A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Monday, May 26, 2008

But he looks so CUTE on TV!

The critters are back at the Rising Ranch. Actually I am sure they have been here all along but now they are showing themselves. Most of them are reasonably welcome to share our little highly taxed patch of ground. The grey squirrels which live in our attic all winter are now frolicking in our trees. The baby bunnies, no bigger than a cue ball, scamper about and are impossibly cute. The chipmunks and the feisty little red squirrel provide hours of entertainment with the way they scurry along with tails held high.
But we have a guest tenant this year that is not so welcome. The Eastern Marmot has joined our happy family and although I don’t mind his presence the Long Suffering Wife is not amused. She calls the critter a “badger” but you and I know it is a groundhog or what some call a woodchuck.
Punxatawny Phil
or his less famous lottery ticket pitchbuddy “Gus”
not withstanding groundhogs are bad news. This specimen who we call “Badgey” even though he not a badger has little or no fear of us, evidenced by his close proximity to the house and the fact that he reacts not at all to sharp rap on the window which sends all the other critters running. Watching him munch dandelions the other day I was willing to live and let live. But then he started to dine on our Hosta and this may spell his undoing. Now I do not have a green thumb. I can kill almost any green thing without breaking a sweat. But the Hosta thrives and is a joy to see in full bloom. I spray it with deer-b-gone to protect the tender tendrils from Bambi and her cousins. If Badgey persists on snacking on it he will not enjoy a long groundhog life which is about three years. Groundhogs have only three functions in life. Eat, make more groundhogs and dig holes. They are real good at all three, especially the eating part. Your average groundhog eats about a pound of green stuff a day which would be the same as a 175 pound guy munching his way through 15 pounds at the salad bar. Our resident groundhog runs away pretty quickly when I step out the door to instruct him on what he can and can not eat but I am sure as soon as I turn my back he will return. The solution? It’s almost inconceivable but I may have to invite my annoying neighbor’s rat terriers back. By all accounts they make short work of Badgey or at least discourage him enough so he leaves for quieter pastures. Just more fun and excitement at the Rising Ranch. Or then again I could be wrong.

This is not a Tax Bill

“Bad news on the door step” –Don McLean “American Pie”

Did you get your ASSessment notice yet? Or, your a$$e$$ment notice? Now I know that it’s important to put a fair market price on everything. We should all have a firm concept of what is worth what right? Take gasoline. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, which I would trouble picking out on map, gas is $10.86 a gallon. In Venezuela it’s 12 cents. Here in good ole NEPA it’s $4.00. So what is gasoline worth? I’ll give you another example from my personal experience. I once tried to sell an item on that electronic flea market called EBay. It didn’t sell but I got a message from someone who wanted to buy it for far less than I had listed it. I was offended and wrote them back that the item was worth FAR more than what they had offered. They responded with this thought. An item is only worth what you can get for it. You may think it’s worth more and you are welcome to do so but its value is really only what someone will pay for it. And so we come to the concept of “Fair Market Value”. According to our old buddy the internet (now available on computers!) “A fair market value is often an estimate of what a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller, both in a free market, for an asset or any piece of property. If such a transaction actually occurs, then the actual transaction price is usually the fair market value.” It goes on to say: “An estimate of Fair Market Value is usually subjective due to the circumstances of place, time, the existence of comparable precedents, and the evaluation principles of each involved person. Opinions on value are always based upon subjective interpretation of available information at the time of assessment.” AHA! The same principles used in meteorology which is wrong more often than not! So get out a dart board and take your best guess. My story? My ASSessment tells me that my property is worth 4 times what I bought it for. My total tax will rise nearly $1400. Meanwhile down the street from me three houses have been on the market for over a year. And unless I need new glasses I notice a lot of “for sale” signs everywhere I go and not many sold signs. So if I was to try get “Fair market” for my house I would be up a certain creek without a paddle. But the county, municipality and school district get theirs. Appeal it you say? Sure, I guess I can do that. Chances of changing anything? Slim and none and Slim left town. Or then again I could be wrong.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gas Pains

