For What It’s Worth

Ask my doctor. Really?

My apologies for getting your attention and then turning away, but an apparently urgent drug commercial has flashed onto the screen on my TV and I feel compelled to watch.

Wow! Some guy wearing a white lab coat is talking. He must be a doctor. I mean, who but a doctor wears a white lab coat to make a commercial? Not likely that he’s a researcher. He’s not in a lab, and there’s no microscope, vials of liquid, or petri dish in sight.

“Yes, Cureitall is the answer. You may be suffering frequent or intense pain, but relief can be yours. Cureitall is a prescription medicine that will take care of the problem. Experience relief today. One Cureitall tablet taken once a day, if taken at precisely midnight, will bring 24-hour relief.

“While Cureitall may be right for most people, it may not be right for you if you are pregnant, wish you were pregnant, or someday may become pregnant, or if you wish your wife were pregnant, or you hope she someday will be pregnant. Cureitall is not advised if you have hair and don’t wish to become bald, if you are prone to a rise in blood pressure when the Dallas Cowboys score a touchdown, if your kidneys, liver, spleen and thyroid are functioning correctly, if your thighbone connects to your hipbone, or if you have false teeth.

“When taking Cureitall, watch for any side effects and report them to your doctor immediately. Possible side effects include nausea, insomnia, kidney failure, heart palpitations, unexplained pain in back, shoulders, hips, legs, arms or feet; a compulsion to talk constantly, flu-like symptoms, hot flashes, cranky disposition, sudden fits of anger, intense itching behind your knee joint or other hard-to-reach places, growth of cuticles, hangnails, and ingrown toenails. Some fatal reactions have occurred.

“Why wait another day to seek relief? Cureitall is available now. Relief can be yours.

“So, ask your doctor if Cureitall is right for you.”

I know this will come as a surprise and shock to the drug companies, but despite being bombarded by drug commercials on TV, I have never, not even once, dashed to the phone after a drug commercial and called my doctor to make an appointment so I could ask him about the drug being advertised. Actually, my usual reaction is fear—fear that a doctor would prescribe that drug for me. With all the potential reactions, frequently including the possibility of the reaction being fatal, I am scared of taking the drug.

Pardon me, I should not have allowed myself to be drug away from you to watch that drug commercial. However, it certainly sounded like it would take care of whatever ails me, didn’t it?

The truth is I think I got a hint of what ails me earlier this year when my family doctor, whom I really like and appreciate, noted that we (I suppose he means himself and me, unless he had a mouse in his pocket at the time) needed to keep an eye on some things because, I think his words were, “Harry, you are 75.” That was a kind and subtle way of saying, “You’re getting old.” At least, it is clear that I have crossed some kind of demarcation line.

Last I checked there is no cure for old age. Not even one of those commercials is for a drug claiming to cure old age.

When I caught your attention, I was going to write about something specific I had in mind. But, I got distracted and now I don’t remember what it was. That, unfortunately, is a sure sign of a senior moment. Since I don’t remember, I guess I’ll go watch TV for a while and check out the drug commercials. Surely, there will be one for a drug that cures senior moments without too many serious side effects. Then, I can do as the guy in the white lab coat says, and go ask my doctor about the drug.

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For What It’s Worth

Awesome young people

What a night it was, and what a morning!

Thursday night was the annual Christmas recital for students of adults at our church who give music lessons. Most, though not all, of the students were from families at Bible Baptist Church. The program included performance of 48 pieces, primarily piano, but also including harp, horn, violin, and vocal. Performers ranged in age from the youngest, age 6, to mid-teens. Some were in the early stages of learning, and others clearly had advanced skills.

The skill level mattered not. The energy, dedication, and desire on display invigorated the audience, and, as nearly as I could tell, everyone had a good time.

