Archive for the Uncategorized Category

the last full day

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2014 by claycoleman

Today went by so fast, just like I knew it would.
Started the morning with the usual ritual–breakfast on the city square followed by a driving trip through the battlefield. I spent about three hours driving through the battlefield taking more pictures and noticing things that I hadn’t noticed before. I went back to my favorite place in all of Gettysburg, Little Round Top. It is probably the most popular tourist destination on the field. You get a great view of some of the key battle sites from up there. This morning, I noticed a huge Oak tree that was above the four cannons that guard the crest. Large acorns were lying all around on the ground. I remembered how much Owie loves to pick up acorns, so I got a few for him. I want to give some to my Dad also, and hopefully he can plant them somewhere on his property. The tree that dropped the acorns was definitely not there at the time of the battle, but I am sure that it was a direct descendant of one that was. I got some for myself also. If either of us can get them to grow, that will be cool to have an Oak tree with lines to Gettysburg, and specifically Little Round Top.
I had lunch with an architectural representative from Marvin Windows. We had a great two hour lunch in a basement tavern that was lit by candles. The place reminded me of some of the older places in the French Quarter. Very early 1800’s. Pretty cool. I never like to talk about work on vacation, but this meeting kind of had to happen. We are collaborating on a major project and I needed to meet him face to face. Come to find out he only lives about 20 minutes from here.
I went back to the battlefield after lunch. The battlefield has drawn me all the way from Texas. Once I got here, it attracted me like a magnet. I have been back, forth, and sideways on every road throughout the entire park. Unfortunately, once I finally get to know the place, it’s time to leave. Kind of sad. But I can see me coming back here, maybe with Owie in tow. I still think it will give Ashley tired head.
I read in the paper this morning that Gettysburg High School is having its homecoming game tonight, so I decided to go. This makes three Fridays in a row that I have gone to see high school football. Im trying to get as much football as possible this year. I wanted to see if HS football in PA compares to TX. (It doesn’t). But it’s still more interesting than the NFL. Bank it.
But Gettysburg did have a new stadium, just opened a few weeks ago. And the game featured two teams that are nicknamed the warriors. Why didn’t Gettysburg High choose something like the Generals or Colonels? Warriors? What? If you looked closely, you could see references to the Civil War. The band had crossed sabers on their hats which was a cool nod to 1863.
Man, I hope the people that live here don’t take this place for granted. So many tourists spend a lot of money and time to come here. And these people simply live here. And they have a football stadium in the middle of a Civil War battlefield. Wow.
Anyway, it was interesting for a few minutes. Gettysburg returned the opening kick for a TD. Then they scored two more TDs in 4 minutes, and it was 21-0 like that. Time for me to leave–this was cutting in to valuable last night investigation time.
The first place I went was to a spot in the middle of a field where Confederate troops from North Carolina were mowed down by Union Troops in a real bloodbath. The southerners were hit so hard that they died in rows and some observers said that the dead bodies’ feet were in a straight line. So they dug trenches right there on the spot and buried about 600 men. The bodies remained there for 10 years or so in an unmarked mass grave. Eventually, the bodies were unearthed and reinterred in North Carolina.
To get to the spot, you walk about 80 yards from a low stone wall (called a breastworks) towards a corn field. There is a small tombstone-shaped marker noting the spot where the troops were killed. Directly behind that marker is acres and acres of corn. And there are well-traveled paths through the corn. I was totally creeped out in the complete darkness. I was content to stand by the marker and record for 15 minutes or so.
NO WAY was I going to walk through a freaking corn maze by myself.
Darkness + corn = heebie jeebies. Everyone knows that. I wasn’t about to sacrifice myself to the children of the corn.
Afterwards, I got my tripod and put the camera on it. I switched to a mode that allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you hold the button down. With an open shutter in the complete darkness, I “painted” the corn with my flashlight. Got some really cool, creepy pics. Always fun to do that.
Next I went to a farm that was a makeshift hospital during the war. The second I stepped on the property, this huge siren sounds off from downtown, about a mile away. This is the second time this has happened while I was here. The siren sounds like a civil defense siren, and a few minutes after it goes off, you see these unmarked cars with police and fire lights racing by. I am guessing that the siren is a call for volunteer firefighters or something like that. Anyway, it totally screwed up my recording. But I went through with it anyway. Something exciting about being on a hospital site. I really enjoyed it.
Finally, I went to a Potter’s Cemetery on top of a hill in the battlefield. Before this was a battlefield, there was an Alms House with an adjacent cemetery. The Alms house is gone, but the cemetery remains. The graves date back to pre civil war. Every headstone is white marble, and every one has a penny on top of it for some reason. This is probably a burial ground for the poor and indigent. These types of cemeteries always have an extra degree of sadness associated with them. The dead here were probably society’s castoffs. There are rports of dark shadows here.
I recorded here for 10 minutes or so. And that was it.
Four full days in Gettysburg and I am beat. I really got after it, and I got everything that I wanted to do here done.
I really hate to go. But it is time to get back to the routine of life. And I need to get back to being the worst player on my Dart team.
Anyway, I appreciate you spending the time to follow this. I hope it was interesting to you. I really enjoyed this trip, it will be a hard vacation act to follow. How in the world can I possibly top this?

