Pets Die, You Don’t Have to Keep Them

parrot_headSo this thing that you see on the left is what most people would call a “parrot”.  I would tell you it’s a blue and yellow McCaw, a bird that’s native to Mexico, and Central and South America.  You might assume from me knowing these facts that I like birds. Actually, I hate birds. I know this because my mother is insane, and she had one of these gigantic shit boxes along with several other parrots and parakeets that she kept in the house when I was a kid.

When my parents eventually moved to Birmingham, AL, they took this bird (along with it’s six foot high cage) with them to live in their tiny two bedroom apartment. As I recall, it occupied a prominent corner of their living room where it would squeal loudly at all hours of the day – much to the delight I’m sure, of the other apartment dwellers above and below where my parents lived.

Eventually, because this thing probably isn’t supposed to live in the corner of an Alabama apartment and be hand fed table scraps that (in some freakishly cannibalistic way) include left over chicken and turkey, it died.

Once it died, my mother, in her infinite wisdom, decided that my father should bury it in the back of their apartment complex (again, much to the delight of the neighbors).  So, at this point in the story you think – ok, quirky, unusual pet, strange people, but whatever it died so they bury it.   Yeah, you’d think so, but you’re not fully aware of the level of crazy you’re dealing with when we talk about my mother.

Did you know, there is an entire industry around making and selling pet caskets to insane owners of recently deceased pets?  True story.  Did you also know that they make some of these caskets specifically for dead McCaws?  At this point, you can shake your head in disbelief that such an awfully specific thing could continue to exist with such a hopefully limited customer base.

Naturally, my mother had to order one of these, wait for it to arrive, and then finally (at this point I’m presuming) pull the dead bird out of the freezer or something so that she could stick it in its bird coffin and have my poor sap of a father go out and plant this thing.

That, though, isn’t the end of the story. Eventually, they decided to move from this apartment complex (move, were run out, whatever).  Because my mother isn’t the usual sort of person, she naturally made dear old dad trudge back out to where dearly departed “CoCo” was buried, dig up the bird coffin, and pack it up with them so they could move and rebury the thing in the yard of their new home.

Seriously, I know you’re struggling to believe the story, but honestly, who would make this up.  This kids, this right here is part of the answer to the question “So why is John like he is?”.   You’re welcome.  Carry on with your day.


Presented Without Comment

“No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”


Just the good ole boys, never meaning no harm, beats all you ever saw….

From the Martinsburg Journal-News on Jorea Marple’s firing:

It’s all politics. Members of the State Board of Education appointed by U. S. Sen. Joe Manchin while he was governor – including his wife – suddenly decided to go into closed session at the first meeting. President Wade Linger and the other four appointed by Manchin – Bill White, Bob Dunlevy, Mike Green and Gayle Manchin – then voted to fire Marple.

Cronyism. WV at its best.


The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

So there’s this. Go read it. I’ll wait.

I haven’t been motivated to post in a couple of months, but this one got me moving. A couple of comments right from the outset that seem relevant. #1, there is a difference between expressing a dissenting opinion – even an unpopular one, and trolling. #2, if you’re writing an article and you feel that it’s necessary to spend your first two paragraphs inserting disclaimers, you might want to rethink your content.

I believe that this student absolutely has a right to express his opinion on how the plane crash of Southern Airways Flight 932 is remembered by himself and his peers. The thing is, freedom to express your opinion, particularly as a journalist, brings with it a responsibility that wasn’t met in this case.

The entire article speaks to a total lack of understanding as to why Marshall University remembers that day in November 1970. The article talks about being “reminded of tragedy” and “pageantry continuing” after 42 years.  The author expresses doubt that those in attendance at the memorial ceremony “truly felt the loss” of those lost in the crash.

Henry doesn’t speak for me. I don’t think he speaks for the majority of students currently on campus either. The people directly impacted by the tragedy and the loss of their friends and loved ones, they have a deeper vein of pain that I can understand. I recognize that. My respect for that prevents me from daring to tell them how “I” think they should feel, or how long they should be allowed to “remind themselves of tragedy”.

I can, however, speak for myself. I wasn’t born when the plane crash happened either. I wasn’t directly, incomprehensibly impacted by the sudden loss of friends or family. I still remember the tragedy each year – not to continue to mourn those lost and look back in sadness, but to celebrate what the aftermath of that tragedy meant to the Marshall University campus and the community of Huntington, WV.

The ability of a community so grieved by unexpected loss to band together and help one another rise from the pits of that heartache and heal – that is something that should be celebrated.  Every year. For as long as we can celebrate it.  It is the very reason why when I became a son of Marshall in 1992 I agreed that as a part of this family I would continue to remember – to help remind everyone who hears the story what is possible when people take the common bonds of unspeakable tragedy and turn them in to love, compassion, and support for one another.

The lesson of overcoming the tragedy, it is something to be celebrated and remembered. The respect for those who still do mourn keeps the remembrance appropriately somber, but its not sadness that most are keeping with them when they think about how far Marshall University has come.

I not only remember, but I take special care to make sure that the next generation remembers too. I explain to my own children the tragedy, and its effect on the community. I express to them how amazing it is that in this place, in this town, on this campus, people were able to band together and use one another’s shared strength to get past something unimaginable in their lives.

That is a lesson that I want my children to know about. That is a lesson that, particularly in this day and age, we should all want to share as often and as loudly as possible. We Are Marshall because of what we were able to do both before and since November 14, 1970.

Everyone who sets foot on this campus as a student, faculty or staff becomes a part of that story as they add to the success since that day. Keep remembering, and be thankful that we live in a place where we don’t have to look back in sadness because we weren’t able to overcome what happened. We Are Marshall because we continue to overcome challenges together, using the lessons we were taught by those who came before us.