With gas destined to be $4 a gallon by Memorial Day it makes me crazy to waste it. There are several things that I think are a total waste of gas. Stop signs on deserted country roads late at night. If you can see in every direction and there are no headlights or taillights why do you have to come to a complete stop? It would save on brakes, fuel and time if you could just slow down and go through. Except if local law enforcement is watching, and then you get a ticket. That gets a little expensive. Another big gas waster? Traffic lights. For years the intersection where I turn off the Cross Valley expressway onto Hillside road had no traffic light. I never saw more than two cars waiting to turn and never saw an accident. Now with the light there I often have to wait 5 minutes or more to make the same turn. Five minutes in the life of this guy is not a lot. But let’s do some math. As near as I can figure 5 minutes of idling equals 7.5 cents worth of gas. Round it up to a dime to make it easy. 20 cars each wait five minutes in one traffic light cycle. That’s $2.00 wasted. If this happens 12 times an hour that’s $24. Suppose this happens 12 hours a day. That’s $288. And this is ONE stoplight on ONE highway and I am figuring only ONE direction. Figure out how much this would be on a four way intersection. Multiply by the 62 million cars on the road. Then tell me how sure you are that the traffic lights aren’t all made in Saudi Arabia. How much could we save if we turned half of the lights in the country on to flashing red? It staggers the imagination. Another way we all throw gas away is drive up service. Idling while waiting to order a double cheeseburger or to cash a check is just plain wasteful. If there are more than three or four cars in a line GET OUT AND WALK! Honest it won’t hurt you and it might even save some time. I haven’t even mentioned the amount of pollution that could be reduced by reducing idling time or just plain shutting off the engine if you are going to be stopped for more than a minute. The EPA says if over a year, two million drivers—which is a small percentage of US drivers—stopped idling their cars unnecessarily for two minutes just once a week, it would reduce these emissions by over 1,500 TONS. The old saying is “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” The new one could be “Idling cars are OPEC’s joy.” But then again I could be wrong.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Truth about Digital TV

Your government is pulling a fast one and this one is going to piss off millions of people. And guess what? When you drill down deep enough it’s all about the Benjamin’s. I am talking about the upcoming conversion from analog to digital TV transmitters which it scheduled to take place in February 2009.
This is pretty technical but to put it simply the F.C.C. in all its wisdom has decreed that TV stations scrap their analog transmitters that have served the public interest convenience and necessity for nearly 70 years. The broadcasters have to replace the reliable old ones with new digital ones which will cost Billions with a “B.” The problem here is that your old TV can’t see the new digital signal so you have the following options:

A: Get your TV over the cable or Satellite. If you currently receive TV over these sources you are in the clear. Don’t read any further. The change won’t bother you at all. And most people get TV this way.

B: Buy a converter box to change the digital signal to one your stupid old analog TV will understand.

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well hang on just a minute.

First, let’s examine why this is all happening.

Digital equals good, right? So this is all for bettering the quality of TV, right?
Well, yes and no. The digital signal will be better if you have a TV that is capable of seeing the difference. Your old black and white set from the 1970’s won’t and that is a key issue.
Most people who are getting TV from rabbit ears and roof top antennas are not living on the cutting edge of technology. One study estimates that nine million people in rural areas or who just are old and set in their ways will have a big problem with all this. That number again? NINE MILLION.

The problem will be that the new digital signal is not as strong as the old analog one. If you had good reception before, you may not in the digital age.
An old analog set would pick up fringe or weaker signals and show a snowy but watchable picture. Not so the new digital era. You either get it perfectly or it won’t work at all. And the news gets worse. No one will know for sure how bad or good this all will be until February of next year. When they turn off the analog transmitters it’s forever. The new digital transmitters so far have a smaller footprint of signal coverage than the analog ones. That may be because the broadcasters haven’t turned up the power. It may be they will never be as good as before.

So getting back to why this is all happening. Sure the digital transmissions will look better IF you can get them IF your TV is good enough to tell the difference. But why turn off the old analog service? They can run side by side. Radio is doing that now. The reason?

Cha ching!

Listen carefully and you will hear the sound of a giant cash register ringing.

The malarkey that the F.C.C. is feeding you? That an important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications (such as police, fire departments, and rescue squads). Um Ok. BUT……

Buried in that big pile of horse manure is this little tidbit. Some of the spectrum will be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband).

Aha! The Government is gonna make some money.

And if you drill down even further this whole mess was prompted by Cellular phone companies.

It seems that when the analog TV band goes dead those former channels that are no longer good enough for TV will be just dandy for improving cell phone service. Imagine that? Cell phone companies will make some cha ching too? How nice for them.

