.  We had decided we were going to wait for Mrs. Wiezten to leave for her nightly pilgrimage to God knows where.  It never failed at 7 PM sharp, Mrs. Wiezten would leave in her rickety old, dilapidated VW Bug.  Where she would go during this time, no one ever really knew.  But, we knew she would be gone for about two hours.  Charlie and I thought she might be going into the woods to get herbs and spices to brew for her next curse.  We hid in the high grass of an open field that was directly behind her house.  Right on time, Mrs. Wiezten got into her VW Bug and left, with plumes of smoke billowing out behind.  Charlie said she needed to trade in that old car for a new broom.  After we stopped laughing, we started sneaking toward the back door to look inside.  It was difficult to see because the windows were covered with dust and very little lighting inside.  Suddenly, Charlie said, "David....look over at the stairway (I forgot to mention it was your traditional two-story haunted house)."  What I saw absolutely shocked me.

At the end of the stairway, was a small black box with something green glowing inside.  The green light was emanating around the edges of the black box.  The green light would ebb and rise about every minute.  Of course, we had to go inside now to see what was in that damn box.  We tried the back door.  Of course, it was locked.  So, Charlie starting trying to raise the window we had been looking through.  He managed to get it to open.  That was surprising to me.  Something didn't seem right.  I told Charlie lets just go home.  He wasn't having any of that.  It seems Charlie always wanted to become close friends with danger (which probably led to his ultimate demise as well).  Charlie was the first to go through the window, with me hesitantly going in behind him.  The house itself smelled like an animal had died inside.  It was a terrible smell.  There were dried animal skins along the wall leading into the kitchen area.  Cats, dogs, squirrels, rabbits, and others I have forgotten. The house was filthy and had probably not been dusted since before I had been born 9 years prior.  I told Charlie I was leaving.  Just as I said that a noise started coming from the black box.  It sounded like a siren on an ambulance at first.  But, that soon changed.  It now was like a jet engine.  The noise was unbelievable. It also had become unbearably loud.  I didn't have to tell Charlie to leave, he was already running toward the window.  The noise had kicked up about 100 decibels.  We were both screaming by now.  Charlie pushed the flimsy, thread bare curtains back.  The window had closed on us.

The room was becoming filled with a bright green light as we struggled to get the window opened.  I told Charlie to forget the window, let's go out the door!  The door would not open either.  It was padlocked from inside.  So, back to the window we went.  It still would not open.  The jet engine type noise was now causing the house itself to vibrate. We were getting out of there even if we had to bust open a window....which is exactly what we did.  Charlie took a poker from the fireplace and busted out the window we had used to enter the house.  Glass shattered all over the back porch as we both went out the window much faster than we had entered.  As soon as we were on the back porch, the noise and green light inside the house stopped.   We both looked at each other and went running as fast as our feet would carry us.  I am doubtful any Gold Medal Olympic sprinter could have caught up with us that day.  As we were almost within sight of our homes a block away, we saw the old VW Bug of Mrs. Wietzen coming back down the road toward her house.  She had been gone for less than 30 minutes which is something neither one of us could explain.  We both ducked down.  Just as we did that, she stopped her car.  She was at least 200 yards away from us.  She looked straight ahead, never glancing toward us.  She sat there for about 5 minutes, I guessed.  Then she slowly started making her way to her home.  We both belly crawled until we got to the dirt road leading to our homes.  Once we were sure we were out of sight, Charlie said, "You peed on yourself!"  I looked and saw I had.  I also noticed Charlie had done the same thing.  Ordinarily, that would have been reason enough for raucous laughter.  But, we were too unhinged about what had just happened.