As my wife will attest, I am not one to be indwelled early with the Christmas spirit. Christmas has become too commercialized for me. When I see Christmas displays, decorations, or TV ads before Thanksgiving, especially those appearing shortly after Halloween, I want to boo. I’m just not into Christmas as a time to spend wastefully, which is the way I view much of the gifting that occurs today.

However, even the “Bah, Humbug” guy that I am, I came out of the recital with a good dose of the Christmas spirit.

It was a delightful evening. I was impressed by the youth. It takes courage and desire to perform in front of more than 200 people, especially when you are young and know that you likely will hit some sour notes as you play. But they stepped up and performed. And any wrong notes they hit were not sour notes to me.

Now, I’m ready to move on into the Christmas season.

Then, Friday morning I had the privilege of being one of the judges for the annual Heritage Academy Spelling Bee. Heritage Academy is an educational program at Bible Baptist Church that works closely with parents home schooling their children. We had a peewee spelling bee, elementary school bee, and a middle school bee.

I was impressed by the competence of the youngsters participating. We started spelling about 10 a.m. and concluded about 10 minutes after 1 p.m., interspersing two breaks of about 10 minutes each.

Many of the children in the spelling bee also were participants in the Christmas recital the night before. What an encouragement it is to see these youngsters working and achieving in areas of personal growth. They are learning so many valuable lessons about setting goals, working hard, being responsible, overcoming fears and doubts, dealing with mistakes or failures, etc.

They are blessed to have parents who encourage and support them in endeavors such as this. Unfortunately, far too many children in today’s world are not so fortunate. It is overwhelmingly sad to me the number of children I see who are growing up in homes with violence, drug usage, absent father or mother, parents more concerned with career or self-indulgence than caring for their children, a lack of love, and no real guidance or training to help them grow into mature, responsible, and loving adults.

The warm feeling I had from the spelling bee meshed nicely with that from the Christmas recital the night before. Apparently, I’m getting the Christmas spirit a bit earlier this year.

Are you?

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From the Stands

Playoff mumblings

Choosing from among non-choices

The college football playoff teams have been chosen, and the selection committee made the choice of whom to root for easy.


The other three—Ohio State, Florida State and Alabama—are long-time members of my short list of teams I love to root against. Three of my favorite teams each football Saturday are the teams playing Alabama, Ohio State and FSU. A fourth, though irrelevant to the playoff, is whoever is playing Notre Dame.

Please understand that I am not an Oregon Ducks fan; it’s just that they are the only team I can root for among the choices I have.

Perhaps a brief explanation is in order. I am a sports fan, and college football is my favorite spectator sport. Except for Oklahoma State in football and the St. Louis Cardinals in major league baseball, I am not a strong fan of any particular team. I just enjoy a good game, and basically I derive more pleasure from rooting for underdogs than I do from expending passion on following a particular team.

So, in this first year of the new playoff system, my cheering interest gravitated to Oregon, a relative newcomer to the favorite’s roll long enjoyed by the powerhouses OSU, FSU and Bama. Or, stated more bluntly, the Ducks are the only one I can possibly root for.

Since they are playing FSU in one game, my choice is clear there. In the OSU vs. Alabama game, the outcome I would like most—both of them lose—is not possible. Thus, I am stuck hoping that the winner will be the loser to Oregon in the title game.

What if Oregon is not in the title game? I’ll still watch it, but will settle for rooting for an exciting game with only an interest in the quality of the competition, not in who wins or loses. Believe it not, I can enjoy, and have enjoyed, games in which I have no particular rooting interest.

Though I’ll root for Oregon, my real rooting interest going into the playoff was TCU or Baylor. I was hoping one of them would be selected and give the Big 12 Conference a representative and someone I could cheer for. However, neither was selected, though I think either one was more worthy than Ohio State; but that is a topic not to be addressed at this time.

The only decision

The judge ruled this week, and Douglass High School was denied injunctive relief based on its protest of the recent loss to Locust Grove in the Class 3A state playoffs. As you will recall, officials in the game misapplied a rule and disallowed a touchdown by Douglass that gave it a lead in the game and a likely victory since just over a minute was all the time left in the game.

