GUEST POST by Kevin Hamilton – Why we are here, what we do

This week, I felt it was important to run a guest post by my co-worker at the Iowa Park Leader, a weekly newspaper. I have a passion for free press as much as I have a passion for laughter.  However,  I feel as deeply about this topic as Kevin, but I leave to brilliantly echo my thoughts about it.

If you need a little comic relief, though, I wrote a little thing about being who you are.

by Kevin Hamilton, managing editor of the Iowa Park Leader

I, like many in Iowa Park, were extremely proud of the Hawk baseball team’s run through the Class 4A state playoffs.

These guys … a mixture of seniors, juniors and sophomores, fought through half a dozen elimination games and made it all the way to the region finals, where they finally lost to a stout and talented Godley Wildcat team, only one step from the big games in Austin.

As the Hawks moved through the playoffs, some best-of-three series (including against Bushland and Godley) started on a Wednesday, which presented a problem with our paper, since we go to press on Wednesdays with a Thursday publication date.

We had never … up at that point … really utilized our presence on Facebook, but this became a vehicle where we could inform our readers in a timely fashion, and keep them up to date on how each series was progressing.

So we posted game schedules, results, and a picture here and there.

The response was fantastic, for the most part. We had more likes and shares than at any other time in making Facebook posts.

But we also had one or two posts that were meant to spank us for missing out on other things happening that are important in the community.

“I’m so over the media bias. Don’t think that it only happens in the mainstream media. Nope! Happens right here in small-town USA where sports rule all,” wrote a person in one post. Another added a comment to that post “You have to remember that boys sports are going to be mainstream. If you excel in UIL for anything musical or knowledge (ie. Number sense or narrative reading) you may get a tiny blurb. It really shows when the girls volleyball or even girls in general are on the last or second to last page where the football get a whole 2 pages (toward the middle) but it’s still major attention.”

The first person posting was referring to the fact nine IPHS students made it to the state contest in Solo/Ensemble competition in band and choir.

And the person making the post was not happy that we weren’t making as big a deal on their endeavors as we were making for the Hawk baseball team.

With all that, I want to make a few observations.

1) The Leader has never up to this point promoted anything on Facebook, because that is something new to us … and with the Hawks and the timing of their playoff schedule, we felt it was a good time to “experiment” with postings that would not only inform the public, but point them eventually to our business, which is a community newspaper.

2) We (the Leader) has always promoted the academic/musical/choral/robotics progress at Iowa Park High School. Even this year, we ran stories and pictures of students advancing through the regional/area rounds all the way to state. We’ve reported academic excellence through regular honor rolls and competitions (SkillsUSA, FFA CDE and LDE competitions) and the annual awards assemblies, which included not only honors, but scholarships each individual senior obtained. No one on the planet Earth has reported more on the tradition of the Hawk Band. Trust me.

3) When I came back to Iowa Park and the Leader more than a dozen years ago, there was traditionally a two-page spread each week for Hawk Football … and I added a two-page spread each week for Lady Hawk volleyball to give girls athletics equal exposure.

And trust me on this … if advertisers were game, we would have continued those spreads throughout the school year for all the other sports, for boys and girls.

The Iowa Park Leader has reported and continues to report this community best we can. Of course we will fall short of that in the eyes of some, but that is the nature of the beast.

Moving forward we will look for ways to utilize social media where we can A) better inform our readers of timely and important events, and B) hope you continue to support our efforts by subscribing to the paper, or buying the issues at the news stands.

That is the only way this paper will be able to survive. We hope you continue to make it possible.

On a final note, if you see we are missing out on covering something newsworthy in the community, you can reach me at 592-4431, or email me at khamilton@iowaparkleader.com.

It is why I am here.

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What I’m Built For

Much to the chagrin of my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Anna Beth Dawson, my mother and my husband, I am not a girly-girl.

Mrs. Dawson was concerned for me my entire year before junior high because I thought the school uniform was jeans and a clean shirt, when in fact we had no uniform at all.