To my knowledge, Mrs. Wiezten never called the police about her window being broken.  I suspect she didn't want police snooping around her house.  We both couldn't figure out the black box, green light and incredibly loud noise coming from that small black box.  To this day, I can't explain it.  I only told one other person this story prior to posting here on the internet.  I told my girlfriend at the Junior-Senior prom about 8 years later.  She didn't believe me.  I can't say I blame her. Charlie said he told his grandpa about it.  His grandpa looked at him and said, "Some day, you may pay for that, son.  I hope not."  About the same time, Charlie stepped on that land mine in Vietnam, I was involved in a terrible car accident about 3 weeks before I was sent to Naples, Italy to serve my time while in the U.S. Navy.  Two people in the car with me were killed.  I walked away with just a few lacerations.  Make of that what you will.  Charlie and I never went back to the house at the end of Satter Field Road.  We would occasionally talk about the incident.  But, not very often and it was only very briefly discussed.  As for Mrs. Wiezten, I only saw her one time after we broke into her house that Saturday night.  Just before Christmas of that same year, I had been sent to pick up the mail at the post office.  We were getting our mail general delivery which was not unusual in that time period.  As I came into the post office, I saw Mrs. Wietzen in line to pick up her mail as well.  Once she got it, she looked right at me.  I thought I was going to pee in my pants again.  She looked right at me with the blackest eyes I had ever seen.  Then, she slowly walked to the door with the slightest smile on her face.  I don't recall ever seeing her again since I never went back to Satter Field Road.  I avoided Satter Field Road like the plague.  Even now, I won't go back there.

There is only one other person who can confirm this actually happened.  Unfortunately, Charlie is deceased. Was it some kind of alarm that was unheard of in that era? That's very doubtful.  I don't think they had anything like that in 1960.  I could be wrong.  It seems the supernatural has followed me all my life.  This was just one incident of a multitude of incidents.  But, this incident is the one that seemingly I can never forget.  I can't explain what happened.  Nor do I expect anyone to believe this story.  But, as I approach the beginning of the end of my long life, I felt it was time to make this story known.  I just wish my old friend Charlie was here to back me up.

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2/18/2013

Legend of Crybaby Bridge







 This is going to be a long blog entry.  So, settle in and take your time reading it.


Crybaby Bridge is an urban legend in a good number of states in the USA.  The one I am most familiar with is in Saraland-Satsuma area of Alabama, about ten miles from where I live in Mobile, Alabama.  The Crybaby Bridge Legend in Saraland is off of Kali Oka Road.  You must go carefully around the aptly named "Dead Man's Curve" (many fatal car accidents here).  This will take you to Crybaby Bridge and the Kali Oka Plantation.  The old plantation is one of the few places that is spooky even in the daytime.  There is the plantation house and the slave quarters.  Some have said you can see a woman lighting candles in the slaves house some nights.  Crybaby Bridge is named because, as I'm sure you have surmised, some have said you can hear a baby crying under the bridge at certain times, mostly between midnight and 3AM.  Part of the Legend of Crybaby Bridge is that the Master of the plantation was a brutal, heartless man.  His wife took as her lover, a huge slave whose name is lost to history.  The Master found both in a lovers embrace.  You can imagine what happened next.  The Master of the plantation cut off both hands of the slave, chained him to a tree to die.  Not long afterwards, the Mistress of the plantation found she was pregnant by the slave.  When it was time for the baby to be born, the mistress went into the woods to have the baby.  She then drowned the newborn baby in a creek where the old Crybaby Bridge is (it has since been discontinued for traffic and a new one was built).  Some nights, it is said you can see the ghost of the huge slave looking for his long lost baby boy down Kali Oka Road.

It just so happens, I lived around the area of Crybaby Bridge as a teenager (12-13 years of age) back in the early to mid-60s.  We lived about 3 miles from the old plantation on Kali Oka Road.  One summer's night, we decided to see if it were true, that you could hear a baby cry from under Crybaby Bridge.  It was about 9PM.  My parents were at our next door neighbors house.  They would be playing bridge past midnight since it was a Friday night.  Even if they got home before me and my brother, we could sneek in our bedroom window without being caught.  So, myself, my brother and two friends of mine, Charlie and his brother Allan, went on our bicycles riding the 3 miles to Crybaby Bridge.  None of us were brave enough to go to the plantation on Kali Oka Road.  But, once we got to the bridge, we could see an eerie, shimmering light near the plantation home.  This was about 10PM.  My brother started whining, wanting to go home.  We had only been there 5 minutes.  I told him I wasn't leaving until midnight, if at that.  Charlie had brought some chips and a six-pack of cold coca-cola for us all.  So, we parked our bikes near the bridge and we just waited.  As we ate our chips and drank our coke (in those days it was real coke, not the filtered crap they make now), we could hear the water going under the bridge.  It was so quiet, as I remember.  Not many cars that time of night because of the legend and, of course, Dead Man's Curve ending many a drunk teenager's life.

