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Alas, poor Emory   


Emory, poor Emory. One of the South’s most ambitious private institutions (along with Duke, Rice, and Vanderbilt), Emory has vaunted into the ranks of top-tier universities. It has benefited from the inexplicable cachet of its rather dreary mother city Atlanta (whose police arrested the august don, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, for jaywalking during the 2007 meeting of the American Historical Association). In recent years, Emory has become a magnet for ambitious students from the Northeast, now the dominant presence in the student body, who couldn’t quite make it into Columbia, Penn, and Princeton, but who wouldn’t settle for Rutgers, Stony Brook, or UConn. It is, you could say, the NYU of the South.

But alas poor Emory. A magnet for bright students, it has also attracted scandal-prone historians, like metal-shavings, to it.

Emory’s woes began with the infamous Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, whose familial career of apostasy from the left along with an abiding love of authority in all of its embodiments, most notably the Roman Catholic Church, gave new meaning to the feminist notion of a woman in charge. Perhaps the late Fox-Genovese internalized a little too much of the mind of the master class, leading her to treat her female subordinates as maidservants. In 1996, Emory settled a harassment lawsuit brought against her and the university by Virginia Gould, one of her employees (unconfirmed reports suggest that the undisclosed settlement was nearly one million dollars). Much of the material, including the quite-interesting depositions, can be found in the newly opened EFG Papers at the Southern Historical Collections in Chapel Hill. For her conservative political correctness, Professor Fox-Genovese was honored by none other than President George W. Bush, who gave her the National Humanities Medal for her work as a "defender of reason and servant of faith."

And then Michael Bellesiles, the terminally sloppy historian who shot his career point blank in the temple and, in the process, gave the National Rifle Association a poster child for the supposed mendacity of the vast left-wing conspiracy against Americans' right-to-own as many Uzis as they can cram into their gun closets. In an unprecedented move, Columbia University revoked Bellesiles's Bancroft Prize.

Adding injury to insult, David Garrow, the formidable civil rights historian (then at Emory’s law school), was charged with assaulting a staff member. Garrow was suspended from his position for six months, after which he departed for good. The case dragged on for four years--and was finally settled in the spring of 2006. Though Professor Bierce has often wished that he could come to fisticuffs with certain petty administrators, he possesses that admirable restraint that has thus far protected him from criminal and civil charges of battery.

Emory has worked to redress its past sins, most notably by hiring some rather talented young historians. James Roark brings a gravitas to the department through his carefully researched studies of slavery. Leslie Harris recast the history of slavery and race by turning her attention to antebellum New York. Joseph Crespino revised the history of race and politics by turning his attention to Mississippi, though he made his fame at a most precocious age by bringing down fellow Mississippian Trent Lott, to the Great Happiness of all defenders of Truth and Justice. And overseeing the university's academic affairs is eminent Earl Lewis.

Will any of them join the ranks of evidence fabricators and alleged bureaucrat beaters, and grad student abusers? Professor Bierce believes not, and even more fervently hopes not, but does note that it will be a long time before Emory’s history department will emerge from the shadow of scandal and is able to compete with its many rivals North and South.


John Robert Taliaferro - The Whole Story   


Last week for Wordless Wednesday I posted a picture of my grandfather John Robert Taliaferro with the following source note: From: Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, ed., History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition (Atlanta: A. B. Caldwell Publishing Co.,1917), 353 It did not occur to me to post the entire article from the book because it was "Wordless" Wednesday. My intention was only to give credit for the source of the photo.

Well, several people were curious and actually googled the book and read the entire feature. My friend over at Our Georgia Roots, encouraged me to step outside the box, make my own rules, and write as much as I want or need to write regardless of theme. Luckie continues to inspire me to become a better researcher, and to be more diligent in documenting my family history. So, I decided to post the entire biography of John Robert Taliaferro from the book History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition. The book features African Americans who were making significant contributions to their communities, and who otherwise may not have been recognized or even known. As the title implies, there were also editions for other states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. There were a total of seven volumes the Georgia edition was two volumes. If you had ancestors in any of these states, I would encourage you to seek out these books. Unfortunately, the books are very rare and not readily available. The Georgia edition has been digitized and is available online.

The article on my grandfather was sent to me by my cousin back in 2005. It was her way of sharing some family history with me. Thinking back on my first reading of the article, I felt as if I was sitting at my grandfather's feet listening to him give me an account of his life up to that point in time. I was AMAZED at the amount of history on those few pages. A researcher’s dream!! I am posting the scanned pages from the original book a copy of which is in the possession of my cousin. It is literally falling apart, but is still a treasured family heirloom.

**Note: Click on each page image to enlarge.


Wordless Wednesday "John Robert Taliaferro"   


From: Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, ed., History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition (Atlanta: A. B. Caldwell Publishing Co.,1917), 353


Alexander “Alex” Taliaferro - Running A Blind Tiger   


In genealogy we research to find out the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Those are the basics. But, if you are like me, you often wonder what everyday life was like for your ancestors. What did they do; where did they go; and who did they see. We know that they had to work and take care of their families; deal with the struggles of day-to-day living. Of course, many attended church and school, and were probably involved in community activities. I am in constant search of anything that can shed more light on the daily life of my ancestors, and their extracurricular activities. I have found that historical newspapers are an excellent source for conducting this type of research. You never know what you might find.....and, as they say, be careful what you ask for.

A few days ago while on, I came across this interesting notice in the March 24, 1902, issue of the Atlanta Constitution:

My Taliaferro ancestors have a history in East Point, GA. The WHERE of this story fit with my research facts. Alexander "Alex" Taliaferro was my great, great uncle; son of Miles Taliaferro, my great, great grandfather; brother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro; uncle of my grandfather John Robert Taliaferro; and great uncle to my father John Lawrence Taliaferro. Alex was born about 1858 in Fulton, GA, and died sometime after this 1902 incident, probably in or close to East Point, GA. That’s the WHO and WHEN. But, WHAT in the world was a "blind tiger" and WHY was Uncle Alex running one?

I had never heard or seen the term "running a blind tiger" before. A quick search on Google revealed the following definitions: Blind Tiger - a place where illegal intoxicants were sold; Running a blind tiger - selling liquor without a license. So, now I have the WHAT. Uncle Alex and his buddies were selling liquor, illegally!!!! As the old folks say..they were running a liquor house. That really cracks me up, especially considering his brother John Wesley and his nephew John Robert were ministers.

All that remains unanswered is the WHY. Why was Uncle Alex selling illegal liquor? Was this a way to make extra money? Probably. Was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Maybe, but maybe not. Or, were dear Uncle Alex and his cohorts just up to no good? Possibly. I wonder if I can find out the outcome of the case. Like so many other questions in genealogical research, the WHY will unfortunately probably remain unanswered. At least I know something about one day in the life of my great, great uncle..Alexander "Alex" Taliaferro. I think I’ll go and have a glass of wine (or two) in honor of Uncle Alex!!


Taliaferros Sign Petition For New District   


Proximity of polling place to residence plays a vital role in voter turnout. My voting precinct just happens to be right around the corner from my house in easy walking distance. But, for many of our ancestors such convenience was not the case.
In a September 11, 1881, issue of The Atlanta Constitution, a legal notice from Fulton County, GA, addressing the Commissioners of Roads and Revenues, contained a petition signed by citizens of old Blackhall district asking the Commissioners to sustain the new district laid out by the ordinary of said county. The petitioners were also seeking to have laid out another new district and requested that three commissioners be appointed to lay out the district. The first two names on the petition were S. M. Taliaferro and E.M. Taliaferro. They were Edward Mobley Taliaferro, former slaveholder of my Taliaferro ancestors, and his son Samuel Mobley Taliaferro. Also among the signers were my great, great grandfather Miles Taliaferro, and his sons John Wesley Taliaferro (my great grandfather), and Alex Taliaferro.

Edward Mobley Taliaferro was one of the three commissioners appointed to lay out the new district. Two of the commissioners, Samuel Hape and T.A. Poole, objected to the new district stating it would be "a matter of public inconvenience"; they gave their recommendation for a change in the lines between the two districts. Edward Taliaferro disagreed with his fellow commissioners stating "I beg leave to report that, in my opinion, it is the wish of a majority of the people of said part of the county, and it would certainly be to their convenience to have a district laid off,...." and he went on to give his recommendation for the lines of the district. Taliaferro further stated "[t]he reasons for wanting a [n]ew district are that a majority of the voters and the people are remote from the places of holding court and voting, to wit: East Point and West End." The Commissioners approved the new district as recommended by Edward Taiaferro. The new district was known as South Bend district. My research shows that my ancestors and many of their relatives lived in this South Bend district.