Also it was the year peanut track shoes were all the rage and they could be bought at the Famous Department Store in Iowa Park for a really good price. I lived in those shoes as well and Mrs. Dawson was horrified at the lack of arch support and other nefarious shortcomings the peanut track shoe offered.

Behold, the peanut track shoe

She even once used part of a class period to illustrate just how crappy the shoes were by picking out one of the 20 kids in her class who was wearing them to model while she extolled the virtues of real shoes.

Still, we persisted.

My own mother, who I suspect is Barbie reincarnated, just looks at me most of the time and slowly shakes her head, particularly on my curly hair days.

My husband, though, won’t give up. He continues to encourage my use of a fork with tacos, as well as an occasional go at nail polish.

None of them, I can report, has been able to change my ways.

I still live in jeans and usually-clean shirts. When I wear a dress, people offer me condolensces for my loss.

I traded my peanut track shoes for Rocket Dogs with user-inserted arch support (thank you for the lesson, Mrs. Dawson. I was listening). My hair is curly roughly 67% of the time now, and I don’t wear makeup to the grocery store.  I eat tacos like an eagle eats a fish, with both hands.

And I occasionally give painting my nails a shot. But when I do, I mess it up because I have a odd habit of occasionally sitting on my hands.  And I only remember that I have that rare habit right after I paint my nails and then sit on my hands.

I wasn’t built for all that.

I was built for laughing at things only a bunch of women who are alone together and uncensored would understand.

I was built for writing things because I am tired of thinking about them.

And, I was built for giving myself permission to not be a Barbie doll, or even her less attractive cousin, Madge.

And all of those people still love me, even Mrs. Dawson. Remember that.

People do love who you really are. If that’s not good enough, it’s not love.

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Shake your groove thing even if you can’t sing

I have always had a fondness for music. An extra fondness, actually, with lots of extra-ness.

As is my particular case with, say, Haka dancing, just because I love it doesn’t mean I’m good at it.

I can remember having a full-blown crush on Donny Osmond and his voice when I was only six years old. I got the Donnie Osmond Album for Christmas that year and it was the highlight of my young life.  I still have that album, and know every song on it. I  even took it to show and tell in the first grade, it was that prized a possession.

Music continued to play a major role in my private life as my mother continued to feed my love for music. She bought me a Liza Minnelli album for Christmas a couple years later, and again, I know every song on that album.

I can sing “Lollipops, Lace and Lipstick” with as much feeling as “Cabaret.”

My problem is that while I can sing, I cannot do it well.

I didn’t know this about myself until the sixth grade when I was the only person who tried out for seventh grade choir who didn’t make the cut.

Seriously, my mother and entire family had failed to mention that to me. I’m only recently figuring out how good they are at completely blocking me out.

At any rate, my early failure at choir couldn’t deter the fire in my soul for music.

So, I dance. I dance standing up, sitting down –  just about anyway it is possible to dance, I dance. I still sing, but only in my car.

Which brings me to the subject at hand – car dancing.

I have playlists that come with their own dance sequence, and I sing those babies with all the feelings, and the dance moves.

I am my best audience. The people in the cars next to me are my second best audience. There is usually a lot of laughter which perfectly dovetails with what I actually do, so I cannot lose and here we are.

A good friend of mine and occasional ever-so-respectful politial sparring partner, Mike Hicks,  posted an epic video on my Facebook timeline this week. It made my day and I can’t stop watching it.

It was a husband and a wife stuck in a traffic jam on a major highway, so the wife begins singing songs with the radio, complete with all the sass, dance moves and attitude; while her husband videotaped it.

Watching the video was almost like looking into my own rearview mirror as I go to work every single day.

Except… except … this woman completely upped the game and she is my new hero.

Since traffic was at a complete standstill, what appeared to be her favorite song came on – Meghan Trainor’s Me too –  and she began the concert in the car and eventually got out of the car because she could not contain her greatness.

I salute her.