Although neither fairness nor justice was served, the judge made the only decision he could under the circumstances. It was not fair that Douglass lost because of a mistake by the officials. However, it would not have been fair either to have replayed all or a portion of the game because the circumstances would have been altered. Nor does it seem right that Locust Grove moves on in the playoffs tainted by the knowledge that the victory was not a clear-cut one.

It was a situation in which there was no fair, just, or truly satisfactory way to handle the situation once it had occurred. Though not a totally satisfactory solution, the most workable one seemed to be to just move ahead. It’s no consolation, but life is not always fair, and this is clear example of that.

A similar situation happened in Kentucky, and the solution there was not to allow a protest and, instead, continue the playoffs. The governing body there has a policy, which it enforces, that no protest can be filed once a game is over. Georgia does the same.

Obviously, Oklahoma needs to get its act together. Protests over the outcome of sports events should not be settled in the courts.

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For What It’s Worth

Matter of perspective

An oft-overused saying today is, “It is what it is.” What “it is” is frequently not clear, but whatever it is we can be assured that most often “it” is a matter of perspective. We each see it from own particular viewpoint and interpretation. Thus, what may be desirable to us is not desirable to someone else or vice versa. A cliché way of expressing this is to say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

I was reminded of this during a morning social hour yesterday with fellow residents in the condo complex where we live. Each Wednesday morning for an hour or so, interested residents gather at the clubhouse for lively conversation and imbibing in some tasty goodies, most of them homemade. Sometimes, we enjoy word games, but mostly we just converse, sharing stories and personal observations. Since all of us are senior citizens, except for some family members who may be visiting the group, most of our story exchanges involve reminiscing or remembering when. That just seems to be a natural part of getting old.

At one time, probably not very long ago, you would have been hard pressed to convince me that I would be part of such a group or that I would enjoy it. To my own surprise, I have found the sessions to be fun, and I look forward to them. Each week, someone serves as sort of a moderator and directs the word game or chooses a topic for discussion and coordinates the storytelling that follows.

This morning, we focused primarily on telling stories about our most unusual or memorable Christmas. Then, someone mentioned that Sunday had been Dec. 7, a day to remember Pearl Harbor, and the question was asked, “Do you remember what you were doing when you heard about the attack?”

Several are old enough to have some specific memories of where they were and what they were doing. At almost 2 years old, I was not old enough at the time to have a clear or specific remembrance of that day. However, when my dad was drafted, I was old enough to have a memory of his leaving on a train and my mother crying. That is my initial memory of her crying, and I think that is why it is something I remember.

Part of the shared memories of Christmas included observations from the majority of us that our families were not moneyed and thus Christmas was not a time of multiple or expensive toys and the like. Aside from receiving oranges and apples in our stockings, we sometimes received clothing made by our mothers. For one resident, that recalled to mind a non-Christmas story he had about shirts his mother had made for him.

Feed sacks and other materials were used by our mothers to make shirts, blouses, etc. In this instance, the resident said that when he went off to college, his wardrobe included a shirt his mother had sewed for him. Although she thought it was just a passing fad, she made the shirt with a button-down collar to please him. At college, he had a friend whose family was wealthy enough for him to have brand name, store-bought shirts. The friend regularly commented on our resident’s shirt and asked what brand it was. Somewhat embarrassed that it was a homemade shirt, the resident avoided a direct answer until one day the friend reached out, grabbed the shirt collar in the back, and turned it up to read the label.

“You’re not wearing a regular shirt,” he exclaimed in surprise and admiration. “That’s a custom-made shirt!” The resident then revealed that his mother had made the shirt.

He smiled as he told us the story, and we all laughed.

“I was wearing a custom-made shirt, but had never thought about it that way,” he said. “Interesting, isn’t it, how we see things differently?”

