Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just The Facts

I’m a facts freak so a Google of strange facts unearthed some gems. In fact, they can be found at strangefacts.com.
Here’s a few:
The sloth (a mammal) moves so slowly that green algae can grow undisturbed on its fur.
• Cat urine glows under a black-light.
• The world’s termites outweigh the world’s humans 10 to 1.
• The electric chair was invented by a dentist.
• Windmills always turn counter-clockwise. Except for the windmills in Ireland.
• A hedgehog’s heart beats 300 times a minute on average.
• Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand.
• The placement of a donkey’s eyes in its head enables it to see all four feet at all times.
• Human teeth are almost as hard as rocks.
• A mole can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in just one night.
• Ancient Egyptians slept on pillows made of stone.
• Until 1796, there was a state in the United States called Franklin. Today it’s known as Tennessee.
• The Earth weighs around 6,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons (5,940 billion billion metric tons).
• A cockroach can live several weeks with its head cut off - it dies from starvation.
• Every time you lick a stamp, you’re consuming 1/10 of a calorie.
• The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year.
• It’s against the law to pawn your dentures in Las Vegas.
• One in every 4 Americans has appeared on television.
• The average American/Canadian will eat about 11.9 pounds of cereal per year.
• It’s against the law to burp, or sneeze in a certain church in Omaha, Nebraska.
• You’re born with 300 bones, but when you get to be an adult, you only have 206.
• Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.
• Over 10,000 birds a year die from smashing into windows.
• The state of Florida is bigger than England.
• There are more than one million animal species on Earth.
• In Natoma, Kansas, it’s illegal to throw knives at men wearing striped suits
• In England, in the 1880’s, “Pants” was considered a dirty word.
• Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin.
• The blesbok, a South African antelope, is almost the same color as grape juice.
• The average person laughs 13 times a day.
• Dogs can hear sounds that you cant.
• Men are 6 times more likely to be struck by lightning than women.
• It is estimated that millions of trees in the world are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts and then forget where they hid them.
• Of all the words in the English language, the word set has the most definitions.
• A toothpick is the object most often choked on by Americans.
• Every 45 seconds, a house catches on fire in the United States.
• The sun is 330,330 times larger than the earth.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Raising children is a constant adventure.
Sunday during a family outing, I hear, “Mom - Jack said ‘crack.’” Sutton Hawk, my 3-year-old, was telling on Jackson, 5.
“Crack is not a bad word son,” came Mom’s quick retort.
“You’re a crack Sutton,” Jackson fired off with new energy getting the clear for “crack.”
Sutton replied, “Cracker!” And he said it in a racial manner.
I looked at Sharon with nothing to say.
A few weeks ago, Sutton really liked the word “Mexican.” He used it every way imaginable. He wasn’t using it in a mean manner, he just liked the way it rolled off the tongue.
Anyhow, Sharon and I had to tell the boy he could offend people by using his new favorite word. It took two weeks to get this bit of political correctness uploaded into his noggin.
Finally, we started to name off our Mexican-American friends and Sutton Hawk said, “They aren’t Mexicans ... they’re brown people.”
“What are we?” I asked. “We’re white people,” he said.
I didn’t ask him about his cousin, Sam. Sweet Samantha’s dad is African American while the mother is white. I have no idea whether the mom is English American, German American, French American or any other American.
Finally, I told Sutton, “Mexican is a word meaning ‘from Mexico.’ Just like saying we’re Texans because we’re from Texas.”
It got me to thinking... I certainly grow tired of the labels we’ve put on ourselves as a society in this country.
I’d prefer to drop the whole “fill-in-the-blank American.” I think I’ll settle for American. After all, there is no standard of how long you need to be on this soil to be called American. And since Native American is already in use, why not keep it simple.
But what of using state’s as a characterization? I’m a Texan. My sister is an Oklahoman now, although she ‘d prefer Native Texan.
My buddy Rollie lived in Texas for decades, but he’s an Okie through-and-through and has retired there.
It seems we’ve made things too complicated in our society.
My mother was a genealogy expert and traced our family back multiple generations. Dutch, German, English, etc... Guess I’m a Euro-white melting pot ... or would that just be Euro American.
Then again, if someone actually referred to me as a Euro American, I don’t think I would like it much.
I’ve got Indian American friends and Pakistani American friends. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference when I meet someone from either of these countries, but I know there is bad blood between their governments. It can get confusing. Besides, I’m pretty sure they’d prefer to simply be called “American.”
Here’s how I see it and how my children will view it: I’m here now as are you. We’re a ton of cultures from all over the world mixed together and each one of us should be treated as equals.
Our founding fathers - namely Thomas Jefferson - wrote it correctly and Dr. Martin Luther King helped us to understand: It’s not race. It’s just us, living together.
It is a complete waste of time and energy to worry about race.
As far as Jack and Sutton’s creative use of the English language - the jury is still out. They’ve each sampled soap and did not find it to their liking.
If they are anything like their dad, they’ll continue to test the parameters regarding language. My dirty little mouth kept me in plenty of trouble and it would not surprise me a bit if one or both followed suit.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kim Jong-il Thumbs His Nose