One can only speculate as to the reasons why Commissioners Hape and Poole objected to the formation of the new district, or why Edward Taliaferro did not side with his fellow commissioners. The politics of this would surely make interesting reading. Considering the time period, a trip from South Bend to either East Point or West End was probably more than a mere "inconvenience". Realistically, the eventual formation of this new district was probably not for the convenience of my ancestors and their African American contemporaries. Nonetheless, I cannot help but feel a certain sense of pride knowing that my people were actively participating in this process during a time when I am sure they continued to face many of the injustices of that era.

**Click on image to enlarge.

Source:The Atlanta Constitution, 11 September 1881, p.5, digital image, ( : accessed 31 October 2009).


Wordless Wednesday: Another Unknown Middlebrooks?...Maybe, Maybe Not   


This photo was in a scrapbook passed on to me by my cousin earlier this year. He is another unknown relative from my maternal Middlebrooks line of Meriwether County, GA. Or, maybe he isn't- Unknown.

Several relatives, including myself, believe that he may be Gordon R. Middlebrooks born about September 1897 in Woodbury, Meriwether, GA to Sudie Parks and Alexander Middlebrooks. Gordon died in Atlanta, Fulton, GA 31 July 1948. I have only found evidence of Gordon in two documents; his 12 September 1918, WW I Draft Registration Card, and his 1948 GA death certificate. Seems strange; he indicated on his draft registration card that his residence was Woodbury, GA; he was a farmer and was working for Alex Middlebrooks; and he listed Sudie Middlebrooks as his nearest relative. I have not found a Gordon Middlebrooks listed on any census with his parents Alex and Sudie. However, I do find a "Brooks" L. Middlebrooks, also born about September 1897 with parents Alex and Sudie in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census. Recently, after learning of Gordon from my cousin, it occurred to me that Brooks and Gordon might very well be the same person!! Other than census records, I cannot find any documents for a Brooks Middlebrooks. Seems strange since he is so prominent in the census records. I believe that "Brooks" was probably a nickname for "Gordon". I'm still working on this one, including getting a copy of Gordon's 1948 death certificate to confirm his parents were Alex and Sudie.


WORDLESS WEDNESDAY SURPRISE-The Coca-Cola Cooperage Facility, Atlanta, GA-Circa 1924   


My friend Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots has given me a wonderful Thanksgiving surprise. Today in my email were pictures of the Coca-Cola Cooperage Facility. This is one of those photos. Luckie has been assisting me in obtaining information on the factory where my ancestor David Toliver (aka David Taliaferro) worked as a barrel maker or “cooper” for the Coca-Cola Company here in Atlanta, GA. I don’t know what years David worked as a cooper for the Coca-Cola Company, or how long he was employed there; the 1910 census indicates that David was working for a cooperage company, and his 1951 death certificate indicates that he was a cooper for the “CoCola Co”.  I don't know if David is among the employees pictured here. I’d like to think that he is. I hope to find more evidence to connect David with the Coca-Cola company, and his work as a cooper. In the mean time, I am blissfully happy and thankful to have these photos.

Luckie and Phil Mooney, the Director of Heritage Communications at the Coca-Cola Company, have come through big time with this one. I cannot thank them enough for this glimpse into my ancestor’s past.

[Image Source: Coca-Cola Archives; courtesy of Phil Mooney, Director of Heritage Communications; email from Luckie Daniels to Sandra Taliaferro, 25 November 2009.]


Wordless Wednesday: Mama On Christmas Day   


This is my first Christmas without my mother. I miss my mom more than word can ever express, but I have promised myself that I will not be sad and weepy, and that I will enjoy Christmas as I know she would want me to.  My brother Bernard and I will be spending the day at my cousin's house.  All of the Middlebrooks family here in Atlanta will be there, and I know my mama's spirit will be there with us.

My mother did not like to have her picture taken.  It was extremely difficult to get her in front of a camera so I have very few photos of her.  This is one I have of her from a Christmas long, long ago. It did not have a date on it, but look at that tree... my "go go" boots there on the floor...and where in the world did she get those eyeglasses!! There are tears in my eyes, but a big smile on my face and a warm feeling of love in my heart. Merry Christmas mama.  I miss you.


2010 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!   



Thanks for following I Never Knew My Father. I look forward to sharing my research findings and thoughts with you in 2010. Happy New Year and I wish many BLESSINGS for all of you and your families in 2010. It's going to be a great year!

[Image source: Atlanta Peach Drop 2010.]


Sentimental Sunday- Walker Street Elementary School   


Recently, while searching through the Vanishing Georgia Collection at The Digital Library of Georgia I came across this photo of Walker Street Elementary School. Unfortunately, the photo depicts a fire that destroyed the building in January 1983. Walker Street became Atlanta’s third public (white) elementary school in February 1872. The building as it stood when I attended was built in 1911. It was converted to an elementary school for Blacks in the 1930's.

Looking at this photo sadden me, but also brought back memories of my old neighborhood. Today, the neighborhood is known as Castleberry Hill; it’s on the west-side of Atlanta, just minutes from downtown. I don’t remember it being called Castleberry Hill when I was a child; I didn’t know it had a name - it was just home. Now the area is being rebuilt with lofts, condos and trendy shops so I guess they had to give it a name or call it something. The famous Pascal’s Restaurant even relocated to Castleberry Hill from its historic location on ML King Drive (formerly Hunter Street). Boy, have things changed!

I attended Walker Street from kindergarten through the fifth grade. Those were by far the best years of my childhood. My friends and I walked back and forth to school every day; no fears, no threat of harm. Most days on the walk home, we stopped at the little corner store for some two for a penny candy or cookies - Mary Jane was my favorite...Sugar Daddy...Bazooka Gum...coconut bars, and those little cookies shaped like a flower with the whole in the middle. I don’t think they had a name - “just give me a nickel worth of those”. We played hopscotch on the sidewalk, jacks and marbles, kick ball and giant step (May I, Yes You May) in the street, and fell asleep on the porch on hot summer nights.

We had a milkman who delivered milk, eggs and butter; a vegetable man yelling- “veg- a-bles, git ya veg-a-bles”, and in the summertime we all waited anxiously, with a nickel or dime, for the ice cream man. There was also the ice man, the junk man, the insurance man, the Watkins man, and the Fuller Brush man. Now that I think about it, seems there was a “man” for just about anything you needed. You could go to the grocery store without any money - “my mama said, put it on her bill.” We were carefree and happy. We were not sick often, but when we were the doctor came to our house. Were we poor? I didn’t think least not through my child’s eyes. I never wanted for any thing. There was always plenty of food, a big warm house, nice clean clothes to wear, and above all, lots of love. This is not to say that all was peaches and cream. We took the trolley to town, but had to sit in the back, and ten minutes away doors were labeled “Colored” and “White”...but, those memories are for another time, another post. Today, I have fond memories of Walker Street Elementary School, and the old neighborhood - Castleberry Hill.

However, there is one ugly memory that I must share, or my recollections of Walker Street Elementary School would be incomplete. As happy as my memories are, I am forever scared by one vivid not so nice memory that haunts me to this very day. I remember it so well....It was the last day of school, a beautiful, sunny day. My friends and I were standing out front in the schoolyard gathering for the walk home, and ready to begin our summer vacation; there was laughter, joking, playing around. All of a sudden out of nowhere this boy runs up to me and plants an awkward kiss smack dab on my cheek. I WAS HORRIFIED!! I won’t say his name, but he will always be remembered by me as the boy who ruined my last day of school - fifth grade.

That summer we moved and I changed schools. It was sad leaving my friends and all the good times we shared. But, you know, it’s a good thing we did move because I was going be another year older, and ready to kick that boy’s butt if he tried something like that with me again!!

[Image Source: The Digital Library of Georgia, Vanishing Georgia Collection .]

[School History-Source: Early School Days In Castleberry Hill. The Chronicle, Winter 2007. Assessed 23 January 2010.]


Tombstone Tuesday: Rock Springs Cemetery - Lest I Forget   


Last year I wrote about my search for Rock Springs Cemetery, the burial place for my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro, his brother Bob Toliver, and Alex Poole another relative whose relationship remains undetermined. I am still trying to confirm the exact location of the cemetery. I thought if I found others who were buried at the cemetery their records might give some clue to the location. I did find other burials, but all that’s stated on these death certificates is the name “Rock Springs” - no exact location. In my November 2009 post I promised to find and honor others buried in Rock Springs Cemetery, specifically those who lived in the same communities as my ancestors. I have searched through hundreds of Georgia death certificates available online in the Georgia Virtual Vault. So far I have found 15 persons, including my ancestors, whose death certificate indicates the burial place was Rock Springs Cemetery. Not a very large number, but I am proud. I wish I could identify with certainty their burial place. Maybe it is the Rock Springs Cemetery in Henry County, McDonough, GA that was the subject of my November 2009 post. It seems the most likely candidate. Yet, none of these names appear on any of the headstones. There is no finality. Maybe their remains are covered by the soil, weeds, and grass of the many unmarked graves. Maybe they lay beneath the graves marked only with a crude rock or stone. I picked this photo because of the little pink and white flower to the right of the stones that just happened to be there the day of my visit.  Maybe it was a sign that someone was buried there...Maybe he was...Maybe she could be...Maybe they are... Maybe....Maybe... Maybe....

