Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  I happen to LOVE Halloween.  It’s the costumes, it’s the fun, and of course, it’s the CANDY!  But I am a bit of a Grinch this year for some odd reason.  We always hear about the commercialization of Christmas and Easter but what about Halloween?  I did some research and here are a few fun facts for all you Halloween’ers out there.

1.                  Halloween is the 6th most popular holiday in the U.S.A.
2.                  According to Hallmark, 20 million Halloween cards will be sent out this year.
3.                  There will be an estimated 90 million pounds of chocolate sold.
4.                  There will be an estimated 35 million pounds of candy corn (seriously?)
5.                  There will be about 1 BILLION spent on costumes this year. 
6.                  There will be about 1.9 BILLION spent on candy (Oiy!)
7.                  An estimated 41 million children in the U.S.A. between the ages of 5-14 will go out to beg for treats this year.
8.                  Older children up to age 17 are still begging candy in the U.S.A.
9.                  An estimated 6.9 BILLION will be spent on Candy, Costumes, and Decorations this year.
10.              That is on average $73.31 spent per child/adult depending on how you look at it. 

Commercialization, heck yeah!  I don’t even want to research Christmas.  Once I started seeing the BILLIONS popping up I about died.  But when I stopped to think about it, I began to see how it adds up.  I spent the following for Halloween:

1.                  $11.00 on 4 pumpkins.
2.                  $42.00 on one Twister (the game) Costume with Go-go Boots.
3.                  $6.00 on pink leggings to match the costume.
4.                  $6.00 pumpkin carving kit. ($3 x 2)
TOTAL            $65.00

I don’t even have to buy candy as we live out in the middle of no-where and don’t get any beggars.  I can’t imagine the cost if I had to add in candy to the mix.  Plus I am down to only one child that is begging.  If I still had 2 then you could just about double this. WOW!

I remember when I was a kid and my mom tossed a sheet over me and cut out eyeholes, or the toilet paper mummy, or the hilly-billy with old flooder pants and an old flannel shirt tied at the waist.  Those days of homemade costumes are at an end.  Now its fancy schmancy and expensive as all hell.  Or slut worthy.  I mean have you SEEN some of the costumes?  Geez oh Pete, put some clothes on!

Tonight I will be out begging with the best of them.  If you see an old lady wrapped up in her wool winter jacket with a pair of Tigger (not TIGER) ears bouncing around the streets, with a Twister girl, that’s probably me. 

Be safe and have a great time!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zanesville, Ohio Animal Massacre

At this point most of the world is aware of the animal massacre that happened in Zanesville, Ohio when a private zoo owner, Terry Thompson, set free all the animals in his zoo and then committed suicide.

As of 10/20/11 this is the list:
1 grizzly bear…..Captured
3 leopards………Captured
2 monkeys………Captured
18 Bengal tigers…….Dead
9 male lions………….Dead
8 female lions……….Dead
6 black bears………..Dead
3 mountain lions…..Dead
2 grizzly bears………Dead
1 baboon……………….Dead
1 wolf…………………….Dead
1 monkey……………Missing (maybe eaten during the melee)
1 grey wolf…………Missing

This is just the cold facts of the day.  Me?  I wanted to know more.  Who was this dude?  Why did he have so many animals? Why did he set them free?  These questions only brought forth more questions along with rumors, and conjecture heard around town and in dark corners.

First, who was he?  He was a man that had money at one point.  He flew planes, owned land, owned a bar and a gun shop.  He was an all around nice guy.  Had many friends and many hobbies.  Then in 2010, Terry Thompson was sentenced to one year and a day in prison on two federal counts of possessing illegal firearms, stemming from a raid in 2008.  His marriage was falling apart and he was going bankrupt. 

Why did he have so many animals?  From what I have read and heard, he loved these animals.  It started off innocent enough, as they always do.  A few exotic animals to show off to his buddies and “feel special”.  They hold 3 auctions every year in Mount Hope Ohio, which isn’t all that far from Zanesville.  That would be my guess.  They auction off foxes, wallabies, bearded dragons, for starters and then bears, cougars, zebras, and tigers  You name it, they probably have it.  From there, he got in over his head when people started dropping off unwanted animals at his zoo willy nilly.  The idiots out there that think owning a Tiger is SO cool and then suddenly realize that it’s a 300-600 pound wild eating machine and need to get rid of it.  Remember all those alligators in the 70’s?  Terry Thompson would take in these unwanted and neglected animals when state agencies and zoos would not.  That is how he ended up with 1% of the entire Bengal Tiger population of the world at his zoo (all dead now I might add).  In fact, I believe that this is how he ended up with most of his numbers. 

