The ripped 18-inch piece of thin foam wall insulation that plopped down in my front yard might, for some, have served as a tornado threat reminder Tuesday morning. But not for me.
I didn't need a reminder to make me grateful for Paul Barys' interrupting television programming Monday evening. I didn't need it to make me appreciative of the three phone calls we got from friends and family who were watching cable weather in Georgia and Alabama and East Brainerd. They all called to be sure we knew there was a radar image of a tornado aimed right at us.
By the time we got the third call, we were settling in our basement safe spot with four dogs and a cat.
As a longtime news hawk, I've seen first-hand the trembling shock of a woman finding herself safe in literally the only thing left standing of her home -- a 3-by-3-foot interior closet. I've had white-faced people tell me about looking up from the center of their basement to see sky.
The devil winds passed right over us with hardly a moan. In the meantime, there was nothing on TV that mattered except those warnings -- warnings built on ever-improving and evolving technology. I hope the owner of that insulation -- blown maybe from another county, or even another state -- was as forewarned and blessed as my family.
When will Tennessee's senior U.S. senator, Lamar Alexander, stop hiding behind an assertion that he wants to save the $3.2 billion walking horse industry -- an industry he apparently thinks would be decimated if padded shoes and chains are outlawed and penalties are toughened for abusing horses?
The industry already is reeling financially after several years of falling sales and show receipts in the wake of walking horse hall-of-famer Jackie McConnell's prosecution and guilty plea. McConnell's case marked one of the first convictions for the abuse, called soring, in more than 40 years since the Horse Protection Act was passed in the 1970s. Two bills are now pending to reform the walking horse industry, but the one Alexander is sponsoring is the companion to Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn's bill that protects the horse trainers and owners, not the horses. That bill relies on veterinarians to help the industry police itself. The trouble should be obvious: Trainers and owners, who already have shown that they can't or won't police themselves, are, in Tennessee horse country, the primary and best payers of veterinarians.
Sen. Alexander, if you truly want to help horses and the horse industry, then help the industry get back to its roots with beautiful horses that perform without soring and without "tall" padded hooves. The industry got its start in the 1930s without high heels for horses. The pads to exaggerate the front-leg "big lick" of walkers didn't come on the scene for decades after that. It doesn't look better. In fact, it makes the horses lean so far back on their hind legs they look lame.
Senator, help trainers and owners understand that if they bring back that natural beauty and wholesome horseshow atmosphere, this industry will once again flourish.
At least not out loud. But clearly racism is alive and well, and not just in Clive Bundy's insular world of rural Nevada.
Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, recently showed what at least one former player called his "plantation" mentality during a secretly recorded conversation with his former girlfriend. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday barred Sterling from the league for life and fined him $2.5 million, adding that he will urge the league's board to force Sterling to sell the team.
As the world awaited Silver's action and catalogued player comments, the real measure of censure came the day before as sponsors began to pull away from the Clippers' franchise. Carmax ended a nine-year partnership. Mercedes-Benz, Chumash Casino Resort, Corona, State Farm, Kia, Red Bull, Sprint, Lumber Liquidators and others all reportedly dropped or suspended their sponsorships of the team.
Money talks, and Sterling's cotton has weevils.