Indeed, it is. It’s a matter of perspective. For one young man, the shirt was something his mother had made him, not an expensive, store-bought shirt. For the other man, accustomed to wearing shirts bought off the rack at a clothing store, having a shirt made especially to fit you was having a custom-made shirt. Quite an elevation in status, huh?

As I listened to the story, I remembered how many shirts I had worn that my mom had made and how I could hardly wait until I was able to buy shirts with a name-brand label in the collar. And all the time I was wearing custom-made shirts.

It probably behooves all of us to keep in mind that the way we view life, the way we view our circumstances, the way we view the actions of others, the way we view so many things is a matter of perspective.

We need to be careful when we think, “It is what it is,” because “what it is” may be a custom-made shirt, not the store-bought shirt it appears to be from our perspective.

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From the Stands

Playoff controversy: HS and college

The high school football playoffs are in the closing stage in Oklahoma, and the participants in the first four-team college playoff will be chosen next week—and controversy is a key element in both.

Official botch-up

The Oklahoma high school playoffs have had some exciting games, but a botch-up by officials in the Class 3A quarterfinal game between Douglass and Locust Grove has put a dark, apparently non-erasable, smudge on the playoffs.

Sadly, the situation should never have occurred. But it did. The five-man officiating crew misapplied a rule and, in so doing, deprived Douglass of a touchdown that likely would have resulted in a win for Douglass and a loss for Locust Grove.

Usually, controversy involving officials hinges on judgment calls, such as pass interference, holding, etc. These depend on the official’s judgment of whether a rule has been violated. Such controversy is not an error of the official’s not knowing the rules or applying them incorrectly. That was not the case in the Douglass vs. Locust Grove game.

On the play in question, a fourth-down play with just over a minute left in the game, Douglass scored a touchdown. An official threw a flag against Douglass for a sideline infraction during the play. By National Federation of State High School Association rules, which govern Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, a non-player foul, as this was, is treated as a dead-ball foul and the five-yard penalty is assessed at the end of the play. Since the Douglass play resulted in a touchdown, by rule the play should have stood and Locust Grove been offered the option of taking the penalty on the extra-point try or on the kickoff.

Instead, after conferring, the game officials nullified the TD and marked off the penalty from the previous line of scrimmage. In addition, Douglass was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing the original penalty. Douglass replayed its fourth down and failed to convert.

The OSSAA has since apologized for the error and said that the officials are being reprimanded and not allowed to officiate any more playoff games this season. As appropriate and justified as this is, it does nothing to correct the injustice that resulted. Of course, questions abound. How could a crew deemed qualified to officiate a playoff game not know correct application of the rule? Did all five officials not know the rule? Did they disagree in their conference and decide to go with majority opinion?

Whatever the questions or answers, it appears that the result will stand. The OSSAA said that rules do not allow a protest of a game based on an officiating error. Although there is some public outcry for a replay of the end of the game, chances appear to be zero that this would happen.

Basically, it appears that those involved are learning one of life’s toughest lessons: life is not always fair, and the unfairness is not always your fault.

Unfortunately, Douglass players will be convinced for the rest of their lives that they were robbed, that they should have won the game; and Locust Grove players will always know that others think their victory was tainted.

Unfortunate, very unfortunate.

BCS backers were wrong

Remember the Bogus College System or whatever BCS stood for? Maybe it was Bi-Carbonate of Soda, which is what most of us often felt like we needed. Oh, I remember now, it was the Bowl Championship Series, which, of course, was a misnomer. It was a “championship” game between two teams selected in some sort of voting/polls/computer process perhaps understood by someone somewhere. In any event, it was not a series; neither team played a series of games to reach the championship.

Interestingly, some staunch supporters of that now-defunct system praised it as making the regular season more exciting and, in effect, a series of playoff games and predicted that the BCS replacement, the new playoff system, would diminish the importance and excitement of the regular season.

In a word—hogwash.

