Sunday, April 27, 2014

"...In Fairness, Though, The Peaches Are Very Nice..."

Big news on the medical front today.

More on that in a few.

First, though, here's the latest from the "cold dead fingers" file.

A Georgia man panicked parents and children at a local park and baseball field by randomly walking around and displaying his gun to anyone he encountered in the parking lot.

According to witnesses who spoke with WSB-TV, the man wandered around the Forsythe County park last Tuesday night showing his gun to strangers, telling them “there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“Anyone who was just walking by – you had parents and children coming in for the game – and he’s just standing here, walking around [saying] ‘You want to see my gun? Look, I got a gun and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ He knew he was frightening people. He knew exactly what he was doing,” said parent Karen Rabb.
 Rabb said that the man’s intimidating behavior panicked parents causing them to hustle children who were there to play baseball to safety after the man refused to leave.

“It got to the point where we took the kids and brought them into the dugout and the parents lined up in front of the dugout,” Rabb said.

Police report they received 22 calls to 911 reporting the man.

After deputies arrived, they questioned the man who produced a permit for the handgun. According to authorities, since the man made no verbal threats or gestures, they couldn’t arrest him or ask him to leave.

Forsythe Sheriff Duane Piper said that he didn’t believe the parents and children were in any danger but, even though the man was within his rights to carry the gun, he found the gun carriers conduct inappropriate.

“We support the constitutional right to bear arms. We will not tolerate bad behavior,” said the sheriff.
Parent Paris Horton, whose son was playing on the baseball diamond at the time of the incident, questioned the man’s motives.

“Why would anyone be walking around a public park, with a lot of children and parents and people here playing baseball, and he’s walking around with a gun?” said Horton. “I don’t think the parents would have been nervous had he just had the gun in his holster and was just watching the game.”

Rabb told a reporter that her 6-year-old son Ethan, who was playing on the field, later asked her about the man.

“When I was reading my son’s story last night, he turned to me and said ‘Mommy, did that man want to kill me?’” said a tearful Rabb.

A reporter from WSB contacted the man, whose name was not disclosed, and he refused to discuss the incident.

The State of Georgia recently liberalized their gun laws allowing owners to carry their weapons into churches, schools, libraries and bars.

First, let's do our stretching exercises together so that we can, at the very least, give our best effort at bending over backwards here.

And resist the temptation to waste any time attempting to scramble up and/or inevitably go sliding back down the slippery slope of what, exactly, the "right to bear arms" actually means or, more importantly, what the framers had exactly in mind when they framed.

Let's try to come at it from a little different angle.

Say, instead of a 45 or 90 degree, let's give .357 a shot.

Pun absolutely intended.

The problem with any discussion, debate, argument, et al regarding that wacky, zany fun filled piece of Constitutional comedy commonly referred to as the 2nd Amendment is that said discussion, debate, argument, et al almost always misses the target.

Not to mention the point.

The issue has, I strongly believe a jury could be convinced, never been about morality, legality or even politics.

It's about mathematics.

Long division, to be precise.

And a pesky little equation entity arithmetic teachers teach us, somewhere around the first or second grade, as I recall, known as the lowest common denominator.

The entity that, in fact, if you think about it for only marginally longer than it takes for the bullet to leave the barrel, is really at the heart of just about every regulation, rule, ordinance and/or law that has ever found its way into existence and/or enforcement.

Put less verbosely...

Laws are written for losers.

35 MPH in a residential neighborhood.

Not because you need to be reminded that it takes a certain amount of distance to come to a complete stop should a neighborhood child come darting into the street and a reduced speed gives you a much better statistical chance of coming to that complete stop before launching that kid from your front end to their worldly end.

But because some loser will almost always tear through the neighborhood at 80 if the speed limit isn't 35.

And a 35 MPH limit, at least, increases the odds that the loser will tear through at only, say, 45 or 50 max.

Loud music may not be played after 10PM.

Not because you need to be reminded that night time is very often the time when people give sleep their best effort so they can arise the next day refreshed and prepared to make a living to support their family and contribute positively to the community and prohibiting you from blasting "Yeezus" from your home and/or car windows late at night makes it possible for that body reenergizing to take place.

