Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

keeping us informed

 The big solar eclipse is coming up. Are you planning on watching ? I expect I will try to catch a glimpse, although I doubt I stand and watch the whole event. I haven't purchased my " eclipse " glasses yet. I chuckle when I hear that, sorry can't help it. I'm just scratching my head that the media feels it such a necessity to warn us of staring at the sun. Really, do they believe that there are that many people that are so stupid ! Look, every stare directly into the sun ? Not for long, I didn't think so. Ah, geez why do we wear sunglasses ? I guess we just want to be fashionable right ? It wouldn't be that we want to shield our eyes from the sun would it ? No, we put our sunglasses on so we can stare directly into the sun ! Well, we do if we want to watch a total eclipse of the sun. Hey, you could do that with a welders helmet too. Yeah, I have one and will take a look through that for thirty seconds or so. What I mean is, how long do you have to look at something to see it ? The moon will travel across the face of the sun. The only real thing to see is when it reaches totality, that's pretty cool. But at totality you can look at it without any glasses because the sun is blocked ! Duh. When the moons moves past the sun, the light will shine again and hurt your eyes. When your eyes are bothered by the light, look away !
 I confess I had to look up the year as I couldn't recall it. But in was 1963 that a total eclipse of the sun occurred and was visible on the eastern end of Long Island. We didn't have any such thing as " solar glasses " that could be purchased. I do remember we were taught how to safely view the eclipse. It involved using a shoe box, a small mirror, and a white piece of paper. That's right, instead of being told to buy a set of glasses we were taught how to build a device of our own. Imagine that, instead of the government, radio, television, social media and everyone else telling us if you stare directly  into sun you will go blind, they taught us how to do that safely: without buying anything ! That's right, it wasn't a money making opportunity, it was an educational one. Truth be told all us kids back in '63 knew that staring into the sun hurt your eyes. we really didn't need to be told that. We also knew that hot things were, well hot and would burn you, no warning label required. But that was in a different America, when most of us had common sense anyway. The stating and/or publication of the obvious wasn't considered " educated " or " progressive. " We knew stuff like, you shouldn't call each other names, you shouldn't hate people, and mostly that if you do any of that, you would be held accountable. Yup, back then it didn't matter a hoot what had happened to your great great grandparents, you had to deal with today. But I digress.
 Well, truth is we were told to not stare at the sun. Everyone surely listened because I have never heard of a single case of someone getting their eyes burned out from staring at the sun ! Not one, I tell you. Imagine meeting a blind person and you asking, what happened. I watched the eclipse without my glasses on. I have heard that there people out there selling " fake " glasses. You have to be careful I guess. I'm thinking I will know right away if they don't work. My eyes will bother me. I'll just look away when that happens. It's kinda like getting your hand to close to a fire, you have a tendency to pull back. I wonder of they have put warning signs up by the campfires yet, warning fire can be hot and burn you ! I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Won't be long before the weather turns and we will get those warnings, it's cold outside, keeping us informed. Ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Just pictures on the wall

 I have quite the collection of photographs hanging on my walls. I am fortunate that I have a great deal of the older ones handed down to me for safekeeping. I'm also lucky to have a wife that indulges this habit of mine, I just love having all those ancestors on the wall. I have been working on the family tree for a number of years and can identify who is who. I haven't sent off for one of those DNA test kits yet but most likely will some time in the future. That part of it is only of a casual interest to me. Yes it could provide some information that could be of use. I'm not that interested to know where all my ancestors may come from or, at the least, who they may have slept with. Genetics doesn't define a person. Something I believe too many people are getting confused about these days. But I'm not going to go into all of that right now.
 The other day I decided to rearrange those photos on the wall. I had put them up in what I envisioned as a casual setting. I didn't want it to look like I had hung them all at the same time so they were scattered about. Anyway, I took them all down and rehung them somewhat according to size and in pretty much a straight line. I wasn't so involved that I got out the level and all that, but they are somewhat ordered now. You know how it gets when you get accustomed to things a certain way ? How you don't pay much attention. After rearranging them I am drawn to them again. It's the same people, it just that they have moved. What's more they have new neighbors. I find myself looking at them and calculating their relationship to one another. Whereas in the past Great Grandmother may have been next to my Aunt she is now next to my cousin ! Really it is a mental exercise to figure out how one is related to the other. There are maternal and paternal connections to be made. Included on my wall are my grand nieces and nephews, grandchildren, and third great grandparents of mine. Seven generations are represented ! Of course some of these folks are my wife's' family as well. Her sisters and brothers are in the mix. Why you could say it is a regular catalogue of ancestors and descendants. I believe I have counted forty six pictures on those walls and that is just a mere sampling of the family tree. You really aren't aware of just how many direct relatives you have until you start counting.
 I do enjoy these photographs. Many of them are people I knew or have known. I look at them and remember places and times. There are a number of pictures of people I never knew. They were either distant by time or location. I look at those pictures and imagine. What were they like ? They don't seem as ghosts to me, more like they are waiting. I do think I will meet them all one day. I'll have an eternity to do that. For now it is a challenge to remember all their names and their relationship to me. To some they are just pictures on the wall, but not to me. Pictures contain our mortality.  As long as the photograph exists, so too the person. If you can call them by name, they surely live.

before

after 

Excuse the mess, that's my little corner and I like it that way. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tell me that

