Monday, January 27, 2014

Coast


C is for coast.  Last week my wife and I were able to spend a few days on the Oregon Coast.  My wife's siblings all met for a reunion.  We had a great time and the weather was beautiful for January.  Family from Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Arkansas came to the coast and we had a great time together.


While we were there we visited places along the coast from Tillamook to Newport.  There is beautiful scenery all along the coast.










Some of my favorite memories of our time on the coast are of the sunsets.  We had beautiful sunny days, and incredible sunsets every evening.











On of our favorite stops was at the Sea Lion Caves.  This is a natural sea cave that is the home to many Stellar Sea Lions.  The attraction has been open to the public since 1932.





Later, while we were in Newport, we saw a couple of sea lions right beside the pier.





There are so many beautiful sights along the Oregon Coast.  If you ever get a chance to visit I highly recommend it.















Of all the fun and interesting things that we did, my favorite thing was walking on the beach with my best girl.



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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Baron Bliss


B is for Baron Bliss.  March 9th is Baron Bliss Day in the Central American country of Belize. We have visited Belize several times.  On one of our visits to Belize, we were in Caye Caulker and there were many Belizeans swimming and enjoying themselves at the area they call The Split. I asked someone about it and they told me it was Baron Bliss Day and it was a holiday for many people.

I later found out that every year, on the 9th March, wreaths are placed on the tomb of Baron Bliss in his memory . The day is celebrated as a public and bank holiday, and a harbor regatta is held in remembrance of a man who loved Belize.

In 1926 Baron Bliss came to British Honduras, as Belize was known then, in search of big game fishing.  When he was younger he had contracted polio and decided to travel the world in a luxury yacht. After spells in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica, he arrived in Belize harbor, where he found a climate which suited him. He was extremely fond of the local people. When he arrived in British Honduras, his health was poor, and in less than two months he died. He loved British Honduras and wrote a will that revoked any former will in order to leave the bulk of his fortune for the benefit of the people of British Honduras.


Over the decades, the Baron Bliss Fund has used money from the savings accumulated on many projects for the benefit of Belize. The projects completed have benefited all parts of Belize. Some projects completed in the past century with the help of the Fund were The Baron Bliss Institute and Promenade, The Bliss School of Nursing, Belize City Water Supply System, Intransit Lounge at Belize International Airport, the Corozal Town Hall and the purchase of land for the building of the capital city of Belmopan.

The many projects realized by the Baron Bliss Trust have benefited thousands of citizens and were all completed in conformity with the desires of the will of Baron Bliss. It is safe to say that there will be many more ways and projects through which the practical kindness and affection of Baron Bliss will continue to aid Belize, for years and years to come.



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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Regina Lawry - Polk County Pulse January 15, 2014


Article published in the January 15, 2014 issue of The Polk County Pulse featuring my wife as the Citizen of the Week.  Written by Jaclyn Rose.



Regina Lawry was born in Denver, Colorado and lived in the same house until she was married.  In grade school she attended Denver Public Schools.  Upon entering high school, Regina transferred to a private Christian boarding school in Loveland, Co, called Campion Academy.  It was there that Regina met her husband and made lifelong friends that she still stays in touch with to this day.  “My father wasn't a rich man, he worked hard as a tile layer and took on extra jobs so he could allow my siblings and I to attend this great school.  It was the most wonderful experience of my life.”

Regina and her husband of 38 years, Richard, or Richie, as he is known by his friends, became friends while in American History class and were assigned to work together on a project.  “Richie was painfully shy but we became great friends and after high school we didn't want that friendship to end.  We started dating and then got married.  The key is to just be best friends.  As life goes on the romance sometimes fades so you have to enjoy being together.”

Regina and her husband have two children, Cynda and Gavin, and family is of extreme importance to them.  “Family has always come first.  When Cynda was little, Richie commuted 50 miles each way to work, so he left before she woke up in the mornings and was home after she was in bed. He came to me at that time and said he wanted to move to Arkansas, where his parents were living.  In two weeks we sold the house and moved to Mena.  It was culture shock to me.  I am such a city girl but Polk County has been so good to us.  We love it here, we love the people.  We are active members of Mena Seventh Day Adventist Church, where Richie is the head elder.”