Here, at the beginning of Black History Month, it seems an appropriate time to honor those buried in Rock Springs Cemetery. No, they are not the “typical” persons we think of during Black History Month. But, that does not diminish their importance as people- as African Americans who shared our history, our culture, our struggle. Each was someone’s child, and probably a mother or father, sister or brother. Some were most likely friends and neighbors. East Point and Hapeville were and still are neighboring communities here in the Atlanta metro area. No doubt some were probably related-Davis...Jackson...Wilson. Definitely, others were-Taliaferro...Toliver...Poole. All were God’s children who lived, loved, laughed, cried, and died. Gone, but remembered and loved by somebody, somewhere:

*DAVIS (née Ross), Mary Alice (d. 1926) East Point, GA

*DAVIS, James A. (D. 1926) East Point, GA

*DORSEY, Dennis (d. 1922) Atlanta, GA

*FULLER (née Jackson), Lizzie (d. 1925) East Point, GA

*JACKSON, Marry C. (d. 1923) East Point, GA

*JACKSON (née Johnson), Cornelia (d. 1925) Atlanta, GA

*JACKSON, Mary (d. 1927) East Point, GA

*POOLE, Alex (d. 1923) East Point, GA

*ROSS (née Jackson), Dollie J. (d. 1927) East Point, GA

*SEAGRAVES, Rueban J. (d. 1922) East Point, GA

*TALIAFERRO, J W (d. 1922) East Point, GA

*TOLIVER, Bob (d. 1920) East Point, GA

*WILSON, Ison (d. 1921) Hapeville, GA

*WILSON, Robert (d. 1923) Hapeville, GA

*WILSON, William (d. 1926) Hapeville, GA

Maybe someone will happen upon this post and reclaim their long lost ancestor.  THIS IS MY PRAYER.


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Spain - Pamplona - San Fermin Festival   


Photo Blog (Click to View)

My Arrival

Two countries I never tire of, are Spain and Switzerland. Each foray always brings me more joy then the last.

Pamplona is so extensive, it took me a long time to write this up.

It is probably best to go to Pamplona via train from a nearby larger city, but I decided to fly in, because I didn't want to waste the time in transit. Since Pamplona has a very small airport without much infrastructure, I had a driver pick me up at the airport. He was about my age and dressed in a great looking suit. He had lived in Pamplona his whole life, was nice and seemed to be well educated, but most of what he told me about Pamplona's history wasn't even close to the real story. I didn't bother to correct him, I just thanked him for the information with a sincere smile. 

San Fermin ( The Band )

This was a last second trip plan for me, which is a departure from my norm. I was listening to some tracks from one of my most favorite new groups. A refreshing chamber-pop group from New York City named San Fermin, whose inventive composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone has turned pop music into something very colorful, full of twists, turns, and embellishments that keep it moving and interesting. Attracting very talented musicians; Male vocalist Allen Tate has a beautiful baritone voice seldom heard in pop, combined with the vocal talents of the female cast, they produce operatic sounds that tell a great story, in a glamorous new way. Add in good lyrics, a rhythm section well versed in complex content, a violinist, and two very talented horn players, creates a both big and small sounds that are sure to move the world in new directions. Tightly blended and intermixed, it sounds both old and new at the same time. True artists in every sense of the word, the musician in me, thoroughly enjoys everything they have created and looks forward to see what they are going to offer in the future..

That joy prompted me to decide to visit the San Fermin festival this year, in Pamplona Spain, on less then a months notice. 

When I was in the stands at the Bull ring, there were lots of marching band in attendance as well. There are marching band competitions throughout the festival and it is common to encounter them marching and playing on the way to the stadium as well.

They all play different tunes at the same time. To me it sounded a lot like a Charles Ives composition. Charles Ives was a famous American classical composer. His father was a marching band and choir director, and his father would often invite march bands to his town, marching them in from different parts of town, until they all meet in the center. They would all play different tunes. This inspired Charles to write some very interesting classical compositions, that are still played by symphonies today. Usually during a show dedicated to modern symphonic music.

Chasing Red

I was lucky enough to get to spend a short amount of time with Dennis Clancey. In my opinion, Dennis has too many positive attributes to list, for most part he is an intelligent and athletic dude from Arizona, with movie star looks and a passion for running with the bulls, who has been visiting Pamplona, and has run with the bulls, every festival day for the last ten years (about 90 runs). His feature length documentary, entitled Chasing Red, won the "Best of the Fest" Grand Prize at the 2015 LA Indie film festival.

Dennis teaches new runners in addition to performing the play by play commentary for one of the American Cable channels. He was also featured on one of the Spanish channels, that broadcast a daily 90 minute special covering the run on every day of the festival.

He told me that he also runs in other festivals, but Pamplona is the best organized one he has been at. He was telling me about one place, there they release the bulls in an open area and let them run with dudes on horseback chasing them, before guiding them into town. The people who are waiting to run have no clue when they are going to arrive. Could be an hour or four hours later. One year the horseback riders lost the pack and they had to release another bunch for the town run. The next day, people were calling in reports of seeing bulls in or near their villages.

Running with the Bulls

My first running with the bulls experience was in the cow pasture directly behind my childhood house in Ohio, and adjacent to my back yard. It was a nice relatively flat area devoid of trees that was a great place for launching model rockets and for riding a bike through open rough terrain as fast as I could, as well as many other things that delighted me when I was young. Most of the time it was either empty or it only had cows in it. Every once in a while the farmer would put one of his bulls in that pasture to impregnate the cows, but I never knew when that would be. I would not find out, until I was walking through the pasture. His bull had large rings through their nose and a chain hanging down. The purpose of that was to prevent the bull from charging, cause it would hurt his nose, however, he didn't seem to mind the pain when I was near. I quickly learned to freeze, then slowly back up facing him until he calm down, then turn and run away as fast as I could, until I got a fence between us. Even the fence was not really enough, cause there were times when the fence was between us and it still looked like he wanted to charge.

Another personal occurrence I had, was when my life long best friend, Jim and I, were working on a large cattle ranch in Nebraska. We were about 1/2 of a mile (1km) from a pasture that had a single bull in it. Between us were two fences, one near us and one near the bull. The very large Herford bull (the owner's prize winning stud) saw us and was making warning calls, staking out his territory. Jim thought it was funny to imitate the calls cause it infuriated the bull. We were both laughing hysterically, until that bull backed up a few feet, then jumped the fence in stride like it was nothing, and started running towards us at a very fast pace.

All of a sudden that wasn't funny anymore. So we scurried to find the ranch owner and let him know, he had a problem that he needed to solve, cause these two boys sure weren't going to do anything about it. The owner says to use quizzingly, "Are you sure, I wonder what would have made him jump that fence. He's never jumped that fence before!" Jim and I in unison, "Gee, I don't have a clue, but we saw him jump it. Yep he sure did !". After a second of pause he comes up with a solution, "Well then I need you two boys to go and open that fence gate, so he goes back in." Jim and I in unison again, "Gee I don't know, that sounds dangerous.". Confidently he replies "No, just open the gate, he'll wander right back in, and then shut it after he goes in.", like it was really simple and easy. 

So Jim and I jump into the old brown farm truck and headed out to complete that easy task.

A funny story about that truck. The owner's eldest son was also named Jim. A few years before, Jim was driving that truck through the fields shooting at rattle snakes in the fields with a pistol while on the run. He had hit a bump while shooting one once and blew a hole in the front fender of the truck. 

Back to the bull story. So we get up to the fence and the bull is kind of close to the gate. I say to Jim (my best friend), "Ok, you jump out and open the gate, and I'll entice him with the truck to go through the gate, then you shut the gate behind him." Sound like a great plan to me, but Jim being one on one with bull didn't sound like a good plan to him. "The bulls to close to the gate. I ain't getting out here. Lets move him farther away.". It took me several minutes to convince him that it was a good plan and he surely wasn't in any danger.

Jim reluctantly gets out and very slowly and cautiously goes over and opens the gate. It was just a wire gate, so it was easy for Jim to keep his distance from the bull and pull the gate back to the side of the truck. I then reved the engine and started to inch the truck forward with the bull directly in front of the grill, figuring he was sure to he scared of the large truck. But that bull had been around several trucks before and he knew they weren't a threat before.  His just stood his ground and fixed his eyes on Jim. I think he finally figured out that Jim was the one making the calls and he charged him. Jim scaled that barbed wire fence like it was a low hurdle. With the fence in between, the bull finely entered the pen, causing Jim to scurry back over the fence and quickly shut the door.