That is also how his money problems began.  How does someone care for, house, and feed that many animals?  When money was tight Terry got a bit on the creative side.  He would round up road kill from the streets.  He would also take any meat from the local groceries that they were throwing out.  Whether it was old or rotten, Terry wold take it. 

There are also rumors and I freely admit that they are only rumors, heard in dark alleys and smokey bars, that when money was exceptionally tight, Terry would hold exotic animal underground hunts.  Who wouldn’t love to go on a lion hunt without having to go all the way to Africa?  I have looked everywhere I can think of to find evidence of this practice, including chat forums, and black market lists, but I can’t find anything to back this rumor up.  Is it true?  I don’t know.  It’s possible.  But nonetheless, it is only rumor.

Why did he set them free?  Truthfully, I think he was in such a state of mind that he believed that setting them free was the right thing.  Maybe he was afraid no one would come out and check on the animals after he was gone and they would starve to death.  Maybe he just wanted to give them a chance to be free.  We will never know for sure, but there is also the belief that he did it out of spite toward the community that gave him nothing but trouble.  Now I would not want to live and raise my small children next to private zoo full of huge wild animals that continually escaped.  But I also wonder, as there were numerous complaints filed, and numerous charges and visits out to this zoo by human society agents,  police, and etc., why did no one realized that he was in need of help.  From all accounts of his friends, he was a nice man.  When the county officials would come out and file neglect charges on him cause his animals were looking half starved, why wouldn’t they or didn’t they realize he was struggling?  Why did a community that was so hyper aware of his every move not realize he needed their help and not their continual legal troubles. 

As I said all these answers just bring about more questions.  Why why why.  Why did so many of them have to die that day?  Yes, it was dark, and it was raining, and it was a wild scary time, but why so many?  No, I would not want to take on a full grown and obviously starving lion.  Yes, I realize that most police forces do not carry and do not store tranquilizer guns.  Yes, I understand there was a community at risk and the animals were high-tailing it out of there, where they would be next to impossible to find.  Why?  It breaks my heart, and I do understand why some of them needed to be put down.  I do, I just don’t like it at all.  It makes me sad. 

Do we need more laws governing this?  Yes.  I don’t think we should say NO ONE is allowed to have them, but I do believe there should be restrictions.  Like proper housing and fencing for one.  Also I think there should be a limit to the number of animals you have.  I also think you should be licensed for these types of animals.  You have to have a license to buy a dog, why not for these animals?  Also you should be required to have insurance, just in case…..

These are my thoughts.  As I said I have so many questions still floating around in my brain.  Will they all be answers?  Nope.  But I'm still looking.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Dog

I was supposed to head out to New York this past week, but plan change really quickly in my life.  Well, then how was my week spent?  Writing?  Nope.  Reading?  Nope, not that either.  My week was spent dealing with my dog, Champion, an almost 9 year old, English Mastiff. 

He’s beautiful, friendly, and my buddy.  Tuesday afternoon he started acting on the funny side.  Now to some you are asking what that means.  Well, he didn’t greet me when I got home to start.  That is very strange as he is usually waiting at the door with his face pressed to the window, wiggly butt moving fast and furious to and fro with the strength of his rope like tail.  I had to go and find him, lying in the hallway.  Then when I greeted him, all I got was one measly thump of his tail.  I was instantly concerned.  I made dinner and as we sat to eat, he didn’t come running.  Here’s a secret that I hope my husband does not read (he doesn’t usually check my blog so I should be safe) I don’t eat my meat.  I sneak it under the table to my dogs.  They know it and the moment I sit down they are waiting at my feet for the first tidbit to arrive.  Champ didn’t come to the table.  I could see him still in the hall.  After dinner I took him a piece of chicken in which he took, but spit right out on the floor.  I started to cry.  I knew he was sick then.  Really sick as he will eat rocks if we aren’t careful. 

