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When you hear this alarm, don't hit the snooze button

POSTED: February 22, 2009 1:11 a.m.

If a toddler touches a hot stove, it’s because they don’t know any better. Sure, maybe your mama or daddy warned you, but sometimes those concepts don’t sink in with the very young.

There comes a time, however, that we reach an age when we know some degree of right and wrong.

Several years ago, a reigning Miss America was stripped of her title because she had done a little stripping herself — in front of a camera. When she was slipping off her last garments, something had to go through her mind about whether or not this was a good idea.

Last week, I thought about using a chair as a stepladder. I actually went as far as to place one foot in the seat of the chair. An alarm went off in my head to remind me that I’m not as agile as I used to be and a good tumble to the floor might leave me bruised or broken. I went and got a stepladder.

For years, I’ve thought we all came with some sort of internal thing that nudges us in the right direction.

In cartoons, there was the floating likeness of the devil and an angel hanging above the shoulders of the character in a dilemma. If the devil won out, the action usually resulted in a catastrophe with the angel hanging overhead as if to say, “I told you so.”

But I think I may have been very wrong. That moral and logical compass is clearly not working in some people.

Sandra Herold is a woman who lives in Connecticut. She was the owner of a 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis, who nearly killed her neighbor before the police killed Travis.

Travis had appeared in TV commercials and was just cute as he could be. But, according to reports, Travis got agitated and went on a rampage.

The stories have also included sordid details, like Travis and Sandra shared a bed and Travis liked to brush Sandra’s hair.

When your start shacking up with your chimp who is also your hairdresser, an alarm should go off. I’m not talking about a wind-up alarm clock, I’m talking about an air-raid siren.

This also should have happened in California at the home of Nadya Suleman. It should have happened about 10 months ago.

Based on those magazines in the checkout lines at the grocery store, Nadya wanted to be like Angelina Jolie, a woman with big lips and a big family.

Angelina is an actress who gets millions of dollars for every movie she makes. If you have millions of dollars and a houseful of kids, that’s your business.

However, the story is that Nadya is behind on her house payment and is getting ready to come home with eight little babies to go with the six other kids she already has.

She doesn’t have a husband. If she’s thinking about finding one on the Internet, revealing that you have 14 kids will scare off most men and, for that matter, most chimps.

If you’re about to embark on some event in your life and you feel that internal alarm ringing, you might think about listening.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.



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