Around midnight, we were all getting restless.  Outside of that eerie shimmering light near the plantation, we had seen or heard nothing at all.  We were all thinking this had been a waste of a valuable summer night.  Finally, about 12:30AM, I told Charlie we needed to get back on our bikes and head home.  Charlie agreed as his brother Allan was sleepy and so was my brother.  As we got on our bikes, Allan said he heard a cat meowing.  I thought I heard it also.  We put our bikes back down and went back on the bridge.  But, we soon realized it was not a cat meowing.  It was definitely the faint cries of a baby we heard that night.  This lasted about two minutes and then stopped.  We all looked at each other for a few seconds and got back on our bikes.  We didn't say anything to each other as we rode back home.  In fact, Charlie and I never discussed Crybaby Bridge ever again.  Neither did my brother and I.  It was just something that we decided we didn't want to talk about.  It was far too chilling to discuss.  I can't explain those baby cries we heard that night.  But, I know a baby's cry when I hear it.

Now, you may be wondering, why is he discussing this in a blog entry.  I'm bringing this up because a 15 year old nephew went to Crybaby Bridge last Saturday night, with his girlfriend, and heard the faint cries of a baby also.  He didn't want to talk about it much either.  Legend or not, those cries of an infant stays with your forever. I may discuss some more urban legends in the future.

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2/15/2013

Coca-Cola Habit Kills Woman





 
A New Zealand woman, 30-year-old Natasha Harris, has reportedly died due to an "overdose" of Coca-Cola.  It was said Harris drank over two gallons of cola a day.  A coroner said that the 2010 death of Mrs. Harris was due to "... metabolic imbalances which gave rise to arrhythmia”.  Prior to her death, Mrs. Harris would reportedly have "withdrawal symptoms" if she gave out of Coca-Cola.  She would get edgy, irritable, and develop the shakes that a drug addict will display.  For its part, the Coca-Cola Corporation spokesman stated, "...We are disappointed that the coroner has chosen to focus on the combination of Ms. Harris’ excessive consumption of Coca-Cola, together with other health and lifestyle factors, as the probable cause of her death."   The coroner stated that Coca-Cola might want to include warning labels on its product stating too much could lead to death.

I was a Coca-Cola addict myself for much of my life, although certainly not to the extent of this unfortunate woman, Natasha Harris.  But, three years ago, I decided it was doing nothing for me.   I found myself craving the next drink of coke.  I have not had any soft drink in over three years now.  I have no cravings for coke or any soft drink.  I much, much prefer water, cold water.  Once you give up soft drinks, you'll wonder why you ever drank the stuff.  I drink unsweetened tea and maybe a fruit drink.  But, no Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7-UP or any other popular soft drink.  I can almost understand how Mrs. Harris became addicted to coke.  But, she went too far in drinking the popular American soft drink.  I do know there are people who are addicted to diet coke.  I will never understand that due to the aftertaste. But, as with Mrs. Harris, one can go too far with practically anything.  I simply can't imagine drinking over two gallons of water a day, much less two gallons of Coca-Cola each day. 

2/11/2013

Girl Apologizes to Judge She Flipped Off







Many of you have heard by now of Penelope Soto, the 18-year old girl who flipped off Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat and the disrespectful tone she had with the judge.  The judge gave her 30 days for contempt, a felony in the eyes of the law.  She had been arrested for possession of the prescription drug Xanax.  She was also drunk and disorderly.  With time behind bars, young Miss Soto had time to reflect on her behavior.  Last Friday, she publicly apologized for her disrespectful attitude and vulgarity to the judge.  Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat then vacated the 30 day Contempt of Court sentence and let her out of jail with time served.  Miss Soto must still serve in a court-ordered drug rehabilitation.  Judging from her behavior, in a court of law, she desperately needs this drug rehab time.