 Let's all take a deep breath and think for just a moment. Just what is it we are fighting about ? Are we really fighting about monuments ? Are we really fighting about what injustice took place over 150 years ago ? Are we really fighting because sometimes life just isn't fair ? Yes there is a deep divide in America no doubt about that. What is it that will bridge that divide ? Can we stop fighting long enough to think about that ?
 I'm a man that will fight for what I believe in. I will fight for a cause. What I want to know right now is, what is the cause ? What is going to be accomplished ? Can anyone tell me that ? I don't think anyone can because there is no goal, no end result. You can not change the way people think by having a war ! All you can do in war is kill each other ! Oh sure, you can claim victory when your enemy no longer fights back. You can then stick your chest out and with a collective smugness say, I won. Yeah, and how long does victory last ? How long before the defeated rise up tp try again. This happens over and over again throughout history and it will continue. Are we seeing the brink of another civil war in America ? The last civil war wasn't about black and white either, that was just the fuel used to start the fire. That civil war was about commerce. Are we going to let that happen all over again ?  Have we learned nothing in 150 years ? Apparently many have not and refuse to face reality !  I hear the cries of we will fight for our cause, but no one is saying what that cause is ! Sounds familiar doesn't it, if one reads history. And if that war is fought all over again does anyone really believe that it would change anything at all ? I mean, do they really ?
 Am I to pick sides based on the color of my skin ? Is that going to be the qualification ? And not just the color of my skin but my ethnicity as well ? If that is to be the case I want to know why ? Why should I fight because I am white ? Why should I fight because I am black ? Why should I fight at all ? What is the objective here ? How and what do we " win ? " What is the measure of satisfaction that we require ? Is it money ? Is it land ? Is it possessions ? Just what is the measure ? Pride ? I'm proud of the color of my skin. I'm proud on my nationality. I'm proud of my ethnic background. I'm proud of what my ancestors accomplished. I'm so proud of all of that I am willing to just throw it all away ! Tell me, somebody tell me, what is the measure !!!
 What is the measure of a man ? That is the question here. In the end we always resort to the primitive don't we ? Who can beat up whom ! The alpha male is dominant , he is the leader of the pack for one reason  and one reason only. He can beat up everybody else. It doesn't require any rhyme or reason for that action, it is primal. He can also control the pack that follows him, strength in numbers. For a pack to split another must challenge that dominant male. The true fight remains the same, maintaining the integrity of the pack. We are all Americans, all of the same pack. Who is the leader of the pack ? The President of the United States is the answer to that question. And that answer doesn't change when the name of the President does. Abraham Lincoln was faced with a civil war and managed to keep the pack together. He was assassinated for his efforts. Was he popular ? Not at the time he wasn't, but he " won. " If he had lost, history would certainly have a different view of him.
 I'm not saying that Trump is a Lincoln. The point I am trying to make is this, We are all Americans, we are all members of the same pack. If we expend all our energy fighting among ourselves how are we going to defend ourselves against our real enemies ? Yes, it is a fight for survival. All fights are based on that premise, to survive and to dominate. And so I ask again, what is the goal ? How do we measure success or failure ? I don't care what " side " of the fight you are on the question remains the same, when you win, then what ? Tell me that.       

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Everyone was wrong

 After watching the evening news and seeing what transpired in Virginia I am left with a sense of foreboding, menacing and dark. It is an uncomfortable feeling and one I am not used to. One I hope I never get used to. I can't help but wonder how people can stoop to such depths and yet feel justified in doing so. Have we become some third world nation where riots in the streets, armed conflict among the citizens and government intervention is a daily occurrence ? I am left totally incredulous. I can only condemn the whole thing !
 Yes there are two sides in every fight and both sides share equal responsibility but that doesn't excuse the fight. The main stream media is highlighting the white supremacists as the cause of the violence. That very well may be the truth, I really can't say. That these so called alt-right or white supremacists, whatever they are supposed to be, surely don't speak for me. This chaos this mayhem was fueled by the city's choice in removing another confederate monument. Robert E Lee I believe is what they said. Now I do not agree with the removal of these monuments for the simple reason they represent history. I feel that way regarding all monuments in this country. It makes little difference whether they are for Veterans, scholars, leaders or just ordinary folks. You can't hide history in a museum or warehouse somewhere and to try to do that is just foolish. Still that in no way justifies the actions that took place, not in any way, shape or form !
 Being a man of faith, as imperfect as that may be, I do pray that this was just an aberration. I pray that something like this never happens again. All the while I pray I know I am asking for a miracle. There is a deep division in America. A division that needs to be healed. It will not be healed by picking at the wounds. I'm just a common man doing the best I can to get along in the world. I attempt to explain, in my faltering way, what I think, what I believe to be true. I don't believe the majority of Americans want anything to do with this sort of insanity. I hope this incident can serve as a wake up call, an impetus to have a honest and open dialogue with each other. This isn't just about black and white. This is about cultural identity. Some experts on television were calling it growing pains. America is experiencing growing pains. Let us all pray that this growth doesn't kill us all, that it doesn't kill America ! That wasn't America I saw in the news, I will pray for America's return. It is up to each and every one of us, regardless of race, creed or religion. I hear much talk of " identifying " and what we identify ourselves as. First and foremost I identify myself as an American. I have no apologies to offer, no placing of blame. Everyone, was wrong ! Everyone, was wrong !  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