The whole thing made me realize that in the greater Iowa Park/Wichita Falls area, opportunities for traffic jams of that magnitude are rarities, given that people in Iowa Park (myself included) get bent out of shape if six cars are in line at the four-way stop. I’ve heard people say, “who opened the gates?” during these type traffic jams in Iowa Park. Still, that’s not near enough time for Dance Party USA outside my car, especially not in an open-carry state.

I’ve gotten elderly couples involved in a special Bruno Mars moment at a stoplight on Southwest Parkway; jammed for a cop and found out there’s apparently nothing in the penal code which makes it illegal to drive and shake your groove thing at the same time; and I’ve been scoffed at by fun vacuums posing as humans; I have most especially thrilled my children into morbid shock by my car choreography as I dropped them off at the junior high.

Pro parenting tip: Car dancing is an excellent threat and therefore, bargaining chip. Trust me.

But I have never had the privilege of giving a full American Bandstand Performance  of George Michael’s Faith on the middle stripes of I-40 during standstill traffic.

I kind of want that in my life, that complete to just let it hang out.

I have friends who sing into beer bottles, own karaoke machines, or actually have beautiful voices and can actually break into song without bringing shame onto their family.

My method of madness is the car. It’s my safe space with superior acoustics. Seriously, the sixth grade choir teacher’s professional opinion aside, my voice is freaking amazing in the car.

And so are my moves.

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Seven Suggestions for you Graduating Seniors

Oh, Iowa Park High School Class of 2018, I hardly knew you.

But I feel like I do now.

Of course,  I knew your names through stories in the Leader but it’s been longer than a decade since I’ve had a child in school and I know fewer and fewer of you guys every year.

Then last week happened, as it does every year. I looked at your senior pictures daily for almost a week, resizing them and placing them above the right (please God) names in our annual graduation issue. I feel like I know all of you – I even know your middle names.

I’ve worked with many of your parents over the past two weeks, taking carefully chosen baby and senior pictures and beautiful words for their grown babies for this issue. There’s a lot of love out there for you, Class of 2018. This I know.

I graduated IPHS in 1983, 35 years ago. In fact, from where you sit I may be knocking on wisdom’s door or at the very least, have her address.

I have made mistakes in my life – a lot of them. Lucky for me, those mistakes have been my greatest teacher. So, in no particular order I ask you to consider my humble advice as you end this particular chapter in your life and begin, as many call it, adulting.

• Think for yourself. At least if you’re wrong, you’ve learned something.

• Own your mistakes. It’s nice if everyone else does, too, but that’s not up to you. If you will own and admit your mistakes, you’ll be trusted.

• Forgive, both yourself and others. This is much easier to do when you are willing to own your own mistakes.

• I hope you never lose your ability to put yourself in others’ shoes, and that empathy is one of the first things you pull out of your toolbox.

• I hope you laugh, often and loud, with old and new friends.

• Speaking of friends, don’t isolate yourself. Friends are amazing and necessary

• If you move away from these parts (Texas), as many of you will, eat a lot of Tex-Mex and What-A-Burger before you go. If you move very far it’s impossible to get decent Tex-Mex or any What-A-Burgers, or so I hear. So, eat it. now. You will miss it.

Lastly,  friend of mine from high school posted a meme on Facebook this week that made me think of you. It was a picture of a bunch of joyous graduates, with the caption,  “Congratulations on getting through the easiest part of your life.”

Adulting – the newest verb – is hard. But it’s worth it. I have no doubt you will do it well.

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Google Maps and the Road Less Traveled

My Mom and I took a road trip to Robber’s Cave in Oklahoma over the weekend for Mother’s Day.

Robber’s Cave State Park and everything around it was beautiful, and I would highly recommend checking it out. And we had a wonderful time, even if there was a tarantula on the front door of our cabin one night. I named her Carol Ann because she was crawling toward the light.

