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Diatribe: The $275,000 Duck Attack.

I’ve never been afraid of animals.  Like many, I was taught at an early age that animals can sense fear and that you should never let them know that you’re afraid of them.  Over the years, I’ve had encounters with a variety of animals.  I’ve worked with rodeo bulls and evaded alligators and snakes in the Florida Everglades.  I’ve seen wild bears in the mountains and buffalo crossing the roads of the western U.S.  Never have I run from an animal because that only makes them chase you.  (Insects are another story.  I run from bugs all the time!)

In all this time, I’ve only been attacked once … by a goose.  I was very young, a toddler, when my parents introduced me to what they thought was a harmless barnyard bird.  But the goose, which seemed gigantic at the time, chased me until I fell down and pecked at my.  My parents still laugh about it.

Cynthia Rudell’s mother can laugh with her all the way to the bank.  According to a lawsuit filed in Oregon state court last Friday, Ruddell, 62, of Washougal, Washington, was on her mother’s property in Estacada, Oregon when a neighbor’s duck attacked her without provocation in May 2012.  While trying to run away from the angry waterfowl, she fell to the ground, broke a wrist and sprained an elbow and shoulder.

Rudell’s complaint accuses the bird’s owner, Lolita Rose, of failing to maintain control of her pet or “to warn or otherwise inform neighbors of her duck’s dangerous propensity in attacking individuals”.  Ruddell, a retired nurse, is seeking up to $275,000 in damages, including about $25,000 for medical expenses and the remainder for pain, suffering and the toll her injuries have taken on her daily life.

Her lawyer anticipates that damages will ultimately be paid by Rose’s insurance policy but filing a lawsuit was necessary as a precaution because of continuing medical bills from a second surgery on Rudell’s wrist and a two-year statute of limitations on claims of this nature.

Apparently, the people of Estacada are safe … Rose had her duck killed shortly after the incident.

The goose that jumped toddler me went free and I received no compensation for the toll the incident has taken on my daily life.

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Ovation: U.S. Postal Service Takes Pre-Orders For Harvey Milk Forever Stamp.

HarveyMilkAs a youngster, I was an avid stamp collector.  If I remember correctly, my grandmother got my started with my first little cellophane envelope filled with post-marked stamps from around the world.  I may have ordered them from an advertisement found at the back of a comic book but I’m not certain.  I would pour through them for hours, studying them and sorting them by nation and then by value.  I had a book that I used to research the supposed value of the many different stamps and quickly learned to be on the lookout for the rarest and most valuable.  Anything with an upside-down airplane was always the focus of my mission.

I was quite the pre-teen philatelist!

Yesterday, the United States Postal Service officially revealed its Harvey Milk Forever Stamp.  Milk, a visionary leader who became an iconic figure in the struggle for gay civil rights, was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.  His career was cut short when nearly a year later he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated.  Milk’s achievements gave hope and confidence to gay people at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and, in 2009, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded him the Medal of Freedom.

While the new stamp’s official first-day-of-issue ceremony won’t take place until May 22nd at the White House, customers can pre-order the stamps now.  A Forever Stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate and the image on this stamp is based on black and white photograph of Milk in front of his Castro Street Camera store in San Francisco taken by Daniel Nicoletta of Grants Pass, Oregon circa 1977.  Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, was art director for the stamp.

I still have several sheets of vintage postage stamps tucked away in a lockbox at home.  It’s doubtful that they’ll ever be of any value to anyone other than a future stamp collector but, as we venture further into the digital age and fewer people put ink to paper postage stamps themselves will eventually become historical relics.  Perhaps, then, my collection will one day become “museum quality”.

Have you ever collected stamps?

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Diatribe: Let’s Get Past The Loch Ness Monster Already, Shall We?

apple_maps_loch_ness_monster_1_jt_140420_16x9_992Every once in a while someone digs up a yeti, a chupacabra or a werewolf to drum up business.  I can’t help but wonder if Apple is behind this latest bit of what seems to be unintentional viral marketing for its Apple Maps product.

Images of what is reportedly the infamous monster of Scotland’s Loch Ness has spawned a spate of copycat sightings since the mythical creature was supposedly captured on Apple Maps by amateur Loch Ness Monster spotters.

Photos of what appears to be a creature roughly 100 feet in length floating under the surface of the North End of Loch Ness, a large freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands, has recently gone viral in media reports and online forums.  Some are even reporting the sighting as fact!  Absurd?  I think so … particularly since the strange figure appears only in Apple Maps and is not seen in other mapping applications like Google Maps.

Today, reports are surfacing that the image is probably the wake from a boat that was likely lost from the image through the process of stitching the low resolution satellite images together.