History is the precedent

  We should all be working for the common good, isn't that what we are taught ? In order to do that we would need a common goal. Does the United States of America have a common goal ? If so, just what would that goal be ? Remember the common good includes everybody, not the things that you want on a personal  level. So just what is that common  good, the goal we are striving mightily to reach ? Has it remained unchanged since the beginning ? That goal being to live free ! And just what are we trying to be free from ? Oppression is the answer. We want to be free from oppression. When we are denied the things we want we label that oppression. At least that is what we call it now, but I say that wasn't always so. There was a time in America when we call that temperance. Temperance is a personal action, a moderation or restraint from doing whatever we feel, when we feel like doing it. The reason for our temperance was a simple one, it was for the common good. Personal needs and desires were set aside in favor of the common good.
 As I often pontificate, you can not legislate morality. It is morality that establishes the common good, the common goal. That is why religion plays such an important role in establishing an identity. Although it is deeply denied and argued that the United States is not a Christian nation I beg to differ. We most certainly are and always have been. We must remember that even the founding fathers were men and politicians to boot. The politicians and lawyers haven't changed all that much over the last two hundred years. Laws have been written, mostly to whose benefit ? Were they for the common good ? Certainly seems that way on the surface of things and I do believe that is the way it started out. The Constitution and the Bill or Rights are pretty much self explanatory in my opinion. Of course the lawyers have been making a living off of interpreting those documents ever since. That is one thing that will never change. What do lawyers do ? They argue, that is their sole occupation. Over time they have even managed to convince most of us how educated they are, learned is the term they like to utilize. I also suspect it is the reason they like to use Latin terms a lot, keep us all confused. The fact is, those universal truths that lawyers like to argue about have remained unchanged since the ancient people wrote them down, in Latin. The only thing that has changed is the way they are interpreted. Yes, that is what it says but that isn't what it means being at the core of all this. I write this not to disparage the profession of Attorney but merely to point out something I have observed.
 The purpose of a lawyer is to argue. Well the goal is to win that argument on the behalf of your client. One method used is to cite examples from the past. Precedents I think they call them. The argument being that is the way it worked before, and so should work that way now. It is usually pretty tough to overturn a precedent. About the only way to do that is to show the injustice in that precedent. Injustice is tied to morality. Somehow the attorney has to display some quality that shows his side of the argument is the only moral choice. Morality and justice ? Aren't they one and the same ? I believe that they are. So how can I win my case ? I can do so only by the absence of a moral precedent ! That can only be accomplished by the absence of religious belief. And it is that action that I see taking place in America right now. The removal of morality. It has always been there, that is why we swear upon the Bible isn't it ? " I swear to tell the truth so help me god ! " Why, because God is the final judge, the final authority on our morality. Yes and now it is acceptable to substitute the word swear with affirm. Some were offended by using the word swear, it was argued, on religious grounds. I don't swear ! And now I see the removal of all moral precedents as the agenda. That is how we can win the argument. The question being, is it for the common good ? And I have to answer with a resounding, no.
 Did we ever have a common goal, this land we call America ? I'd say we did indeed. That goal was to live free from oppression. The goal wasn't to just do whatever we felt like doing. The goal wasn't for life to be fair, that was to left to providence. No, we were to live a temperate life. Each man was to progress according to his own efforts. Each man was to work for the common good. Charity was a moral action, not a judicial one. You can no more legislate charity than you can morality. Both are tied to religious belief. It has always been in the Gods we choose, and the manner in which we worship them that nations found a commonalty. History is the precedent. If there is a complete absence of religion can we expect a different result ? Truth is you can't legislate faith or belief. What we really need to do is decide. Sadly I can't see that happening anytime soon. It hasn't happened in thousands of years, at least not on a global scale, but perhaps it will one day. Maybe that world will be called America. It's a beautiful dream isn't it ?  

Friday, August 11, 2017

to what end

 To what end ? That is a question I feel most of us struggle with. We go about our daily lives, doing the things we feel compelled to do, but to what end ? Are we here to merely reach an end ? Is the reward an eternity of " happiness ? " Seems like there should be more to it than that. Just what that purpose could be is our struggle. This life, our existence, has to be more than a means to an end. That is my feeling anyway.
 It doesn't seem reasonable to believe all of this is just to reach an end. There has to be a greater purpose. Am I integral to that purpose ? I want to think so, to believe that, although it grows increasingly difficult with each passing year. That isn't to say my belief in God has weakened, quite the contrary in fact. It is just that it grows harder to believe that my absence will alter much of anything. I have walked through the cemeteries and seen all those lying there in silence. How many of those folks are remembered ? It isn't a big number, most lie in anonymity. They have reached their end, and to what purpose ? Did they all accomplish whatever their purpose was ? The easy answer is yes. That answer makes us all feel better somehow. Thing is, we have free choice. Did they, am I, choosing to do what was intended ? How can I know the answer to that question ? In the end I will die. Will it be revealed to me when that occurs ? Is that the " light " I hear about ? And what if I find out I didn't do what was intended ? Does that mean banishment from happiness ? Is it an eternity of sadness ? Or is it as some believe, you come back until you get it right, until you learn to listen ?
 Now all of this sounds a bit glum but that is not the intent. I am just thinking about purpose. We all have to have a purpose, right ? If we didn't, what would be the point ? That is why the question, to what end ? We all know those people that appear to have figured out their purpose in life. These folks are artists, performers, athletes, chefs, writers or whatever. We often call them driven. I wonder what drives them. Whatever is driving me can't seem to stay on the road ! It is for that reason I wander. I have traveled the by-ways in life and returned to the main highway only when it became necessary. What is the destination ? Where am I going ? I don't have an answer for either one of those questions. I'll end, that much is certain. To what end ? That's the big question.
 I can't help but wonder if we are starting to dwell more on the means, than the end. The means is what we do to reach that end right ? The end is what we want however, the means is just a way to get there. The means are a necessary thing, a requirement. So in order to define those means we really do need to know the end. The end we pray for is eternal happiness, at least it is for the religious minded individuals among us. The means to reach that end are clearly defined in our theological texts and manuscripts.
 What of those that do not believe in a life after death ? What is their end ? If it is merely to die would the " means " make a difference ? I'd have to say no. It doesn't make any difference at all. Well at least as far the individual goes it shouldn't. It is just an end without any purpose at all. Well unless you believe your purpose is solely confined to this earth, this existence, than it could make a difference I suppose. To believe that you must also believe that you do have a purpose. If you have a purpose just who or what determines that purpose ? That's a bit of a problem. In that case you do have to ask yourself, to what end ?