But what I want to discuss is the road situation in Oklahoma and wonder aloud what Google Maps was thinking when it – probably due to a glitch in a part that was developed by men who refused to ask for directions – gave us an adventure of a lifetime.

Seriously, Google Maps?

On the way there, the only detour we had was in McAlester when a road was blocked – presumably because it was washed out in recent rains, because based on the remainder of my experience on rural Oklahoma roads, it was definitely not road construction or routine maintenance.

This took us on a mini-adventure south on back roads that would make Deliverance weep with envy. We were back on a real highway before we drove through a blast zone, which may be one of the highlights of my adult driving life. Obviously, we survived.

 

The way home, though, was second only to my first driving experience in Atlanta. The difference in the two was in Atlanta I felt as though I had been shot out of a cannon strapped into an unfamiliar rental car; the Oklahoma experience involved less fear, more laughter and the faint sound of banjos playing.

For some reason, Google Maps took us back out of the state park through the blast zone and then into the twilight zone.

Google Maps instructed us to take a highway (it would be unfair to the locals to mention it, really)  that was long and weird and fun. The first thing we noted was that there was no shoulder, only four-inch drop offs of chunky asphalt. And pot holes, lots of them. Faint remnants of road patches  from days gone by could be seen sporadically.

In this one  little town, Google Maps told me to turn left onto the same highway we had been on. I thought this was odd, but I complied.

The route had us turn in to a convenience store parking lot, which then turned into the highway again. I swear.

That’s when things got weird.

Although there were no shoulders, there were definitely lines in the middle of the road. Lots of them everywhere. In fact, it looked like the road crew drank their lunch, grabbed brushes and paint buckets and started walking down the road.

In fact, for miles in front of us all you could see were wavy bright yellow lines intersecting with off-center lines. It was like an asphalt fun house, daring you to go off the shoulder and ruin your tires. It was intense. And it was hilarious.

My guess is that the county commissioner owns a tire shop and stock in Keystone Light. Mom thinks they contracted it out and paid for it in beer.

At some point we managed to find food, and finally into another county where the dizziness wore off.

And there were creeks. So. Many. Creeks. I suspect the proper pronunciation is crick. Either way, Oklahomans name creeks with a weird gusto. My two personal favorites were Clear Boggy Creek and Muddy Boggy Creek.

Then there was more laughter and pointing out the beauty and weirdness that, in turns, surrounded us.

We drove through beautiful communities; towns I didn’t even know existed; over Lake Texoma; and somehow crossed back into Texas and out of Twilight north of Nocona. Things were unweird again.

Weird is not always bad.

Sometimes the road less travelled really is more fun.

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In the Fold

I didn’t even know the world had burned down over the weekend until Monday morning.

I didn’t know because I didn’t look at Twitter most of the weekend; and I didn’t look at Twitter because I was busy fondling my clothing.

You read that right.

For clarification, the world burns down every weekend according to Twitter, I just chose not to watch this time.

As far as the clothes fondling, it’s not near as nefarious as it sounds and a good bit less interesting than coming up with the perfect 140 characters to address the recurring issue of burning down of the world.

But, to be more useful in this life, I spent the weekend cleaning out my closet.

No, my closet is not that big. It’s that messy, or I should say, it was. And if I know me – and I do – it will be again.

This past weekend is what I call my semi-annual pilgrimage to my personal Wizard of Oz, a glimpse of the Mecca of an organized life.

Midway through the pilgrimmage, I had the bright idea that I could probably fold my t-shirts and stretch pants (home team uniform) in a neater manner than my patented cram-them-in-there-and sort-it-out-later method.

 

My previous method, defined

I turned to YouTube for advice on this uncomfortable thought.

YouTube is where people like me go to find out about such foreign  concepts and it took me to Japan where I met a woman named Marie Kondo who according to YouTube, revolutionized clothes folding.

Thereafter, I spent two and a half hours, “smoothing the fabric, communicating my affection and gratitude to my clothes (this is very important according to the video),  fondling my shirts and generally feeling creepy.