They were so wrong. Instead, this season has been more exciting, created more of a playoff atmosphere for the regular season, and increased the importance of late-season games. In addition, the level of controversy has heightened. Can anyone really believe that the new playoff system isn’t more exciting and fun?

Some fans may have ideas for improving the new system, but I doubt that many want to go back to the BCS. I would favor two changes: go to an eight-team playoff and have the selection committee meet only once to announce its standings.

An eight-team playoff, which lower NCAA divisions and NAIA members have had success with for years, is a possibly in the future. It’s just not going to happen immediately. However, I expect support for it to grow steadily.

Having the selection committee meet once and announce the playoff teams like the NCAA does for basketball’s March Madness has a next-to-zero chance of happening. Why not? Money. One key reason is the heavily involvement of ESPN. The network’s fingers reach far into this pie and too much revenue is there to be generated with the committee making weekly announcements of its current team rankings. The bowls also fear financial loss, and ESPN is a significant player in maintaining their financial success.

Am happy for the new four-team playoff and am awaiting with interest the announcement of the four teams.

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For What It’s Worth

Despite diagnosis, patient not dead

Recently, a 91-year-old woman in Poland awoke from the dead—presumed dead, that is.

A doctor was called to the woman’s house on the morning of Nov. 6 after relatives noticed she was not breathing. In a television interview a week later, the doctor said she had checked the woman for a pulse on a forearm and neck arteries, listened for a heartbeat and the sound of breathing, and had checked the pupils for reaction to light, but found none.

“If I had had doubts, I would have called the ambulance, done an electrocardiogram,” the doctor said. “But I was sure the patient was dead.” The physician said she found “no basic life functions” and pronounced the woman dead. Two hours later, the woman was taken to the morgue.

Shortly before midnight, an undertaker who brought in another body noticed that there was movement in the bag in which the woman had been placed. When the bag was opened, the woman complained of being cold and asked for hot tea, the media report said. She was taken home. The doctor said she has been in “deep shock” since learning that the woman awoke in the morgue.

Reading the story made me wonder how many of us as Christians could have our spiritual life checked for a pulse and heartbeat and be pronounced spiritually dead.

The woman was deemed dead from sometime in the morning until discovered alive close to midnight. If we had a spiritual check-up and were declared dead, would we be found alive in just over half a day or might it be determined that we have been spiritually dead for an extended period of time?

In the woman’s case, her relatives noticed she was not breathing. In our case, perhaps we should be asking ourselves if our relatives, friends, and fellow Christians and church members have noticed if we are breathing spiritually.

The truth is we probably don’t have to depend on others to know if we are spiritually dead; that’s a diagnosis we can make ourselves. Let’s hope that we find the patient is just in need of some resuscitation and take appropriate action before, figuratively speaking, someone has to find us coming alive at the morgue.

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From the Stands

Game against Bears may be hard to bear

The OSU Cowboys take on the Baylor Bears Saturday; and, if the dire predictions are anything close to being accurate, the result will be tough to bear for the Cowpokes and their fans.

Even so, I’m not ready to throw in the towel, nor am I ready to go out on a limb and predict an upset. (Are two clichés in one sentence enough for you?) However, I am confident that long-time OSU fans can remember how heavily favored the Sooners were several years ago against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl and, no doubt, they remember how that came out. So (cliché time again), hope springs eternal, and we can hope OSU springs an upset.

As a fan, I’m more concerned about some of the issues facing the Pokes than I am about being a 40-point underdog.

The quarterback situation, for instance, poses concern. I really would feel sorry for Mason Rudolph if he has to blow his redshirt year in the next-to-last game of the season. How unfair, how frustrating. Perhaps how unnecessary.

Granted, playing him seems to be the only viable alternative if Daxx Garman can’t start or is injured during the game. The Pokes have a walk-on with impressive high school stats, but using him might be perceived as giving up on the last two games, which are key games on the schedule. Baylor is highly ranked and still in the running for a spot in the national playoff and OU in the following game is one all OSU fans strongly desire to win. It would be likely most people would assume that playing the walk-on is an admission of defeat.

