Archive for February, 2009

Where The Red Fern Grows

Posted by Doug White under Book Reviews

It’s always interesting to me, being that I am such an avid science fiction reader and a Trekkie as well, that this book always pops up in my mind when the question is asked as to what my favorite book is. But for me, the book entitled “Where The Red Fern Grows” written by Wilson Rawls will always stand out as the best book I have ever read.

I first came across this book in the fifth grade when our teacher read it to us in class. The book is a very simple story about a young boy who lived in the Ozark mountains and wanted nothing more than to own some hound dogs to hunt racoons. Not one hound dog, but two. His parents didn’t have much money so he ended up saving the money himself over the course of a few years and buys the dogs. He names them Little Ann and Big Dan as he had seen the names carved into a tree and thought they were fitting.

He then sets about training them to hunt and has many exciting adventures with them. There was one story about a very large tree that they had treed a coon in and how he struggled and struggled and could not get that tree chopped down and then suddenly a wind came and finished the job. Almost as if God was giving him a hand.

There’s one part of the book where the boy (Billy) is confronted by a couple brothers and takes part in a bet to see who can get the most coons in one night. That night doesn’t end well and so if you are having your child read this, keep that in mind. However, it doesn’t come close to the violence in most TV shows today, but it was a little scary for my 11 year old mind at the time.

He gets an opportunity to put the dogs in a championship coon hunt and the stories of his dogs loyalty to him and their intelligence was fun to read. I especially remember how Little Ann won the beauty contest.

The story ends on a sad note. The three of them are out hunting and are attacked by a mountain lion. In their attempt to defend Billy, Little Ann is injured and Big Dan is killed. Unfortunately, Little Ann is so devastated by the loss of her companion that she refuses to eat and one day Billy finds her dead at the grave of Big Dan. Heartbroken he buries her with Dan.

His parents then tell him that the money he had raised from all his coon skins have enabled them to move away from the Ozarks. His parents were convinced that God allowed this to happen to the dogs because He knew that they would not be able to take the dogs with them and they had been agonizing over how to break it to Billy. They had even considered leaving him with his Grandpa and they figured God didn’t want the family broken up so therefore he allowed the dogs to die.

When they were leaving the Ozarks for good, Billy went one more time to see the gravesite of his companions. Amazingly, a red fern had grown over the area. The family was in awe, because legend had it that only an angel can plant a red fern and where it grew was sacred.

I love dogs and this story was always such a special one no matter how many times I read it. I still own a copy of this book. But part of this story took on special significance for me a few years back.

We owned a border collie/blue heeler named Freckles. She was the absolute best dog I have ever owned in my life. Unfortunately she did not live long. We had to put her to sleep when she was 2 years old as she had lost 75% use of her kidneys and was not able to recover. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. I was 35 years old and I cried as if I was 11. They say you only get one real true companion dog in your life and I think she was the one.

But why this stood out for me and made me think of the book was the fact that the very year Freckles died we moved from Minnesota to South Dakota. I had been trying for several months to find a job as a software developer in South Dakota that year and was finally successful. Freckles died 6 months before that happened though and there is a part of me that thinks God might have taken her because we would not have found a place very easily that would allow animals. I don’t know for sure if that’s true, but I wonder at times.

But as far as the book goes, if you like animal stories and are up to the emotional roller coaster that the book puts you on, it’s well worth the read. And to Mr. Schwartz, my 5th grade teacher, I say thank you. You put a story in my life that has been wonderful and exciting to come back to over the years and one I have enjoyed sharing with my own children.

                                 Where The Red Fern Grows                                          My dog Freckles

NOTE: This was originally published by myself on my old HubPages account on 2/17/2009.

Hospital of Horrors

Posted by Doug White under Political

I know that this is a sensitive topic. It’s come up in my Democratic Christianity hub. (Democratic Christianity) I know that people have very strong opinions on this. But I cannot wrap my mind around what I read today on CNN (http://tinyurl.com/dndvnd). I do not understand how this type of evil exists and people will look at it as if it may be ok.

