Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Trouble With a Glass House

When you live in one, you alone suffer damage when you choose to throw stones


It is wonderful when differing opinions converge for a common cause.

The controversial Doonesbury comic series The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time is now a book.

The creator is donating all of his proceeds; the publisher 10% of theirs to Fisher House.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Quiet Dignity

As is often true of those who don the uniform in service to our great nation and make sacrifices worthy of admiration, Major General James E. Bolt (Retired) shares a somewhat diminished tale of his experiences as a World War II Prisoner of War.

History has taught us of men packed in boxcars to the point of standing room only with meager rations of bread and water, if any, and rare occasions to perform necessary bodily functions outside of the boxcar; of men seriously injured who never received medical treatment; of men who walked mile after mile, day after day, in blizzards and freezing temperatures without adequate food, clothing or shelter; of men who died from untreated wounds, torture, cold, or starvation; and of men who helplessly watched their comrades in suffering die.

History has also taught us of men and women who fought in unpopular wars simply for the sake of commitment, only to be shunned by those they were committed to.

Bolt said Sunday’s celebration was humbling.

“I’m just so proud of my country and people,” he said, “and folks who take the time to do something like this.”

We are humbled, sir. We are proud of you, and we are grateful for you.

Monday Mutt Shot: Nap Moves II Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Somebody's Someone

God's Rest, Sgt. Jones

Monday, June 20, 2005

Books: An Update

An Update

As a result of the generosity of one, more books were delivered to the grateful staff of the county library, and in turn, to the waiting hands of children determined to complete the summer reading assignment.

The number of those on the waiting list still far exceeds the number of books available. If you can help in any way, please leave a comment.

A little often means a great deal to those with none.

Thank you!

Update: June 22, 2005

Though many (including yours truly) thought it an impossible task 10 days ago, there are now enough books (if all are returned promptly after the designated lending time) for each and every student to read in time to complete the assignment.

The number of books donated by individuals has been multiplied. The school has fulfilled its commitment and delivered additional copies of the books to the county library.

While some ponder citizens and/or administrators in powerful positions playing a hand in this matter, and others surmise the shame and humiliation garnered by efforts of individuals prompted the rapid response by the school, I prefer to believe honor and a common cause dictated it.

I would be remiss if I failed to thank one very special person who had copies of all of the books delivered to my office for the county library today, and even more so if I failed to thank you all.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Monday Mutt Shot: Nap Moves I Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Due Process

Dogs are often seen accompanying their owners in Newton District Court, but rarely if ever as participants in the legal process, according to Clerk Magistrate Henry H. Shultz.

But when the hearing is held, Shultz pledged, ''Murphy will be treated like one of God's creatures -- with dignity."

One can only hope the pledged dignity includes Due Process, for surely, Murphy The Dog is entitled.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Books: The Need Remains

I met with the school principal today to discuss my concerns about the summer reading assignment.

Rational discussions with those who have preconceived notions are difficult at best, and while I suppose it was easy to confuse my objections to the details of the summer reading assignment as an absolute objection, I confess I tired quickly of unnecessary attempts to placate me with rhetoric.

After listening politely to one variation or another of “We are doing out best to promote reading and learning as a lifetime activity”, and being completely discombobulated by the tales of attempts to meet this goal, I could no longer hold my tongue.

“It’s not working for you, is it?” I asked.

There were moments of tense debate when it was intimated that I was a parent who depended on the school to provide for my child.

I replied, "You really need to know that I am a single parent. As such, I have no unlimited source of income, and before you continue along these lines, please understand that there was a day when I had no job, a newborn, $200.00 in food stamps and no money to pay the light bill, much less purchase a book. You also need to know that as limited as my income may be, my child's needs, be they educational or any other, have never gone unmet. Furthermore, I’ve taken it upon myself to purchase used books to donate to the library for children who have no other access to them. I’ve also solicited friends and family to do the same.”

I went on to explain that I was educated, informed, scoffed at attempts to use state and federal education requirements in a threatening manner, and questioned whether or not grants specifically provided by both governing bodies for reading initiatives had been applied for or were being properly utilized.

My retort was met by reasonable discourse. While the assignment has not been revoked, concessions have been made.

Inventory of classrooms and the school’s library will be made in an effort to provide as many copies of the books as possible to the county library.

Efforts will be made in the future to give parents advance notice of summer reading assignments so as to provide the opportunity of purchasing inexpensive copies of the books from a large publishing/media corporation.

Efforts will be made to expand the required reading list in the future.

Accelerated Reader test results will not be utilized for grading purposes.