  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Truman, Ike and Trump

 What to do about North Korea ? That is what is on my mind this morning as I sip my coffee and contemplate the world. You know the Korean war officially ended seven days after I was born, Yes, it was July the twenty seventh nineteen hundred and fifty three. On that day the armistice was signed. Did you know it may have been the threat , by then President Eisenhower, to use nuclear weapons that brought the North Koreans and China to the table ? Yes, that's right, Ike threatened to use a nuclear bomb to speed things up. Remember it had been just seven years and eleven months since we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. Less than a decade and the memory was clear in the mind of the world. It can't be stated with certainty that it was that threat that was the deciding factor but it seems likely. Has President Trump repeated that threat ? To the North Koreans I'm certain that is what it sounds like. Well, they started it ! And doesn't that sounds like an immature statement involving world politics ? This really is a precarious time and being nervous about it all is justifiable. One wrong move, one action misconstrued, and extremely serious consequences could be the result. I just wonder what North Korea hopes to accomplish with all this bravado. The bigger question is, do we allow North Korea to continue " building a better bomb " that will jeopardize the world ? Another Nuclear power ?
  I'm no historian or authority on the Korean war or just what North Korea was trying to accomplish other than the spread of communism. It was a political war. The United States agreed to help South Korea keep its' independence from communist rule and so joined the fight. With our help we had pushed the commies back to the 32nd parallel and China was getting worried that we would invade their territory. China joined in to help there communist brothers. At the time we were still calling our involvement a police action. I'd say that is the position we are taking right now, acting like the police as far as North Korea building any more nuclear capability. Technically we are still at " war " with them as no peace treaty has ever been signed. That's right, it is still just a cease fire. All of this is just a repeat. They say history repeats itself and I can certainly see evidence of that. I was there for Operation Desert Shield/ Desert Storm when we drove Iraq out of Kuwait. Then ten years later we were right back there , in the middle east, fighting those Iraqis again. Fact is, we still are fighting in the middle east.
 I just don't know what to think about this latest development. Sounds like Trump is saying we will strike first and strike decisively if North Korea doesn't knock it off. Will the threat work again ? I can't see any sane man willing to enter into a nuclear conflict. No doubt it is the most powerful weapon one can wield, but do you ? It is a strategic problem of monumental magnitude. When we used our bombs in WW2 no one could retaliate in kind. It was a knockout blow and the rest of the world, namely Japan, had to utter those words, " no mas. " Certainly any reasonable people would say that about the use of nuclear weapons in general. We should use them " no more. " But the cat is out off the bag in a manner of speaking, Pandora's box is open. So just what do we do about that ?
 If the United States decides to strike I can only pray that it is with conventional weapons. We certainly have the capability to unleash " fire and fury " like the world has never seen before with conventional weapons. As I said, I was there for Desert Shield/ Desert Storm and saw a little bit, first hand, of what we are capable of doing with conventional missiles, rockets, bombs and naval gunfire. I don't think China would stand idly by however and what about Russia ? It is all a very complicated situation when dealing with world politics. I am praying that no action is necessary and cooler heads will prevail. Just how North Korea can " save face " is the most difficult piece of the puzzle.
 Like I said, I'm no historian and certainly no expert on world politics. It just struck me as rather ironic that Trump should hint at using nuclear weapons as a means to stop North Korea developing its' nuclear arsenal any further. General Dwight D Eisenhower was the president when I was born and used that threat to end the " police action " and the memory of that destruction was still fresh in the minds of the world. Have we forgotten ? Has North Korea and China forgotten ?
 " Both Truman and Eisenhower quite seriously issued nuclear threat against China. On Nov. 30, 1950, President Truman announced at the news conference that "he is prepared to authorize the use of atomic weapons in order to achieve peace in Korea". Truman refuses to rule out atomic weapons - Nov 30, 1950 - HISTORY.com President Truman’s statement of “active consideration of its (nuclear) use” shocked the world and even sent British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to Washington to express his serious concern. "
 That is called nuclear blackmail by some historians and others call it a form of extortion. When those threats were issued the United States had far more bombs than China or Russia. We did hold the upper hand, if there is such a thing in this situation. That isn't the case now. Will this bully tactic work? I hope so. And this isn't about Trump, this is about what to do about North Korea. Truman, Ike and Trump ? History does have its' strange twists and turns. All we can do is wait. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

permission

 What would you say is the biggest thing you have ever done without getting permission ? Well, I guess that would depend upon your relationship situation. If you are married or in some other form of committed relationship you know what I mean. You do need " permission " even when that permission is not vocalized. I'm not certain what bachelors or bachelorettes do. Are they solely responsible for their choices ? I admit that is a bit of a scary thought, at least as far as I am concerned that is. I may not always like it, but I do require guidance on occasion. Let's just call it a " tempering " of my actions. Mistakes have been avoided ! Of course there is something to be said for just doing your own thing.
 Maybe it isn't permission, but a testing of the waters so to speak. If you want a smooth voyage in life it is best to avoid the tempest. Good old Shakespeare wrote a play called the tempest. That play was about forgiveness and freedom. I can't say as I recall all the characters names but at least one of them wound up on an Island after sailing through a storm. The details are a little foggy but in the end there was forgiveness for wrongs committed and freedom from that island. At least I think that is how it goes but the point is, avoid the storm if you can. It is a good idea to get permission first. Makes for a smoother relationship all the way around. Remember guys, the girls are in charge of that ! That would be my advice to my sons and grandsons, never forget that. If you want to be a superhero or the big romantic figure that's fine, just get permission first.
 I don't have one but I expect that is the purpose of a man cave. A place where you are allowed to have some freedom from the social graces. After all, that is what men want to do right ? We like to pass gas, tell crude jokes and watch sports ! That is exactly why it is called a cave ! We men are just barbaric creatures. Well, the ladies have decided it is kinda cute so we can have our little caves now. Not too many years back it would have been the garage or workshop, those areas were the domain of men. That was where the cigarette smoking, beer drinking and certain magazines would be found. Somewhere along the line the ladies started doing all those things, not the magazines so much, but the rest of it. They have even joined in with the " salty " language. But even with all that they have not relinquished control of the relationship. Step out of bounds boys and you will soon find that out.
 In more recent times I've been hearing about she sheds. I know at least one lady that has one, apparently used for her creative pursuits. Isn't that what a sewing room was used for ? Uh oh, I could get in trouble for that sexist remark, I'm sorry. I must remember that sewing, knitting, darning, and cooking are not necessary life skills for the ladies anymore, they are " crafts. " To even suggest such could get me in trouble. I might wind up in the dog house ! It doesn't matter if you rent or own, every home comes with a dog house. Men know where that is. Ever notice how a woman never winds up in the dog house ? It is an observation I have no explanation for. It is like your home. Sure, it's your  alright until that moment she says, " not in my house you won't. " You also don't get to pick the colors. Decorative items are also prone to review and approval. Hey, that's a eight point buck that I shot when I was just eighteen ! You can hang it in the garage ! No sense in discussing that any further, permission denied.
 I have learned that it is best to get permission over the years. The reason for that is a simple one. By getting permission you do have an avenue of escape . If things don't work out well she then has to share the blame. It is really that simple. You don't want to be solely responsible for anything. Not if you want a peaceful marriage anyway. If a guy makes a, shall we say, error in judgement that is never going to be forgotten. Nope, it is a bludgeon to be applied whenever or wherever it becomes necessary. When the sentence begins with, I remember when, you just know it isn't going to turn out well for you. Strange thing is if a woman makes a , shall we say, error in judgement that is to be viewed as cute. Forgiveness is immediate and the incident is never to be mentioned again.  Another inexplicable fact of life.
 Of course all of this is just tongue in cheek. I really don't believe any of it. All relationships are based in compromise. It is only through love and understanding that we form that lasting bond. The real secret to a lasting marriage is based in respect and understanding. Oh, and the husband saying these important words often and with heartfelt conviction, yes dear. Honey, is it alight if ? 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

