Friday, March 05, 2010

Idle Items

Down the coast a piece, in nearby Venice, a man was attacked yesterday morning by a wild beast. Now, here in Florida, being attacked by a wild beast--human or animal--is not really headline news. 

What makes this a bit bizarre is that the attacker was an otter and the attackee was a 96-year-old man. Seems Morrell Denton was out on a "stroll" at 4:30 AM when the incident occurred. The fact that anyone four years short of the century mark would even be able to move, much less out on a pre-dawn jaunt, is amazing to me; but added to this, to be attacked by a fun-loving otter just sorta puts this story into another category altogether. I can only hope that this elderly gent is okay and pulls through. Imagine, after living nearly a hundred years, and perhaps contributing nearly ten decades of good work and valuable achievements, the last thing old Morrell might be remembered for is that he was killed by an otter, of all things. I have never heard of an otter attacking anything, except clam shells and maybe a bottle of Perrier.

Speaking of animal attacks: I checked out from the library this week several old Tarzan movies. Think rearing kids is tough? Try raising "Boy." This over-active little scamp (below) got Tarzan and Jane into more scrapes per episode than a person could count. It seems that in every movie Boy had at least five close calls with lions, three near fatal encounters with crocodiles and one or two near-death experiences with rhinos, hippos and large, hairy gorillas. Tarzan even had to rescue him once from giant spiders, into whose web Boy had somehow managed to get entangled. Indeed, Tarzan and Jane were always speeding through the jungle somewhere, either afoot or alimb, trying to rescue this mop-headed imp from the jaws of something. Whatever happened to Boy, played by Johnny Sheffield, you ask? Well, Boy grew up and became Man and there was only room for one of those in a Tarzan movie. And so, Sheffield moved on to star in his own jungle series, this time as "Bomba." When that washed out Johnny got a job, like the rest of us, either selling things or toiling as a construction worker. He even tried his hand at farming where he was always being chased by angry bulls, attacked by hissing geese or falling under the wheels of his tractor.

We tend to think of dog breeds as something static. A Collie is always a Collie; a Boxer is always a Boxer; a Poodle is always a Poodle; all are cut and dried and set in stone for all time. But not. As I type, dog breeders around the world are at work. Some where, some one is trying to breed some dog just a little more extreme; a larger, more aggressive Pit Bull? Bet on it. A longer weener dog? Probably. And some one, some where is no doubt also trying to breed a Teacup Chihuahua smaller; so small that the dog is able to fit into a thimble. Some day, and maybe sooner than you think, expect Chihuahuas the size of lady bugs. Even at that size, such is the power of mind over matter that the frenetic little canine will no doubt still be able to spook and chase cats up trees. Some things will never change.

We think of outer space as infinite; and so it must be, don't you think? After all, is it possible that future space travelers will one day come to the end of the universe and there, barring further movement, is a wall? But what of the wall? Would it not also have to go on and on and on? And what of inner space? It too must be infinite, right? Just as we look up and contemplate the solar system, the stars, the galaxy, black holes, and beyond, and try to imagine the concept of no end, we could also think "down." Just as there can be no end to up, there can be no end to down, either; no point at which there is a wall barring the plunge downward. As more powerful telescopes extend our eyes into outer space, so too will more powerful microscopes allow us to see beyond the atom and visit other worlds of inner space. Every time I look up to the heavens I wonder if I am looking down into my own body.