Wednesday, December 31, 2008



This evening is New Years eve. We wish you all a great 2009. If you are one of the millions that stay up and watch the Times Square ball drop to usher in the New Year, you will notice that the white crystal ball has been updated. (We celebrate the New Year arrival by sleeping! It has something to do with age.)

On November 11th, 2008, The co-organizers of New Year’s Eve in Times Square (Times Square Alliance, Countdown Entertainment) unveiled a new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball at a press conference at Hudson Scenic Studio in Yonkers, New York.

The new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is a 12 foot geodesic sphere, double the size of previous Balls, and weighs 11,875 pounds.

Covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystals and powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDS, the new Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns producing a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square.

The organizers also announced that the new Ball will become a year-round attraction above Times Square in full public view January through December.

Here is last year's New Year eve ball for a comparision. The now-retired 2000-2007 New Year's Eve Ball is the property of the building owners of One Times Square. Anyone interested in an impressive addition to your flag pole?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tanner The Golden Bat

Tanner is a golden fruit bat, the oldest of his kind in captivity, and recently celebrated his 23rd birthday by hanging around and chomping on a few pieces of papaya, mango and melon. Officials marked the occasion Friday his home located at the Cranbrook Institute in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Only about 4,000 of the large, fruit-eating bats still live on tiny Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean. They live about 20 years in the wild. Tanner had been the second oldest of the 1,000 or so golden bats in captivity until a few months ago when a 23-year-old female died at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. He's also three years older than others in captivity.

Called golden because of their reddish-blond fur, Tanner and his like also are known as golden flying foxes and are among the largest bats in the world. Tanner has a 4-foot (1.22-meter) wingspan and weighs about a pound, but no longer flies due to a wing injury.

I have always thought a fruit bat would be a neat pet. No other family in the state would have one! The only drawback is guano. Guano, better known as bat defication, would not be a fun substance to deal with. One would have to keep ole Tanner hanging over a large litter box and then the smell of the tar-like substance would permeate through the house!

My good wife has been extremely patient with all the critters that I have brought into our home. A fruit bat may really test her patience. Ya gotta love a woman who has tolerated snakes, lizards, turtles, hedgehogs, vultures, skunks, racoons - the list goes on and on!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Remember The Talking Horse?

Gosh, I have been having another bout with nostalia. As a kid I remember watching Mr. Ed, the talking horse, on television. Mr. Ed starred Alan Young. I thought the sitcoms were great even though I had no idea how much technology would improve the ability of animals to talk with the use of computer imaging (Example - the remake of Dr. Doolittle with Eddie Murphy). Mr. Ed was in black and white and was first aired in syndication on January 5, 1961 to July 2, 1961 and then on CBS from October 1, 1961 to February 6, 1966.

It is often said the crew was able to get Mister Ed to move his mouth by applying peanut butter to his gums in order for him to try to remove it by moving his lips. However, Alan Young admitted in 2004 that he had started that story himself, and explaining the actual method used. Alan Young, in an interview April 7 2007 again admitted that a loose piece of Nylon was inserted under Mr. Ed's lip which the horse attempted to remove on his trainers cue. Mr. Ed was so well trained that the insert would be ignored until the required cue.

Careful examination of Mister Ed footage shows indisputable evidence that the "marionette theory" (i.e., Ed's handler pulled strings to make him talk) was at work at least some of the time. Excerpts exist from a few episodes where the lighting and camera angle reveal a visible nylon "bit" being pulled for each word Ed spoke. Alan Young denied this occurred in the radio interview mentioned in the above paragraph. Some may claim a nylon bit was needed in order to have Ed turn his head or perform some other movement without his trainer having to be in the camera shot, but the evidence is clear that the bit was also used when Ed was standing still and merely had to talk. Young finally admitted during his interview for the Archive of American Television that a string was pulled to make Ed talk, noting that "this is for the Archive, right?" before explaining that he'd used the peanut butter fable for years in radio interviews instead of telling the truth.

For you old timers, do you remember another famous talking equine? I would go to the movies to see Francis The Talking Mule, starring Donald O'Connor.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas at The Dodsons

We all gathered Monday to have Christmas luncheon and gift exchange with our family at the Bridgeport location. As you can see above, sister Judy was the Christmas elf. She even brought along the Christmas mouse. As Judy and Diana were examining Sarah and Jeff's Christmas tree, I pondered what it takes to be a Christmas elf!
I discovered that I could be a geriatric elf. All it takes is THE HAT.
As usual, we always plan on cutting back on gifts for the season. It never seems to work, but that is fine.
Flora is opening one of Diana's presents to her. It was a lovely crown.

The crown seemed to be lost. Oh, here it is - the king wanted some crown time!
It is always great to watch the kids open their surprises. I believe the grownups get as much pleasure seeing the joy on the kid's faces and their interactions as the actual gift exchange.

Jeff, the healthy one of us, gets appropriate gifts. He is a cereal guy. No chocolates for this lad!

We had a great day! The food was yummy. Sarah had fixed lasagna, garlic bread, and other gourmet treats.
We are home today. Tomorrow is Christmas and we hope you and your family are safe this season. The good wife is preparing tomorrow the turkey, dressing , and mashed potatoes. Grandma Meads and Diana will join us.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gestation Technology

As we get closer to Christmas, we are especially blessed to have our families. I know that I explained that Sarah and Jeff disclosed at Grandma Musgrave's funeral that we are having another grandson. Well, here he is and THE PROOF of gender!

I love this ultrasound of his foot.