In the end, it was easy, just like Garth said it would be. Jim, is such a good friend, he soon forgave me for making such a stupid plan and talking him into it. I still laugh about that, but I don't think Jim has learned to share those laughs with me, yet.

Having had personal experience as a youngster, I had no intention of running with the bulls in Pamplona. I merely came as a spectator.

When the Roman's took control of Spain around 200 B.C., bulls ran free and unabated throughout the Iberian Peninsula.  The Roman's, who often included man against animal competition's in their coliseum sporting activities, naturally started using bulls in Spain.

The Roman empire fell, but bull fighting, which was enjoyed throughout Spain, survived. In medieval times, religious festivals and royal wedding were times when noblemen and knights would compete for favor with the ruling elite. Fighting of bulls on horseback, in the town square was one of those events.

After medieval times, in the 1720's, people started fighting bulls on foot (normal people could not afford horses in those times), it attracted large crowds and it became a Spanish tradition. Eventually bull rings were built inside of Spanish cities, and to get the bull's to the ring, they would be brought in from ranches to a pen just outside of town. Then early in the morning, the ranchers would run the bulls through the town streets to get them into the pens in the arena.

In the 1500's someone in Spain decided to prove his bravery by running with the bulls through the city. The trend continued. The earliest recorded mention of running with the bulls in Pamplona was in the 1590's.

In 1925, Ernest Hemmingway was visiting Spain to gather material for a new novel. He decided to write a novel about a bunch of dudes bored with rundown Paris life, who decided to visit Pamplona Spain, for the excitement of the San Fermin Festival. That novel is titled "The Sun Also Rises".  Ever since then it has grown to about 1,000,000 people every year, following a similar path. Hemingway's last trip to Pamplona was in 1959, when he publically apologized for turning an intimate local event, into the whirlwind blowout party that it had morphed into.

I like the title "Sun Also Rises", it means that when the sun goes down on your life, some day it will also rise on your life. That kind of has a strong religious parallel to it.

I took a different perspective. My quest was to find something morale in an immoral world. And I found many moral behaviors to enjoy even during the San Fermin Festival.

At its purist, The "running with the bulls" was one of those. While the festival is a massive 9 day and night long, extremely loud party with lots drinking and sometimes wild, energy releasing events. The "Running with the Bulls" is a very controlled athletic competition. Due to it's dangerous nature, the police make a valiant attempt to keep anyone who shows the slightest inebriation, from partaking in the experience. I observed, several measures in place, to keep is as safe as possible.

Some background on these bulls. I saw the bulls from the world famous Don Eduardo Muira Ranch. Publicized by many as the most fierce and aggressive of bulls of any of the hundreds of Spanish ranches. They weigh in, at about 1300 pounds (590 kg) and run a 4 minute mile while dodging lots of obstacles in their path. in contrast, the most elite human milers, often run slower then these bulls in an unabated path. Muira's are the only pure breed bulls that have a blood line that goes back to the times when the Moor's brought bull's up from Africa. Another highly respected ranch is Martin Andres, his bulls have an attractive purplish tint to them and their horns have more up turn.

At the ranch, these bulls are roaming with steer who wear cow bells, so they are very used to having them around. Even if the steers aren't close, the cow bell sounds makes the bull feel like he has friendly company that is nearby. Bulls are herding animal's, in the wild, they run and hangout in herds, and they feel safe while in the herd.

Ferruccio Lamborghini was such a fan of bull fighting that he named an entire Lamborghini after the Muira. That is also why the Lamborghini icon is a bull about to charge.

The path from the outer pen in Pamplona, to the bull ring is only about 1/2 mile, but parts of it are up a relatively steep incline, parts of it are slippery, parts of it are fairly narrow, and the Muira's I watched, ran it in 2:09 .

Each day of the festival a different ranch provide bulls for this event. Pamplona is so publicized, that bull ranches pick the best of their best bulls for this festival. These bulls are not your average ordinary bull, they are special in every detail. Many bulls are breed and raised that don't make it to the bull fight, they're aggression and stamina tested with horses, and only the biggest and badest troublemakers are selected for bull fights.  

These bulls are free range animals used to being away from people and people induced structures. They are used to quite and peaceful natural environments. When are brought to Pamplona in very tight crates via transport. They spend a night in a crowded pen a short distance from the City, then another night in a small pen just outside of the old town. The festival is going on and it is rock concert loud all night long. When the pen's door's are open, they are ready to bust out and run, in a quest, to get back to nature. They are allowed to run unabated for about 100 yds (100 m), before weaving through the thick mass of people who have assembled for the run. Most people instinctively give them respect and a little room, which open's air gaps for them to instinctively run towards.

By nature, Bulls are prey and not prone to attack unless threatened. They are herding animals and feel the most comfortable, in numbers,  when running with the herd. They usually only get aggressive when separated from the herd or something impedes their forward travel. One of the safety measures, is to attempt to keep the bulls together and running in a forward direction.They also run steer's with the bulls. Steers have been castrated at a very early age and are much mellower then the average bull. Many run slower and the ranchers raise them under the same conditions. The ranchers put cow bells on the steer's to get the bull's used to feeling like they are in a herd, just by hearing that clanging sound.

As a safety measure the run includes several steer's along with the bull's It is easy to visually pick out the steer's, because the one's they pick for the run are very white and the bulls are very black. Since some steers run slower, then bring up the rear to pick up and help calm a bull that has been separated from the herd.

When a bull gets separated from the herd, it is going to attack anything that is sees as an immediate threat. It isn't really attacking, it just want's people to go away and leave it along. The best thing to do, is move away, not approach, and if you are close, get under a barrier as quickly as possible. Do not climb over a barrier, cause getting above, is perceived by the bull, as a direct threat. The police will be on the other side of the barrier to help pull you through.

In the area's that are not bounded by buildings, they build two sets of fences with a non-pedestrian gap in between. This gap is filled with police and medical staff. Both are there to help.

Another safety measure is the placement of "Pastores". Experienced dude's in green shirts who have worked bull ranches for years. They are used to working with bulls, and are there to get the bull's (separated or in the herd), moving to the bull ring as quickly as possible. Stay out of their way and let the expert's do what they do best.

The bulls are used to jumping over obstacles in the wild, so jumping a person that is lying on the ground isn't very difficult. However, occasionally they will tick or step on a downed limb. Better to be stepped on then gored with a horn.

I believe that many of the injuries do not have anything to do with the bulls. Those are cobblestone's people are running on, and falling on them, is going to hurt a knee, a wrist, spine, or head. Many of the people are running in panic mode, where pushing and shoving come out of the blue.

There are so many people, and the bulls are lower then many people, so seeing them before they get very close is unlikely. What I have observed is three waves of people. People expect the bulls are coming so they start to move at a precautionary slow jog. Eventually the people who are closer to the bull start catching them in a hurry, so they start running kind of fast, but the people in front of the bull, trained elite sprinter's who are still catching up with them quick. So they panic and run as fast as they can and also try to get out of the way. But not all of them get out of the way.

This creates a slight air bubble and several fallen bodies, several feet in front of the bulls, for the elite runner's to get a chance to complete the task they have devoted a lot of time to.

The sad thing for me, was that there are many non-athletes without much of a clue partaking in this event. It is kind of like watching a professional sport, where anyone were allowed on the field. Imagine your favorite wide receiver, just about to make a terrific catch in the super bowl, and a spectator runs out of the crowd, breaks up the play, and injures the wide receiver so he is out for the rest of the bowl. I see a lot of that, and sometimes the passionate and dedicated athlete's do pay the price with an injury.

The best athlete's try to get right in front of the lead bull and run in front of it for as long as possible before making a dramatic exit just at the bull catch's up with them. Besides trying to keep track of the bull that is about to run them down, they have to look forward for people who have tripped and fallen, slow running people in front of them, and people who are relatively stationary and sort of out of the way until they panic. It is like 30 seconds of quick decisions, where every decision might result in injury.

The dedicated dude's spend an entire year preparing for this. They study, do their homework and prepare. And they all have injury stories. In my opinion, that is what the watching fan's come to see. Spectator's don't come to see an unknown get gored or trampled. There just isn't any glamor in that.

In my opinion, Pamplona should have some kind of minimum set of qualification's a person should have, to participate in running with the bulls. A person should have to qualify and present a card to enter into the competition.

After the event, the runners go to a bar and get a drink with chocolate and cognac. The cognac region of France is very close, so that is the local hard liquor of choice. It is made from fermented and distilled grapes, and chocolate goes well with it. It is really funny to go to the bars after the event and listen to the stories. One dude will telling about how close he got to the bulls and his friend will be saying, "Dude, I got picture of your scared a$$, and it wasn't even close". Or better yet, "Hey man, did you see me right in front of that bull?", his friend produces a picture and an overseer says, "You mean that one? Dude, that wasn't a bull, that was one of the lame steers !!!"