Disrespecting a judge, in his courtroom, is never a good idea.  It reminds me of when I was in the Navy.  I detested saluting some hot shot Lt. Jg who was younger than I was.  But, as an old Chief Petty Officer told me, you are not saluting that punk in the uniform.  You are saluting the uniform the punk is wearing.  You may not like the judge in a courtroom.  But, showing respect is not about the judge himself.  You are respecting the court in which that judge presides.  Little Penelope Soto is only 18-years old.  She has a lot of growing up to do.  Judge Rodriguez-Chomat was out of line, I think, when he set her bond at $5K and then to $10K for saying "Adios" to the judge.  Most judges will let someone with no prior offenses (as was the case with Penelope) off on their own recognizance on a misdemeanor.  In this regard, I think the judge went too far.  Penelope went way too far with saying "F*** You" to the judge and flipping him off.  They both were at fault.  Hopefully, both will learn from this experience that made nation-wide news via the news media and YouTube. 

2/08/2013

Black Man in KKK Outfit











At first glance, you have to question the sanity of anyone standing in full KKK dress in Philadelphia, PA on a street corner.  Even though it was an African-American, that took guts to do.  Sixx King (who is African-American) was not out to start a riot or to offend black people.  He was, in fact, trying to bring attention to the ongoing problem of "black on black" crime, especially murder.  In Philadelphia, 324 people were murdered in 2011.  Eighty-five percent were black.  That is an astounding statistic.  Even more astounding, in 86 years the KKK killed 3,446 blacks.  In six months, nation-wide, that number is exceeded, according to the FBI.   While some were offended by Mr. King's garb, as you can imagine, some realized the message Mr. King was trying to get across.  Philadelphia Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. stated, “You have to sit back and digest his message.  Sit back and understand the mother who was carrying the picture of her child. It’s not a statistic. It’s a human being with a name who will be missed.”  That is a very sobering statement.  There isn't much I can add to that other than to say I agree with him.  Now, some will say, "What about black on white crime or latino on black crime, etc."  The only way I can answer that question is that black on black crime is disproportionately worse than "black on white" or any other race you wish to mention. 

There has to be some soul searching amongst the African-American communities over this problem.  It is past time pretending black on black crime is not a major problem.   The first step in solving a problem is to admit there is a problem.  At least, in Sixx King, you have one African-American who is willing to bring this problem to the forefront.  You may not agree with his method.  But, his message cannot be ignored.

2/04/2013

U.S. Postal Service: Above the Law?







In East Cleveland, Ohio, a government lawyer for the United States Postal Service (USPS) is trying to get $700 worth of traffic citations dismissed, in the lawyer's words, "...as you are probably aware, the Postal Service enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation...”  This did not go over very well with  American Traffic Solutions (ATS) that enforces East Cleveland's traffic camera citations.  “By attempting to hide behind an immunity claim, you are aiding and abetting your drivers in their blatant disregard for the traffic laws in East Cleveland, which have endangered other drivers, pedestrians and school children,” stated ATS attorney George Hittner in his response to USPS on their claim to be immune from local and state laws.  Mr. Hittner succinctly ended his brief to USPS by mocking their creed.  “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor traffic lights stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”   No comment has been made, to Mr. Hittner's brief, from USPS.