My t-shirts were felt, thanked and folded with a love that can apparently only be found in Japan. I like to think I will continue this method, but history tells me this is the only love my folded shirts will feel all season. I hope they enjoyed it, a lot.

In fact, I have a date with my favorite vintage Nike t-shirt (c. 1980)  this weekend because we talked and decided to try again.

I saved the shirt folding for last, because having known myself my entire life, I knew I would need a good, stiff drink after all that human-fabric emotional entanglement. Also, Adele was heavy on the playlist that got me through it, so I toasted her as I leaned back against the shelf of properly-thanked and folded shirts.

Then, I tweeted a picture of how I cleaned up my world.

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Adventures in Babysitting

I babysat my grandboy last week so his parents could have their first-ever nights away from him since he was born.

I was ready for this event…I’ve been working out, doing yoga, walking, sleeping less, scaring the crap out of myself, testing my reflexes … I wasn’t even close to ready. Following is my three day diary:

Day one:

The kids left today for a much-needed three-day anniversary getaway. They look so young, so excited, so trusting and confident as they leave me in charge of their almost three-year-old.

Suckers.

I feel good, and like a high class au pair since they flew me to their home in South Carolina for the maiden voyage of the SS Operation Eli. I’m a little nervous because they’ve never left him overnight – like, ever – and I will be the one to find out tomorrow how that’s going to work out for him.

Still, I’m confident as I remind myself I successfully survived raising two of my own (or more accurately they survived it), so how hard can it be?

With the naivete’ only an excited grandmother can feel, I waited for them to leave then sprang into action. I am officially Super Ya Ya.

I’ve got this.

Yeah, no I don’t. Not really.

First, he balanced on an exercise ball while standing up, followed by a soccer ball. He lacks the fear gene, and was working his way down to standing on an oiled-up marble. I’m beginning to  suspect he has DNA from the Walinda line, specifically the flying branch of the family. I found out he has a sense of humor because he laughs when I’m scared. Every time, and he laughed a lot.

By evening, he had graduated from balls to his car turned on it’s side, because … no fear gene.

The kid has no respect for gravity – he will climb on anything, and also jump on or off of it, depending on his mood and my proximity.

He is smarter than I am, except for when it comes to the child safety locks – thank God and so far.

Still, I sense I have met my cardio goal for 2018 and I’m only 8 hours into a 48-hour gig. Somehow, I don’t remember feeling this way 30 years ago.

Tonight, I sent many photos from the day’s adventures and a rosy picture of my unending stamina. Secretly, I am terrified that when he doesn’t see his Momma and Daddy in the morning, all this will change.

Day Two:

I wake up to a precious boy smiling at me next to my bed, which is the best thing in the world even if it is 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning. My understanding is that this is what it looks like when he “sleeps in”, so I am sleepily grateful and attach my coffee IV.

(Note to everyone who knows me: it was 4 a.m. in Texas, where we all know I don’t think that  anything before 7 a.m. actually exists).

Most of the day was a blur of true adventure – Cheerios, walks around the lake, him riding me like a horse when I was on my hands and knees searching for puzzle pieces and a game he made up called “I have the remote and you are old and slow.”

Pro-tip: I hid everything that was round and taller than four inches off the ground.

We had drive-in movie time in the living room, trampoline time on anything with bounce –including my stomach – and an impromtu trip to the CVS store around the corner due to a broken phone charger.

CVS was the game-changer.

CVS is where any pride or illusion of competence I had was unceremoniously stripped away.

I remember thinking “how hard can this be?”  as I strapped him into the carseat.

Eli answered that question with a solid, “hide and watch.”

Surveillance videos will show that as I entered the store, I located the phone chargers and naively put Eli down and held his hand as I searched for the right charging cord.

They will also show that he dropped like perfectly-cooked pasta, wrenched his hand loose from mine and ran for the door. And by ran, I mean sprinted; and by door, I mean automatic death trap.