Meanwhile Grandma and Grandpa may get fewer TV channels and have to install this converter box.

And here is where it really gets interesting. The Government is subsidizing the purchase of these digital to analog boxes by sending out coupons good for $40 off the purchase of these boxes. When I say the Government is subsidizing this you do know where this money came from, right? Check your wallet.


Oh yeah, we got problems.

I sent away for the two cards (the maximum you are allowed) as soon as they became available. It took several months for them to arrive and when they did they had an expiration date after 90 days. They are no good after June. First issue here, they arrived in late April with only 60 days left to use. ??? What? Now I have only two months to figure this out.

They also limit the stores where you can buy the units.

Most of the units cost now cost $60 bucks so you are out $20.

Later on this summer prices will go down to $40 bucks but that will be after my cards are no good.

And most stores have no units at all or only ones that cost $70 or more.

And all of the units are not created equal. The converter boxes are a free-market item and according to Consumer Reports vary widely in quality and user friendliness. Some have remote controls, some don’t. Some come with cables, some not so much.

It is in a word S.N.A.F.U. (ask a vet what that means)

Radio is going through the same sort of transition. I am sure you have heard the ads for “HD Radio.” The difference is that radio for reasons best known on “M” street where the F.C.C. lives in Washington will not have to turn off the analog transmitters. Your old radios will all work just fine. You don’t have to buy a converter. Net result, and this is my opinion, “HD Radio” will go the way of Quadraphonic albums or AM Stereo. If you said “Huh?” you get the idea.

Now in case you think I am not in favor of technical progress let me add the following.

Consumers will also benefit because digital broadcasting allows stations to offer improved picture and sound quality, and digital is much more efficient than analog. For example, rather than being limited to providing one analog program, a broadcaster is able to offer a super sharp “high definition” (HD) digital program or multiple “standard definition” (SD) digital programs simultaneously through a process called “multicasting.” Multicasting allows broadcast stations to offer several channels of digital programming at the same time, using the same amount of spectrum required for one analog program. So, for example, while a station broadcasting in analog on channel 7 is only able to offer viewers one program, a station broadcasting in digital on channel 7 can offer viewers one digital program on channel 7-1, a second digital program on channel 7-2, a third digital program on channel 7-3, and so on. This means more programming choices for viewers on these “side channels.” Further, DTV can provide interactive video and data services that are not possible with analog technology.

Well that’s pretty cool. Except for one problem. Most people get TV over cable or satellite. You will NOT be able to see all those exciting new “side channels” there. You will get them only if you get your TV “over the air.” That means back to the antenna or rabbit ears. And then only if you have a digital tuner equipped TV or…you guessed it-a converter box.
How much effort and $ do you think TV broadcasters will put into these side channels that no one can see? Can you say slim and none and slim left town?

Radio has these new “side channels” as well. When I worked in that business it was common for the side channels to be off the air for WEEKS at a time.
No one cared. I predict the same sort of attention will be given to TV’s side channels.

So long story short. Your Government in action has found a way to screw nine million people. Well they are all hicks and old folks anyway, right?

At least I still have hair

“Oh well a touch of grey, kinda suits you anyway.” -Grateful Dead

It’s appropriate that a song would lead me here. Because it was hearing a song the other day on the radio that made me wonder about why we alter our appearance. The song was pretty good but it had been turned into the audio equivalent of a three dollar whore with every studio effect in the book. With studio trickery you can now make almost anyone sound great or at least better. This song was drenched in reverb, colored up with auto tune and made almost laughably unlistenable in the process. The song which probably would have sounded pretty good naked was made hideous. It would have been better if it was left alone. And that sort of is my point here. Why do we as a race want to always improve or at least change what mother nature gives us? I will deal just with male vanity here. I have been toying with the idea of getting my hair colored. No I don’t want to go blond, just get a little of the grey out. Maybe I will try to get a real job and I want to look, you know, Younger!
I read this article that said more and more men are starting to color their hair. So many in fact that a whole new line of products “Just for Men” has been devised. As a matter of fact it’s actually called “A touch of gray.” The idea being that men don’t want their hair to look dyed but just want to lose most of the grey, leaving just a bit of the look that some call wisdom. One brand of this disguise sold in men’s hair salons (whatever happened to barbershops?) called “color camo” has increased its sales to nearly a million treatments a year in less than four years on the market. So I am not alone in this. And I am sure the results will have to be better than the last time I tried a dye job where my hair turned traffic cone orange. I mean Bozo the clown was jealous. But now after hearing that song on the radio that sounded like it had fishnet stockings on I wonder if I want to mess with the whole deal. I earned all these grey hairs honestly. Although I would love to turn the clock back in some ways I wouldn’t want to lose all that experience for anything or anybody. Some call it “life”, which I am told takes a lifetime to learn how to live. The Dead’s song says “I will get by, I will survive.” I guess that says it all.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Adventures in lawn care-Just one more