more clouds, Flight 93, and a lot of driving

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2014 by claycoleman

Woke up and took a glance outside. Lots of rain, as expected. So I went to breakfast to plan the trip to Shanksville. At breakfast, I read the wikipedia entry for Flight 93 and it was interesting. Today will be the perfect day to take the long trip. I can’t really do any recording or photography in a downpour. I packed up all of my belongings in the suitcases in preparation for the third hotel room move. I went to the desk to check out before I left town, and asked the hotel manager if she had any rooms available for the next two nights. Turns out that someone had cancelled, so she could hook me up for nights 4 and 5. I got assigned to room 116, which was my third room at this hotel. First night in 120, second and third nights in 115. So I guess I got lucky and just had to change rooms twice. No big deal.
I headed out for the Flight 93 Memorial, glad to have taken care of the room situation for the rest of my trip. The memorial is only 108 miles away, but the trip time is 2:45. There are no expressways–mostly two-lane roads through small towns. The driving was treacherous. I had to cut through three mountain passes through the Blue Ridge Mountains. It reminded me of my travels to Hawaii, California, and Northern Arkansas–anywhere that has mountains where the roads are switchbacks, low-speed, and very curvy. And I got caught behind 18-wheelers and farm implements several times. 2:45 was about right. I made it to the memorial and drove in. The memorial plaza was 3.5 miles off of the nearest highway, through a newly paved, curving road. The crash site was actually a strip mine in the middle of several hills in Pennsylvania mining country. The leaves are starting to change colors and that added to the serenity of the site. I parked and walked to the interpretive site. From there, it is a quarter-mile walk down a black stone path to the crash site. Tall white marble columns have the name of each of the 40 victims inscribed. You look through a rough-hewn wooden gate to the crash site from the memorial plaza. The site is marked with a large boulder with several bouquets of flowers laid around it. There is a lot of construction going on. I hear a Ranger tell another visitor that the visitor’s center will be complete at this time next year. So basically the site is the permanent memorial plaza with some temporary facilities for restrooms and a temporary interpretive center. Interesting how the site is not completed over 13 years after 9/11–when the crash site in NYC has a 1,776 foot tall skyscraper and memorial at ground zero. Probably something to do with funding? Or was the NYC site a higher priority? It was another cloudy day, 50-60 degrees with a slight wind. The weather added to the somber pall at the site. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the horror that the passengers must have experienced. The plane hit the ground at 563 MPH, at a 40 degree angle, and either upside down or on its side. I remembered back to the movie, Flight 93. What sheer terror. I was standing on the spot where the movie ended. I have some type of weird fascination with plane crashes, as those around me know. This site was special, hallowed ground. I am glad I made the trip.
I only stayed for 45 minutes or so, and it was time to drive back to Gettysburg. On the way back, the rain stopped. It was still overcast, so I figured I might be able to do some more battlefield exploring. I got back to the hotel about 6-7 hours after I left.
I spent the rest of the afternoon driving around some more areas of the battlefield. Specifically, the sites that are not connected to the main battlefield, sites to the east and south. I did more of what I did yesterday, scouting for areas to go back to at night. I also took the recorder and made a daytime recording on the site of Pickett’s Charge. This was Robert E Lee’s final gamble on day three of the battle. Lee had 12,500 Confederate soldiers walk 9/10 of a mile across a field toward a waiting Union Army. The Confederates were mowed down as they walked through the field that I was standing on. Some broke through the Union line and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The point where the Confederates broke the Union line was considered to be the high-water mark of the Confederacy. It was downhill from there for the southerners, as they lost the engagement and retreated. The rest is history. What an important site in the big picture of the Civil War. What an amazing feeling to be able to retrace the footsteps of the soldiers from 151 years ago.