for pleasure or profit

 You may have heard. The city of Baltimore called for a 72 hour cease fire. That's right activists groups asked the crooks and criminals to stop shooting each other for 72 hours. It almost worked too, only two people killed over the weekend. They are calling it a victory. So far this year something like 240 individuals have been shot and killed in the streets of Baltimore. Isn't that a staggering statistic ? So the cease fire was called. Now just exactly who the cease fire was between wasn't clearly defined in the news. What I am left wondering about is just who controls that ? Was it just a general plea to all criminals and thugs to quit shooting ? Then, all but at least one did ? If that is the case find that one person, lock him up, and ask the rest to stop it !
 A cease fire. That is always associated with a war. What war is being raged in Baltimore. It isn't a war against drugs, it is a war to get drugs !That is what the majority of the violence concerns. The buying, selling, and controlling of the drug market. All of the underlining causes are being used to explain this, except for the true one, greed. It is money and the making of it that drives this business and it is business. Yes the media and everyone else calls it the war on drugs. Well you can't kill drugs. You can't stop people from buying, selling, or in some cases manufacturing those drugs. Not when there is so much money to be made. The big drug companies aren't much different. You are forced to pay whatever price they wish to set. The drug dealers in the street are doing the same thing. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. What we need to wage war against is that demand.
 It is the source of that demand that we need to address. The common ones are poverty, a feeling of helplessness, despair, social status and discrimination. All those things create a demand for an escape. The drugs provide that escape. That is what the phycologists will tell you. The liberals will tell you to just give those folks everything and that will solve the problem. It is the democratic solution. Some will tell you it is the Christian thing to do as well. If society provides for their needs they will quit using drugs. That is the narrative there, plain and simple. I don't agree. You can give them all of that and all that will happen is that that will demand more. What needs to be done is the removal of desire. Yes, we need to teach abstinence ! Yes, we do need to deny ourselves. All our Gods demand one thing, obedience. What is obedience ? It is the denial of our own pleasure to satisfy that of another.
 The issue here lies with what, or to whom should we all be obedient ? Is it for ourselves, our families, our communities, our country or our God ? That is what needs to be answered. That has always been what needed to be answered. Man has been obedient to Kings, Emperors, Monarchs, Dictators, Marxists, Fascists, Socialists and a whole gamut of Gods and Goddesses. Isn't that what we are taught in school ? In America the motto has been, for God and Country. For those things we are willing to give our lives. Unfortunately man has also been willing to give his life for profit and for pleasure. We will not deny ourselves.
 It is no wonder to me that he more divided our country becomes, the less we deny ourselves. To me it is a simple equation. If you wish to be disobedient you need to justify that. The easiest way to do that is just separate yourself from the rules. In other words, create a division. In that way I am not subject to the " rules " of that society. In that way I can practice whatever " lifestyle " I enjoy, whatever feels good. Little to no effort is required to maintain that lifestyle. It is even easier if I can convince the " other " bunch to take care of me. Better still to have that group assume responsibility for it in the first place ! And in America we all know who that is. It goes without saying. The bottom line to me is this. We are not going to stop this " war " without the participants all agreeing to deny themselves of pleasure or profit. That is what this war is providing. Yes the cry is, these people need hope ! The truth is, hope is not given, hope is received. Hope is received through faith. Faith doesn't have to be a specific God worshipped in a prescribed fashion. Faith requires no proof, no set rules. Faith doesn't come in degrees. Faith is an absolute. Hope springs from faith. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ruminating

  The majority of us long to be were we came from, and pray for were we will go. At least that is my estimation of things. I have discovered that home isn't where I left it and so a return is impossible. All that is left for me is where I will go when this journey is over. I do believe the journey will continue after this mortal body of mine gives out, as it inevitably will. But the spirit moves on, The question remains, to where ? Is it to heaven where it will rest for all eternity ? That seems to be the predominant thought or teaching and has been so for centuries. I think it is just as possible that the spirit, that energy that makes us men, continues to toil with existence. One seems as likely as the other. Energy is either potential or kinetic. It could be that we are stored in heaven, as potential energy, and when given birth we become kinetic once again. Is heaven just one big battery ? It is an interesting thought. Black holes ? Is that what they are ? Science says they attract everything and nothing can escape their gravitational pull. The thing there is, were does it go ? It has to come out somewhere doesn't it ? I mean, every hole will fill up eventually. My thinking is that we are watching the universe expand from the exit side of a black hole. But I'll leave that to the scientists to explain, I'll just keep praying.
 Now it could be that we just start over again as well. What I mean is, what if we ( our energy ) just goes into a black hole and comes back out where we started ? Could it be that we just keep repeating our lives over and over again ? Like electrical current through a wire we go were we are directed to go. That would explain Deja vu. That action being our role in the universe. Just as every piece in a machine has a purpose, and it repeats that purpose over and over again, maybe that is what we do as well. I know that doesn't sound very promising and provides little incentive to accomplish anything, but could be we are just a cog in a much larger scheme of events. Energy can not be created or destroyed. It seems logical then that God, the creator, or whatever you wish to use would have all the energy necessary to accomplish whatever it is that this God wished to accomplish. Our purpose is simply to provide that energy at the proper time and place. Is this the proper time and place ? We're alive, conscious of our existence in a universe we really don't understand and so it is entirely possible it is. Would the choice of where we go be left up to us ? Seems unlikely doesn't it. Therefore we are directed. Is the wire moved each time we start over ? Is heaven just the switchboard ? Hmm.
 This isn't meant to be anything but a rumination. I am just ruminating. Now if you are a farmer or a cattle breeder you may already know this. Ruminating is what animals do when they are " chewing their cud. " I recently learned that bit of trivia. The purpose of it is to aid in digestion. Well in fact without chewing their cud digestion wouldn't happen at all. But this isn't meant to be a biology lesson either I just found that interesting. So that is what I am doing this morning, ruminating. I do wonder what a cow is thinking about when they are ruminating. Are they ruminating about ruminating ? 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