I’m of the opinion that our president, and many of his supporters, actually thought the citizens of the planet would join hands and sing “We Are The World,” upon his election.
I’ve got news for President Obama, the world was full of crazy dictators long before he took office and will be long after he’s gone.
So when will his “new diplomacy” take effect? Never?
North Korea and Kim Jong-il have shown us several times over the past week that it has no problem displaying the growing military might of that country.
A nuke test, missile launches ... what more do you need? Take a stance for goodness sake!
I’m no nuclear physicist, but if you have nuclear weapons, and you have missiles, now throw in a crazy dictator ... the math is pretty easy. Put a nuke on a missile and boom - massive amounts of people are dead and things are looking bleak across the globe.
I think some on the left forget there have been insane people running countries forever. Believe it or not, George W. Bush did not invent dictators. However, he did get one killed (Saddam Hussein) and got another (Muammar al-Gaddafi) to surrender Libya’s weapons of mass destruction.
After reading liberal blogs and opinion pieces this weekend, many liberals are shocked that such things can happen under Obama’s watch. Talk about rose-colored glasses...
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the U.S. is awaiting the outcome of current six-party talks. An American team is traveling this weekend to see if Japan, South Korea, China and Russia can work out a unified approach on how to deal with North Korea.
Knowing the track record of Russia and China, they’ll want to take it before the United Nations Security Council where North Korea will once again be sanctioned.
The reality is, being sanctioned by the U.N. is like being grounded for a week by a mom who let’s you off the next day. They don’t have a leg to stand on because they don’t enforce anything.
Some of you may be thinking ol’ Blackburn is a war monger. You might be wondering if I’m thinking we should go to war with North Korea.
Of course not.
Fact is, North Korea has us and the rest of the globe over a barrel. Money and resources are scarce and few countries would ever take this one by themselves.
So what are the options? What do you think Obama and his team are working up?
What would you do?
Negotiations have done very little to curb Kim Jon-il’s appetite for destruction.
North Korea has a huge army, so an invasion would be extremely messy.
Bombing strategic points of interest would help temporarily, but doesn’t get to the root of the problem - Kim Jong-il.
The reality is the U.S., Russia and China must work together to get North Korea, Iran and Venezuela under control. You can get whomever you want involved, but those three countries are crucial because if you can get them on the same page and working together, then that is indeed formidable.
Back it up with some unified force from the three and you’ll have dictators all over the world running for cover.
President Obama has his work cut out for him regardless of what he decides to do. One thing is clear though, the silent treatment is not scaring anyone.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Special People

My son Jackson, 5, has graduated six times and he’s yet to enter the public school system.
My baby, Sutton Hawk, 3, has now graduated twice.
I’m proud to say they both graduated with straight A’s ... something of a requirement around our house.
Now I know what you’re thinking, the Blackburn boys are now doctors or lawyers or both. I mean, if you’ve already graduated that many times, certainly you have the hardware to hang on the wall.
However, the boys don’t have any degrees yet, just simple diplomas from preschool from two very special ladies. Miss Angie, aka Angie Husband, and Miss Carol, aka Carol Freeman, have been a true blessing for our children.
Miss Carol and Miss Angie have the perfect temperament to deal with preschool-age children and the progress the boys have made under the guidance of their teachers is significant.
The patience these ladies have for children and the response they get from them is impressive to say the least. I’ll be the first to say that what they do is not easy. It takes dedication and organization ... a lot of it.
As with most teachers in town, both will tell you it is worth every minute they sacrifice. Knowing them both well, they mean every word.
It takes a special person to get involved with youth. Thankfully we have an abundance of special people here in town helping us parents rear our children.
Dozens of parents will be headed to local ball fields this evening to volunteer their time to coach our youth in America’s past time. Some do it out of love for children, others do it out of love for the game and still others do it because the job was thrust upon them. Regardless of the personal reason for coaching, teaching, sponsoring, etc... this town is much better with the involvement of so many caring adults.
A decade ago I wondered aloud what would happen here when our better angels passed. I don’t know if you’ve notices, but Lois Stiners and Irma Custers don’t grow on trees. Meals on Wheels volunteers don’t just hall out of the sky. It takes an unselfish constitution and hours of dedication to actually make that difference in so many lives.
I no wonder worry about the future of Childress concerning volunteerism and individuals stepping up to take over worthwhile endeavors and projects. It is happening all of the time and by more and more adults as they too feel the need to make our community stronger.
Childress is not perfect, but it is special. Can we be better? Sure. But, we’re heading in the right direction.
With the school year coming to an end, take time to let those involved with your children know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009