But because some loser, blissfully oblivious to the fairly well known concept that there are other people in the universe, will almost always blast "Yeezus" from their home or car window late at night because they feel like it.

In this case, most likely the same loser who listens to "Yeezus" in the first place and also thinks it a disgrace and denigration that Kim hasn't been given her own star on the Hollywood Walk.

Were it not for the loser, there would be no need for law.

Common sense, common courtesy, basic human decency, respect, even a warm embrace of the idea of loving one another as He has loved us would prevail.

In this life, turns out, not so much.

In fact, hell, no, not so much.

Hell, as in, ice cube's chance in.

And so we legislate and regulate and ordinate and mandate.

Because we can't make the serious, potentially fatal, mistake of assuming that common sense, common courtesy, basic human decency, respect or even a warm embrace of the idea of loving one another as He has loved us will prevail.

Some loser will always do 80 in a 35, play "Yeezus" after 10PM.

And wave a loaded gun around a park filled with children.

If, for no other reason, just because they can.


At least in Georgia.

It's about mathematics.

Numbers don't lie.

And every day, somewhere, it all comes down to the lowest common denominator.

And losers.

One other statistic bears scrutiny.

The capacity for listening to reason available to those who fall into that lowest common denominator bracket.

Numerically speaking, it amounts to squat.

Or zip.

Because experience has shown us, irrefutably, that losers, according to all available data, are, as a rule, stupid.

And communicating to them the need to slow down, turn it down or keep it holstered is an exercise in wasted time.

Because they're stupid.

Which brings us back to the aforementioned big news on the medical front.

This just in.

Loser waves loaded weapon in a park full of children playing ball.

Because he can.

Because he's stupid.

And researchers announce this to be the latest, empirical evidence of what has long been believed.

Stupidity causes deafness.

At least in Georgia.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"......The Original Groovy Chick......"

Here's a thing.

The chances are good that you and the noted author Ken Follett have, at least, one thing in common.

You never knew Neva Dayl.

But, of the two of you, Follett absolutely had her number

And that number was called last week.

Her full name was Neva Dayl Winfrey.

Right from the start, that should clue you that this was no garden variety, run of the mill character from the pages of the continuing adventure that is this life.

And although I had known her for all the cognizant years of my own life, I never bothered to take the time to learn about the unusual name of this most unusual lady.

Today, as we are apt to do when someone passes, I found my curiosity tweaked and, high ho the derry oh , a Googling I did go.

Depending on place of origin, the factoids offered a couple of choices.

In Latin, the word Neva means, literally, snow.

White and pure, seasonal and even festive.

Yeah, I suppose if you stretched the point you could say that was her.

But, turns out, in English and Gaelic communities, it means radiance.

And brightness.

There you go.

Now we're talkin'.

My awareness of the lady came somewhere in the 1950's, my nine or ten.

She was the wife of a co-worker of my father, the two families socially intertwined as a result of that paternal professional camaraderie in that way that seemed so common and natural in the day, so rare and, even, nostalgic now.

Walt and Neva, Ed and Barbara, two couples who were friends and/or co-workers and/or neighbors.

Co-starring the assorted progeny of said couples, three boys, three girls, in total, six de facto cousins.

And, in that zany, quirky way that life has of spinning the wheel, we found ourselves neighbors and friends more than once, together, then separated by the design of corporate needs, then reunited a year or years later, resulting from that same design until time and the inevitable growth of said children resulted in a seemingly final parting of the ways.

Until a few years ago when the wonder of social media brought us back in touch.

Through it all, whatever else could be said about the players in the play, there was one very steady, delightful, eclectic, even eccentric radiant brightness.

Neva Dayl.

Even as a young child, I knew, if only instinctively, that there was something wonderfully different about her. In a period when a lot of mothers stayed safely a notch left or right of June Cleaver, in appearance, manner and presentation, Neva Dayl was part house mother, part home maker and part Earth Mother, at a time when no one really knew what an Earth Mother was.