It was dinner time, so I went back to the restaurant I went to on Tuesday night. I came back to the clown car after dinner, and it had a parking ticket on it. Seems I inadvertently parked the clownmobile in a handicapped parking space. Turns out that clownmobiles are not exempt from parking tickets. What is the chance of a Texan paying a $50 parking ticket in Pennsylvania? ZERO. They can extradite me if they want to. If I made the mistake in Texas, I would gladly pay the fine. But not here. Sorry.
I went back to the field after dark. I recorded at Spangler’s Spring, which was a water source for the armies during the battle. There is said to be a misty figure, a “lady in white” that haunts the area. I recorded for a few minutes and had the place to myself. Another car drove up and the two very loud occupants got out. So I decided to move up the hill to the next spot. I got out to record at the angle on Culp’s Hill. This was a spot of particularly high casualties. Some observers said that bodies were stacked “two to three deep” in this area. As I got out of the car to record, I noticed another car driving very slowly up the hill, as if observing something. The car inched its way towards me, and the window rolled down. A lady asks, “was that a deer?” She said that she saw something run off towards the woods. I had not seen anything. And I definitely did not hear anything moving anywhere near me. That was strange. What was it? Anyway, I recorded for 15-20 minutes after the car left. I had the place to myself, and the tranquility was only broken by the chirping of crickets. Again, I did not feel or see anything unusual. I can only hope that I picked up something interesting on the recorder.
Tomorrow I am having lunch with an architectural representative for the product that I sell who happens to live in the area. We are going to have lunch at a local restaurant housed in a building that dates to the 1700’s. I have only worked with him over the phone and through emailed CAD drawings, so it will be good to put a face to the name. And tomorrow is the last day. I hope to make it count. I’m starting to get a little homesick for Ashley, Owie, Menace, Static, Kornbread, J-Train, and Jackalope. Can’t wait to see them all.

an uneventful Wednesday.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2014 by claycoleman

Cloudy days get under my skin. The lack of sunshine really has an adverse effect on my psychological well being. Today was no different, kind of a blah day from the beginning. The cloud cover made for very average, underexposed pictures on the battlefield. Never got to see the sun come out. And it is supposed to rain heavily tomorrow.

I made a game plan during breakfast. I decided to go back to the battlefield and fill in any gaps that I missed yesterday. I really wanted to get to know my way around the battlefield in the day so that I could know where to go at night. I spent most of the morning retracing some steps from yesterday and discovering some new areas that I had not seen yet. Took a lot of pictures in the morning. Probably up to 200+ now.

The town square in Gettysburg is actually a circle. A traffic circle. Right off of the circle, I saw a restaurant called “Ernie’s Texas Lunch.” Well that intrigued me. This place has been in business since 1921, and was basically an old time counter service place. I noticed about 100 hot dogs on the grill when I came in. So I opted for a Texas style hot dog. And gravy fries? Why not. I’m on vacation. And that includes my arteries. How exactly do Pennsylvanians approximate a Texas Lunch? The “Texas style” hot dog consisted of mustard (yes), onions (yes), and chili (no). Not really Texas style, in my opinion. But it was edible. And so were the fries. I am battling a wicked sinus infection, so my sense of taste and smell is operating about 30%. That was probably a good thing at lunch.