between dreams and disappointment

 Life resides somewhere between dreams and disappointment. When we are children we are filled with dreams. For some those dreams are a constant and they go in pursuit. Yes there are those that achieve those childhood dreams. I do believe that is because they believed the dream. Sometimes the dream is their own, sometimes it is a dream that has been told to them. The first group doing what they want and the later group doing what was expected of them. I say that because you can be successful fulfilling others peoples dreams. That happens when you adopt their dream as your own. On the other end of all that is disappointment. It may be accompanied with success or failure, that isn't the measure. Happiness is the measure of a life lived. Happiness is an inalienable right, we can all agree on that. Just what is happiness though ?
 Is happiness money, comfort, and just doing whatever you like ? That would seem to be the blanket definition being applied today. But in our constitution we are guaranteed what ? The pursuit of happiness, not that we will be happy. Government can not deny us the pursuit of happiness. The government can certainly deprive us all of money, comfort and restrict our activities, that is easy enough to see. So then what is this quality of happiness that can not be withheld ? I would say it is our spirituality. That can not be denied to us. Happiness surely is contained within our spirit. It is our spirit that we struggle with in this world. That is true for people of conscience. Is it possible to live a life without conscience ? I would answer that by saying only if the society in which ones lives enables that. For it is society that gives us our moral compass. Regardless of any spiritual instruction we may receive, it is society that provides the compass.
 The American dream. Isn't that what we have been told and taught to pursue. Isn't that why millions of people from all over the world come to America ? In pursuit of the dream ! And just what is the American dream ? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There it is again, happiness. The original settlers came to America for what reason ? Religious freedom, to pursue their " spirituality " unencumbered by government. Isn't that what we were all told ? They came here to be happy ! The proverbial land of milk and honey. All you have to do is work hard and live a virtuous life ! Somewhere along the way the virtue part has been set aside. But you say just what is virtue ? Virtue is maintaining high moral standards. What defines our moral standard ? Spirituality defines that standard and in America it has traditionally been Christianity. Spirituality and Christianity are not one and the same, that is true. I am not saying that in order to have high moral standards or be virtuous you have to be a Christian. I am saying you have to have spirituality to obtain happiness.
 So then what is religion ? I think religion ( a religious order ) is nothing more than spirituality that we all agree upon. That is why it is called an order in the first place. It is ordered spirituality.
The problems arise when we manipulate the religion,  to conform to our wants. Spirituality fulfills a need, not a want. Man devises his own concept of what his God desires of him. It is in that creation that spirituality can be set aside or lost completely. What does God require ? Does God require anything at all ? I do think it is rather presumptuous of us to think that we can provide anything at all to God. After all, he created us, we didn't create him. So then it naturally follows that we need God. For that reason I say, religion or spirituality, whichever moniker you wish to apply, is a need. It is a requirement for a happy life. Man has attempted to manipulate social conscience in such a way as to guarantee happiness. We call that government. Man has attempted to manipulate religious practices to please our God, we call that piety.
 Somewhere between dreams and disappointment is where we live our lives. So where is happiness located ? Happiness is found in moments. Happiness is found in contentment. Contentment is when our needs are being met. Spirituality fulfills a need, not a want. When you learn that lesson that is when true happiness arrives not as a guest but as a resident. Happiness resides in the heart of man, always has. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

old friends and new strangers

 I had an exchange with an old classmate yesterday on Facebook. This is a person I have known since childhood but not since adulthood. A lot of that has happened since the introduction of the internet and social media. Overall I think this social media stuff is wonderful. It has made the world a smaller place as a great deal of our technology has done over the years. I'd say it started with those cave drawings and has progressed from that point. Soon we were writing and the introduction of books. Each step bringing people closer together, sharing their understanding of the world around them. Clans formed, communities grew, and before we knew it nations rose. For ages the world then became wide and mysterious to us, only a little knowledge was spread to the masses. That knowledge wasn't available to the common man, no, the common man was too busy trying to survive. Life was a struggle. But the internet has made us all feel a bit more connected. There is talk of a global community. Interestingly many folks are starting to turn back to nature searching for answers. They want to go back to a time when the " clan " cared for each other, a communal society. Well, as long as it doesn't have anyone that is the outright leader that is. It has to be fair.
 After our conversation was through I thought about that conversation. Yes we are at odds when it comes to politics. I find myself in that position a lot these days. It is not over the candidates, it is not about Trump being the president, both of those things will change over time, what it is about is policy. Much is made of the left and the right, the conservatives and the liberals, as a way to define policy. Truth is we are a mixture of all of that, or at least we should be. I have never voted the straight party line and most likely never will. Each representative is an individual, we must not lose sight of that fact. Sometimes that representative doesn't represent what I feel. I don't vote for those folks. That is the way it is supposed to work. But, I'm wandering off the subject I wanted to write about. I was talking about old friends and new strangers. That is what I encounter often while using social media. The years have changed us all, it is a natural thing. The choices we have made molding our lives. I would say the majority of us would like to go back and make a few modifications. That too, is a natural thing. The thing is this. After all the years just how do you feel about it all ?
 That is what I take away from these interactions I have with these old friends and new strangers. I do get a sense of what they are feeling about their lives. In the case of the latest discussion I feel this person is just disappointed. I think that is how he/she feels about life. Disappointment. Oh, not so much disappointment in the way their personal life turned out, but in what the world has turned out to be. Some people were expecting something totally different. Reality has just smacked them in the face and they are incredulous ! These folks will never accept the truth and insist upon changing reality. They remind me of Don Quixote, noble in  their pursuit, but unaware of reality. As for me I try my best to follow the advice of Marcus Aurelius  "  Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart. " The world is not here to adapt to you, you must adapt to the world.

