Today, December 26, 2009, would have been my dear mother-in-law Joy's 77th birthday. Because Joy was born on December 26th, her birthday was always easy for me to remember.
Joy was an extraordinary woman. She led a very full and active life, raising two lovely daughters, the elder of which, I am proud to say, is my wife, Kim. She was a great teacher to her daughters especially when it came to being responsible for picking up after oneself and acceptance and tolerance of others.
Joy loved reading novels and she was a real "movie hound", a trait that Kim has carried forward. She was also a really big follower of good music and very much a fan of Frank Sinatra. She also carried this love of music into her own life by joining the Sweet Adelines, of which she was a member for years.
She and her husand Bob did a lot of traveling all over the country once Bob had retired and for a time she maintained two homes; one in Cumberland, Wisconsin, and a winter quarters in Oroville, California.
Joy was very rightly proud of her Italian heritage and what I remember her most for was her epicurean specialty of Christmas Eve, a wonderful Italian sauce made from scratch to which she added browned pork chops and whole Italian sausages. The wonderful aroma of this melange of foodstuffs always filled the entire house with a Christmas warmth.
Being Italian, Joy loved to rib me about my pride in being Irish. she could really dish it out! but always with a twinkle in her eye.
The other attribute of Joy's that took me some time to get used to was her directness in her honesty. I can remember an occasion when we were all attending a performance in down town Minneapolis and I was in one of my many bad moods.
Joy finally turned to Kim and said: "Why is Larry being such an asshole?"
Happy Birthday Joy. The Asshole is missing you today.
Darwin Awards ~~~~2009
And once again, it's time for the Darwin Award Nominees. "The Darwins" are awarded every year to the persons who died in the stupidest manner, thereby removing themselves from the gene pool.
Here is the official 2009 list. Notice the interesting spin for this year's first place award which comes to us - from of all places, Arkansas. How surprising is that?
This year's nominees are:
*Nominee No. 1: (San Jose Mercury News):** An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriend's windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.
*Nominee No. 2: (Kalamazoo Gazette):** James Burns, 34, (a mechanic) of Alamo, MI, was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police describe as a "farm-type truck." Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped around the drive shaft.
*Nominee No. 3: (Hickory Daily Record):** Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, NC. Awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.
*Nominee No. 4: (UPI,Toronto):** Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the buildings' windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously has conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports. Peter Lawson, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" (ed note: ????) members of the 200-man association.
*Nominee No. 5: (The News of the Weird):** Michael Anderson Godwin made News of the Weird posthumously. He had spent several years awaiting South Carolina's electric chair on a murder conviction before having his sentence reduced to life in prison. While sitting on a metal toilet in his cell attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted.
*Nominee No. 6*: A cigarette lighter may have triggered a fatal explosion in Dunkirk, IN. A Jay Countryman, using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a muzzle-loader, was killed Monday night when the weapon discharged in his face, sheriff's investigators said. Gregory David Pryor, 19, died in his parents' rural Dunkirk home at about 11:30 PM. Investigators said Pryor was cleaning a 54-caliber muzzle-loader that had not been firing properly. He was using the lighter to look into the barrel when the gunpowder ignited.
*Nominee No. 7: (Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario):** A man cleaning a bird feeder on the balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death. Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheelchair when the accident occurred, said Inspector Darcy Honer of the Peel Regional Police. "It appears that the chair moved, and he went over the balcony," Honer said.
*Finally, THE WINNER!!!: (Arkansas Democrat Gazette):** Two local men were injured when their pickup truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early Monday.. Woodruff County deputy Dovey Snyder reported the accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc, and Billy Ray Wallis,38, of Little Rock, were returning to Des Arc after a frog catching trip. On an overcast Sunday night, Poole's pickup truck headlights malfunctioned. The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older-model truck had burned out. As a replacement fuse was not available, Wallis noticed that the
.22 caliber bullets from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering- wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet the headlights again began to operate properly, and the two men proceeded on eastbound toward the White River Bridge. After traveling approximately 20 miles, and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged, and struck Poole in the testicles. The vehicle swerved sharply right, exiting the pavement, and striking a tree. Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident but will require extensive surgery to repair the damage to his testicles, which will never operate as intended. Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released. "Thank God we weren't on that bridge when Thurston shot his n**s off, or we might both be dead," stated Wallis. "I've been a trooper for 10 years in this part of the world, but this is a first for me. I can't believe that those two would admit how this accident happened," said Snyder. Upon being notified of the wreck, Lavinia (Poole's wife), asked how many frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck. Priorities, after all!!
Though Poole and Wallis did not die as a result of their misadventure as normally required by Darwin Award Official Rules, it can be argued that Poole did, in fact, effectively remove himself from the gene pool.