This Is a good run without any deeply troubling video: Bull run that I observed posed to you tube At about 48 second's, you will see a dude in a black shirt and white pant's near the center of the picture, maneuvering in to get right in front of the bulls. That's "Dennis Clancey" (in his words, this is the area he usually runs in). At about 53 seconds you will a great picture of him coming into "La Curva" (See photo blog for what La Curva is) with the lead bull right behind him. At this point, the air bubble near the bulls opens up, because most people don't loiter in that area. At 54 seconds, Dennis is only one of his strides in front. The bulls follow Dennis's lead on the inside of the corner. He lead them right around La Curva. Dennis then makes a quick and prudent exit just after La Curva, when he hits an unsuspecting crowd of people. Afterwards, Dennis told me the bulls almost never cut the corner, they usually swing wide. I believe they followed him. At about 59 seconds, you will see a dude in a red and white stripped shirt. Another expert runner in my opinion, look at my photo blog for more about him. Then at about 1:02 you will see a dude in a blue shirt with white strips down the shoulders. Another expert runner detailed in my photo blog. At 1:27, you will see what happens when a steer or bulls running with the herd catches up with you. At 1:52 the bulls hit what I call the funnel. It's near the bull ring and people always get hit there as the space gets tighter and tighter. At 1:56 they hit the door and people always get in trouble there as well. At 2:09 it's all over.

The serious injury's usually happen when a bull gets separated, or a pileup happens at the bull ring entrance and the bulls can't jump high enough to get over the 5 people high, who sometimes stack up there.

Many people sit in the stadium (you can see on the you tube that it is packed) and watch the run. It is free and it is broadcast live via a large TV screen. Some sit near the door and bring eggs to throw at the people who enter the bull ring to quickly. Some runners, go into the bull ring just after the starting rocket is fired, several minutes before any bulls arrive. That are seen as cowards and rewarded as such.

After the bulls enter the holding pen in the ring, a young bull (1 yr old), with protective safety caps over it's horns is let out in the ring. It charges at people, and knock's them over. This is seen as fun by some people and as entertainment by the crowd.

There is a lot more about the running with the bulls in my photo blog.

San Fermin Festival

San Fermin was the first Bishop of Pamplona around 300 AD. While on a mission trip to spread the word in Northern France, he baptize as many people as he could along the way. He was arrested for performing the baptism's, and beheaded, as punishment for his crime.

There are two San Fermin festival's in Pamplona every year. The one I am writing about always starts at noon on July 6th, and end's at midnight on July 14th. Basically that is nine day's because the party doesn't end at midnight. The other festival, San Fermin Txikito is mostly a local event consisting of food competitions, parades, and lots of music, but without the running of the bulls nor the bull fight's. That is always centered around a mass that is held on September 25 at a small church was has been erected over the birthplace of San Fermin in Pamplona.

The July Festival, which is the only time Bull Fight's occur in Pamplona, has always been in July, but the original celebration of San Fermin used to be held in October, until 1591 when it was moved to overlap the July Festival, because the weather was much better in July.

The opening ceremony at noon on July 6th called the Chupinazo where a person hand picked my the Mayor lights the rocket that signal's that start of the festival. The square in front of City Hall where the Chupinazo (rocket) is lit, is packed with people at about 5 per square yd (1 sq m). Which is like fitting 5 people into an old time phone booth. People do not wear the red neckerchief until the festival start's so it is usually wrapped around their wrist. Someone yells, "Viva San Fermín, Gora San Fermín", the rocket is lit, and then all hell breaks loose. People, start drenching each other with wine. The normal festival drink is 1/2 wine mixed with 1/2 coke-a-cola and that flies everywhere. People then tie the neckerchief around their neck the big party commences. 

For the most part. The festival is a drink fest with people in the traditional dress of all white, adorned with a red neckerchief and red sash around their waist. Dude to the drink, a lot of loud things are happening concurrently much of the time day and night, however, there are several non drink related activities that occur every day:

There is lots of shopping, and about a zillion Nigerians peddling souvenirs, sun glasses, and hats. The police seem to allow it, sol maybe they have permits, but to me it looks like they all sleep on the street, probably don't pay an taxes in Spain, and they get in the way in high traffic areas. I don't have a problem with someone trying to earn a living, but it gets a little frustrating to me around 1400 (2 P.M.), when it is the hottest part of the day and I am looking for some shade to get out of the heat. All of the shade seems to be consumed by Nigerians sleeping while most of the people are resting in door. It would be nice if the city reserved a small shaded area for "Light skinned brothers" on every block.

Marching bands are often heard during the day and night. The march and play all over the place. Sometimes during their down time, they start playing Dixieland. I thought that was great, until I woke up at 3 A.M. to the sound of a band playing nearby my room. I had decided to stay in a hotel room inside of the old town, but very near the wall and a bit out of the way of the festival. I thought that might not be too loud. But, there is no quite zone inside of the old town walls during the festival. It is very loud all night.

Years ago, there was an attempt to bring some somber religion into the festival, when public officials would parade with other characters from City Hall to the small San Fermin chapel on the out skirts of the old town. But that was cancelled due to constant bombardment by political activists, who don't respect somberness.

"El Struendo", or the roar, isn't advertised officially, but it is a one time event that occur's on a different day each year, where people gather at the square in front of town hall at  2359 (11:59 P.M.) and make as much noise as they can for several hours. They bring drums, whistles, and all kinds of noise makers. I am not sure they can beat the normal nightly noise level. As I said above, it is very loud all night long inside of the old town walls.

The procession occurs on July 7th. The small San Fermin statue is paraded through the street with other carnival figures and traditional Jota dancers, to the San Cernin well, where San Fermin was baptized by San Cernin and a rose is dropped in.

The daily parade, with large carnival figures and big heads. This is outlined in my photo blog.

Running of the bulls is always at 8:00 A.M. on the button. Outlined above and in my photo blog.

Bull Fight everyday starting at 6 P.M. Outlined below and in my photo blog.

Fireworks, every night at 11:00 P.M. over the citadel (Spanish Fort), outlined in my photo blog.

The "Pobre de Mi", or the poor me, closing ceremony on July 14th at midnight in front of city hall. This is outlined in my photo blog as well.

More of my San Fermin experiences

I went to the performing arts center for a nice dinner of Navarra cuisine prepared by a noted Navarra chef. It all started with a small gathering, where Champaign was presented, in an ambience of live Traditional Spanish Guitar. 30 minutes later we sat around a large table and were presented with a very tasty meal. I meet so many people there it is difficult to remember them all. To do remember many people asking me if I would like a glass of their wine, how could I turn that down. It was like a never ending wine stream. Navarra is the Spanish wine country and I felt the need to get as many tasting's in as I could.

Some of the people I meet:

A mid 30's couple from Mexico. I was easy to pick their Mexican style out of this crowd. I asked them where they were from? The women said, "Mexico!!!". "Were at in Mexico?", her reply was "We live in San Diego". humph, I must have missed the big announcement when Mexico had annexed San Diego.

A dude about my age from Virginia Beach who was there with his son. His single son had meet a women there, so his dad got stranded. He and I got along very well, and traded a lot of laughs.

A beautiful woman from Pisa Italy. I mentioned to her that I was going to be visiting Pisa in the near future and she said, "Why don't you come to my cousin's weeding. A huge family gathering and grandma's doing all of the cooking.". It was grandma's cooking that hooked me, so I took down her contact information on a napkin, since I was cell phoneless at that time.

A couple from Brisbane Australia. They were spending 3 months touring Europe (It is winter in Australia in July). The male had been to Spain when he was young, and he had such a good time, he wanted to bring his wife here. They didn't have a lot of plans, they were kind of making it up as they went. He said they were headed to Santiago de Compestela Spain, then down into Portugal next. A very nice long time married couple.

A couple from New Zealand. I've wanted to visit New Zealand for a long time. Many years ago, I wrote lots of magazine articles for a technical publication, and one of my publishers just picked up and moved to New Zealand, so I had heard a lot about it. However, we mostly talked about Dubai. He was an engineer who worked in Dubai for a several years and his wife had gone along as well. I asked her how it was, being a Christen female and living in a Muslim country. She said that 80% of Dubai are christen foreigner's, so she never really saw many Muslim's. Everywhere she went and shopped, it was mostly other christen women. I said, "That sounds like trying to find a southerner in Atlanta Georgia or an American in Miami Florida.".

After I probably had about 2 bottles of wine in me, I meet a couple about my age from North Carolina, and the dude told me he was running with the bulls the next morning. Definitely not an athlete, so I told him, "dude, don't even think about doing that.". He say's, "But that's been on my bucket list for years.". I said "If there is anything else on your bucket list, then move that after everything else, cause might end it all". Concerned that he was going to go through with it, and didn't know much about the race, I turned the napkin with the Pisa info over and drew out a crude diagram of the run route. Tell, him where I thought the safest places for a novice were, how fast it was, and warning him of the panic that ensues neat the action. I didn't realize until the next day, when I was looking for the Pisa info, that I must have given him that napkin. He saw me after the event the next day and said after we talked he didn't get much sleep cause he worried all night and that the bulls just ran right past were he was. He said he wasn't that close to the action, but it was still freaky. I asked him if he still had the napkin and he had thrown it away somewhere. Oh well, that was just going to get me in trouble anyway. I might have gone there, fallen deeply in love, only to end up spending all of my time blissfully with her, never to heard from outside of that relationship again. There must have been a good reason for God wanting me to lose that contact information.