Friday, August 4, 2017

playing the game

The game of life. That is what I have heard people call our presence of this earth. Well, I want to go back to a time when the rules were understood. It seems to me there is only one rule now. That rule says, whenever you feel something isn't fair, change the rule. That is how it looks to me anyway. Even when there is a rule you can always use the argument, that is what it says, but that isn't what it means. In that way, the rule is changed without really changing the rule at all ! Funny how that works isn't it ? The real problem, as I see it, is that folks seem to think that a society is just them. What I mean by that is a failure to understand what a society or a nation really is. Let us consult the good old dictionary. One definition I feel applicable is that a society is a group or organization of people dedicated to a common cause or purpose. I would say our Nation is a society. I would go on to say a society requires order and discipline in order to function. Remember the purpose of a society is to achieve a common goal. The question in this case is, what is that goal ? According to the founding fathers that would be life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I'd say that was a fairly general mission statement. A form of government was chosen to accomplish that goal. A Republic was chosen. Why was that ? Because everyone knows that you can't please all of the people all of the time. It is was agreed that a two-thirds majority was more equitable than a straight democracy.
"Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%." Those are the words of Thomas Jefferson and I agree.
 I bring this up to point out what should be an obvious thing. You have to have rules. The rules will not always favor your position. The rules shouldn't be changed to accommodate the minority. I know, I know, OMG what a prejudicial statement to make ! Isn't that the reaction we will get if we dare to say that ? The point here being you can not make rules enforceable solely on a case by case basis ! Those rules are intended to benefit the society, or in this case a country. The discussion of what laws are benefitting the country and what laws are detrimental is the function of Congress. The supreme court issues their " opinion " as to the constitutionality of those laws. In other words are those laws consistent with the " mission statement " of the Constitution. Their job is not to decide if something is " fair " to each individual in the republic. That is an impossibility and we all know that. Sometimes things just aren't fair. The only way we can come close to being fair is to all play by the same rules ! That should be simple enough to understand but I'm not seeing that. All I hear is, it isn't fair. When a law doesn't benefit me directly, it isn't fair. As long as I have an excuse, it isn't fair. And now we are starting to make law based on " feelings. " It is acceptable for a person to do this because they " feel " a certain way. The responsibility of the society has shifted. Now the people in that society no longer have to play by the rules, the society must change the rules to accommodate the members. That just isn't the way it works folks !
 You know what I want ? I want a return to civility and decency. I want a society where we all know the rules. I want a society where you are held to account for your actions and your choices. I want my America back ! For far too many years I have watched as our government struggles to " fix all the troubles of the world " and ignores the needs of the society. Yes, America is a society. Look, all are welcome to join the society as long as they are willing to assimilate to the society. That means following the rules as established by that society ! It does not mean the society changes the rules to suit you !
 I will conclude with an obvious statement. In the game of life, the rules aren't always fair. Fairness is subject to time, place, and circumstance. Thing is the rules apply to everyone playing the game. When that rule works against you it does seem unfair. When the rule works in your favor however you just smile and wait for your next turn. Yes, that is how it works. Deal with it.
 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

past gossip

 I shared this bit of family history with my wife's sister yesterday and she found it interesting. I thought perhaps you might too. You know when you are a kid how you just don't put relationships together ? What I mean is understanding who is whom. Well there was this lady, I called her Aunt Minnie but in reality she was my fathers aunt. Her given name was Mildred and my sister had been named after her. She lived in a long brick home uptown somewhere. I had the impression that she was wealthy. Well she was by my standard anyway. When we went to visit her she would allow us children to eat shrimp and take whole bottles of soda from her refrigerator. At Christmas we always got a card with money in it. They were always those cards you got at the bank with the hole cut out so you could see the president. It was in one of those that I first viewed a Franklin ! Yes, she was wealthy alright. Her husband, Uncle Mark was a carpenter or cabinetmaker something like that. I don't recall seeing much of him. I do remember he was a soft spoken man, kinda kept to himself a lot.
 Anyway, it wasn't until I started working on the family tree that certain things came to light. The first thing should have been obvious to me but being a kid it wasn't. Aunt Minnie, my great aunt, was sister to my grandfather. Say what ? Grandfather Reichart, my Dads dad passed away when he was only 32 and so I never knew him. Why I didn't know that Aunt Minnie was his sister I can only blame on adolescence. Like I said, when you are a kid this stuff doesn't occur to you. This lady knew my grandfather ! More than knew him, she was his sister. Later on, I found more relatives that I had known as a child that were relatives of these " old " people in my family tree.
 As I climbed around in the family tree studying records I discovered that Uncle Mark was not her first husband. Aunt Minnie had met and married a man named Harry Goldberg. Harry Goldberg was a prominent business owner in Chicago. He was wealthy enough that he maintained a yacht. As it turned out Uncle Mark was the captain of that yacht ! Born in Sweden he had immigrated as a child and gained citizenship in 1937. Now, none of this was ever talked about, at least not to my knowledge so I had no idea. Aunt Minnie had run off with the Captain ! I wonder if this is where her source of wealth came from. Harry Goldberg was certainly a very wealthy man but I'm not so certain about a immigrant ships captain. Then again, you never know do you. There is much that is lost over time. But there is a paper trail if one wishes to follow it. Today we follow a digital trail to achieve the same results.
 You could say that working on the family tree is akin to gossiping in the past tense. I have uncovered certain facts that I am certain were fodder for that sort of thing, especially so in the old days. I'm certain just having been divorced was a rather scandalous thing back then. I mean, she ran off with the hired help ! It must have been embarrassing to Harry Goldberg. I don't know for sure but the name sounds Jewish and Aunt Minnie certainly wasn't. I wonder had she converted, then converted back ? Well, that is if he was Jewish in the first place. I wonder what his family thought of all this. I really haven't researched all of that, it is just speculation on my part. Aunt Minnie never had children. I wonder whether that was by choice. I was 29 when Uncle Mark and Aunt Minnie passed away. He passed in April and she followed in December. I was in the Navy at the time, away from home and don't remember even being informed of that. What became of her estate I have no clue. Did she have an estate left to even be worried about ?
 I just don't know the answers. But I have found there are so many branches in the tree that you just can't climb out to the end of every one of them. There are some good stories out there however. Sometimes the branches intermingle in unexpected ways. Uncle Mark was from Sweden. My grandmother Bennett was from Sweden. Both lived in East Hampton. Just how or why Aunt Minnie moved to East Hampton is a mystery, her family was from Greenport. Grandmother Bennett worked for a wealthy family and was brought to East Hampton in that capacity. She didn't marry the boss though, she married my grandfather. Grandfather Bennett was a fisherman and a bit of a cad from all accounts. Two Swedes with different destiny's in America. Like I said, lots of stories to be told, lots of gossip.          