Regina is now a grandmother to three sweet granddaughters which is a role she cherishes.  “My granddaughters: Autumn, Rebekah and Elisabeth are the light of my life.  I was born to be a grandma.  I waited my whole life for it, I just didn't know it.  I tell my oldest granddaughter that I was so full of joy when she was born that it just kept running out of my eyes,” Regina said with a grin.

Regina ran a fabric shop in Mena for a while before closing it to homeschool her son.  When he left to attend boarding school in Gentry, Arkansas, she decided to go back to work and began working at the USEM Mena Federal Credit Union.  “I’m the CEO and the Janitor.  I love my job.  I love the people.”

In 1975 Regina’s mother was diagnosed with Leukemia and began treatments, which at that time consisted of blood transfusions because no other treatment was available.  Regina’s mother was approached to do a study on the progression of the disease in the bone marrow.  Her family discouraged her from participating, knowing it would likely not help and would cause a great deal of pain.  She insisted on the study, however, and her reason behind it has given Regina her passion in life.  “We tried to talk mom out of the study and her response was, ‘you never know who this will help along the line.’  Twenty years later those studies saved my sister’s life and gave her an additional fifteen years to live.”  Cancer is a disease that has not only affected Regina’s mother and sister, but every member of her immediate family has been diagnosed with some form.  Because of her desire for a cure, Regina has worked tirelessly for the cause through the Relay for Life program.  She was chairperson for the local chapter for five years, has served on the State Leadership Council and is a Hero of Hope for the Mid-South Division.  It is truly her life’s desire to find a cure.  “I've seen firsthand the work the American Cancer Society has done and how it has helped my family.  It may not seem like [cancer] has anything to do with you, it doesn't affect you until it affects you.  But you never know who you are going to help.  If my children or grandchildren are ever diagnosed I don’t want it to be like it was for my mother.  I want there to be a cure.”

Monday, January 13, 2014

Amazon


A is for Amazon.  When I was growing up if someone talked about Amazon they were referring to the river in South America, or a nation of all female warriors in Greek mythology.  Today, if Amazon pops up in a conversation it will most likely be in reference to the world's largest ecommerce retailer.


The company currently employs more than 43,200 people in 18 U.S. states and 14 international locations. Its headquarters are in Seattle, Washington.  Amazon's goal is to become the world's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.

I am an Amazon customer.  The problem with Amazon is that they make it just too easy to spend your money.  Cd's, movies, books, printer ink, cameras, etc, etc.  Just about anything I could want I can buy on Amazon.  


My favorite Amazon product is my Kindle.  I have been a Kindle reader since I purchased my Kindle in 2010.  You can read about my first thoughts about my Kindle here.  

I love reading about history and my Kindle has made it so easy to find books on topics that interest me.  One of the books that I found combined my love of history with my interest in automobiles, and was set in the Amazon.  It was the book, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin.  


In the 1920's Ford Motor Company was producing over a million cars a year. Henry Ford needed rubber to make tires, hoses and other parts for the cars. Rubber does not grow in Michigan, and European producers enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the rubber trade because of their Asian colonies. So Henry decided to grow his own. In 1927 he decided to get it by carving a plantation and a miniature Midwest factory town out of the Amazon jungle. He called it Fordlandia.

The site chosen for Ford’s new rubber plantation was an area of some 2.5 million acres on the banks of the Tapaj√≥s River, a tributary of the Amazon about 600 miles from the Atlantic. It took Ford’s agents approximately 18 hours to reach the place by riverboat from the nearest town. Ford’s vision was a replica Midwestern town, with modern plumbing, hospitals, schools, sidewalks, tennis courts and even a golf course. There would be no drink or other forms of immorality, but gardening for all and chaste dances every week.


Ford tried to use his knowledge of mass industrial production on the diversity of the jungle. But the Amazon is one of the most complex ecological systems in the world — and didn't fit into Ford's plan. Ford was so distrustful of experts that he never even consulted one about rubber trees. If he had he would have learned that plantation rubber can't be grown in the Amazon. The pests and the fungi and the blight that feed off of rubber are native to the Amazon. Basically, when you put trees close together in the Amazon, what you in effect do is create a feast for the pests. The Fordlandia plantation actually accelerated the production of caterpillars, leaf blight and other organisms that prey on rubber.