And so I did it again. As my long suffering wife will readily admit, and she will tell almost anyone this, Mr. Home Handyman I am not. She also is ok with letting people know that I am not a fast learner. In fact it seems I don’t really learn at all.
Last year in one of my early spring adventures in lawn care I got the Big Lawn tractor stuck. It was a muddy place and I buried it up to axles and got a small tree caught between the back wheel and the mowing deck. It was a two hour project to get the Big Lawn tractor out that time and we were sure I could never be so stupid again.
As usual we underestimated my stupid capacity.
Different place in the yard. No tree this time but the lawn tractor was acting like a pig in mud wallow.
This time we are not so lucky.
It is still there as I write this on Memorial Day. It’s been sinking further and further into the mud since Saturday. I really don’t know how we will get it out this time. I have tried shoveling a path for it but because it’s sideways on a steep hillside it’s not really working.
Boards of all sorts of type’s, sizes and descriptions have been pushed under the rear tires in an effort to gain traction but no joy. I have completely disassembled the grass catcher to give better access to pushing but that didn’t help and now the area around the mower looks like a yard sale with parts and shovels and boards scattered around the poor stuck beast. If it was a horse we might have shot it by now.
Suggested removal methods have included towing it out with a car or another mower. I don’t have another mower (why would I?) and you can’t get a car or truck into the area where I made my latest mistake. At a flea market yesterday at the Circle drive in (where I saw a plastic potted plant that looked like it was dead. You could have bought this “furn” spelled f u r n plant for nine bucks. ) I looked at a hand powered winch, the kind my Dad would have called a come a long. I could clearly see myself attaching it to the mower, ratcheting the mechanism a few times and then deftly pulling the back end off the mower.
Like I said, Mr. home handyman I am not. Even in my dreams.
Later on today my long suffering wife tells me we will get the Big Lawn Tractor out of its muddy prison.
I hope she is right but I have my doubts. And I know the next step if we fail is to enlist the aid of my brother in law.
I can hear him laughing already.
Or then again I could be wrong.

Adventures in Lawn care- The saga continues

I have written here a few times about the joys of being a homeowner in Northeast Pennsylvania. But nothing compares with the fun and excitement that I have when I clear the leaves every year. I have regaled you with my leafy adventures more than once and it may be that I have crossed the line from telling a story to an obsession. But be that as it may it needs one more brush of the keyboard before I put the leaves to bed for the year. Although it was a clear day it was as cold as a witch’s mammary gland in a brass bra. Even with gloved hands and two layers of clothing I could feel winter’s impending arrival clearly. But the work went well enough. I was just about finished when the lawn tractor got stuck again. For those of you keeping score this makes the third time in as many years that this has happened. The previous years were in entirely different spots on the property. I was totally unprepared for this place to be wet and muddy but the trusty lawn tractor went for it like Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the checkered flag. I am now of the opinion that my Sears Craftsmen 42 inch 12 horsepower with rear baggers must have been a pig in a former life. It seems to sense mud and wallows in it with obscene pleasure. The infernal beast was stuck sideways on a steep hill. Job one was to get the nose pointing uphill. This involved actually picking the front end up (where the engine lives) and placing it delicately back down several times while my feet did ballet like maneuvers in the mud. Having it oriented in the right direction I placed old roof shingles under the rear wheels for traction. Some of those may be found someday as they flew out from under the wheels like excrement out of a goose and disappeared into the stratosphere. So the only solution was to get behind and push. The Sears folks engineered an interlock on the seat of the mower. Unless your keester is in the seat it just won’t run. I outfoxed their best designs and found that by piling twenty bricks on the seat the thing would run on its own. You can pretty much guess the rest here. When I finally got enough mud on me the darn thing started to move. And all at once took off. I of course fell nose first in the mud and the blood. A short footrace later I caught up with the tractor before it hit a tree. I hit the tree instead and then cushioned the tractors impact with my own body which knocked the wind out of me and the bricks off the seat halting the mud loving mower. Only several bricks hit my feet so I was fine. It’s over for the year now. And in a short time I may actually be able to move again without little spasms of pain everywhere. Or then again I could be wrong.