As a one-time employee of USPS, I do not find the arrogance of USPS surprising at all.  USPS is a government entity that is the poster child for all the inefficiency in the federal government.  Poor management, lazy employees who feel they can come and go as they please at work.  I dare say 80% of the employees in the USPS could not find a job in the private sector.  I would say the number is even higher of the so-called managers of USPS.  So, USPS thinking they are above the law does not surprise me.  Is USPS immune from the laws of local and state in the same manner as a diplomat from a foreign country?  That is ridiculous. I do know that in my area, if a USPS mail carrier got a ticket, two things happened.  One, he was disciplined by being being placed on a non-pay status or given a "letter of warning." Second, the cost of the ticket was deducted from his pay and paid to the city.  I don't know where USPS in East Cleveland is coming from in their belief they are immune from local and state laws.  Now, I have been out of touch with USPS for about a decade.  So, it's possible things have changed.  But, I doubt it.  A government agency that is on the brink of bankruptcy should refrain from establishing law to their benefit.  They have bigger problems to deal with at this time.

2/01/2013

Retirees: Some Things to Consider








When I officially became a retiree, I quickly realized that I was now being stereotyped.  One young man told me, "Please remember to make sure your blinkers don't stay on as you drive down the road."   He was joking, of course,  But, I didn't find it funny for reasons that surprised me.  Then I was told the usual crap about repeating stories that people have heard a hundred times, about seeing the doctor 3 or 4 times a week for an assortment of ailments, the proverbial rocking chair, etc, ad nauseum.  I was shocked by it.  Shocked because i never pictured myself on the receiving end of these jokes.  Now, I realize how hurtful they can be.  Yes, as a young lad, I partook of these jokes about Senior citizens as well.  It was funny then.  But, it sure as hell isn't funny now.  I guess it's true that you have to walk a mile in someone's shoes to fully understand.   Well, I'm really walking in those shoes now.  But, you know what?  I think people my age  bring a lot of these hurtful words on ourselves.  I understand because of how aging affects the mind one can't help but do a lot of those expected "Senior Moment" things.  This is for those of us who still have most of our faculties about us.

1.  Constantly complaining.  When you are in a group of people and someone asks, "How are you doing?," don't go down a laundry list of things that ail you.  How are you doing, is a natural part of a greeting in most cultures.  People don't really want to know what is wrong with you.  I know that sounds strange.  But, it's true, so very true. Best way to answer this is , "Oh, I'm doing fairly well, how about you?"  And then just drop it.  Of course, I realize you are opening yourself up for the same by asking someone else how they are doing.

2.  Don't judge, lest ye be judged.  With our years, decades of experience, we think we know it all.  With that knowledge comes a certain degree of a judgmental attitude.  Just because things aren't done the way they were when we were kids, doesn't mean we should be holier than thou.  Times change, and so do people.  The clothes we wore as kids do not translate well to kids of today.  It's very easy to sit back and say, "Well, in my day we would have walked 40 miles in 10 feet of snow to get to school."  Sure you did.  Times change.  You have to accept that.

3.   Volunteer work.   I noticed a lot of us 50+ folks say a lot of denigrating things about life today.  But, not many of us try to do anything to change things.  Get out and volunteer in your community.  You have a lot of knowledge to share.  Make use of it in various things such as at the local animal shelter (which I do occasionally), local hospitals, church ministries, and so on.  You have lots of time on your hands these days.  Make use of it in a positive way.

4.  Exercise.  Just because you are retired does not mean you should sit around the house all day on the couch or easy chair.   You would be doing yourself the biggest favor in the world if you exercise on a daily basis.  Sitting around is dangerous.  Blot clots, stroke, heart attack are all side effects of a sedentary lifestyle. 

5.   Socialize.  You will find that once you leave the workplace, not many of your still working friends will make themselves available to you.  I noticed this also within just a couple of months of retirement.  That is a big adjustment.  Sure, you'll have friends for life with some from your days in the workforce.  But, make new friends.  There are plenty of people to meet at (wait for it) the Senior Centers in communities and local churches.  Get involved, cut a rug at weekly dances, mingle and just make new friends.  I had to learn all this the hard way.  I was stunned how quickly my so-called friends at work forgot me.  That still hurts.  But, I have new friends now.

Just because we are locked in with stereotyped words and phrases, does not mean we have to go down that road.  In your retirement years, you can be different.  Break the mold, be all you can be (No, I don't mean join the U.S. Army). 



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