Right or wrong, it seems to me that this is a situation the coaches would have been aware of early in the season when starter J.W. Walsh was injured and a decision had to be made on the quarterback situation for the remainder of the year. They are in a box now, but that is more a result of decisions made early in the year than in anything that has happened recently to make the present dilemma a reality.

Knowing how unfair it would be to Rudolph, and perhaps to the team, why decide to go with Garman only and live with the weekly angst of hoping that Garman would not only perform well but go uninjured all season and thereby allow a redshirt year for Randolph, the apparent future at QB for the Pokes? Those odds are about as good as the odds of beating the house at a casino.

I’m confident there were reasons at the time to decide not to play Rudolph, reasons that may not be readily seen or understood by the ordinary fan in the stands. So, we are left to wonder.

I’m glad I’m not in Randolph’s shoes. As a competitor, I would have been chomping at the bit all season and then absolutely frustrated if I had to basically forfeit my redshirt year by playing in only two games at the end of the season.

Quarterback is not the only area of concern for fans. Another is the offensive line, where youth and inexperience are dominate. Injuries played a key role in what has developed. So did the loss of eligible players who chose to move on rather than play another year. Further compounding the problem was the resignation of Coach Wickline, who had produced quality line performance for several years.

Another concern is that from outward appearances, it seems that booster Boone Pickens, Athletic Director Mike Holder, and Coach Mike Gundy have some issues among themselves. Maybe the strained relationship among that trio could be resolved if the three of them were to set their egos aside, gather in a room with the door closed, and stay there until they hash out their significant and insignificant issues.

Let’s set those concerns aside for the moment and root for an upset win on the Brazos Saturday night in Texas. Winter is coming on, and it sure would be nice to send those Bears into hibernation early.

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For What It’s Worth

Live with no cell phone: fact or fiction?

Recently, a comic strip I rarely read caught my eye. It showed a baby stroller parked, part on the sidewalk and part on the grass. Next to the stroller an obviously distraught woman was kneeling, her face in agony, and her mouth wide open as if screaming. In her emotional outburst were the words, “My poor baby.”

But she was not stressing over the unattended baby in the stroller. Instead, her anguish was directed at her cell phone, which lay broken on the sidewalk, apparently the result of having been dropped.

Perhaps that was humorous to some, but to many of us it was a sad, though accurate, reflection of the role or place of the cell phone in today’s society. The cell phone has become so much a part of everyday life that it may be difficult for some to believe that we are not born with a phone in our hand or at least with our fingers cupped so that a cell phone can quickly be placed in our hand.

Did people actually live in a time there were no cell phones? Yes, they did. They really did, as improbable as that may sound.

So, how did people communicate if they lived in different towns or states? They wrote letters. By letters, do I mean those alphabet things on the cell phone keyboard? No. No, I don’t. I mean taking a pen or pencil in hand, sitting down at a table or desk, and writing words on a piece of paper. Those words were called sentences and in them you provided information to the person to whom you were writing. And, believe it or not, most people wrote in complete sentences and spelled out words rather than abbreviating them or modifying the spelling to have shorter words.

But how did you manage to communicate with someone in another room? This will surprise some, but one of us walked into the other person’s room and we talked—you know, spoke words out loud while looking at one another. It was amazing how that worked. We could even sit at the dinner table and converse with each other rather than looking down at our lap to read or exchange text messages.

Oh, and we also did not endanger the lives of others, as well as our own, by texting while driving, or talking on the phone while driving.

Guess what. There was something else we didn’t do. We didn’t stand in line at the grocery store carrying on private conversations while speaking loud enough to be heard 10 or 15 feet away. We especially did not do so using foul language that branded us as rude and inconsiderate and which was offensive to many having to hear our personal conversation though not choosing to do so.