BoatWakeNessiePopular interest and belief in the creature’s existence has come and gone since the possibility of its existence was first brought to the world’s attention in the early 1930s.  The scientific community continues to regard the Loch Ness Monster as a modern-day myth and explains any supposed sightings as misidentifications of other objects, outright hoaxes or wishful thinking.

Frankly, I’m more interested in unexplained phenomena that actually exist, like Stonehenge and the Moai of the Easter Islands.

Do you believe in “Nessie”?

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Ovation: Sarah “Paddy” Jones.

SarahPaddyJonesI’m not much of a dancer.  I did, however, take Ballroom Dancing 101 in college.  I enrolled in the class, as well as Intro to Bowling, because credit for passing the class could be applied toward the physical education requirement for graduation and I didn’t have to change clothes or take a shower afterward like other PE classes.  I thought it would be an “Easy A” but I was wrong.

Before taking the class, my only dance experience was at weddings and with relatives.  My grandmother loved to dance.  She was graceful and elegant when she would occasionally dance to a slow song with my grandfather but her face would light up when she danced to a fast song … particularly The Chicken Dance.

Seventy-nine-year-old grandmother Sarah “Paddy” Jones recently showed the world that you don’t have to be young to have great moves on the dance floor when she and her partner, Nico, auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.

Apparently, Jones’ appearance in the competition has caused some controversy as she is already a talent show winner and, in 2010, gained a place in the Guinness World Records as the world’s “oldest acrobatic salsa dancer”.  The producers of Britain’s Got Talent defend her inclusion in the show saying that anyone can apply and the judges had no idea who she was.

I think she should be an inspiration to us all, don’t you?

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Ovation: Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment.

KillSwitchLong before the days of identity theft and privacy regulations, I used to live in constant fear of losing my wallet.  I didn’t carry much but, like most everyone that I knew I carried my driver’s license, some cash, a department store credit card and a gas credit card along with a library card and a video store rental card.  I also carried a spare car key and a spare house key in my wallet.

While I certainly worried about losing any cash that I might have in my wallet, and if it were to be stolen, any charges that a thief might make on my credit cards, but mostly I was afraid that anyone who found my wallet would immediately know where I lived and have a key to my house.  If they were criminal enough to steal a wallet, I thought, they’d surely rob a house.  But still, I thought it was more prudent to carry the spare key with me than to leave it under a flower pot on the porch.

Today, carrying a wallet is quickly becoming a nostalgic pastime.  Billfolds, wallets, purses and pocketbooks are quickly being replaced by smart phones, tables and other handheld devices that store more information than we could possibly carry in a wallet.

If anyone had told me back then that there would one day be a way to make everything in my wallet disappear if it was lost or stolen I would have thought them crazy.  I would have been wrong because, after July 2015, all smartphones manufactured for sale in the United States will be equipped with new “kill switch” technology.  The feature would let a phone’s owner erase contacts, photos, e-mail and other information, and lock the phone so it can’t be used without a password.  The kill switch is expected to be offered at no cost to consumers and will prevent phones from being reactivated without an authorized user’s consent.  Any data stored on the phone, however, would be retrievable if the owner recovers the phone.

Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft, along with the five biggest cellular carriers in the United States are among those companies that have signed on to a voluntary program announced earlier this week called the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment”.

Apparently, the wireless industry is finally agreeing to do something to deter smartphone thefts in the United States.  It seems to me that this could work.  Not even the most foolish of thieves would steal a wallet if they knew in advance that it was going to be empty.

Do you think the “kill switch” is a good idea?

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Diatribe: Marijuana Vending Machines.

vending%20machineBack in my younger years, cigarettes used to be sold from vending machines in just about any place you could imagine.  A cigarette machine could be found at the entrance to almost every restaurant, bar, filling station and bowling alley.  Looking back, it seems like everyone smoked back then and it was relatively easy to buy cigarettes.

Where I grew up you were supposed to be eighteen years old before you could legally purchase tobacco products.  So high school students were, generally, too young to purchase cigarettes legally and would frequently buy them from machines when older smokers were unavailable or unwilling to purchase them elsewhere on their behalf.  Purchases from these vending machines were essentially made on the honor system … “I promise that I’m old enough to buy them legally” … so the system was abused all the time.

Guilty as charged.

I remember buying packs of cigarettes from vending machines for as little at sixty cents.  And the machine would also dispense a complimentary book of matches!  Smokers today routinely pay ten times that amount for a pack of cigarettes and many have never laid eyes on a book of matches!  Last Friday, a marijuana vending machine made by American Green called Zazzz was unveiled in Colorado.

Biometrics aside, teenagers and criminals will undoubtedly figure out a way to manipulate and abuse these machines just like the cigarette machines were abused a generation ago.  I can’t see how the pros outweigh the cons on this issue at all.

Do you think marijuana vending machines are a good idea?

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

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