The afternoon was more of the same. Reading books, finding places referenced in said books, going there and taking pictures. I found some place on the battlefield north of town, and tried to go out there, but the road was closed because they were putting back together a 100-year-old monument. It was a massive one, too. Pretty big task.

I did go to the local college bookstore to try to find something to bring home for Ashley and Owen. The College was originally called Pennsylvania College, founded in 1832. The name was changed to Gettysburg College to capitalize on the fame of the local town. It is a small campus, and I found the bookstore after asking a university employee. Couldn’t find anything that I liked, so I left empty handed. But I did like their nickname. What else but the “Bullets.” Of course. The Gettysburg Bullets.

I read some more in the Ghost books and made my plans for the evening. Darkness was upon me, so it was time to move into investigation mode.
There is a road named Hospital Road that runs close to the South end of the battlefield. It got its name from the numerous field hospitals set up during the war. I went to the road, and noticed a large stone marker and a blue painted sign that mean only one thing in this town: Civil War Hospital. But it was posted no trespassing, so I went further down the road. And I came upon another one; this one was open to the public.
It was really dark by now, and I drove down the one lane road to the house. It was a farm, barn, and farmhouse that had basically been commandeered into a hospital out of necessity. No cars, no people. Looked vacant. Except for a light burning in the upstairs window. It looked like a candle with a bulb. And on an adjacent window, on another side of the house, was another light. But this one flickered and changed in intensity. I am assuming that this was a real candle? But how could that be? This place was definitely vacant. I certainly don’t want to trespass on someone’s property to satisfy my need to investigate. But this one wasn’t posted. I recorded around the house for 10-15 minutes. Pretty creepy when you are alone, not knowing what to expect. I read the monument upon leaving. The hospital cared for over 1200 wounded and stayed as a hospital for a good month after the war was over. It is hard to imagine the pain and suffering that went on within those walls. A bullet to the arm or leg most likely meant an amputation, and that amputation was most likely done without anesthesia. Limbs were piled outside of windows in macabre pyramids. That scene is hard to imagine. And it was repeated all over this town.

Afterwards, I headed back to the battlefield. I first went to the scene of heavy fighting and large numbers of casualties, a place called the Triangle Field. I parked the car and headed down the dirt path to the break in the gate that bordered the field. I immediately noticed a green light flickering in the woods on my right, which would be the Northern border of the field. A small group of people were walking through the woods; they were quiet, and that helped during recording. I recorded there for about 10 minutes. I tried to clear my head and focus on the current solitude and peacefulness of a place that experienced so much carnage 151 years ago. All I could hear was the incessant chirping of crickets. I didn’t feel much, but I’m not a sensitive or a medium, so that is par for the course. Hopefully I picked up something on the recorder.

I left and drove further up the road to the place that arguably was the site of the most casualties during the campaign, the Wheatfield.
It was similar to the Triangle Field. There was another green flashlight in the distance, which meant another group of people out after dark.
They passed me on the path to the center of the field, and I recorded for 15-20 minutes in solitude.
The Gettysburg Battlefield is hard to describe with words during the day. At night, it is damn near impossible to describe. Such an influx of emotions, feelings, sympathy for what happened here. And on the surface, it seems like just another simple walk in the dark through a field or through the woods, but then you take into account the history. And the monuments that are around every corner, in the middle of every field, some staring at you as if to tell their story. Without a doubt, one of the most eerie places I have ever recorded in.

I have two more nights here and I plan on doing more recording in different locations.

And if it rains tomorrow, I will head to Shanksville, PA–the site of the crash of Flight 93 on 9/11. I want to see the memorial.
I really can’t do what I came here to do in the rain. No pictures, no recording. So the Shanksville plan will probably work. But it will eat up most of the day. It is a 2 hour and 15 minute drive each way.

