Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just Thinkin'

It is a common thing here in south Louisiana for alligators to be spotted in the swamps or bayou. It's something entirely different when a 5'7" gator is taken from the waters of the upper Mud River, just south of Hamlin, West Virginia! Lincoln County, West Virginia is a rugged rural area, tucked between the counties of Cabell, Wayne, Boone, Kanawha, and Logan. There are several things found in abundance in Lincoln County. There are coal reserves, timber, natural gas deposits, lots of fish and wildlife, and more Adkinses than you can shake a stick at. In studying my genealogy, I have learned that the first Adkinses in West Virginia migrated to the Mud River area from Wales, by way of Henrico County, Virginia. Our family's "Old Home Place" is on nearby 14 Mile Creek, and ours is probably the most prominent surname in Lincoln, and nearby Wayne Counties.

I'm sure my distant cousins do their share of hunting and fishing, but I dare say that none of them have ever come across any critter like the one that the WV Department of Natural Resources personnel shot and removed from the waters of the "Mighty Mud" earlier this week. DNR officials say that the reptile appeared to be half grown and they had no explanation as to how the prehistoric looking creature found itself in the shallow waters of southern West Virginia. Speculation is that someone probably brought home a cute baby alligator from some vacation trip to the coastal areas of the southeast USA. Whenever it got to be too big to handle and a hassle to feed, splash! into the river he was chucked.

However it may have found its way to the banks of the Mud River, it certainly raised some eyebrows among local fishermen who crossed paths with it and promptly informed the DNR of its presence. All the fishermen, that is, except one guy who told a local TV station, "I didn't report it. Heck, I didn't even tell my wife! Who would have believed me?"


"Dancing With The Stars" is a television phenomenon watched regularly by millions of Americans. I can honestly say that even though many of my friends, and some of my family rarely miss the show, I have never seen a single episode.

By watching cable news, however, I have had a vague awareness of some of the "celebrities" who have appeared on the series, and the general concept of how it works. Apparently, like American Idol, Big Brother, Survivor, and other such reality shows, someone is voted off the show periodically, as the field is narrowed down to the best celebrity dancer.

In the news this morning, the big story is that the two celebrities up for elimination last night were Bristol Palin (daughter of the former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate) and some guy known as "The Situation" from "Jersey Shore" (another program I have avoided like the plague). Now, I believe in the live and let live philosophy, and in the words of those great philosophers, Sly and the Family Stone, "Different strokes for different folks". However, this reality show genre is just a little hard for me to swallow.

If that is your thing, OK. Enjoy. I hope that "The Situation"'s ejection and Bristol's survival meets with your approval. I personally think the whole thing is "chewing gum" for the eyes and brain. (For What It's Worth).


On the REAL NEWS front, however, what about those miners in Chile who have been trapped underground for 70 days? I'm sure that everyone from mining country is watching with interest this morning, as the 33 men are slowly being safely brought to the surface, one by one. This rescue effort has been a triumph of ingenuity, technology, and international cooperation.

Apart from the fear of drowning, my greatest phobia is that of being trapped underground. These guys were trapped for 17 days, with no one knowing whether or not they were dead or alive. Imagine the angst of the families and loved ones above, who agonized over the unknown fate of their loved ones for more than two weeks, before learning that all 33 miners were indeed alive and safe in an underground refuge after the August 5th tragedy.

The first estimates were that a rescue was possible, but that it would most likely take until Christmas time to drill a suitable way of escape. The world's attention was riveted to the reports coming out daily about the progress. One could only speculate how deplorable and maddening the conditions must have been in that 600 square foot (would be) tomb for 70 days. But last night, rescue efforts began to move the men one by one from their underground prison. As of this writing, the tenth miner is slowly being brought to the surface. The whole operation will probably take a little more than 33 hours to complete. The world will sit with fingers crossed that each man will be safely delivered to his loving family.

Only time will tell the physical and emotional toll that these 70 days of trauma will take on these miners. One thing is for certain, however. All of us who have lost loved ones to underground mining accidents are rejoicing today with those families in Chile, whom we have never met, but with whom we feel an inseparable bond.

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