Banks County Opinions...

August 8, 2001

By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
August 8, 2001

Talking animals
Recently, while waiting for the teams to come in from a golf tournament I was shooting, a friend and I were watching TV. A commercial came on for that talking bass. We mused for a few minutes on how great it would be if animals could talk. They could tell us if they were sick. We could have conversations and get their take on things. They could let us know who had come to the house while we were gone. The cats would tell us about their adventurous day. Wouldn't it be fun?
But, whoa! Wait a minute! Both of us had the same thought at the same time. He said, "That's all I need - someone else fussing at me."
I have four dogs and three cats. Living out in the "sticks" on a dead-end road, I frequently encounter animals that other people have cast off. I take them in, get them healthy and then try to find homes for them. Sometimes, they end up with me.
Rosie is the oldest, has diabetes, has to be on a special diet and receives two insulin shots each day. Peaches is fat enough for two dogs her size, has skin allergies and has to have allergy pills every day. Sweet Pea has genetic mange (non-contagious) that, fortunately, is being held in check with daily medication and a special diet. Jax, luckily, is in fine shape; he lives in hyper-drive.
Two of my cats, Tom (16 years old and still acts like a kitten) and Lyla, the ultimate froufrou cat, are very healthy, but so picky. Siam, however, has this weight problem. Which probably is because her idea of a fun day revolves around lying in the sun and doing nothing. She specializes in that - doing nothing.
It's a big family to care for. And thinking about seven voices added to my quiet home life made me think how lucky I am that animals don't talk.
I imagined the cats - those lovable, obstinate fluff balls. Lyla: "I'm not using the box until you get HER stuff out of it!" Tom: "I want out. I HAVE to go out NOW. Don't expect ME to use that box where the girls do their thing." Siam, after coming in from outdoors: "Hey, why don't you clean this thing more often. I went three times this morning, and its still in here. Look, I gottta go, bad!"
Lyla, as she sticks her nose up and pouts: "What's wrong with you? You're giving me this cat food again. I don't like it, remember? You're getting senile! I am not going to eat THAT!"
Siam, coyly: "Why don't you get rid of those other cats and just live with MEEEEEEE?"
Then at bath time, as Lyla defiantly spreads her four legs to latch onto the sink rim, "I am not going to take that bath! Don't you dare put me in the sink! Eeeeeee, you're trying to drown me! I'll report you to the ASPCA."
Jax: "Get away from me with that leash. I don't want a bath. It took a long time for me to find that dead skunk! I like the way I smell! Don't you?"
Tom, head held high carrying the latest booty: "Whatdya mean I can't take this dead mouse in the house. No, I'm NOT going to drop it! It's mine. Well, they only smell bad to you. To me, they smell like victory!"
Lyla: "Don't expect me to lie on the bed with HER. Get rid of her." Siam: "Ha, just try to get me to move. I was here first."
Sweet Pea, (85-pounds): "How come the cats get special treatment! You don't let ME in your lap! It's not fair! See? I can fit here, too."
At dinnertime, with big brown eyes looking at me mournfully, pleadingly, Rosie: "Oh, please, puhleease, let me have just a bite of your food. It looks so good. So different from the tasteless diet you feed me. I don't care if it makes me sick. I want some real food!"
And she'd say: "Don't come near me with that needle! I'm gonna make you look bad in front of your company. I'm gonna howl as soon as you hit me with it."
Peaches: "Whatdya mean I have to go on a diet! I'm not fat. I'm just big-boned. I want more, more, more! Just a bite, just a little bite."
Sweet Pea: "You know I won't eat my dinner unless you put some cat food in my bowl. Hey, it's gotta be room temperature! And don't stir it all together either!"
Jax: "Play with me! Run with me. Look how high I can jump! Play! Play! Oh, are these your shoes? I didn't know. They were on the floor. Rule is anything on the floor is mine. What? Well, ya gave me one pair to chew up. I just figuredWell, they're not that bad. Just a couple of tooth marks here and there, like ventilation for hot feet. I did ya a favor. What are ya doin' with that rolled up newspaper?"
I think I'm pretty content having the critters speechless, in the human sense. Their little whines, whimpers, yelps, woofs, expression-filled eyes, and happy smiles provide a more enjoyable, and quiet, method of communication.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

By Todd Simons
The Banks County News
August 8, 2001

Eight, eight, eighty-eight
August 8, 1988, was a day that baseball took a giant step. The way we perceived the game changed. That day was one of those days when innocence was lost.. Looking back it is hard to believe that day occurred so recently.
Eight, eight, eighty-eight was the first night game in Wrigley field. I'm not sitting in front of mounds of old newspapers or any other research but I believe they played the Mets that night.
I was just about to begin my junior year of high school and I was a baseball fanatic. I was a Braves fan, as much as one can root for a perpetually losing squad but I had to choose another team to cheer for because I wanted to go national and the Cubs were that team.
Like the Red Sox, they represent the history of baseball. The Cubs are the past. They help us see baseball as a Tinkers to Evers to Chance and as Dunston to Sandburg to Grace.
But looking back, the game wasn't as flashy as it is now. The Marlins didn't wear aqua uniforms; there was only spring baseball in Florida and Arizona.
The computer age hadn't really kicked in. Schools were beginning to buy them but few people had them in their homes and we didn't know what the internet was.
Salaries then were absurd but not so absurd. Kirby Puckett made three million dollars and people laughed that the numbers had grown so big. In the eighties we went from Nolan Ryan making one million dollars to Puckett making three million. Someone probably made more, but in the nineties we have gone from $5 million to $25 million.
ESPN now has four networks: regular ESPN, ESPN 2, deportes and classic.
In 1988 my television picked up six channels; the three networks, PBS, 36 (now Fox) and the beloved TBS.
Baseball tonight had started by then. The over analysis that takes up pages on the internet wasn't fathomable, though.
We sat back and thought, "how are they going to fill an hour talking about baseball." But I did that every day, and I was no trained professional.
Eight, eight, eighty-eight started in the sun and finished early in the rain.
Fitting. We like to personify nature, imagining the rain as its attempt to stop the monstrosities we set in motion.
Baseball under the lights, all the time. Go figure.
The Reds were the first team to play under lights and were the first of the modern Major League franchises. I think the first night game was 1933, I could be off, but even that is 50 years after they first hired a few players and began traveling around trying to earn money by showing off their baseball skills. No one had been able to make money off a group of men playing a game. Pretty much before baseball the money made off sports came from gambling or the sport was just an exhibition.
Sport, like art or literature, reflects our times. Lights came to baseball as the computer was tying us closer and closer together. Life was being made more livable or at least more convenient. The cold war was ending and a decade of American prosperity never witnessed before was about to roll off a computer chip.
In 1987 the stock market crashed. It was about to boom.
Eight, eight, eighty-eight.
The first homer hit in a night game at Wrigley Field was hit by "The Hawk" Andre Dawson who wore number eight on the back of his blue pin-striped jersey. As he rounded the bases one Cubs fan clutched the ball and celebrated by lifting it up into the rain and another Cubs fan poured a beer on the Mets outfielder who had given chase.
The game wasn't much different than the way they played it during the day, but they stipulated that there would be only 19 night games the first year and then they would gradually increase it.
I don't know how many night games the Cubs played this year, it wouldn't be hard to find out, but I'm sure that not all their 81 home games are at night because every now and then I can be sitting at home on a weekday afternoon and find the Cubs still playing day baseball and not just on Sunday.
But people don't flash pictures now when the lights come on. They probably won't take pictures of electric lights again. It is all just too blase'.
Todd C. Simons is a reporter for The Commerce News.

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