From long flowing hair to long flowing skirts to moccasins and/or sandals that nudged the line of pre-hippiedom ever so gently but stayed just this side of 1950-60's middle class suburban respectability, Neva was always a source of energy and wit and light.

At the same time, raising a family in a most remarkably conventional fashion, given her remarkable predisposition to the unconventional.

For though I cant tell you how I knew, I knew.

Even at the age of ten.

Fast forward to 2010, give or take.

Having long since traveled down a path that put considerable difference between our respective families, I had managed to stay aware, as many of us often do, of a general "where are they now" kind of history.

Walt had passed away in the 1980's, obviously much too young, of the cancer that delights in playing the insidious villain in so many of our life productions.

The Winfrey kids, our 1950-60 running buddies had gone on to accomplish and marry and reproduce and, in general, live their lives.

And Neva Dayl Winfrey remained Neva Dayl Winfrey.

Never remarried, another one of those "I can't tell you why but I just knew" things, staying true to both the memory of her husband and to the once in a lifetime nature of the life they were able to build and share before he passed.

The temptation to over-romanticize notwithstanding, I always pictured it as a Bobby-Ethel thing. Two people who were meant to be together, separated by one of life's little moments of mean spirited ness, the remaining partner living a full, happy and un-self pitying life, all the while staying married, most certainly emotionally and spiritually, regardless of the impossibility of physically to that one and only, gleefully, even irreverently suggesting that she just wasn't jiggy wit that whole "til death do us part" rap.

And staying true to herself and her family and her friends and her brightness. And her wit. And her loving light.

Thanks to Zuckerberg and his book of Faces, I was able to reconnect with Neva and the kids three or four years ago.

And a more wonderful opportunity for revisiting a treasured tile of my own mosaic there could not have been.

She and I managed to exchange a few emails, a letter here and there, her age and self admitted difficulty with reading due to failing vision making the printed word a challenge, but still she remained interested in hearing from me and my adventures. I sent her a copy of my book "Ely", a memoir detailing a place and time that both Phelps and Winfrey families had shared, a book she shared back was meaningful to her making it, of course, more than that to me.

That was the way she was.

Connected. And involved. And interested.

And interesting.

And tuned in like nobody's business.

The first time we exchanged letters, after I had reconnected with her via Facebook and email, she picked right up where she left off five decades earlier, impressing me with her ability to be with, and for, the person she was with.

"....I was wondering", she wrote, "if you ever found your passion....Walt and I used to talk about you when you were a kid, noting that whatever it was you took on, you seemed to do it so the same time, though, it was as if no one thing was ever enough to satisfy you...."

Don't mind telling you that it was touching beyond touching to learn that not only did she and her husband understand me then, she had held that memory and awareness long enough to understand me now.

The long flowing haired, long flowing skirted, moccasins and/or sandals wearing neighbor lady who nudged the line of pre-hippiedom ever so gently but stayed just this side of 1950-60's middle class suburban respectability while then, and later, always a source of energy and wit and light.

The neighbor lady who, I realize now, must have intuited that the kid across the street who was bouncing from one passion to another was, in his own way, as wack a doodle as she was, who maybe even understood, in a time when no one really understood those things, that that kid, who was fifty years away from discovering that Asperger's was part of the plot, eventually, in fact, would discover that and start to make sense of a lot of things that hadn't made sense for a long, long time.

Hell, maybe we even shared a similar construct of slightly dinged and dented genes.

I'll never really know.

Neva Dayl went on to the next adventure this past weekend.

And I only really know this.

That she and Walt are having a wonderful time.

That I am grateful beyond measure for having had both the chance to know her.

And to find her again.

And that her eclectic life, her eccentric presentation, her "abnormality" made me feel better, and safer, about my own.

And that I need not struggle to try and find the words to describe her.

Ken Follett's got that covered.

“She was unique: there was something abnormal about her, and it was that abnormal something that made her magnetic.” 
                                   ---The Pillars of the Earth

Thank you, Neva Dayl.

For all of it.