Just like the rubber plantation didn't work, neither did Henry's idea of creating a utopian society in the middle of the jungle.  Although he built nice homes for the workers and built modern schools, his work force was never happy.  There was tremendous turnover.  He didn’t like drinking, so he prohibited alcohol.  He tried to regulate the diet of Brazilian workers. He had very rigid thoughts on healthy food, so he had them eating whole rice and whole wheat bread and canned Michigan peaches and oatmeal. There were riots over the food.  He also tried to regulate their recreational time. He introduced square dancing to replace the samba.

The Brazilian workers resisted the heavy attempt to regulate every aspect of their lives, not just the industrial regime, but also their diet, their sanitation and medical regulation. And during one riot in particular, they smashed all the time clocks.

Ford spent about a billion dollars, in inflation-adjusted dollars, on this project, and not one drop of latex made it into a Ford car. It was an absolute failure. In 1945 it was sold to the Brazilian government for $244,200.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Zombies




Z is for Zombie.  It seems like everywhere you go there are zombies. Movies, television, books and comics featuring zombies are very popular.  I can't understand the fascination of pop culture with zombies.  Max Brooks, who wrote the book on which the zombie movie World War Z is based. says that “people have a lot of anxiety about the future. They’re constantly being battered with these very scary, very global catastrophes. People need a ‘safe place’ to explore their apocalyptic worries. They can’t read stories about real plagues or nuclear war. That’s too scary. Zombie stories give people the opportunity to witness the end of the world they've been secretly worrying about while, at the same time, allowing themselves to sleep at night because the catalyst of that end is fictional.”


Lat fall while we were visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas we saw a Zombie Parade.  Local people dressed up as zombies and paraded through the streets.  Here are photos that I took of the parade.











One of my favorite albums of the 60's was Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies.


The band broke up before the album was released.  Although the singles that were initially released went nowhere; the song, Time of the Season, was released over a year after the band broke up and became an iconic hit in the U.S.  Here are a couple of my favorite songs from the album.







The ABC Wednesday Meme is a fun way to see some great blogs.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top 10


2013 is now behind us.  Here is a listing of the top ten most viewed posts of 2013 on An Arkies Musings.  It is always interesting to me to see what topics other people are interested in.

The most viewed post of the year is my post on Duck Dynasty from February 5th 2013.  I'm sure the Phil Robertson controversy had a lot to do with it's Number 1 position.  You can read the post here. 



The number two post of the year was titled Happy Holidays.  Although the post didn't address the term Happy Holidays, I wonder what drove the traffic to the post.  Probably the cute photo of me as a child.  :)  You can read the post here.



Number three for the year was a post on 9/11 that told the story of a 9/11 massacre that happened in 1857, not 2001.  You can read the post here. 



The number four post wasn't written by me. When a friend of mine, Maurine Burden, passed away this story was found in her possessions. It was read at her memorial service. It made such an impact on me that I shared it with my readers.  You can read it here.



As Easter was approaching I wrote the fifth most popular post of the year.  I titled it What Did Jesus Do?  You can read it here.



Each week I participate in the ABC Wednesday Meme.  Those of us who participate write about something that starts with a designated letter each week.  The number 6 post of the year was written for the letter "E".  E is for Empathy.  You can read it here.



Number 7 was a post titled, "All You Need Is Love".  Did The Beatles have it right?  Read the post here.



This spring my granddaughters participated in a cardboard boat race. They had to construct a boat from nothing but cardboard, duct tape and paint. It was amazing how seaworthy the boats were. The boat race provided the topic for the number eight post of the year.  You can read it here.



The 9th most popular post of the year highlighted the organization ADRA.  ADRA stands for Adventist Development and Relief Agency. It is a charity that I support on a regular basis.  You can read the post here. 



In March, my wife and I attended the Jonquil Festival at Historic Washington State Park.  The number ten post was a photo essay of the event.  You can see the photos here.



Just because I can, here is a special bonus.  It wasn't one of the top ten most visited posts of the year, but it was my favorite.  You can see my favorite post here.

I can't wait to see what adventures and experiences 2014 will bring.  I wonder what the top ten posts of 2014 will be.