The school has provided 60 copies of books assigned as required reading purchased with grant monies to the county library: 15 copies each of Maniac McGee, Taking Sides, My Side of the Mountain, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. As of this writing, all 60 copies of these books have been loaned.

The county library’s inventory as of this writing contains no copies of Hatchet; no copies of Maniac McGee; 5 copies of Summer of the Swans (all have been loaned); no copies of Taking Sides; 4 copies of Island of the Blue Dolphins (all have been loaned); 4 copies of My Side of the Mountain (all have been loaned), 1 copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, 2 copies of Rumble Fish (1 is available), 1 copy of Woodsong (loaned); and no copies of If I Should Die Before I Wake.

In that only one week has passed since the summer reading assignment was issued, I think it obvious the parents and students of our school district are committed. I also think it painfully obvious that need (77 books for 591 students) outweighs supply and again ask that if you are able to give a child an opportunity otherwise denied, please, please contact me.

Thank you, -p-

PS: A special note to one: You have a heart of gold. I have always been and will remain eternally grateful for you. Though you have no children of your own, you endeavor to be a source of great support and inspiration. The books were received today and will be delivered to the county library tomorrow. Thank you, my friend, Thank you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Flag Day Posted by Hello

Monday Mutt Shot Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005


A summer reading assignment has been given the rising 7th and 8th graders of Clarendon School District 2 under the thinly vailed guise of meeting "the expectations of the state (PACT) and the federal government (No Child Left Behind)".

The titles from which 7th graders must choose are:

Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

*Maniac McGee - Jerry Spinelli

Summer of the Swans - Betsy Byars

*Taking Sides - Gary Soto

Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell

The titles from which 8th graders must choose are:

*My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George

*The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

Rumble Fish - S.E. Hinton

Woodsong - Gary Paulsen

If I Should Die Before I Wake - Lurlene McDaniel

According to statistics from the South Carolina Department of Education, there are 270 rising 8th graders and 321 rising 7th graders in the district.

The summer reading assignment was given by letter of the principal dated June 1, 2005, mailed June 7, 2005.

The school is closed for the summer, so students have no access to the school library.

No arrangments were made to allow students to purchase copies of the books through a publishing/media company that can provide them at low cost to all of the students (i.e."Schoolastic", a company the kids regularly order books from during the school year and a major sponsor of school book fairs).

The county library has only 2-3 copies of those titles marked by an asterick above.

There is only bookstore in the vicinity of the school. It is a Christian bookstore.

The closest secular bookstore is 25 miles away, is a very small version of the "Waldenbooks" chain, and has limited inventory at excessive prices.

Ours is a rural school district, populated by many who do not have the means to obtain the books necessary to complete the assignment.

'tis often better to act than react and, while I question the infinate wisdom of the ignorant who gave this assignment and the touted reasons for giving it, the fact remains that some 591 students face a failing grade before the school year begins.

I hope to find inexpensive, used copies of the books on eBay and Amazon that I can donate to the county library for the students who have no other access to use.

If you have copies of the books that you can donate, or are otherwise inclined to aid in my quest, please contact me.

With sincere appreciation, -p-

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Inquiry

Preface: After much thought, I have responded to the letter posted below and have copied my response to the appropriate. Those who know me best know that such matters are not personal battles; they are battles that I believe need to be fought for the unware and underprivileged.

With Hope, -p-

I received the attached yesterday and must ask for further explanation.

Why is an assignment being given before the school year begins? The flyer indicates a due date of August 12, but surely the assignors are aware that (a) students have no access to the school library; (b) even if students have access to the school library, prints of the five publications requiring reading are limited; and, (c) though some students have access to the county's public library, not all do, and those who have such access again face limited availability of five required readings.

Are parents required to purchase one or more books, or is the school district prepared to provide all students with copies of the books to be read in order to complete the assignment?

Why is an "Accelerated Reader test" required? To my knowledge, the Accelerated Reading Program is an extra-curricular activity and, as such, is not subject to grading.

I look forward to your response.

Oh, no, no, no, Posted by Hello

Please, tell me Posted by Hello

they didn't...more later. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


The domestic violence law was passed in the General Assembly after it was initially spiked by a House subcommittee. But the bill was quickly resuscitated and put on the fast track after public outcry about comments made by Rep. John Graham Altman, R-Charleston.

"I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them," Altman told a WIS-TV reporter as he explained why the bill needed to be tabled. "I've asked women that and they all tell me the same answer, 'John Graham, you don't understand.' And I say you're right, I don't understand."

