P.O.W. Stories – The One with the Nurse and the Two Needles

needle 2 partially blurredMy dad–Russell Kingston–was one of the longest-held prisoners of war during the Korean Conflict, which lasted from 1950 until 1953. The conflict (it was never a declared war) lasted for only three years, yet dad was a P.O.W. for 33 months. Dad has shared many stories of his time in the camp with me. As you can imagine, most of them were harrowing. Here is one of his many memories of that time in the North Korean camp.

“…In the meantime, while I was there (in the camp), I had malaria fever twice. I had my tonsils removed by the Chinese in a little makeshift hospital they had. I had one tooth pulled with no Novocain, and I won’t even say how many times I was forced labor, this, that, and the other, because I don’t even know whether people would believe that I done forced labor or not.

When I had malaria for the second time, they carried me up to this little ole Chinese building. They left me in there three or four days. Then they gave me a little shot in the arm, which was–I don’t know–probably sugar water or something like that, I don’t know.

To show you some of the hardships, uh, it was early spring and it was still kinda cool. Well, I got to feeling better and I got up and I walked outside and the sun was shining on the side of this building. So, I walked over to the side where the sun was shining, and when I walked over to the side of the building there was a G.I. standing there with no clothes on whatsoever. And I said, “Buddy, what’s wrong with you?” Continue reading…

 

The Miracle of You

The miracle of you is that you exist at all.The miracle of you is that you shouldn’t even be here. Not if you consider the odds.

I had an excellent statistics teacher at Murray State University. A couple of them, in fact. One of the first things he did was show us the folly of playing the lottery. He patiently explained the basics of statistical mathematics so that we understood completely how small our chances of winning the big prize is. And how casinos use long odds to build massive amounts of wealth. As he put it, and as we all inherently know, “The house always wins.” And that’s true. The house always wins, even when it loses. (Because a huge payout inevitably garners publicity, which draws even more poor schmucks in to play the wheels of fortune.)

The odds of winning the lottery, or in Vegas, are usually calculated to be somewhere in the millions. Often it’s compared to the odds of getting struck by lightning. But consider this: the odds that you are alive here on this planet are so large as to be almost incalculable.

Let’s go back 250 years in our example. (The further back you go, the higher the odds that you would never have been born).

First, you have to consider the odds that one of your ancestors would survive, much less procreate. Then you have to figure out the odds that they would conceive of a child. (It’s one in several million for each try). Then the odds that their child would survive. Then you have to figure out the odds that their child would survive and procreate and the offspring live, etc. and on and on. All the way down to you, continuously, in an unbroken or uninterrupted line.

If you go back 10 generations (250 years) the chance of you being born at all is  at most 1 divided by 6 x 10100 or 1 in 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

I don’t even know what you call that number. Maybe bazinga-trillion? Whatever it is, the odds put your chance of being here at essentially ZERO. (Even lower as you go further back in time.)

I’m sure you have read all your life about how we are miracles of creation. This proves it.

Are you feeling lucky now?

 

© Wade Kingston

Check out my other blogs at:

friedredtomatoes.com

mygardenbuddy.com

 

Nuts over Basketball in the Bluegrass State

Nuts over basketball in the Bluegrass State

UK-Cards-MSU

Yes, we are nuts over basketball in the Bluegrass State. But it can’t be helped.

I’ve enjoyed reading all the tweets during the NCAA tournament. One in particular last night read, “I am SICK, SICK, SICK of always watching Kentucky and Michigan teams in the NCAA.”

Sorry about your luck, buddy. Continue reading…

 

Kentucky vs. Louisville – Why the Data Doesn’t Matter

You can’t predict with any degree of certainty who will win when Kentucky meets Louisville on March 28.

And the reason you can’t has to do with something called unknown variables.

Statisticians love to work with numbers. Batting averages, free-throw percentages, average yards thrown–they all mean the same thing. Someone, somewhere sat down with a long list of numbers and came up with a statistical average, sometimes weighted, sometimes not.

