Vol. XXIII, No. 3
January 21, 2017
Barbara Wear forwards this great dog story:
THE BLACK LAB
They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.
I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street. But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys, almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home.) Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.
I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."
To Whoever Gets My Dog: Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. He knew something was different.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you. First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after them, so be careful. Don't do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones: "sit," "stay," "come," "heel." He knows hand signals, too: He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He's up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the back seat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.
And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you. His name's not Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this ... well, it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is "Tank." Because that is what I drive.
I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no-one I could've left Tank with ... and it was my only real request of the army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.
If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US, I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades. All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me. Thank you, Paul Mallory
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog. "Hey, Tank," I said quietly.
The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months.
"Tank," I whispered. His tail swished.
I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me." Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
"So whatdaya say we play some ball?" His ears perked again.
"Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?"
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
Kate Brookfield writes: I loved the story of your early life. Much more detail than the first version years ago, as I recall. But I did not keep the early Spinners. They came too thick and fast at a time of life when I was busy teaching English with loads of kids' work to read and mark! But this time had the time to read and enjoy your account of life in the bush! It must be like science fiction to the up and coming generation - like Margaret Atwood's visions of life after we destroy this known world!
Congratulations again on adding another notch on your life's walking stick or page in your album of life.
Take care in all that snow and ice!
Best wishes again for another successful year of Spinners!
ED. NOTE: Thank you, Kate, for your kind wishes. It has started to rain here on the coast, though there are still heaps of snow in the upper levels. We're all keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that we have seen the last of the snow.
Stan French forwarded the last Spinner to a friend who has moved from Toronto to London, Ont., May Macfarlane, and she too commented on my story of life in the bush: I enjoyed reading about the family living in the wilderness. Hard to imagine how difficult this must have been to earn your living in such remote places. I would never have been a pioneer. Got a laugh at the at cat poem. We all miss not having a cat, but it would be dangerous if one got outside when we had the doors open. We sometimes hear coyotes in the woods behind our house.
Tom Telfer forwards this story about
A young lady was waiting for her flight in the boarding room of a big airport. As she would need to wait a while, she decided to buy a book to spend her time. She also bought a package of cookies.
She sat down in an armchair in the VIP room of the airport to rest and read in peace. Beside the armchair where the packet of cookies lay, a man sat down in the next seat, and opened his magazine and started reading.
When she took out the first cookie, the man took one also. She felt irritated but said nothing. She just thought, "What a nerve! If I was in the mood, I would punch him for daring!"
For each cookie she took, the man took one too. This was infuriating her, but she didn't want to cause a scene. When only one cookie remained, she thought, "Ah ... what is this abusive man going to do now?"
Then the man took the last cookie, divided it in half, and gave her the other half.
That was too much! She was much too angry now. In a huff, she took her book and her things and stormed to the boarding place.
When she sat down in her seat inside the plane, she looked into her purse to take out her eyeglasses, and to her surprise, her packet of cookies was there, untouched, unopened! She felt so ashamed. She realized that she had been wrong. She had forgotten that her cookies were in her purse. The man had divided his cookies with her, without feeling angered or bitter, while she had been very angry, thinking that she was dividing her cookies with him. And now there was no chance to explain herself, nor to apologize.
There are four things that you can never recover: the stone after the throw; the word after it's said; the occasion after the loss; and the time after it's gone.
Burke Dykes shares this encouraging story:
KEEP YOUR DREAMS
I have a friend named Monty who owns a horse ranch in San Ysidro. He has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs.
The last time I was there he introduced me by saying: “I want to tell you why I let Jack use my house. It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm, and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, the boy’s high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.
“That night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail, and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. Then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch.
“He put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note that read, 'See me after class.'
“The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, 'Why did I receive an F?'
“The teacher said, 'This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. You have no money. You come from an itinerant family. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock, and later you’ll have to pay large stud fees. There’s no way you could ever do it.’ Then the teacher added, 'If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade.'
“The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do. His father said, 'Look, son, you have to make up your own mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.’
"Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all. He stated, ‘You can keep the F and I’ll keep my dream.'"
Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, “I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace.”
He added, “The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week. When the teacher was leaving, the teacher said, ‘Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids’ dreams. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours.'
“Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. Follow your heart, no matter what.”
- Author Unknown
Catherine Green sends these examples of
Here are the winners of one of The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational, which asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who is both stupid and an asshole.
3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
Pat Moore sends these thoughts about
No matter what your age - whether you are pushing 60, 70, or 80, (or maybe even just pushing your luck) you'll probably relate.
In women - we no longer have upper arms, we have wingspans. We are no longer women in sleeveless shirts; we are flying squirrels in drag.
Mid-life is when you can stand naked in front of a mirror and you can see your rear without turning around.
Mid-life is when you go for a mammogram and you realize that this is the only time someone will ask you to appear topless.
Mid-life is when you want to grab every firm young lovely in a tube top and scream, "Listen honey, even the Roman empire fell, and those will too."
Mid-life brings wisdom to know that life throws us curves, and we're sitting on our biggest ones.
In mid-life your memory starts to go. In fact the only thing we can retain is water.
Mid-life means that you become more reflective. You start pondering the "big" questions. What is life? Why am I here? How much Healthy Choice ice cream can I eat before it's no longer a healthy choice?
But mid-life also brings with it an appreciation for what is important.
You realize that bodies sag, hips expand, and chins double, but our loved ones make the journey worthwhile. Would any of you trade the knowledge that you have now for the body you had way back when?
Maybe our bodies simply have to expand to hold all the wisdom and love we've acquired.
That's my philosophy and I'm sticking to it!
Barbara Wear forwards this link to a video of Iceland, which she has visited four times. She and a friend took the Circle Tour and saw most of this wonderful country:
Carol Hansen sends this link to a video of some of the most beautiful gardens in the world - just the right antidote to the woes of winter:
Irene Harvalias forwards the URL for a video of an Austrian band performing a unique act that is both talented and entertaining. Check out the expression on the face of the central figure:
Jean Sterling sends this feature from the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale in which readers recall the day it snowed in South Florida:
Rafiki shares this link with a video of Bowser and Blue singing a song about a Colorectal Surgeon:
Tom Telfer forwards this link to a video in which Mathieu Bich fools Pen and Teller:
Tom also suggests this video of a little North Korean girl, Kang Eunju, playing a masterful guitar:
In this TED talk, Federico Pistono discusses basic incomes for everyone and other ways to fix capitalism in light of the coming loss of jobs to technology:
Video technology and science converge on an active volcano in Vanuatu, where explorer Sam Cossman operated camera-mounted drones to capture high-definition images of the spectacular yet dangerous Marum Crater. Cossman and his team piloted the drones over the 7.5-mile-wide (12-kilometer) caldera while confronting toxic gases and boiling lava. Although two drones succumbed to the harsh environment, the team was able to bring back video and photos that will help scientists learn more about the volcano and the life around it:
Math as a subject might not be a common favorite, since it requires lots of logical thinking and practice. You probably wouldn't expect any five-year-old to work out difficult math calculations on the spot, but you'll be astounded after you watch this young boy participating in a children's talent show entitled "Little Big Shots:"
"Friendship Benches" alleviate mental illness symptoms for thousands. Read about it here:
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”