I called the vet, we took him right in and they had to sedate him as my normally happy friendly easygoing dog suddenly became a bit…mean.  He’s a big dog so this is a bit on the scary side to outsiders.  While he was sedated, they did x-rays and couldn’t find anything.  Then, he didn’t wake up and he didn’t wake up.  We had to leave him there for the night, again more angst from me over this.  I got a call in the middle of the night from the vet saying he was taking him over to the Animal ER as he still hadn’t come out of the sedation and they wanted someone to watch over him.  More angst more worry.  Then the next day, I called first thing, my big dog was awake, finally, but turning vicious.  Vicious?  What?  My big baby dog was vicious?  Apparently yes, they had to mussel him!  He was in serious pain and didn’t want anyone to touch him…at all.  They were trying to do more x-rays from a different angle and a surgeon was coming in.  Did I want surgery?  Yes.  What did they think it was?  It was either some type of blockage or….cancer.  Lord I about fell down, as the next breath from the Vet was, if it was cancer, did I just want them to not wake him up?  I said I didn’t know I would have to get back to him.  I then called my husband at work and cried like the big baby I was at the moment, with the thought of my big dog just not waking up.  For those of you who don’t know, my husband is a wonderful man sometimes.  He calmed me down, and said, that before I freaked out we should wait and see what they found. 

So surgery was done early Wednesday afternoon.  It was not cancer.  It was a corncob.  A whole one.  He had swallowed it down whole and it got lodged down in tummy.  I took a photo of it for the blog, just so you all could see it, but I have been told that is just gross.  So, no photo.  I have been praised on my astuteness, as I caught it extremely early, before he was even in any kind of pain, but surgery would still have been needed regardless.  I was just lucky I caught it when I did as he went down fast and added to that, he didn’t respond well to sedation.  He would have been dead in a day or so. 

What that all means is I have done nothing at all since Tuesday this week.  My weekend was spent as a dog nurse.  I am happy to say the big dog is doing well, and is happy to be home with his family.  He’s on a strict diet so I will have to be eating my own meat for the next week or so, unless I can figure out a way to stash it in my napkin….well see.


Oh one more thing before I head out.  As you can see along the right side of my blog is a new Facebook LIKE button.  I am not all that techie so for anyone that has not yet “liked” Shadow Dancer on Facebook, if someone would be so good as to give the button a poke I would greatly appreciate it.  I think I set it up properly and it’s working, but I can’t really tell. 


And finally, I did a guest blog HERE   If you are interested in receiving a free copy of my book, Shadow Dancer, there is a contest running with the post. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Real Steal

Aside from reading and writing books, one of my favorite things to do is head out to the big screen and catch a new movie.  We try to go out about once a month and this month we chose the movie:  Real Steal.

Real Steel is a 2011 American science-fiction action film starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Shawn Levy. The film is based on the 1956 short story "Steel" by Richard Matheson, though Levy placed the film in U.S. state fairs and other "old-fashioned" Americana settings. Real Steel was in development for several years before production began in June 11th of 2010. Filming took place primarily in the U.S. state of Michigan. Animatronic robots were built for the film, and motion capture technology was used to depict the brawling of computer-generated robots and animatronics. Real Steel was publicly released in Australia on October 6, 2011 and in the United States and Canada on October 7, 2011. It will be in both conventional and IMAX theaters.

Why this movie?  For starters because it has Hugh Jackman in it.  Did you know his birthday is October 12th?  Perfect blog for the week eh?  Although Hugh is turning 43 this year, I still find him extremely attractive both in form and in person.  I have not ever read anything on this guy that indicates he is a piece of work.  You hear time and time again how great he is to work with or interview, or whatever.  Therefore, since my Heath Ledger is no more (so sad), Hugh Jackman has moved up into my 1st place slot of favorite actors.  A bit of history on Mr. Jackson:

As I said above, he was born October 12, 1968, in Australia where is an actor and producer.  He has been involved in films, musical theatre, and television.  He won international recognition for his roles in several major films, including his portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men series.  He did a great job in the movie Australia.  I personally liked him in Kate & Leopold and of course who could forget Van Helsing. 

Then in November of 2008 he was named the Sexiest Man Alive in People Magazine.  Who could disagree? 