Altman did not attend the signing on Tuesday. Sanford was surrounded by other co-sponsors of the bill, Reps. Bob Leach of Greer and Gloria Haskins of Greenville. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, who wrote the original bill also attended and credited the WIS-TV report with helping revive the legislation.

The State

"Nothing is more central to quality of life than being safe in your own home and yet tragically, too many women in South Carolina haven't been able to enjoy that basic building block of freedom," Governor Sanford said.



June 6, 1944. The day when ordinary men banded together and advanced to free Western Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

Many men never returned, but those who did tell the tales that forever honor the memories of those who didn't.

Robert Lee Atkinson came home.

HARTSVILLE -- Sixty-one years ago Monday, Robert Lee Atkinson of Hartsville was sitting in a glider, crossing the English Channel, waiting to be dropped onto Normandy.

“They towed us behind C-47 (aircraft) from England and dropped us about 10 to 12 miles from the beach, for us to fight back toward the water,” said Atkinson, who was one of about 15 soldiers on a glider.

The quiet aircraft were deployed over battle zones in World War II because the enemy could not hear them coming.

Atkinson’s route to Normandy began in 1942, when he was drafted at the age of 19. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as a charter member, and he was member of the 80th AA Battalion.

Atkinson, with the rest of the glider men and paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, were some of the first troops on the ground at Normandy.

more from Morning News Online

I am thankful for men like Robert Lee Atkinson...whether known or unknown...ordinary men who do the extraordinary, be they cloaked in armor of protection, a uniform of bravery, or a shroud of honor.

Monday, June 06, 2005

To Be Law

The bill that was once almost tabled is scheduled to become law during a formal ceremony tomorrow.

Monday Mutt Shot: All Good Guard Dogs Sleep With One Ear Open Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Though there those who revel in suspected scandal and those who provide fodder for the frenzied; there will always be those who forsake the appetizer for the entrée.

For a purported champion of human rights to fall in the ranks of the frenzied is indeed sad.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite highly publicized charges of U.S. mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, the head of the Amnesty International USA said on Sunday the group doesn't "know for sure" that the military is running a "gulag."

Executive Director William Schulz said Amnesty, often cited worldwide for documenting human rights abuses, also did not know whether Secretary Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved severe torture methods such as beatings and starvation.

Schulz recently dubbed Rumsfeld an "apparent high-level architect of torture" in asserting he approved interrogation methods that violated international law.

"It would be fascinating to find out. I have no idea," Schulz told "Fox News Sunday."

Yahoo! News

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Manners Normally Prevent Comment

on such matters, but I there are times when one can not help one's self.

I wonder. Is Phil Spector having a "bad hair day", or is an insanity defense in the makings?

Believe Nothing Against One Another

...on good authority; and never report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to some other to conceal it. William Penn (1644-1718)

Though there those who revel in suspected scandal and those who provide fodder for the frenzied; there will always be those who forsake the appetizer for the entrée.

(Excerpts from CNN)

A U.S. military investigation has found four incidents in which guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison mishandled the Quran, but said that it was detainees who threw the Muslim holy book in the toilet.

The findings of the report, issued by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of the detention center in Cuba, were released late Friday. They found no evidence to support allegations that U.S. soldiers attempted to flush the Muslim holy book down the toilet.

The investigation was prompted after a Newsweek article citing unnamed sources made such a claim -- prompting violent protests in Afghanistan and other parts of the Muslim world that left more than a dozen people dead.

Newsweek has since retracted the story.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Patriot

"Country music artist Charlie Daniels was unable to serve his country growing up, but he's making up for it now in his own special way."

Indeed he is. He freely gives of his time and talent and does not hesitate to share his beliefs.

Thank you, Charlie Daniels!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Compassion vs. Duty

A decision I hope I am never faced with.

Almost There

Only the governor's signature is required to make the once controversial Criminal Domestic Violence Bill law.


With a huge smile on his face, Ard sat across from his daughter in their home's den talking about graduation and events in her senior year he missed.

"Daddy is here," Letitia said with a bright smile on her face. "That's what counts. It's good to have him home."

Each year during awards night, the local Rotary president presents Manning High School's valedictorian with an award. At this year's awards night on May 20, former Rotary club president Paul Floyd, Ard's father-in-law, gave Ard the honor of presenting his daughter with the award.

"There were tears everywhere," Letitia's mother, Janie, said Wednesday. "It was really a moving experience."

Less than one week after graduation, Ard will leave home again for the Middle East, but this time he'll have a shorter time before heading home.

God Bless You, Keep You, and Bring You Home Safely Once More, Aubrey!