We also didn’t have to worry about the embarrassment or rudeness of having our cell phone start ringing in the middle of class at school, or during a church service, or at a funeral, or while in a meeting, or at a concert, or just as we were preparing to ask our sweetheart to marry us.

The last instance might not be a problem today since the person may be texting the proposal rather than speaking it. Actually, I’ve observed people texting in class, at church, at a funeral, and in a meeting. They probably have their phones on vibrate, so a ringing cell phone is not a problem.

Perhaps by now you may be thinking it would have been better had my cell phone rung before that comic strip caught my eye. Actually, it might have, assuming the phone had been turned on. However, the odds are better than even that it was off, since I often forget to turn it back on after having turned it off. Just this morning I noticed it was off and realized it had been off since before church yesterday morning.

Guess I just eye a phone differently than does Apple.

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For What It’s Worth

Snake oil?

Except perhaps among herpetologists, snakes for the most part have been associated with deception since—well, since a talking serpent tempted Eve into disobedience back in the Garden of Eden a long time ago.

No doubt, you have heard the expression “sneaky as a snake.” Back in the “Old West” days, men hawking bottles of cure-all medications became known as “snake oil salesmen,” and even today you might occasionally hear a dietary supplement or drug salesperson referred to as selling snake oil.

Now, not quite on the eve of a special program set to air Sunday, Dec. 7, on Discovery channel, I am wondering if I detect the scent of snake oil.

Don’t slither away and stop reading just yet. This is not a venomous reaction on my part. It’s just a story I’m having a little trouble coiling myself around. Two days ago, as I was snaking my way through the Internet to see if there were any stories I could sink my fangs in, I encountered one about a program entitled Eaten Alive to be aired on Discovery Channel.

That caught my attention; and, in somewhat of a hypnotic stare at the computer screen with my head weaving ever so slowly back and forth, I read the story. The story, which I am confident is based on information provided the Discovery Channel public relations personnel, says Eaten Alive is based on naturalist and wildlife filmmaker Paul Rosolie being eaten alive by a giant anaconda snake.

Wow! No wonder snakes have a bad rep. Eating a man alive, especially a naturalist and a wildlife lover. Seems to me that might be a good way to end up with indigestion.

So, how is this going to happen? In its teaser promos about the program, Discovery Channel says Rosolie plans to be devoured by an anaconda while in a custom-built snake-proof suit. Readers are told Rosolie covers himself in pig’s blood to make himself appetizing to the snake. The snake-proof suit has a cord attached to it so that Rosolie can be pulled from the snake’s belly with no risk of being trapped inside. That seems a better method of leaving the snake’s belly than the method of expulsion experienced by Jonah when the big fish vomited him out.

Discovery Channel assures us this is not a hoax. (Would anyone have thought such a thing?) As is customary today in media circles, I must insert a full disclosure here in case there might be a question of bias involved. Disclosure: I am not a regular viewer of Discovery Channel. Years ago, I watched it with some frequency, but I shed that skin and crawled away from it. That said, I have to ask: Is there a bit of a snake oil smell in the air here?

Mr. Rosolie is still quite alive and well, so I am assuming that either the anaconda’s peristaltic action failed to pull Rosolie fully into its belly or the cord worked successfully and the naturalist was pulled out, leaving behind only the smell of pig’s blood. Whatever happened, Discovery says the snake did not die.

As much as it makes my tongue dart in and out of my mouth in a flickering motion, I can’t seem to eat my suspicions alive. I realize that the word anaconda strikes fear in the hearts of many because they envision some giant snake, which this one will have to be to devour Mr. Rosolie alive. However, in the miniscule amount of research I did, I discovered (pardon the pun) most anacondas are not giant snakes and do not find humans to be enticing food. That wouldn’t matter in this program since it is the snake being deceived this time and he/she thinks he/she is consuming a pig.