Now, on to Real Steal:  How would I characterize this movie?  Rocky with robots.  Underdog's journey to the top with the add in of a father son relationship and a hot chick.  It starts off a bit slow.  I admit it.  Even with Hugh as lead, the movie is slow to start.  But get about 20 minutes in and it takes off.  You begin to hope and you begin to believe and by the time the end hits you, you want to jump up with the actors on the screen and yell right along with them.  Yes, really.  At one point in the movie I was sitting in my little theater seat, knees pulled up tight to my chest and holding my breath. 

So need a decent recommendation for a movie?  Well then check this one out.  I loved it.  On an added note, I saw today that a sequel to this movie is already in the works.  Not sure I am on board with that.  Sometimes one movie is all that you need.  We will see. 


Monday, October 3, 2011

Ten Things About me - A Meme

First a quick thank you to Carrie for the blog award http://carrieoncarryingon.blogspot.com/.  Thank you so much for thinking of me.  I hope I can live up to your award.  I will do my best. 

Here is a quick look at the award:

Courtney Rene - Courtney has been publishing-up a fictional storm with her stories and novels for young people, with a side helping of non-fiction... just because she can. And she has excellent advice about raising kids (that would make for a wicked column).
Be sure to hope over to her blog to see who else and what else she found to award.
~ * ~

Ten Facts of her Life – A Meme.

This week I decided to take part in a meme that I found  Here.  Why? You ask?  As I am not normally the meme type.  This week, my brain needed something a bit easier.  See I am neck deep in a final revision of Shadow Warrior.  It would normally be a nice easy read for me, but I think when I converted it from Windows 7 to XP it made it all goofy and hard to read or find any mistakes.  So I am struggling a bit and it’s taking longer than it should.  I am not a fan of 7…

At any rate, here at the ten facts about me, that you may or may not know. 

10.       I’m a bit of a hermit.  It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s that I don’t like to meet NEW people.  I’m not a snob and I am not “uppity” I just don’t do well in new environments and with strangers.  I will say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or fall down. 

9.         I like to make glass beads.  Like from scratch I mean.  With a glass stick and a flame.  I’m not exceptionally good at it, but I get better all the time.  I have even sold a bead or two on ebay to collectors. 

8.         I have a tank top addition.  90% of the time I am wearing one.  Just plain or under my sweaters, under my t-shirts, as pj’s, to exercise in, whatever.  I have about 50 of them at this point.  It started out that I wore them under my sweaters in the winter to add an additional layer for heat, but then it carried over to spring and so on and now I just always wear them.  I maybe need to break that habit…

7.         I dream in color.  I didn’t know that was strange until I was an adult.  I thought everyone did.  Apparently I’m weird in my dreams as well as in real life.

6.         I’m left handed and like it that way.  Although my grandmother tried her hardest to break me of that terrible habit, I remain to this day, a lefty.  Neither of my children are.  I was kinda hoping one of them would be, but no. 

5.         I sleep walk and I sleep talk and so do my children.  That’s the trait I handed down to the next generation.  We have special locks up high on all the doors to keep us walkers in the house at night, just in case no one hears us up and about. 

4.         I’m clumsy as all hell.  No, seriously, it’s a detriment and embarrassing, but there is not getting over it, so I just need to get used to it.  My mom used to say I just needed to grow into my feet.  I am still waiting for that to happen. 

3.         I am meat adverse.  No I am not a vegetarian and I am not a vegan, but if I can get out of eating meat without too much fuss, I will.  I will happily go days meatless.  But…then I will get a whiff of bacon and I am in heaven. 

2.         I have been trying for several years to learn Spanish.  I can read certain words, and speak words and sentences, but if anyone were to actually speak to me in Spanish?  I can’t understand a thing they are saying.  It’s ticking me off.  I picked up French pretty easy in high school, and was somewhat fluent.  What is it with Spanish that has me at a loss? 

1.         I like to read romance novels.  Having a bad day?  Pick up a love story and everything always winds up “happily ever after” in the end.  I don’t read them as often as I would like as I have a wide range of topics I read from fantasy and paranormal to thrillers and mysteries.  I even read non-fiction when a topic gets under my skin, but a good romance when needed is just what the doctor ordered.  No smut needed. 

So have a great week all.  See ya next week.