I haven’t run on purpose in about 35 years, but this day I was Flo Jo. I caught him as he caught his first breath of outside air. Any illusion I had that I was a glamorous or classy woman evaporated that today.

If you don’t believe me you can ask the 50 shoppers who were there although they never made eye contact or assisted.

As an added bonus, I had on no makeup; my kinky hair was thrown up in a bun with a groovy head band to keep me from looking like I had been electrocuted.  Also, I was wearing stretch pants, a t-shirt and tennis shoes and I was sweating two minutes into the visit.

Not willing to give up, I gathered him up and made my purchase with the ease of a blind person trying to play Whack-A-Mole.

I got Eli buckled into his car seat, and by then it was like strapping in an octopus. I started the car and checked the charger in my phone. It didn’t fit. There were real tears, and they weren’t Eli’s.

I repeated the scene, only this time we got a cart. I went through the motions of getting a refund, then purchasing one that would actually fit my phone. After I paid and freedom was near, I looked in the cart and my precious boy had loaded the cart with juicy fruit and he was really proud. By now I’m looking homeless and defeated and the cashier looked genuinely amused.

I’ve been around the block enough times to know the boy now smells blood in the water.

Dinner tonight was a battle of him trying to tell me he always gets to eat spaghetti in front of the TV, and me not believing him.

He passed out from all of the excitement shortly after that and I realize I have only 12 or so more hours of being on high alert.

I can’t feel my legs.

Day 3:

I wake up yet again at 5 a.m. to a smiling boy. We have survived, and we celebrate with Cheerios for him and coffee for me. Also, Mickey Mouse Club House and the Hot Dog Song was thrown in for good measure.

All is well….

By the time a very rested Mom and Dad got home at 11 a.m., Eli and I have already had what I used to call a full day.

He is happy. He survived. I survived. His parents are happy.

I’ve got this.

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Happy birthday, Momma

Family.

If you are lucky enough to have one, love them hard.

If you don’t love them hard, try to find a way to just love them anyway because they are precious.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this lately as my siblings and I had the honor of working on putting together a party to celebrate our mother.

My sweet mother will celebrate her 80th birthday Friday, but because we are nothing if not efficient as a family unit, we celebrated it last Saturday when all five of her K’s could be with her.

It’s a rare event when we are all in the same geographical location these days, with two of my sisters, Kellie and Kim, living out of state. The other three K’s, myself, Kay and Kevin, live here and have unfettered access to Mom.

Even though all of us are over 50 years old and have our own grandchildren, the fact that we all get excited to be together is testimony to the woman who was responsible for bringing us into this world.

Mom and her 5 K’s

After a month or so of planning, and group messaging such classic messages as, “We are better than this, people!” And “if you don’t answer this message I will shiv you.”, all of us, along with all of my mother’s grandchildren who could be in town and several members of our vast extended family, celebrated.

We ate, we laughed, we remembered. And, we celebrated the woman who brought our lovingly dysfunctional crew together.

We love each other hard.

This beautiful and classy woman – my Mom – is known to most of you as Dolores Hamilton, the publisher of the Iowa Park Leader. If you see her Friday, let her know the impact she’s had on your life by the simple fact she was born. I hope that was something her children and grandchildren were able to convey to her as we celebrated with her.

We Hamiltons are lucky people, and we know it. We value family and the beautiful creature who is the head of ours.

Happy birthday, Momma. I love you and your legacy.

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Pop A Top, again

I’m very excited because, according to the deep research (i.e. one Wikipedia article, a fabulous article in Western Digs, listening to iTunes, and a stroll down memory lane) I conducted this week, Gordon Lake in Iowa Park, Texas, has a shot at being eligible for protection under state and federal laws.

Why? Beer tabs.

Specifically pull rings from beer cans that were manufactured between 1965 and 1975.

This exciting news began with lunch at the lake, as it sometimes does.

About once a week I spend my lunch hour at Gordon Lake. Some days I eat in my car – a pimento cheese sandwich from K&K Foods or egg rolls from Scobee’s – whatever covers my food groups. Sometimes I walk along the shore.