I must have meet several more people that night, cause I was running into people the rest of the time I was there, that seemed to know me by name and I didn't have a clue they were. People waving and saying "Hey, Craig, good to see you again!!!"

After the dinner, we went to the roof top of the performing arts center to watch the fireworks. That was a very good vantage point, not crowded, had chairs and the weather was perfect. That was a great time.

I saw the parade, the running of the bulls, a bull fight, and the closing ceremony. All detail elsewhere here and in my photo blog.

Would I go again? I'm not sure, that is uncharacteristic of me, but I would like to come back in September 25th some time to see the little San Fermin festival and some of the other sights in town.

Bull Fighting

I posted quite a bit in my photo blog about the bull fight (without showing any gory photos of the bull ), so I won't iterate most of that here.

Bulls are very intelligent. The bulls are not domesticated and are raise more or less in the wild on large ganadería (ranches) without many boundaries. It is against the law for a bull to interact with a human (other then a trained ranch attendant) prior to the fight, because bulls would figure out what is going on, remember, and attack the human during the bull fight. Each ganadería names and numbers them when they are born and they keep extensive records on them. Sometimes a bulls characteristic's gives away which ganadería they are from. Fighting bulls must be at least 4 years old and within certain weight restrictions.

When the bull enters the ring, it usually has colored streamers attached to its back. These are the colors of the ganadería it came from.

Hemingway once said that Muira bulls are so smart, they sometime figure out what is going on in the ring and attack the matador. I watched a Muira fight and saw the matador drop his capote. The bull was stomping on it and it looked like the bull was figuring out that wavy thing is really nothing. The matador practically dived under the bull to retrieve the capote before the bull figured it out.

Not all Bull fighting results in killing the bull, but Spain's usually do. Bull fighting in Spain has declined quite a bit over the years, there are area's of Spain were bull fighting is prohibited, and in most others is it restricted only to certain festival days. The Spanish government used to promote it as a symbol of Spain, but they quit doing that, and they no longer allow it to be a part of Spain's patriotic symbolism.

The modern bull fighting format was created in 1726 by matador Francisco Romero who attracted large crowds. The modern style of which there are many variations, are attributed to Juan Belmonte around 1920, who is considered by many as the greatest of all time.

The moves that matadors make are named, just like dance moves. They are well known by aficionado's, who rank matador's based on how well they perform them, which also includes the crowd reaction and how close the bulls gets to the human, to a well performed maneuvers.

In a single day, there are six bull fight's. The traditional format is 3 matador's each fighting two bulls, but there are also formats where 2 fight 3 each and where 1 fights all six. Each fight lasts around 20 minutes and is overseen and directed by the Presidente of the Bull Ring. There are actually 8 bulls ordered for each fight, the two extra are in case the Presedente doesn't approve of a bull, due to it either being not ferocious enough, or if he believes that is has been tampered with and is too dangerous to the humans.

Sometime bulls jump the smaller inner arena fence and get into the area between that and the stands, which is reserved for attendants. This draws a lot of crowd excitement and many spectator's near the rails actually try to entice that. Sounds foolish to me, but it happens.

Before the fight there is a short ceremony where the bulls are paired up. Each matador could attend, but they usually send a representative to this meeting. At this point they just talk about pairing. The idea is to pair a weak with a strong based on the assessors feelings. Once that is negotiated, the pairs are put into a hat and each matador draws for the pair he is going to fight.

After that the bulls are separated, a processes that is quite complex, but must be timely. They are put into individual pens that are very small before the fight. Now they are alone and quite constrained.

The beginning of the fight there is a small parade of the fight cast and supporting crew. This is best seen in my photo blog.

Each matador has a team of attendants collectively known as a cuadrilla. The cuadrilla consists of the matador, three banderilleros and two picadors.

The fight has three phase and only lasts about 20 minutes. More then that is dangerous, because as the bull is fighting it is learning.

In the first phase the bull is presented to the audience. It allows the matador and bandelleros to train the bull to chase the capote, which in this phase is a large one, magenta on one side and yellow on the other. It allows the matador to study the bulls fighting tendencies and form a plan. A bull has never seen a capote before, but it has been people. In its life the people we nuisances, but never threats. It is not really threatened by people, but there is this large wavy thing it has never seen that appears to be making an aggressive move towards it. The bull is on its own and feeling threatened, it is going to try to push that large object away. Therefor, it chases the cape and not the human.

After a while the matador requests the picador's to enter. This starts the last part of the first phase.

The picador is on a protected horse. The picadors job is to weaken the neck of the bull, so it's head is lower to the grown allowing the matador to get over its horns to kill it in the final stage.

After the picador, the second phase is entered.

In this phase, the bandelleros's jab short barbed poles into the bulls neck to make it angry. Sometimes the matador performs this act as well. It looks more dangerous then it is. It is a matter of correct angle and timing. Just like a dance maneuver. Bulls can't turn quickly, because they are low to the ground and their heavy weight keeps them moving forward. With the right angle and a quick side step, the bull doesn't stand a chance of hitting the bandellero in this phase.

The third phase is mono-e-mono, bull and matador. The matador will change his large cape for a much smaller red one, and also grab a sword. The first sword is usually just for show and is much lighter then the final one. The matador will make some more dance move passes and after the bull is worn down, he will request to kill it. At this point, the Presedente can pardon the bull, if he feels it has been very valiant. If the kill is granted, the matador changes to the heavy sword and makes the very daring move to get the sword over the horn and through the shoulder blades into the heart. This is the most dangerous part for the matador and it happens lightening quick.

Once struck through the heart, the bull dies fairly quickly. If not, once it hits the ground a bandellero used a smaller blunt sword to sever it's spinal cord killing it instantly.

The crews swiftly removes the bull to the back of the rink where it is butchered and the meat is sold.

I will not support any more bull fights with my money, that one was enough for me. However, the ticket I bought was already sold, as most tickets are purchased by season ticket holder's, who resell the fights they do not want to attend. 

Pamplona Today and History

Pamplona is way more then just the San Fermin Festival. I believe that it would be a great place to visit outside of the festival as well. Lots of history and good people are in Pamplona.

Pamplona is in North Eastern Spain and is the capital of the Navarra region of Spain. It has one of Spain's highest standard's of living and is high on the quality of life scale as well. It's been one of Spain's major industrial cities since the 1950's. Spain refused to allow imported automobiles into their country, so British Leyland collaborated with a Spainish company to form the Authi brand in Pamplona, which built car's nearly identical to the Mini and other British auto's, for distribution through out Spain. When British Leyland ran out of money in 1976, it was sold to SEAT (another Spanish Auto Company. SEAT eventually solid it to Volkswagen. Today they make the VW Polo and parts for the Spanish Luxury Sports Car company, Tauro ( mostly hand made sports car line). 

Pamplona has a sweet and rich history as a military settlement. 

Around 100 B.C., Quintus Sertorius, a Roman, had taken control of Hispania (Spain) from the Roman's, for his own. Ceasar sent Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey) to get it back under the Roman senates control. Pompey built a strong military settlement in Pamplona, which he named Pampelo, for the Roman Army. Both General's were very evenly matched in skill's, but Pompey had more resources, so he won the war by attrition.

During the Roman rule, the Apostle James made his way from Israel, eventually settling in Santiago de Compostela (North Western Spain). Ever since then, the most traveled route from the rest of Europe to Santiago de Compostela goes through Pamplona. For two thousands of years, Christians have been walking the "Camino de Santiago" (way of St James) foot trail and staying in Pamplona along the way. This has continuously brought culture and prosperity to this town. 

After the Roman empire fell, Germanic tribes took control of Pamplona renaming it Victoriacom. About 400 years later a civil war started in Spain, which allowed the Islamic Moors to move in from Africa and conquer nearly all of Spain. 

Pamplona being near the Frankish/Moorish border, changed hands several times as the two forces battled each other over and over.

Around 1000, the Moors were pushed out, and many traveling Christians started settling in Pamplona. The original part of the city was renamed to the  borough of Navarria (Spanish), and two more boroughs were added to it. San Cernin (French/Germanic) and San Nicolas (I believe Italian Weavers and Woodworkers). They were independent, culturally and socially distinct, and never got along with each other. The only thing they had in common was Christianity and they probably didn't agree on that either. The church in each borough was fortified as a defensive structure and the clock tower doubled as the main look out. Sometimes one borough would remain neutral when the others fought each other and other times it would take a side and jump in. Much of the time, the fighting was over the local water resource that separated the borough's.

