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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ice Buckets and ALS

The internet has powerful social media.   Kudos to the marketing prop known at the "Ice Bucket Challenge".  It has earned millions in support of finding a cure to ALS.  What more could you ask for?  I think the donations are appropriate.  The buckets have been very entertaining but lots of people have been called out.  Is this getting old?  Some are not into the physicality of getting wet, let alone with ice water.  Others have indicated that during a severe drought in California, we should not be wasting water.  What do I think?  I think we need to find a cure for ALS.  It hit so close to home in my family, even before I was born........

I can still see my grandpa sitting in his easy chair in his small mid-century bungalow in Napa, California.  He was reminiscing about his own father, Jack Flanagan.  John Francis "Jack" Flanagan was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).  He passed away from it at his home (The Flanagan Ranch, Carneros District, Napa, California) on 20 May 1936.

My grandpa said that word was sent him while he was on the road playing baseball.  He played minor league in California at the time.  He returned home as quickly as possible.  The family said that Jack held on until he got there so that he could say goodbye to my grandpa.  Jack passed shortly after he said his goodbyes.

At the age of 58, Jack Flanagan (known in his family as Frank or Francis as a kid) passed away of this terribly, debilitating disease.  It attacks the body while the mind and memories stay sound.  It is unforgiving as it progresses.

Jack went from being a strong man to weak.  He was a farmer, auto mechanic, inventor (patented a plow implement), and loved to fish and hunt.  He was a total outdoors man but also held a certificate in mechanical engineering.  In fact, he was the service manager at a car dealership when cars were just starting to catch on at the turn of the century.  He even taught people how to drive.

So, in his memory and with all of the "bucket" challenges.  To Jack Flanagan....my great grandfather.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Earthquake Hits Napa, CA 2014

Generally speaking, Californians are not too surprised when there is an earthquake.  A little shake here and there has been said to relieve some of the pressure in the ground near various fault lines.  While mother nature adjusts and moves, sometimes she shifts a little more than expected.

This past Sunday, August 24, 2014, there was a pretty significant earthquake in Napa, California.  The epicenter was in the marshland area near the Napa River off Milton Road, just west of the Napa Airport.  My mom said that's where my grandfather (Richard J. "Dick" Flanagan) used to go duck hunting.  There is a known fault line in this area.   It was a big shake at 3:20am and 6.1 on the Richter Scale.

So, how bad was that?  Well, for the 100+ year old buildings in downtown Napa, it was not so good.  It will take a lot time, money and effort to clean up the mess.  Some of the buildings will be repaired and retrofitted while some have been red tagged beyond repair.  There were lots of surprised people to see damage to buildings that had already been earthquake retrofitted.   However, those buildings might have actually fared a lot better than the broken windows and facades make them look presently.  Still, this will have a lasting impact on Napa.

While the downtown area struggles with damage to old historic buildings, my own relatives were just a little shaken.  My grandma's youngest sister (on my Borches - Vienop side) said her house was a mess.  Everything was on the floor and out of cabinets.  Just after the shaking stopped, she and her neighbors met out in the street to check on each other.  No one was hurt.   She was not looking forward to cleaning up all of the broken things inside her house.  Mind you, her house is spotless and she does not have clutter at all.   I would imagine most of the mess is in her kitchen.  She will be bummed to throw out some treasured kitchen wares for sure.  I am just very happy she is okay.

My grandma's other sister and her husband are in the late 80's and live just a short drive from my other aunt. My uncle was tossed out of bed during the shaking.  Their car in the garage moved about 2 feet and push a support beam off its mark.  They also had lots of broken glass.  Luckily, two of their sons were up for the weekend.  They had a garage sale the day before and the guys stayed the night.   Their guardian angels must have been watching over them.  They were able to clean up 15 buckets of broken glass and put it in the trash.  My aunt lost her stemware as they had crashed to the floor from the cabinet above the refrigerator.  They are just happy to be safe and sound.

The news continues to say that this is not the "big one" that is expected someday in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Who knows when that will happen.  Let me get out my crystal ball.  There is not senses waiting for it as it could take years or happen well have many of us have left this earth.

Anyway,  I wish the best for my Napa relatives and the community as a whole.  They seem to be taking it in stride.  Many people in this part of Northern California are pretty laid back after all when it comes to crisis and working through things.  Maybe the wine helps.  I hope that there is still plenty to go around.