Before last Sunday’s game featuring Kentucky vs. Wichita, I read seven “expert” opinions about who was going to win. ALL OF THEM chose Wichita. What they were looking at were statistics. But pouring over a long column of numbers and coming to a conclusion often ignores the rather unpredictable nature of sports. There are a number of factors which, by their nature, do not show up in the numbers.

1–An injury during the game. They can’t be predicted, and they can be serious. Not only for the player, but for the morale of the team.

2–Illness. It could be something as innocuous as a bad meal the night before, or something serious like food poisoning. It could mean a cold or the beginnings of a flu, both of which could seriously undermine a key player’s ability.

3–Disruptions. Weather is unlikely to be a factor, but it’s not impossible that a game could be interrupted due to inclement weather. A disruption in the crowd, a technical foul, faulty equipment (a broken backboard perhaps), may all seem unlikely, but are not impossible. They’ve happened before. It’s their likelihood that can’t be accounted for, therefore they can’t be calculated in the statistics.

4–Attitude or outlook, by either team. Attitudes can be caught. Sometimes teams get “fired up,” and conversely they can be discouraged. It could even be something catastrophic to do with a key player’s family, causing them to worry or lose focus. Those types of things simply can’t be forecast with any certainty.

My point? There are probably dozens of unlikely but possible scenarios that could genuinely affect the outcome of any game. Just because a player has shot 65% from the free-throw line all year doesn’t mean they won’t go suddenly cold in a championship game. We’ve all seen it.

It’s the unpredictability that makes for the excitement of watching two well-matched and determined teams.

At this point, however much I may want one team to win over the other, it could honestly come down to one point.

That’s when my grandpa would have said, “It might as well have been a million.”

 

© Wade Kingston

Check out my other blogs at:

friedredtomatoes.com

mygardenbuddy.com

 

If I Had a Time Machine

If I had a time machine there are many places in the past I would like to visit.

According to scientists, time travel is theoretically possible, but only if we move forward in time, and only for very small increments.

Still, it’s fun to think about the places one could visit if traveling backwards was an option. Let’s play a game. Let’s assume we had a time machine and that we could travel backwards in time to any location and at any point in history.

Let’s put a few conditions on it as well. Let’s agree to the following:

  • We cannot be harmed. 
  • We can return whenever we like.
  • We cannot be seen or heard.
  • We cannot interfere with the past.
  • It has to be before your own lifetime. (Otherwise we would be spending all out time in the past with relatives).

 

I think that covers all the bases. Now, where would you go? I can think of five times/places right off. Continue reading…

 

Time to Mow the Wild Onions

Time to Mow the Wild Onions

Oh merciful Heaven! Wild onions! Get the mower, quick!

It’s time to mow the wild onions, I suppose.

Last week, on our first warm day after the latest round of sleet, snow, and freezing rain, I was out for a long walk. I passed a house where an older gentleman had apparently decided he would be the first in the neighborhood to mow his lawn. Never mind that there were piles of snow still melting against his house. There were wild onions out there, and they had to go! I could smell them before I even heard the riding mower. Continue reading…

 

Toby

Toby

Toby

Grandpa’s mule was sick.

Sam watched as the pitiful old animal walked around in a never-ending circle. “Toby” had been walking for days, plodding steadily through the hot sun and humid nights.

When Grandpa first discovered Toby making his circle, he called to the animal. But Toby’s ears did not turn toward Grandpa as they always had, nor did he falter in his gait. The big animal did not alter his steadfast plodding, even when Grandpa laid a strap across his broad back. Grandpa had not the heart to continue beating the faithful animal, so he let him be after that. The veterinarian told Grandpa to just shoot Toby. Grandpa told him thanks, that he would do that. But when it got right down to it he couldn’t. Grandpa told Sam, “Toby will come to his senses. You just wait and see.” Continue reading…

 

Why I am a Proud Kentuckian

The reasons I am a proud Kentuckian are many and varied. They have nothing to do with the ridiculous stereotypes outsiders often assign the Bluegrass State.

