Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Roo and I spent the last two days in Selma, Alabama, the iconic scene of one of the most brutal incidents of the struggle for voting rights in America. On March 7th, 1965, when attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to march from Selma to Montgomery, peaceful protesters faced gas mask-clad, bat-wielding, cattle-prodding, truncheon-swinging police and their attack dogs. In short order it earned the name Bloody Sunday, but what it exemplified was the value of dignity and composure over hatred.
Roo waited in the car on Martin Luther King, Jr. Street outside the historic Brown Chapel AME Church while I sat with the congregation to hear Pastor Leodis Strong's moving sermon. I am not a churchgoing man. I was there looking for some small way to honor Dr. King and the struggle for basic human and civil rights that the events at Selma personified. It wasn't necessary to be a churchgoing man to be affected deeply by Pastor Strong's sermon. It has echoed in me for the 36 hours since. It was a privilege to be there and to be among the visitors welcomed so warmly by everyone at Brown Chapel. Thank you all. And thank you, Pastor, for the mementos, which I will always treasure.
And may a peaceful rest come one day for that American hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, when one day his dream will be realized. It sure hasn’t been yet.
The 26-year-old billionaire who owns the web company where this site is parked has been threatening to have my legs broken. Seems the vigorish on a few hundred dollars I owe him is adding up, so, if you feel like chipping in a buck or two, please click on the PayPal donate button in the right column. Just remember that PayPal skims 3 percent + 30¢ from every transaction, so a buck is actually 67¢, two bucks is $1.64 and so on. If the idea of that commission is what's keeping you from sending a million dollars, just notify me via skywriting message and we'll come and pick it up in cash tonight. Roo and I will be lying in the dirt and scanning the sky for the message all day today, so don't disappoint.
Even with all the traveling Roo and I have done over the past few years, I don’t believe she has ever once asked me to pull off the road to view a historical marker. In northern Louisiana the other day, however, she sat up and started looking out the window. I always leave the vent open so that she can experience the smells of the places we go (the sights don’t interest her). This time, she must have caught the scent of ghosts in the air.
She stood up in her seat and was so clearly interested in something that I stopped. There was a stone marker by the side of the road. Nothing much. But the expression on Roo’s face suggested that this was a place haunted by spirits she held to be kindred to her own.
And indeed, it was, for it was the spot where Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and shot to ribbons. Roo is a great admirer of anyone who traverses the country, wreaking havoc, drawing blood and generally not listening to their Daddy. I tried to explain that Bonnie and Clyde were most definitely not to be admired, but Roo wouldn’t hear of it.
The ferocious rain event that resulted in a few dozen tornado deaths and hundreds of square miles of flooding was no fun here, either. We were lucky not to get washed away, but lots of surrounding areas are under water. For two days there was hellacious thunder without letup, and rain that beat so hard against the camper that it appears it might have been more than it could handle.. Puddles began appearing inside. By the time it was all over, all the extra $1.99 bath towels I'd bought after the last two major rain events were stuffed into a lawn and leaf-size garbage bag.
Roo rebounded well. During the height of the thunderstorms, she only got frightened enough to tremble a few times. For the rest of the two days, she was of course upset, but at least not trembling. Maybe the duration of the storm inured her to the noise. Maybe she was just exhausted. I gave her a couple of Benadryls near the beginning of the storm, when a dark red blotch on the radar was on its way. It tired her, but she still seemed stressed. I didn't think it would have been a good way to feel. I don't think she'll be getting more of those.
Even when there wasn't thunder, the 12 inches of rain that came down sounded like our camper had been parked under a cliff over which a bulldozer was shoving gravel. This was the same storm that killed a couple dozen Texans and Mississippians (and nearly nailed my buddy Alex, who had just arrived in the town of Holly Springs and was in a house next door to several that were blown to splinters), and flooded everywhere from Texas through here in Oklahoma, straight across Arkansas.
When it was over, Roo (who had only peed twice and held everything else for a day and a half) was so happy that the first thing she did was to break a rule that she understands well enough not to have tried before: she chased some buffalo. She didn't care. She was like a little kid who had been terrified of getting a shot and then stomping around the halls showing off to the other kids about how tough he is when it's over. I didn't get a shot of her doing that, as I was trying to get her to stop, but here's a shot of one of the buffalo.
We're in another one of the many superstorms in the past month that have been killing people with tornadoes, covering hundreds of square miles of farmland with water, drowning cattle, producing high winds that have been blowing houses off their frames and doing nothing to convince the only group of organized climate deniers left in the world—the American right wing—that global weather keeps edging towards new extremes because an Australian billionaire with a TV station and some coal companies say so. Of course there's tremendous, constant thunder all night, and it's going to continue for many more hours.
The roads are too messed up to consider escape. The Weather Service has been beginning all their forecasts for this area with, "This is a dangerous and life threatening situation." Where we are won't flood, but we're surrounded by places that will, so we're staying put.
Roo has stopped trembling, but she's been panting for hours and is wound up as tight as a drum. She's so scared that her muscles seem barely to work, except in spasmodic fits when she tries to find a more effective hiding place, like jammed in next to me.
So: I'm on the brink of giving her a couple of Benadryls. She's sensitive to them, so I know they'd slow her down, but would they just make her feel awful while still experiencing the same panic? Also, having to get them down her throat in this condition will take something of a struggle, and she won't consider eating anything voluntarily. I'm good at getting the pills down as smoothly as possible, but still. She weighs 70 pounds, so technically she could take three, but I think that would be too much. Two would probably knock her out.
Any experience with this? Please make any comments here, not on facebook, so I don't have to pop back and forth.
New readers of this blog may not be aware of this, but last year Roo and I achieved several scientific breakthroughs. Not the least of these was the first way to measure tongue length in dogs with remarkable precision. Moreover, the technique enables other home experimenters to replicate the findings independently.
Today, scientists at Virginia Tech have announced their analysis of the fluid dynamics at work when a dog drinks. Fine. It would only have been fair of them them to acknowledge that Roo and I were the first to succeed in the field of precision dog tongue length measurement, which make up a keystone of their research. Oh, this kind of perfidy is nothing new. Orville and Wilbur Wright went to their miserable graves without ever acknowledging Octave Chanute's trussed biplane design as the basis for their own.
Sour grapes? No—Roo and I don't mind sitting alone in some wasteland motel room watching the news every year when the Nobel Prizes are awarded. Frankly, in the naïvete of her youth, Roo is the one surprised when our research goes unnoticed.
Now, I am delighted with this new research and believe, like everyone else, that it is bound to revolutionize our relationships with all our dogs. For example, in light of these findings, most people will start furnishing water to their dogs using bowls instead of forcing them to drink from a faucet.
It's just that science is exhausting enough without having to defend the priority of one's claims every time some gang of newbie nerds comes along. All I can say is Roo and I will start picking out our barstools to watch these guys get the Nobel Prize that should have been ours.
Allow me to present the original research again. There are two other scientific videos that accompany that one (at the link at the beginning), but this is the one concerning this potential ethical breach. And even though they did not include the Roo findings, We will be more magnanimous than they and include theirs.