Thanks for reading, I am out for the night.

whirlwind day one

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2014 by claycoleman

For some reason, I missed out on a lot of sleep last night. I guess it was the unfamiliar surroundings, the long day of traveling, etc. Didn’t get to sleep until 2AM, and woke up at 7AM. I paid for it today. But 5 Hour energy came to my rescue and helped me through the evening.

The first thing I realized when I woke up was that I only had reservations for Monday night, by design. And I noticed a “No vacancy” sign on the hotel office door last night. I needed to make arrangements for the next one or two nights so I could focus on what I came here for. I brought a lot of stuff with me. One suitcase for clothes, the other for equipment. Once it was spread out in the hotel, I realized what a pain in the ass it would be to move this stuff every night. So I decided to try and stay a few more nights at my hotel. The lady at the desk helped me by moving some rooms around so I could get two more nights here. Not the same room, but no big deal. I would only have to move the stuff once. So that was taken care of.

I decided at brekafast that today I would just take a broad view of the battlefield to familiarize myself with it. As I walked out of my hotel room, I was blown away by the beauty of the town. Mountains in the distance, cannon and monuments now in plain view, no longer in the dark.

I went to the Gettysburg National Park at around 9:00. Tourists were already filling up the parking lots. And the first thing I noticed was that the tourists were mostly in their 60’s to 80’s. That makes sense. I think history in general, and the Civil war specifically, is an interest that comes later in life.

The National Park building was built in 2008. And from an inside source, I know that it has Marvin Windows in it. Good job, whoever sold that project. How cool would it be to work on a project of that magnitude?
I opted for the $ 12.50 combo pack ticket: The introductory film, the museum, and the cyclorama. Morgan Freeman narrarates the film. Has there ever been a voice more suitable for that type of thing? His voice is amazing. After the 20-minute show, it was on to the cyclorama. The cyclorama is something that I have never seen before, something that I did not know even existed. It is an oil on canvas painting, done in the late 1800’s. It is 43 feet tall, and 377 feet wide. It is cylindrical, so you view it in a 360 degree position. They built a special building for it, and it takes some escalators to get to the viewing platform. The painting depicts perhaps the most famous part of the Gettysburg campaign, Pickett’s charge. The painting is on the wall, and between the viewing platform and the wall is a 3-D diorama. Kind of brings the painting to you. Very cool. The video/sound/lightshow was great.

I skipped the museum due to time constraints, and got to the desk and asked a Ranger how best to see what I wanted to see. She basically said that the things I wanted to see (heavy fighting areas and hospital buildings) were spread out all over town. So I opted for the self guided auto tour. I grabbed a map and was on my way.

There are sixteen stops on the tour, and it covers most of the park proper. I did about half of it today. Took probably 125 pictures of landscapes and monuments. The monuments are everywhere. I think there are 1,300+ spread out throught the town. Each one tells a story or a position of some component of one of the armies. So I drove and drove and drove my clown car. I am renting a red Fiat 500, which is so small and so different from driving a RAM 1500 pickup that it is scary. The Fiat looks like you could open the door and 9 clowns would come pouring out, followed by one or more small dogs. Except that you can barely fit two people in it. Anyway, it is good on gas mileage, bad on the ego. And I actually had a fellow tourist ask me what I thought of it today. I told him that I drive a truck, and this is a rental and it scares me.
Anyway, I broke for lunch and then headed back to the battlefield, trying to locate some of the specific heavy fighting areas.