I have been fortunate enough to travel far and wide in these United States. I’ve visited all of the “lower 48″ states, some of them many times. All of those states had many things to commend them beyond their stereotypes. Continue reading…

 

Ten Things that Cheer Me Up

Here are ten things that cheer me up – all the better when they are unexpected.

Ever notice how you can be having a “down” day, or just a ho-hum day, and all of a sudden have it brightened by something unexpected?

  1. Finding unexpected money. It could be when you run your hand into a pocket on a jacket you haven’t worn since last winter, or a pair of jeans with a couple of laundered bills. Either way, any unexpected money at all brings a smile to my face. And that includes finding coins on the pavement!
  2. When my cat does something ridiculous. Callie can do some rather silly-looking things, particularly when she’s grooming herself. At other times she can be startled into making what I call the “manic cat jump.” You know the one, where a cat is startled into jumping straight up in the air. It’s always hilarious and makes me wish I had been filming her.

    Ten Things that Cheer Me Up - Callie's favorite grooming position

    Callie’s favorite grooming position

  3. When the weather is better than expected. You know the day. Forecasters called for mostly cloudy and cool, but the sun has other ideas, shining brightly and warming everything. Always a treat.
  4. When you hear a song you forgot all about. Sometimes when I’m flipping through the radio I’ll hear a song I hadn’t thought of in decades (yes, I’m that old). One of those oldies that you love to sing to, and I do.
  5. Chocolate. ‘Nuff said.
  6. A ride/walk/drive in the country. You can’t beat getting out in rural Kentucky, especially in the spring.
  7. Getting a Facebook “like.” It may be shallow, but I’ll take what I can get. Everyone wants to be liked.
  8. Getting on the bathroom scales and seeing a lower number. Oh yeah. Nothing like it. Talk about a boost!
  9. Arriving at a matinee to discover you are the only one in the theater. I love having the auditorium to myself. I can sit wherever I want, prop up my feet. It’s like having your own personal movie theater. It doesn’t happen often, which makes it even more special.
  10. When mom calls out of the blue. She’s always saying things like “I don’t want to run up your minutes,” and I’m always explaining that I have plenty of minutes. Nothing cheers me up more than seeing her number flash on my phone as an incoming call.

What cheers you up?

 

© Wade Kingston

Check out my other blogs at:

friedredtomatoes.com

mygardenbuddy.com

 

A Valentine for Poodle

A Valentine for Poodle, my sister.

I was almost six when Wilma Jean was born. She was the first baby I can remember. She didn’t cry much at first–just lay quietly between two pillows in the middle of the bed. Despite warnings from relatives not to bother her, I couldn’t stop sneaking into the bedroom. She was pink and pudgy, with a full head of red hair.  She stared upwards out of blue eyes and gurgled.  It was still very warm that September, so her legs and arms were bare. She waved her limbs about as a warm breeze rustled plastic patterned curtains. I was mesmerized. Continue reading…

 

Super Bowl Sunday Snowstorm Western Kentucky 2-2-2014

Super Bowl Sunday Snowstorm in Western Kentucky.

A number of things happened on Sunday, February 2, 2014. It was Groundhog Day and he certainly did NOT see his shadow in Paducah. Not that anyone thought this messy winter was going to end anytime soon, but we can hope.

The talented actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, was found dead in his New York apartment–another cautionary tale about the dangers of drug abuse. Oh, and the Seattle Seahawks absolutely dominated the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl 48 by a score of 43-8.  I will let wiser heads write about Mr. Hoffman and the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, we had another little event to deal with here in Paducah and surroundings. Continue reading…

 

Kentucky Ice Storm Part 2, with 26 New Photos plus 2 Videos

Ky. Ice Storm Part 2, with 26 New Photos plus 2 Videos.

