Tuesday, July 26, 2016

7 Inspirational Quotes for the Week

And for women everywhere...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

UT Austin, August 1, 1966

Munich, Dallas, Orlando, Phoenix, Virginia Tech, Columbine...Austin.

I didn't have space to list all the mass shootings on record, but the one I remember most happened  50 years ago next week, long before mass shootings crowded our headlines, before flags seemed to be permanently at half-staff.

It was an ordinary August day.  My two children, one in preschool, the other about to start first grade, were up early, ready to play.  I don't remember exactly what we did that morning, but I vividly remember that the afternoon began with a phone call from a friend I'd gone to college with at the University of Texas.  "Turn on your radio," she said.  "There's a guy shooting people from the Tower."

For a moment I was confused.  "What tower?" I asked.

"The UT Tower.  He's up at the top with a rifle, killing people."

Shocked, I turned on my radio.  This was long before the 24-hour news cycle.  Listening, I suddenly got a cold chill.  My sister was in Austin visiting our parents, and I remembered she and Mother and a friend were planning to go out to lunch.  Where?  I called home.  The housekeeper answered the phone.  "I think they went to the Night Hawk," she said, "the one on the Drag."

The Drag.  Guadalupe street, across from the UT campus.  In sight of the Tower.  "Tell them to call me as soon as they get home," I said.  (There were, of course, no cell phones in 1966.)  Then I went on listening to reports of students lying dead on the mall in front of the Tower, people hiding behind bushes,  running for cover screaming, and finally news that the sniper had been killed.

By the time I got the call from my sister that they hadn't gone to the Drag--they'd changed their luncheon plans--I'd learned that the shooter was a student named Charles Whitman, a former serviceman, a "nice guy" according to people who knew him.  Aren't they all "nice guys" until they go berserk and murder innocent people?  Yes, he was easily angered but otherwise pretty ordinary.  Except the night before his rampage on campus, he'd killed his wife and his mother.  An autopsy revealed he had a brain tumor.

All week I've heard radio clips, read articles about the 50-year-ago massacre, and last night I dreamed I was there, on the Texas campus, hiding in an office with a crowd of other people, keeping the door blockaded, watching from the window as people died before our eyes.  The dream, unlike most, didn't fade away.  It's been on my mind all day.

Charles Whitman's name has gone down in University of Texas history.  Now there are so many names, we hardly remember them. So many useless deaths.  When will the violence stop?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Quote for the Week

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Books of June

You May Also Like:  Taste in an Age of Endless Choice.  An interesting book about how we make choices about food, music, art, beer and other things. Many facts and bits of trivia.  Sometimes confusing, but overall, a book that helps you understand how people think.

A man accidentally kills his neighbor's son while he is hunting.  In an act of contrition he gives up his own son to his neighbor.  What happens after is a long, rambling tale that would have read better if a third of it had been cut.  Do we really need to read about every point in a volley ball game>  It gets moving toward the end, but getting there is somewhat of a chore.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016

More Fun Facts I Bet You Didn't Know

1. There are more words that indicate disliking  than words that indicate liking.

2. People will make higher offers for a house with a pool if they're buying during the summer.

3. Oregon and New Jersey are the only states that do not allow customers to pump their own gas.

4.  At least two of our middle ear bones evolved from reptiles' lower jaw bones.  They were part of the chewing mechanism.

5. All Neanderthals that have been discovered were right-handed.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Five Fun Facts I Bet You Didn't Know

You use more muscles when you eat food you don't like than when you eat food you like.

The left side of the face is more expressive than the right and therefore, has more and deeper wrinkles.

Readers prefer fonts that are easy to read but they remember information written in fonts that are harder to read.  (Maybe they have to pay more attention.)

The most popular baby girls' names in the early 20th century were Virgie and Mittie.  Ever met anyone with those names? The most popular baby girl's name in 2016 is Emma.  The most popular baby boys' names in the mid-1970's were names that ended in the letter N.  The most popular baby boy's name in 2016 is Liam.

Thomas Kinkade is the only artist who has a Lazy Boy recliner that bears his name.

All the above facts can be found in the book You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice by Tom Vanderbilt


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