Finally in 1423 King Charles III unified the thee, he tore down the walls between them, filled in the water resource they fought over and built a beautiful town hall, which combine all three architectural styles, for forced them all to share.

In 1512 Navarre was annexed into Spain. Expecting an attack from France, an impressive citadel (fortress) was built three and the military size was doubled by bringing in troops from other parts of Spain. Part of that was because King Phillip II feared that the original troops might be sentimental to France.  I was certainly impressed by the citadel engineering.

After that, the only time it was out of Spanish control was 1808-1813 when Napoleon seized it.  



Photo Blog (Click to View)


Dragon*Con's Skeptrack 2010   


THIS WEEK’S EPISODE was recorded before a live studio audience at Dragon*Con’s Skeptrack 2010 (in Atlanta, Georgia).

MonsterTalk hosts Ben Radford and Blake Smith bravely faced the horror of live questions from listeners — including Australian skeptical activist Dr. Rachael Dunlop, Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning, and others!

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Atlanta Pears, Oil Still Life, Nancy Franke Workshop by Texas Painter Nancy Standlee   


Atlanta Pears 14026
8x10 Oil on canvas panel

I was in Atlanta June 13 and 14 for the Nancy Franke oil workshop and we painted from still life set ups. See the first post here.

My spot in the workshop and fortunately the Atlanta Artists Center had easels.

I traveled on AA miles and you have to travel on their time so my flight was not until 8:30 PM (and late) on Sunday so I spent most of the day at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I enjoyed a fresh food demo by Megan McCarthy and the Garden has other recipes posted on their website.

I'm enjoying another virtual journal trip to France with Dreama and here are two pages from my Cachet 7x10 journal. If you have been in a Dreama workshop you know about these Big Girl Panties and the scale in the journal does not do them justice. These are huge and Dreama is petite so there must be a lesson here.

Joyce Hicks:
I watched a free one hour webinar this week with Joyce Hicks and it is now on YouTube with Artists Network. It details how to turn a photo into a work of art in Transforming Landscapes HERE.

Suzy Pal is getting a new studio gallery in order and has invited me to Plains October 17-18, 2014 to give a 2 day sketchbook journaling workshop. See more details on my website at under workshops and sign up by writing Suzy at This is a description about the workshop I sent to Suzy.

This two day workshop is all about you and how to record some of your life events.
This sketchbook journaling workshop will be an introduction to sketchbook journaling with pen and watercolor and will focus on YOU with  a "Love Your Life" theme. We will explore choices in sketchbooks and paints and palettes, examine some great reference books and I will demo techniques I use to keep various sketchbook journals. The student does not need any previous art experience or drawing experience but just needs to come with the desire to explore some possibilities of preserving some moments on their life journey. For example, we usually have some type of hot beverage each morning and it is a great beginning for an entry. Below is an entry I made in a previous art journal workshop of a favorite coffee cup. We will begin with a structured lesson like this and then students will be able to add their personal experiences to their journals for Day One. On Day Two, we will explore travel journals and architecture and people drawings.
After sign up a supply list will be mailed with more details.
Some more details can be found on my website at under workshops.

Texas Daily Painter, Oil painting, small oil still life, pears, Atlanta, Artists of Texas, Nancy Standlee Fine Art, Daily Paintworks, Pinterest, Canvas by Canvas, Check Advantage, Joyce Hicks, Dreama Perry, Suzy Pal

Original fine art and affordable prints can be found at:
Order personalized checks, side tear checks, checkbook covers and address labels with a choice of 20 of my paintings on them.


Atlanta Roses, Oil Floral, Nancy Franke Workshop, Atlanta, GA by Texas Painter Nancy Standlee   


Atlanta Roses 14025
Oil, 14x11 painted on New Traditions C-15 panel

I have enjoyed another two day workshop with Nancy Franke in Atlanta June 13 and 14 at the Atlanta Artist Center and Tom Quinn was a great host. The roses above were painted from fresh roses in a still life set up. Read more about the Gainesville workshop with Nancy in February HERE.  

Lunches were so convenient as we walked a few steps to Basil's Restaurant and enjoyed great food and the Atlanta view from the patio. We had a good class size at 10 and below is some of our lunch photos. I'll post some class room photos in the next blog about the workshop. 

Texas Daily Painter, Oil painting, small oil floral, rose oil painting, Artists of Texas, Nancy Standlee Fine Art, Daily Paintworks, Pinterest, oil workshop, Canvas by Canvas, Check Advantage, Journa, Nancy Franke Workshop, Atlanta Artists Center, 

I have written an ArtByte about the process of torn paper collage for the Daily Paintworks site is available with more than 50 images. An ArtByte is a small online tutorial that may be free or it's very affordable. Mine will be very affordable. Here is the web address and browse and download some of the free ones by Carol Marine or another favorite artist such as Julie Ford Oliver that will explain some of the tools she uses in an oil painting technique. There are several very good free ArtBytes that are filled with information. When you get to the Daily Paintworks web page, look under tutorials. Here is my online gallery at Daily Paintworks.

Original fine art and affordable prints can be found at:
Order personalized checks, side tear checks, checkbook covers and address labels with a choice of 20 of my paintings on them.




March 15, 2015 I was in Atlanta working for the last five weeks. I just returned home a couple of days ago to a quiet house. Now that I am home I realize I must face the task of finding a “new normal.” Traveling with work has kept me in a kind of limbo, but


Assorted links   


1) Atlanta is testing out an incentivized recycling program where residents can earn and exchange points for “rewards, gift cards, groceries, and products” with participating retailers. (Hat tip: Mike Erskine) 2a) Rewarding first-graders for eating fruits and vegetables with small prizes. 2b) “‘If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can [...]


Chicago woman’s healing is miracle in Cardinal Newman’s sainthood cause   


A few prayers to Blessed John Henry Newman became a “constant dialogue” and then a desperate response to an emergency for Melissa Villalobos of Chicago. Her healing, which saved her life and the life of her unborn child, was accepted as the miracle needed for the 19th-century British cardinal’s canonization. Villalobos is pictured in an undated photo. Photo: CNS/courtesy Chicago Catholic

Her healing, which saved her life and the life of her unborn child, was accepted as the miracle needed for the 19th-century British cardinal’s canonization.

Pope Francis announced July 1 that he will declare Blessed John Henry Newman a saint Oct. 13. Coincidentally, the miracle accepted for his beatification in 2010 also involved someone from the United States: Deacon Jack Sullivan, 71, of Marshfield, Massachusetts, was healed of a severe spinal condition in 2001.

Recounting her own story, Villalobos, 42, told Chicago Catholic that in 2011, “my husband brought home a couple of holy cards with Cardinal Newman’s picture on them. I put one in the family room and one in our master bedroom.”

“I would pass his picture in the house and I would say little prayers to him for whatever our family’s needs were at the time – the children, my husband, myself. I really started to develop a very constant dialogue with him,” said Villalobos, a mother of seven.

Her prayers had a miraculous result in 2013 when she started bleeding during the first trimester of a pregnancy. At the time she had four children – ages 6, 5, 3 and 1 – and a previous pregnancy that had ended in miscarriage.

“When I went to the doctor, he did an ultrasound and he said the placenta had become partially detached from the uterine wall, so there was a hole in the placenta and that hole was allowing blood to escape,” she said.

Villalobos also developed a subchorionic hematoma, which is a blood clot in the fetal membrane. It was two-and-a-half times the size of the baby.

The doctors recommended bed rest.

On Friday, May 10, 2013, Villalobos went to the emergency room because the bleeding was worse.

Again, the doctor recommended strict bed rest, which was difficult to imagine with four small children and a husband who had to work. The doctor also told the couple that a miscarriage was likely, but if the baby survived the pregnancy, she would likely be born prematurely because she would be small.

Added to the stress was the fact that Villalobos’ husband, David, had to leave for a mandatory business trip.

“Wednesday morning I woke up in bed in a pool of blood. My husband was already in an airplane on his way to Atlanta,” Villalobos said.

She put off calling 911 because she didn’t know who would care for the kids if she was taken in an ambulance to the hospital.

She made them breakfast and told them to stay put before going upstairs.

“Now the bleeding was really bad because I had just gone up the stairs, which I really shouldn’t have done. I kind of collapsed on the bathroom floor out of weakness and desperation.”

Villalobos laid there thinking she should now call 911, but she realized she didn’t have her cellphone. She also knew the force of yelling for her kids would cause more damage and bleeding.

She was hoping one of her children would wander into her room so she could ask them for her phone to call 911, but they didn’t. She heard nothing from her children and the silence made her even more worried.

With thoughts of losing her unborn baby, worry for her children downstairs and wondering if she could die, Villalobos uttered her fateful prayer.