I then drove to the Gettysburg Haunted Candlelight Tour store to buy a book. I have been reading the “Ghosts of Gettysburg” series, which is seven books. I have six of them, and needed to pick up one that I had not read to review before I leave town.
I went to Starbucks to read some of the book looking for more ideas on places to see on the battlefield. As dusk neared, I went back to the hotel to get more layers of clothes and the ghost hunting equipment. I headed for one of the more tragic locations on the battlefield, the Devil’s Den and Slaughter Pit. Lots of casualties inflicted in these areas from troops positioned on a small hill above these locations. It was nearing dark, and I drove through the battlefield, getting lost several times. Big mistake there. I really need to scout during the day so I know where to go at night. This is an impossible place to get around without a map. When I finally found it, I recorded in the Devil’s Den for around 20 minutes or so. I noticed that there were at least three couples on the rocks; as they talked, I picked it up on my recorder. That makes it a lot harder when reviewing the recordings.
Overall, it was a good, if fairly disorganized day. Took a lot of pictures, got a few recordings, and familiarized myself with the battlefield. Tomorrow I will focus on specific areas during the day, scouting for my return after dark. If I catch up on sleep tonight, tomorrow will be a fruitful day. Adios.

A southerner arrives at Gettysburg

Posted in Uncategorized on September 22, 2014 by claycoleman

Made it into Gettysburg tonight around 8PM. Long day of flying, with a stop in Birmingham, AL before I headed to Baltimore.
From Baltimore, it was about an hour and a half drive through beautiful historic townships of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

With all apologies to Texas, it actually feels like Autumn up here. The town seems empty. That’s a good thing. Hopefully, this is an off-peak time and I won’t have to deal with a lot of other tourists in the next few days. They say that 1.6-1.7 million people come here annually. But maybe in late September it is an off-peak season. Lots of businesses seemed closed, but it’s a Monday. It’s crisp and dark when I arrive. The darkness cloaks the monuments and cannons spread throughout the city. The Gettysburg National Military Park is not the “battlefield” per se, although it does include a good portion of the battlefield. The entire city is the battlefield. The streets, houses, everything for miles in each direction.
The hotel I am staying in for the first night is the Quality Inn at General Lee’s Headquarters. It is a motor hotel built on to the home that Robert E. Lee used as Headquarters during the battle of Gettysburg. It’s right across the street from the Lutheran Seminary that played a role in the Battle. From my room, the General’s Headquarters is approximately 300 feet to the left.
The wifi network here is called “GENERAL LEE” and the password is 1863. Nice.

Gettysburg has been on my list for a long time. The more I learned about the battle that happened here, the more I wanted to see it in person.
Although Ashley and I take vacations together as a family, this worked out well. Ashley’s stepfather purchased her a cruise earlier in the year, and now it’s my turn to do something by myself. Plus the Civil War probably gives Ashley tired head. And Owie is not yet old enough to understand the sacrifice and bloodshed that happened here. This is one of the most hallowed spots on American soil; the turning point in the Civil War. It was a battle that changed the United States and the world. Words cannot describe this place. For me, it is like a force that is pulling me here to investigate and walk on the sacred ground.

I always invest a lot of time reading about an area before I go there on vacation. I have read many books on the battles and the associated paranormal activity said to haunt this area. Tonight I drove past numerous buildings and locations that I have read about in the last few weeks. What a special feeling to recognize something from a book and stand right in front of it. I could barely see the outlines of the monuments and the cannons that dotted the landscape. I can’t wait until tomorrow when the light of day illuminuates the city and I am able to get to work.
I am convinced that there is not a better place in America to investigate the paranormal than Gettysburg. But I want to do it my way, on my terms. No spooky ghost tours here. I want to document and record in my style. I want to communicate with someone who made the ultimate sacrifice for his Army. I want to know if his spirit survived the battle that his body did not.

Tomorrow I want to start the day early by going to the National Military Park Headquarters to get my bearings. I have read so many books on the paranormal at Gettysburg that everything seems to blend together. I have made a mental list of areas that I want to see; I want to talk to someone at the Park about the best way to get around to all of them. I want to take the recorders, cameras, and video recorders to the fields tomorrow where the heaviest fighting took place. I also want to focus on any areas or buildings that were used as makeshift hospitals during the battle. By focusing on heavy fighting and hospitals, I think I can increase my chances of recording something that helps me discover if the soul survives death. After all, that is my ultimate question. And what better place to seek the answer?