In this article, apparently a woman was 23 weeks pregnant and decided to get an abortion, but the doctor was late and something went wrong and she went into labor. She delivered a baby. Let me repeat that. She delivered a baby. Not a fetus, not an organism, but a baby. A living, breathing baby.

Well, according to this article, guess what the medical people did – you know, the ones who are in the field that is supposed to “Do No Harm”? One of the people cut the imbilical cord to this living, breathing baby and put the living, breathing baby – along with the placenta and afterbirth – into a biohazard bag and threw all of it into a trash can.

I am not even sure how to put my thoughts into words on how horrific this sounds. I have a hard enough time wrapping my brain around abortion – I truly believe that life begins at conception, I feel this with all my heart – but this crosses a line I can’t even imagine that we as a civilized society would stand for. It’s infanticide, pure and simple.

And according to the CNN report, so far all that has happened is that the doctor has lost his license. Now, some may wonder why he would have anything happen to him because he was not there. He apparently falsified some records and committed other acts of malpractice and for that he is losing his license.

What about the murdering of this living, breathing baby? Well, this apparently happened in 2006 and at this point, criminal charges have not been filed yet as there is an ongoing investigation still. Do we need 3 years to determine that this was a murder? What is the delay?

I am so saddened by this. I am just perplexed that this could happen in this country and that justice for this little baby (the living and breathing one that was thrown away like trash) is moving so slowly. When in our country did behavior like this by rational, civilized, professional people seem ok or if not ok, at least ok enough to make others hesitate to enact any type of discipline upon them?

This may sound corny, but my heart is so very heavy at the thought of what this precious life went through in this Hospital of Horrors during her brief time on this Earth. And while vengeance is not mine to give, there is a very human part of me that hopes the evil in these supposed caretakers is dealt with in a way that will make the next group of people reconsider before partaking in such a horrific act.

NOTE: This was originally published by myself on my old HubPages account on 2/06/2009.

South Dakota’s Embarrassment

Posted by Doug White under Political

I have lived in South Dakota for many years of my life. I was born here, came back to live here when I was a teen-ager, went away to the service and came back to finish college, and then moved away a bit only to find myself back here in the last 3 years. I love South Dakota. It may be cold, it may be sparsely populated, it may not appeal to many, but I love this state. Except tonight, on behalf of all South Dakotans I am embarrassed.

And that embarrassment has a name – Tom Daschle. Daschle, who is President Obama’s current choice to be the Health and Human Services Secretary and who will most likely institute an extremely radical health care plan that will break the backs of those who actually pay taxes, was just found out to be another in a line of Obama candidates who “goofed” and didn’t pay his own taxes – to the tune of nearly $150,000.

I just need to ask…is there anyone who really feels this was an “oops” mistake? Okay, the limousine and chauffeur – maybe that I can buy, but only barely. But how about when he worked for Intermediate Advisors as a consultant? Really, he “mistakenly” didn’t pay taxes on his salary? And then he “flubbed” yet again on taking improper deductions on his charitable donations? Really? Does anyone, anywhere buy that?

I am mad, embarrassed and confused. If I had messed up that bad on my taxes, I just KNOW I’d be sitting in jail today. Tom Daschle – he gets a new job – and it’s in charge of policy decisions that will affect your taxes!

I don’t buy it. This is an out and out blantant abuse of power. Not one, but TWO people in this cabinet have been found to have this issue. And no one, anywhere seems to be doing anything about it! I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Daschle will get nominated, because for some reason, nothing that happens sticks with this group of people.

I want to leave you with something. Back in the tail end of the election, we had a man named “Joe the Plumber” who became a sensation because of a happenstance meeting with Barack Obama. Suddenly, the news media went nuts on this guy – just like they did with Palin – and foamed at the mouth because of his tax issues. Go back and read the stories. Over and over you saw stuff like “Joe The Plumber didn’t pay his taxes” or “Joe the Plumber – is he really even a plumber – failed to pay his due” and today all you see is “Democrats in support of Daschle” and “Daschle sorry about the mixup”, etc, etc. It’s enough to make someone nauseous.

Tonight, as a fellow South Dakotan, I hold my head down in shame. We South Dakotans can do much better than this.

NOTE: This was originally published by myself on my old HubPages account on 2/02/2009.