Something else I learned was that anacondas don’t partake of live meals. Instead, especially the big ones, they squeeze their prey to death and then swallow them. Since both the snake and his human entrée in this program are still alive, I am somewhat perplexed.

Nor am I the only one with reservations about the snake stunt. Though she doesn’t mention the aroma of snake oil, CNN’s Jeanne Moos did a piece yesterday about Eaten Alive in which she holds up a rubber snake, pulls on it, and suggests the Discovery program may be a “bit of a stretch.”

Eaten Alive may be fascinating entertainment, though I have no immediate plans to find out. And I can assure you that my wife won’t be watching. It might bring back memories of her frightening snake experience.

It happened eons ago when I was a graduate student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. We were living in married student housing at the time, and our children frequently played in the yard area with other kids. One day while our son, then kindergarten or first-grade age, was playing with some other boys, one of whom found a dead snake in the parking lot. Harvey was the youngest of the group and thus susceptible to being influenced. The boys hung the snake, about four feet long and 1-1/2 inches in diameter, over a stick and encouraged Harvey to go show it to his mom. Super idea.

His mom was in our second-floor apartment busily typing a thesis or dissertation. Typing these and term papers was a way she earned money to help us feed three kids and pay the bills. Working at the table, her back was to the door.

Harvey entered with the snake on a stick and held it out about two feet from his mom. She was not aware he had entered the room until she heard, “Hey, Mom, look what I have.” She turned to look, emitted a scream, and came flying out of the chair.

That won’t make a Discovery Channel show, but if we had a video of it, I would watch that.

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For What It’s Worth

Wedding a highflying affair

Dottie Coven and Keith Stewart’s wedding Sunday was such a highflying affair that if you had been there and wanted to leave, you couldn’t—unless you had a parachute.

Weddings occur in a variety of locations. The justice of the peace office. In a church auditorium or chapel. Outdoors, perhaps in a meadow or gazebo. But their wedding took place at a much higher level than any of these locations. It occurred in an airplane. A Southwest Airlines jet. Thousands of feet in the air between Nashville and Dallas.

As the CNN news story suggested, love was in the air for this couple’s exchange of vows, and love was on the ground when they came back down to earth at Love Field in Dallas. It was truly a highflying affair.

Two things were sure at this wedding. No one walked in late, nor did anyone walk out early. Oh, and no guests got high on spiked punch; they were already high, as in several thousand feet high.

I don’t suppose there were any tin cans tied onto the end of the fuselage of the plane so that onlookers or air traffic controllers would be aware that a wedding party was landing. That might have been a bit of a distraction for the pilot.

Reading the story brought back memories or flashbacks—or whatever you call them—of my own wedding, though at my age it’s hard to convince some folks I can remember anything that happened that long ago. Actually, 57 years doesn’t seem that long ago to me. Despite having not been married in an airplane, the years since have flown by.

Probably the only one up in the air about our wedding was my mother-in-law, who had some reservations about her 18-year-old daughter being too young to marry—especially to a wet-behind-the-ears 18-year-old guy just two years removed from riding his bicycle to come court her daughter. Clearly, he was not someone with a backlog of frequent flyer miles.

It was an easy access and egress wedding, though we had no walk-ins or early departures. No flight attendants (back then they would have been stewardesses), but, of course, my wife did have attendants. They were not in uniforms like stewardesses used to wear, but they were uniformly dressed since they had matching dresses. Plus, they were almost uniformly family, since my three sisters were attendants and Carol’s sister was the bridesmaid.

My mother, who tended to be a nervous type at times, may have been a bit up in the air about the occasion, but not my dad. He was in the pilot’s seat, so to speak, since he was the minister officiating the ceremony.

The wedding did not take place in a plane; rather, it was a plain wedding in a church on a Friday night. Carol and I didn’t even file a flight plan; we just headed down the runway of life and, I suppose, have been on auto pilot ever since.

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