“Then I said, ‘Please, Cardinal Newman, make the bleeding stop.’ Those were my exact words. Just then, as soon as I finished the sentence, the bleeding stopped.”

She got off the floor and verified there was no more bleeding and said, “‘Thank you, Cardinal Newman. Thank you.’ Just then the scent of roses filled the bathroom,” Villalobos said. “The strongest scent of roses I’ve ever smelled.”

“I thought to myself in that moment, ‘Oh my goodness! My baby is OK. I’m OK. My four children are OK. We’re all OK.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, Cardinal Newman,’“ Villalobos said.

That afternoon Villalobos’ cure was confirmed during a weekly ultrasound. The doctor told her everything was “perfect” and there was no more hole in the placenta.

“I was able to resume my full active life as a mom,” she said.

Baby Gemma was born Dec. 27, 2013, after a full pregnancy, weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces. She had no medical problems.

Villalobos waited until after Gemma was born to report the healing to the promoters of Cardinal Newman’s canonization. In fall 2014, representatives from Newman’s cause visited Chicago and met with Villalobos and her husband.

Officials from the Archdiocese of Chicago conducted the local study of what was then just an alleged miracle and forwarded the case to the Vatican for another series of investigations. The outcome was revealed Feb. 13 when Pope Francis announced the miracle was accepted and that Cardinal Newman would be canonized.

“I was cured through Newman’s intercession so that I could continue an ordinary life, if you will, but at the same time be completely devoted to him and especially God himself and our church,” she said.

Duriga is editor of Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.


Ricky Jones Gets Real; Chef-in-a-Box Explained with Dan Dry   


The Rusty Satellite Show set up shop this week at Noosh Nosh, one of my absolute favorite restaurants, with two of the most interesting people in the ‘Ville as guests. First up, Ricky Jones may have his enemies, but the Atlanta native tells it like it is on his podcast, his Courier-Journal column and his […]


Finding Atlanta Luxury Homes For Sale   


Atlanta luxury homes for sale are the envy of many. They’re sought after not only by affluent families but by successful businessmen as well. The excitement that comes with a house with high price tags is not something that all can afford. That’s why the competition for these types of homes is so fierce. You […]

The post Finding Atlanta Luxury Homes For Sale appeared first on SERPCheck.


Cam Newton and Brandon Marshall Go Beast Mode- Fantasy Monsters of Week 14   


Cam Newton led all players with 39.08 fantasy points.
  Week 14 is the start of the playoffs in most Yahoo fantasy football leagues. If you had Cam Newton, Brandon Marshall, or Adrian Peterson on your team you are probably very happy.  Cam Newton had the standout fantasy performance of this Sunday. Newton led all players with 39.08 points in Yahoo standard leagues. Cam threw for 287 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and also ran for 116 yards and a touchdown.  Newton, who has struggled at times this year, led Carolina to a 30-20 upset victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
   Newton was the top quarterback this Sunday, but there were several other passers who also came up big for their fantasy owners.  Rookie quarterback Nick Foles had an outstanding performance for the Eagles vs. Tampa Bay today.  Foles threw for 381 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and ran for 27 yards, 1 touchdown.  The Eagles were victorious today, with Foles throwing the game winning touchdown pass as time expired to beat Tampa Bay.  Foles finished with 33.94 fantasy points on the day.  Eli Manning also had a strong outing as the Giants beat up on the Saints 52-27.  Eli certainly didn't have problems finding the end zone today.  He had 4 touchdowns, throwing for 259 yards with 2 interceptions. Eli got his fantasy owners 28.06 points.
Brandon Marshall=32 fantasy Points
     Brandon Marshall led all receivers today with 32 fantasy points in Yahoo standard leagues.  Marshall reunited with his former quarterback Jay Cutler this year when he signed with the Bears.  They have continued the chemistry they had in Denver and Marshall is having a great year.  Today was no exception, Marshall caught 10 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.  Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Wallace also eclipsed 30 fantasy points today in his team's loss to the San Dieo Chargers.  Wallace had 7 receptions for 112 yards and two touchdown in Big Ben's return to the field.
     Adrian Peterson continued his quest to break the single season rushing record this year. Peterson was dominant in the Vikings victory over the Bears today.  He led all running backs with 31 fantasy points, rushing for 154 yards with 2 touchdowns.  Seattle Seahawk Marshawn Lynch was right on Peterson's heals in Yahoo standard leagues with 30.80 fantasy points.  Lynch went buck wild on the Arizona Cardinals, rushing for 128 yards with 3 touchdowns.  The Seahawks stomped the Cards 58-0.  Giant's rookie running back David Wilson had his breakout performance of the season vs. the Saints.  Wilson ran for 100 yards with 3 touchdowns, one of them coming on a kick off return.  He finished the day with 28 fantasy points.
Adrian Peterson led running backs with 31 fantasy points.
     Philadephia Eagle tight end Clay Harbor was the next man up when starter Brent Celek went down with a concussion.  He connected with rookie quarterback Nick Foles for 6 receptions, 52 yards, and 1 touchdown.  Harbor led all tight ends in Yahoo standard leagues with 17.20 points.
     Kicker Steven Hauschka had 7 extra points and 3 field goals for 15 fantasy points in the Seattle Seahawks 58-0 rout of the Arizona Cardinals.
     The Seattle Seahawks defense scored a ridiculous 43 fantasy points in Yahoo standard leagues vs. the Cardinals. Seattle was lights out with 3 sacks, 4 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries, and 2 touchdowns.  The Cardinals should just shut it down for the season. Congrats to all who moved on to the next round of their league playoffs!


NFL Week 17 Fantasy Predictions: Top 5 Over/Under   


     Most fantasy football leagues ended last week, but there are a few that go all the way through week 17.  I figured I would do a prediction piece for it just in case there was some interest.  Here are my top 5 predictions for both over and under projected fantasy scores:


QB Tony Romo
QB Tony Romo (projected 23.24 fantasy points)-  Romo is going to have to have a huge game to get his team past the Redskins and into the playoffs.  He certainly has the ability, but he does have that history of choking in big moments.  The Redskins secondary is beatable and even with DeMarco Murray back, Romo will have to throw the ball a ton.  I don't think the Cowboys pull this one out, but I expect it to go down to the wire.

RB CJ Spiller (projected 22.02 fantasy points)-  The Jets are weak against the run and Spiller tore them up in their meeting earlier in the year.  Both these teams have pretty much thrown in the towel, so I don't expect the Jets defense to put up much of a fight.   They have already made every other running back in the league look like Barry Sanders and I don't expect that to start changing now.

RB LeSean McCoy (projected 18.45 fantasy points)-  I expect McCoy and the Eagles to show up for this game.  I think they would enjoy spoiling their rival Giants playoff hopes.  It will also be Andy Reid's last game as Head Coach.  They have the motivation to play hard and the Giants have not been good lately vs. the run.  I think McCoy has a big game.

WR James Jones
WR James Jones (projected 9.64 fantasy points)- Jones has had a couple of monster games this month.  Minnesota is weak against the pass and Rodgers throws the ball a lot.  The Green Bay receiver corps. is still a bit banged up, which could mean more opportunities for Jones.

RB Alfred Morris (projected 12.23 fantasy points)-  Morris has become an even bigger part of the Redskin offense since RG3 got injured.  I think that will continue to be the case this week.  Dallas is not great vs. the run and he will get his usually opportunities because the Cowboys will still have to account for RG3.


RB Arian Foster
RB Arian Foster (projected 22.38 fantasy points)-  The whole arrhythmia thing scares me with Foster.   The Texans claim he is 100%, but I don't think it would be wise for them to give him a full workload right off the bat.  I would not be surprised if they limit his touches, they are going to need him in the playoffs.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw (projected 16.13 fantasy points)-  Bradshaw is not 100% healthy and the Eagles have been good vs. the run lately.  He will also share carries with Wilson.

TE Jimmy Graham (projected 15.80 fantasy points)-  Graham is playing with a wrist injury that has really limited his production this year.  He hasn't scored a touchdown in 5 games.  He was finally able to meet his projections last Sunday after falling short for the prior 4 weeks.  That's a good sign, but I wouldn't expect too much from him at this point.

WR Larry Fitzgerald
WR Larry Fitzgerald (projected 13.34 fantasy points)-  Fitzgerald is a true professional, it amazes me how he has been able to keep cool with the debacle at the quarterback position for the Cardinals.  It's a shame to see such a good wide receiver go to waste.  Unfortunately I don't see things getting better for him vs. the Niners.  San Francisco has one of the leagues best defenses and will be pissed off after getting embarrassed by Seattle last week.

TE Tony Gonzalez (projected 12.55 fantasy points)-  Tampa Bay's secondary is horrible, but I just don't see any reason for Tony to play much in this game.  I don't think Atlanta will risk exposing him to the chance of injury when they will need him in the playoffs.

Good Luck to everyone playing in their finals this week!

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