For those of you who enjoyed Part 1, more joy! I found more photos and even some video. This winter has not been without its challenges. The polar vortex has caused widespread suffering, and utility bills are rivaling mortgages in some places. When I finished writing this post it was a whopping 9° with a wind chill below zero. But I’ll still take it over January and February of 2009. If you are reading this from someplace other than the Ohio Valley, you’ll just have to take my word for it. All of you who experienced it firsthand, you know what I’m talking about.

The first thing I remember about that week was the ominous forecast from WPSD-TV–Newschannel 6 from Paducah–on Sunday, January 25, 2009. The weather people actually had grave looks on their faces as they gave a rather scary forecast for Monday through Wednesday. I remember thinking, “How can they know we will get that much ice?” Continue reading…

 

Kentucky’s Historic Ice Storm Five Year Anniversary

Kentucky’s Historic Ice Storm Five Year Anniversary. Has it really been five years? For most of us the painful memories of January, 2009 are still fresh. It was the worst weather catastrophe to hit our area (so far) in the 21st century. I won’t go into a long story here about what it was like. I’ll let my photos tell the story. Besides, most people in Western Kentucky have their own horror stories.

But I will just say this. It wasn’t just the inconvenience of not having power. Or not being able to charge a cell phone. Of having to boil water–or worse, not having any water at all.

It wasn’t just the fact that you had to drive to another county to get food, gasoline, or kerosene for heaters and lamps. It wasn’t the run on batteries, or putting up with relatives huddled on your couches. It wasn’t the fact that we had no power for 19 days (at least at our house), or had no hot showers.

It wasn’t even the canned food heated on a kerosene stove or an outdoor grill.  Or the expense of buying a generator only to watch it blow up after an hour.

No, it wasn’t any of that when you get right down to it.  It was this: People died. Animals died. And we lost–at one estimate–300,000 mature trees in Kentucky alone.

300,000 trees. It’s almost unbelievable. And yet, for those of us who will never, EVER  forget the eery sound of trees breaking and crashing in the night, it’s entirely believable.

I recall my first hike in Land Between the Lakes after the ice storm. It was March. All the hiking and biking trails were covered with fallen trees and limbs. You couldn’t go more than a few feet without encountering a large tree knocked over in its prime. Most of them never recovered, of course. To this day you can see evidence all around of the devastation that was the Ice Storm of 2009. May we never have another.

Kentucky's Historic Ice Storm Five Year Anniversary - We lost so many trees

Kentucky’s Historic Ice Storm Five Year Anniversary – We lost so many trees

Continue reading…

 

Long Gone Lyon County Lives on in Photos

Long Gone Lyon County. The places in this posting no longer exist. Oh, the soil is still there. Sometimes it’s under water, though.  Maybe hidden by overgrown trees now, somewhere in Land Between the Lakes. Or rebuilt, in the case of the Eddyville Court House.

Perhaps you recognize one or two of these old buildings. Maybe you stayed at Benberry Motel between the rivers. Maybe you attended Cross Roads Baptist church? Rode Hillman Ferry? Did you ever go to the Dogwood Lodge? I’ve never even heard of it. Does anyone have a story about these places they would like to share?

Some of you may even be old enough to have splashed about in the Kuttawa Mineral Springs Swimming Pool. Certainly not me. I have no recollection at all of it.

Long Gone Lyon County - Between the rivers - Calhoun Grocery

Long Gone Lyon County – Between the rivers – Calhoun Grocery

Continue reading…

 

Western Kentucky 1937 Flood

Western Kentucky 1937 Flood. More photos from towns in Western Kentucky. The devastating floods of the 1930’s.  Town photos include: Kuttawa and Eddyville. Paducah and Calvert City. Gilbertsville and Smithland, Kentucky. The floods prompted radical changes by TVA in the years that followed. New dams were constructed. Some towns were moved. Continue reading…