Last week, I made my way down to the shore and found, in rapid succession, two aluminum pull tabs on the dry shoreline, but where water certainly used to be. To say I was excited was an understatement.

I envisioned a couple of old fishermen sitting on the shore in the 60’s, smelling of stink bait and exchanging fish tales with raucous laughter and a couple of cold ones.

So these things are possibly 50 years old, and they’ve been hanging out lakeside just waiting to be found.

Still covered in dirt, I took these pictures of the aluminum ring pulls next to the closest thing I could find, for scale.  Here ya’ go. 

They stopped making ring pulls in the mid-seventies because of two things: 1) Litter, and,  2) People who put them back in the can before they drank were choking on them. The pop-top industry evolved to something we recognize today.

They were highly popularized in 1967 by the Jim Ed Brown hit “Pop a Top”, followed by the lesser known but equally emotional song, “I almost cut off my middle finger opening Daddy’s beer”, written by me in 1974.

The article I read in Western Digs said those beer pull tabs are now considered historic-era artifacts, “a designation that bestows new significance on the old aluminum cans and their distinctive tabs that are still found across the country.”

“Once an artifact attains the 50-year threshold, it is eligible to be recorded as an archaeological site or an isolated find in most states,” said William Schroeder, an archaeologist with the firm Reiss-Landreau Research in Yakima, Washington.

“This means that even beverage-can pull tabs are eligible for protection under state and federal laws.”

I don’t know if I should read that and respond, “WOO-HOO!”, or check to see if I’ve broken the law by leaving the shore with those beer tabs.

There you have it. Alert the media. Iowa Park is possibly eligible for state and federal protection  because, beer tabs.

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Look at what no one is pointing to

Since we no longer have what a sane or sober person would consider a news cycle – I call them news cyclones and end up taking shelter – I have a feeling that we are missing some news that might actually make us better, both individually and as a community of humans.

So I spent the weekend searching for news that didn’t quite make the team, priority-wise, because well, you know.

I cruise Twitter for many nefarious reasons, but I will generally find a couple of good stories on there.

Tucked in between the fist-shaking political posts and comedians trying out their lines in 140 characters, I found a little love this weekend.

The very cool website The DoDo had a story about a movement to donate old comfy chairs to animal shelters.

SAY WHAT?

What a concept, and what a beautiful way to upcycle used furniture. Plus, the pictures wrapped themselves around my heart and made me want to gather up everyone’s old chairs and deliver them to every dog lying on a cold concrete floor.

I checked with the City of Iowa Park to see if this might be an option for the brand new animal reclaim center scheduled to open in the next month or so, and while it is a possibility the jury is still out on space and other logistics.

Stay tuned.

The next thing I found was a tweeted picture of a high school girl presumably trying on a prom dress. She had sent the front and back pictures of her in the dress to the wrong number for approval.

The recipient, apparently the mother of five children who looked about three to 11 years old, texted back a picture of all of her children giving a big thumbs up to the stranger.

Lastly, let’s talk about Alexa. Developed by Amazon as an electronic personal assistant in a little round box, in the past week this artificial intelligence independently managed to freak out the world.

I don’t own one, but I think she sits on your kitchen counter and takes dictation and commands and answers ridiculous and serious questions.

My understanding is she can do everything from timing a roast to giving you the weather, or even breaking up with a boyfriend via text message. It’s like a friend that doesn’t speak unless spoken to. Until she does.

Scores of people last week began to report that Alexa was laughing in a creepy manner without being prompted.

Again, SAY WHAT?

Since I don’t own one, I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have burned Alexa in a tank of napalm had she giggled for no apparent reason, but the odds are in my favor.

Your assignment for the week: Look up. Look behind that thing everyone is telling you to believe. Look at what nobody is pointing to. This stuff isn’t even at the bottom of the news cyclone, but many times it’s buried in the rubble.

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