Adventures in Lawn care-Episode Two

We cut the grass for the first time this year over the weekend.
I’d like to meet the guy who decided that we have to do this. Why is it that in order to be judged a civilized neighbor you mast have the grass in your yard trimmed regularly to an inch or so? But trim we must. So I spent the better part of My Saturday morning while I was waiting for the dew to dry on my lawn firing up and testing out the devices I would need to do the deed. Riding lawn tractor, self propelled lawn mower and weed whacker.
The first project is to get all these devices started. The proper storage method for anything powered by a gasoline engine is to drain the fuel completely out, put some stuff in the tank that is supposed to keep the lines clear and carefully store the item in a cool dry environment. Of course I do none of this stuff so I spend a long time trying to start the engines each spring.
Last year at the end of the season I treated myself to a new weed whacker. The old one was getting cranky about starting and there were some issues with the gizmo that feeds the line out. Issues like it wasn’t working. But the old memory isn’t what is used to be. So I wasted about an hour getting the old weed whacker to run. This involved approximately one thousand pulls on the starter rope. My right arm is so sore right now that even typing is making the muscles cry out in pain. After the one thousandth and one pull on the starter rope I did what every calm cool and collected mature homeowner would do. I threw the weed whacker at the back wall of the garage. Which as it turns out was a stroke of genius because it bounced and landed on top of the new weed whacker which started on the second pull.
In the process of unearthing all the current lawn mowing implements I found an old lawn mower that to put it mildly had seen better days. Although it started ok the self propelled mechanism had long since given up and it was much too heavy to push. I also discovered my old mountain bike. By old I mean I haven’t ridden it in twenty years. Both tires were flat, it had more rust then frame and the seat was moldy. Both of these items went to end of the driveway with a sign that said free on them. The mower was gone in an hour, the bike in about three.
My biggest fear. That they will reappear in the night.
Or then again I could be wrong.

Adventures in Lawn Care- Episode one

The best part was the footrace. More on that in a minute.
Autumn in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The crisp clear weather. Ripe apples. The glory of natures colors on the trees. That same glory on the ground in mounds and mounds of leaves that have to be raked up and dealt with.
It’s at least a four weekend project at the Rising household. This past weekend with most of the leaves off the trees it was time. Saturday was nice and blessedly warm so I got out my trusty Sears lawn tractor with bagger and started the process. I made exactly one pass and the bagger was full to over flowing. I headed towards the dumping area. And got stuck. And not just stuck. The axles of the lawn tractor were under mud. And a three inch sapling was wedged between the mower deck and the rear fender. A lot of interesting curse words and suggestions as to the parentage of the mower ensued.
A quick hour later with the assistance of my long suffering wife who I am sure will be speaking to me again sometime soon I was at the leaves again.
The ground is pretty wet so I am slipping and sliding a bit but it’s going smoothly. It’s a routine. Push the lever that starts the blades spinning, drive 50 feet, stop the blades and drive to the dumping area with over flowing bags. Set the handbrake, get off the mower and dump the baggers. Back on and repeat 10,000 times. On one of these passes I push the lever up to start the blades and…nothing happens. Now I am not the most mechanically inclined person on God’s green earth. But I knew this wasn’t good. I got down on my hands and knees (did I mention the ground was wet?) and with my keen home handyman’s knowledge I discovered the problem. The fan belt thingy that powers the blades had somehow slipped out of the little pulley thingies. I won’t bore you with the professional mechanics of fixing this. Bloody knuckles and a string of curse words that surprised even me and another quick hour later I was back in business. Very wet and muddy at this point. Not in a very good mood to commune with nature. Smoldering you might say.
Most of the Rising homestead is on a hill. Some parts steeper than others. The place where I dump the leaves has a pretty good pitch to it that runs down to the driveway which empties out onto a very busy road. On one of the ten thousand passes I did the routine. Stopped the lawn tractor with the engine still running and set the handbrake. Jumped off the mower and headed for the back to get the bags. Hmmm Where are the bags? For that matter where is the mower? I looked down the hill at the rapidly receding back of the mower. The handbrake? Did I set it? Who cares? The lawn tractor is headed for certain destruction. To the audible amusement of my next door neighbor I gave chase. And a merry little chase it was. Caught the darn thing 50 feet or so from the highway. Suggested to it that it was the spawn of Satan.
The final insult? The apple tree dropping one square on my head as I passed underneath.
And to think, I have at least three more weekends at this prolonged savage sort of amusement.
And then again I could be wrong.