Done with “news”

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3, 2014 by claycoleman

Several weeks ago, I made the decision to end facebook. I had begun to see facebook as a massive timewaste, generally a reflection of American narcissistic society. “Look at me!” “Be my “friend”. Not for me. As I find myself with less and less time for what is important in life, it becomes necessary to eliminate the drama, the time drains, the need to let “friends” see what is going on in my life, the life in which I play the starring role.
It was one of the best decisions I have made in a while. Right up there with getting on board with the World Cup, and buying a printer that uses toner instead of ink.
Today, I reached another milestone–no more “news”. My brother has been quite successful with the eliminating news from his life. He figures that if something is important enough, it will find him. And he is probably right.
The world is as violent and turbulent now as it has been in the last 40 years, people killing in the name of religion. Adding the dead to the countless millions that have died in the name of “religion”. In the name of “your opinions differ from mine”. It’s utterly pointless.

But this is what did it for me:
http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/2014/07/dallas-police-need-help-finding-person-who-impaled-cats-on-fence.html

I cannot manage to read things like this and not have the story stay in my brain for a long time. I simply do not have the wherewithal to continue to become emotionally attached to stories like this. For some bizarre reason, I can read thousands of stories about humans killing humans and not be moved the way I am moved by this article.
You see, I am an cat person. I choose to spend some of my time with shelter cats, getting to know the variety of personalities and dispositions that come through the doors of the SPCA. And I am slowly coming around on canines, mostly due to a great little dog named Jackalope. Jackalope is more than a pet for our family. She is a teacher. She will help me show Owen the value of life, all life. The responsibilities involved in caring for an animal. She will teach Owen how to accept and respect the blind trust that animals give us. And, ultimately, she will teach us the sorrow when it is time to say goodbye. All of these are lessons that carry us through life.

Animals depend on us for a lot of things. They put their blind trust in us, even when we are undeserving. And they teach us important elements of life.
Life is a gift.
Karma is real.
And from what I hear, impaling happens in prison. It’s just a different kind. Dallas police, find these guys.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 29, 2014 by claycoleman

The world lost a great man last week.  I didn’t know Rodney Thomas personally. I knew of him through the fan/player relationship that so many of us have with players on teams that we support. He was one of the best running backs in the history of Texas high school football.   He played for Texas A&M in the early nineties when I was a student there. By the accounts of those who knew him he was one of the most selfless, altruistic people to ever wear the maroon and white. Most of what I know about him I regretfully learned upon his passing.
Rodney died last week while taking a break from mowing his mother’s yard in Groveton, TX.  Rodney bought her the house with his first paycheck from the NFL, where he played for several seasons.  Websites and newspapers are overflowing with words of praise for Rodney. 
He was an altruist in the purest sense of the word–there was the time when he was seen putting money into a vending machine at Texas A&M after the machine had just dispensed a bunch of free products.  Or the time when he gave a watch that he was awarded at a bowl game to a family friend. And how Rodney was there, at the final moments of that friend’s life, holding his hand as he breathed his last breaths.
Or the time when he saw an older man mowing his yard with a push mower and offered to mow it for him. The man refused, saying that “a man mows his own yard.” So Rodney left and came back with a riding lawn mower for him.
Those who knew Rodney knew him as a person that preferred not to take credit for his acts, to downplay them. Unfortunately sometimes it is upon one’s passing that the great stories come out. I wish I could have known Rodney. And I wish I could have met his parents while he was still alive, so I could try to find out how Rodney had developed into such a person. Was he born with that amazing sense of altruism and honesty, or was it something that was taught to him?
When the world loses a person of this caliber, the world is a much lesser place. All we are left with is the great stories and lots of questions.
How can such a wonderful person have their life cut so short? Why does life work that way? How can I take Rodney’s example and impress upon my young son some of these qualities?

And, most importantly, who will pick up where Rodney left off, and show others the kindness and selflessness that he was known for? I will do my best to honor his legacy. If I can raise my son to be a fraction of the person that Rodney was, I can help make the world a better place.