Although these ultrasounds are clear, sometimes one does not get the definition that a three dimensional ultrasound provides. Here is our developing grandson in the new 3-D technology. Truely amazing!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas

It is only 4 days till Christmas. Rachael shipped this clip of animals celebrating the season. Diana, what are the accents?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Joy!

It is getting closer to the time of that ole Santa's arrival. Yesterday we had in Glenville temperatures in the 60's and today the ole thermometer is in the 30's! Friend Diana sent me this short video of the wonderful excitement of a large snowfall experienced by a family's pet. The video was actually taken during a blizzard in the late 1990's where 54 inches of snow fell in 48 hours near Ward, Colorado. And this dog loved every moment of it. No snow hill was too deep for him to run around in. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last Farmer's Market 2008

Yesterday the temperature was in the 20's. We ventured out to the Farmer's Market to see our friends and their wares. David had donned his festive Christmas colors.
Dave was in charge of providing heat. I gave him a hard time saying " there's plenty of fuel, but where is the fire?" The old saying (Where there be smoke.. there be fire.) finally came true and the fire was soon blazing. It felt wonderful.

As with every Farmer's Market, this fine lady welcomed us to the last market of the year. The free coffee and hot chocolate that she provided was a treat.

Judy is talking with our friend, Rick Sypolt, about his Christmas trees. He grows lovely trees. I had to chuckle to myself since we have had an artificial tree for the past several years.

Judy did purchase some hard cinnamon candy, a wreath, and this mistletoe. I took the clue and kissed her under the mistletoe. Anna James and her husband collected these plants. I asked about their method of collection. I guessed it - a shotgun blasted the critters out of the tree! Mistletoe grows so high in the trees that it is a rare person who climbs the tree with prunning shears.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thanks So Much and

The Announcement

We have had an emotional but joyous week. Grandma Great In The Big Chair was transferred to Heaven on Saturday, December 6, 2008. She was 89 and one month.

The visitation was held in Glenville and in Parkersburg on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning respectively. The funeral was at 1:00 P.M. at Leavitt's Funeral Home in Parkersburg. The funeral was a celebration of love in her honor. Speaking about love, we have been so touched with all the cards, flowers, emails, food, and support from family and friends. Thanks so much. We are so blessed to have you all.

After the graveside service, we congregated across the street from the funeral home in a family facility provided by Leavitt's. We were able to share fine food with family and friends. John and Rachael came from Shepherdstown along with those two precious granddaughters.

Helen and Roy Hillyard were feasting on the snacks. They left their kid home. As you recall from the reunion in October they have adopted a puppy!

Here is David and Sharon Kraus. Sharon and I go back a long way to when we both started working at Glenville State College in 1972.

Marshall and I are trying to figure out what the grandkids are doing. How can a person be sad when we see the joy in the faces of Flora, Sam, and Lucy?

Flora, of course, is organizing the games.

What is Flora's butt doing under the table? Guess she is getting ready to prepare for the summer Olympics and doing gymnastics on the crossbar of a table.

Flora also decided that they should play Hide and Go Seek. Where is that Flora?

Sarah is talking with Uncle Bill and Aunt Judy. What is that envelope? Oh, I forgot to tell you about the announcement that happened at the end of our gathering.

Sarah and Jeff had an ultrasound completed a few days before this. The technician placed the ultrasound along with the sex determination in a sealed envelope. Jeff and Sarah decided to share it at a family gathering. This seemed the appropriate time.

As Jeff said when he looked at the ultrasound, "It's a turtle!"

That is dermatologist's speak for "There be a penis!" Yep, they will be having two boys traveling the Dodson household by May, 2009.

Thanks again to you all for your kindness and support.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Grandma Great In The Big Chair

Mary Louise Musgrave

11/6/1919 - 12/6/2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Busby and Ester

I am looking over the movie listings in the paper. Oh, how movies have evolved! The offerings look mighty slim for our interests. Judy and I love musicals. I know some of you think they are basically a silly media form. I have a wonderful relative that laughs when John Travolta sings with his mechanics in Grease.

My thoughts go back to Carl Kerr, who was Professor Emeritus of English at the college. Before his passing, we had a discussion about musicals and I asked if he liked Andrew Lloyd Webber. I love his scores of Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita. He made a terrible face and said that he hated them! He informed me that they have not made quality movies since the 1940's.

He said that the musicals directed by Busby Berkeley were the last of the great musicals. Berkeley was famous for his elaborate musical production numbers that often involved complex geometric patterns. Berkeley's quintessential works used legions of showgirls and props as fantastic elements in kaleidoscopic on-screen performances. He started as a theatrical director, just as many other movie directors. Unlike many at the time, he felt that a camera should be allowed mobility, and he framed shots carefully from unusual angles to allow movie audiences to see things from perspectives that the theatrical stage never could provide. This is why he played an enormous role in establishing the movie musical as a category in its own right.

Mr. Kerr said that Ester Williams (1921- ) was an actress that he adored. Esther Williams' youth was spent as a teenage swimming champion. She eventually was spotted by a MGM talent scout while working in a Los Angeles department store.She made her film debut with MGM in a 1942 "Andy Hardy" picture called Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942). She became Mickey Rooney's love interest in the movie, and her character was called "Sheila Brooks".

The scene most people associate Esther Williams with is the famous and often spoofed grand water ballet finale in Bathing Beauty (1944). Several moments, such as the swimmers who dive past one another in the pool, the moment where Williams is received as a queen, then dives and reappears above water, surrounded by several other swimmers who form a circle around her, became iconic. Enjoy the video by clicking on the link below.

Esther Williams retired from acting in the early 1960s and currently lends her name to a line of women's swimwear and to a company that manufactures swimming pools and swimming pool accessories. She co-wrote her autobiography The Million Dollar Mermaid.