Vince said it...oh never mind.

To the right you will notice a list of blogs and other places that I visit on occasion. One is Vince Sweeney's blog which is called "Vince Sweeney's blog." It's very well done. Vince knows a lot about a lot of things and it's always great to see what has caught his fancy.
Vince writes like I wish I could. His command of the King's English is breathtaking but then again he is also a fugitive from the media biz, no doubt schooled in the same crucible as myself so he comes by it honest.
Vince took note of the painful scribbling here in a recent post. There is no way to contact him via his blog so I will use mine as a tip of the hat to him. The blog that Vince was reacting to was my adventure in fixing my push lawnmower. Vince kindly ends his piece: "Jim spoke of his Dad and how he possesses his Dad's inability to to fix things around the house.
I say to you, Jim, you can drive a nail, turn a screw, change a bulb. And that, old radio pal, is one hell of a lot more than many guys can do. Over the years, I worked with plenty of them, men who never weighed the heft of a hammer in their hand, never felt their anger swell as a screw refused to be screwed, they knew not the tingly jolt of 110AC that only forgetting to cut power can bring. I know such men, Jim. They exist. They are among us.
You, you, fixed that lawn mower. Be proud!
Go out and buy yourself something manly...or go to Hillside and make it a double-dip. "

Well shucks Vince. You made me feel...competent or something. A feeling I don't, I must confess, often have. But you need to be further educated before you pass final judgement. So here posted in what I hope is chronlogical order for your enjoyment are the episodes in lawn tractor misadventures from the past few years.
And Vince: Shoot me an email. Pdjames@hotmail.com I would love to catch up!

I hope you don't mind I have also raided your blog for this singular photo artifact.
First of all a picture of DAVE LONDON! I think he is now in the witness protection program. But mostly for the shot of you, circa 1973 with Microphone in hand.

R.I.P. Eight Belles

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Winston Churchill
I am not a big fan of horse racing. Up until yesterday I had nothing against it. I have been to Pocono Downs fewer times than the fingers on my right hand, mostly to be a part of the Miss Pocono Downs beauty contest.
But just as I always watch the Super Bowl, the World Series and other big sporting events I will usually try to watch the races of the Triple Crown.
I like all the pomp and circumstance. The Kentucky Derby with it’s mint juleps and “My old Kentucky Home” sung by men in suits and ladies wearing ridiculous hats always seems like it might be a fun time. But it wasn’t a fun time yesterday. Not for the filly “Eight Belles.” It was eerily reminiscent of the Preakness just 2 years ago in 2006 when Barbaro fractured three bones in and around the ankle of his right hind leg. Barbaro put up a brave fight and hung on for eight months before he was finally put down.
The decision for Eight Belles was much faster. She was euthanised before the roses were presented to the winners after finishing second but in doing so fracuturing both of her front ankles. The big filly never left the track where she had wowed the horse racing world, alive.
Earlier on “Derby Day” the long suffering wife and I in our travels drove by a stable. In the front yard was a gorgeous young horse. “Look, a pony!” I said.
The wife said “That’s a colt.” Once again putting my lack of knowledge in it’s place. We turned around and drove by the animal again, which was so young it was not used to cars and pulled at his handlers grip on his reins. It was full of piss and vinegar and you could feel it’s young life force from yards away even inside our car.
I have never been accused of being an animal rights activist. I have hunted in my life, caught many a fish and I don’t use humane mouse traps. I have always found the protests about circus animals a little silly. But I may have to rethink this whole thing. In the top part of this column I mentioned the term “sporting events.” I did so in connection with games played by men.
The event yesterday at Churchill downs is not in my new opinion a sporting event. Given the choice of watching that young colt run in a meadow or die in a race trying to please it’s masters is no longer a choice for me. I think my Triple Crown watching days are done.