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

act your age

 I had to get some bloodwork done and so was sitting in the waiting area. There was an elderly lady struggling to get up from her chair when she was called. I offered my hand to her, which she accepted. Smiling she thanked me and disappeared into the back room. In that brief moment I noticed she was dressed quite stylishly. What I mean is her wardrobe was up to date given her age group. Now that isn't to say seniors can't be fashionable just that seniors usually opt for comfort over style. Perhaps she was comfortable in those heels she was wearing and those slacks being as tight as they were. Look I'm just sayin', it was noticeable. Anyway that lead me to this thought, I wonder what she thinks her age is ? You know what I mean ? We all have an age that we think of ourselves as being. That age has little to do with birthdays or intellect ! Just how old do you feel ? That is what I am thinking about. Me, I think I am in my forties. Yup, that is how I think about myself. That estimation is based upon what I perceive forty somethings to be like in general. It has nothing to do with looks. It is solely based on a feeling. Hey, I know how I feel and I don't feel 64. Of course I've never been 64 before so I have no frame of reference.That is the problem here. If I went by feelings I shouldn't be collecting social security, I've got a few more years of productivity in me. It is only in these modern times that we quit " retire " and expend those productive years just having fun. Well, that is the goal, the promise anyway. There is legislation that is moving that age requirement further. The reason for that is an economic one however, not a social one. I do think we have a social obligation to be productive citizens for as long as we are capable. There are times when I feel remiss in fulfilling that social obligation, then I think, nah, it's fine !
 My mind is wandering just a bit though. What I am asking is do you ever get too old for fashion ? Fashion comes and goes. By its' very definition it is dated. I wonder if we become dated as well ? I'm certain that we do as far as language goes. If I start speaking in the jargon of " today " I do come off as either silly or just plain foolish. Yo, what's up with that just doesn't work for me. You know what I mean. But what about fashion ? Is that true about fashion as well ? I believe that is dependent upon our physical appearance. Sad but true ! We shouldn't judge people by their physical appearance but we do. We all do that ! Fashion is dependent upon that quality ( good looks ) for the most part. Fashion generally reflects our age. We develop our own " style " or " look " however you want to put that. Mine is blue jeans and a tee shirt. I recently took up wearing a newsboys cap and changed the style of my glasses. I did so to reflect my inner feelings. I no longer want to wear a ball cap and aviator glasses. My inner age making that decision. It was a bold move ! Why ? Simply because the people I know have come to expect a certain " look " from me. A change in that outer appearance can be a shock to some. And yes, you do risk ridicule, a consideration. I have noticed that the young and the old do not seem to be as susceptible to that possibility in making their choices. Strangely when you are young you often make those choices to impress someone, and when you are old you make that choice because you just don't care anymore. I like it, deal with it. It is all a product of our inner age. Is the later, gasp, maturity ?
 So how much does your inner age go with your physical age ? How old do you think you really are ? Are you really as young as you feel ? Only you can know that answer. I think it is probably different for each of us. How we reach that age is an enduring mystery. Time and circumstance are certainly factors to be considered. Your physical well being has to play a part. Attitude is integral but can not control that feeling. To put it succinctly, you know what you can pull off and what you can't. The only problem is getting others to agree. Oh it is great to be young at heart I wouldn't disagree with that. But in the case of that lady I mentioned, does a " cane " really go with heels ? A fashion choice perhaps or her inner age manifesting itself ? Either way, she looked fabulous. Dressed to " go out " as we senior folks might say. Ah yes, there was a day when one dressed according to the occasion but that was a long time ago, in a different America. When I was a kid my parents would holler at me, act your age ! I have found most of us do; for the most part, act our age. That age doesn't always match our years or our appearance. Just how old are you ? 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

fifty two days

 Here it is, August. Amazing how quickly the summer seems to be going. They say the older you get the faster time appears to be. I would concur with that assessment. Time is a relevant thing, Einstein told us that light is the constant. That theory of relativity has been proven correct. That happened in Feb of 2016 according to the scientists. So that means that light is the only constant in the universe. What we need to know now is the source of that light. But I've already written my thoughts on that subject. Remember Einstein said  Energy =  mass x speed of light squared. Pretty heady stuff wouldn't you say ? I've heard it said that just before you die you see a bright light, is that heaven ? Is that the constant ? Well, like I said I've already written my thoughts about that. I am just thinking, it's August already.
 I was born in July but a number of life events have occurred to me in the month of August. The first was joining the Navy. I was officially sworn in on Aug 9, 1971. That took place at Fort Hamilton, New York. It is a day I remember well. Over the years other events, both major and minor have taken place in the month of August. I wasn't really drawn to a pattern until recently. As I was working on the family tree I began to notice the month of August appearing a lot. Births, deaths and baptisms galore. I began uncovering those ancestors and finding those dates. It did become a noticeable thing. So now I face the month of August with some degree of trepidation. It is probably just a silly notion, a coincidence of sorts, but still the feeling persists. It could be that it is because some " secrets " reside in the month of August. Those secrets are the things I choose to not talk about. Yup, I have secrets. Secrets aren't always about anything nefarious or evil you know. Secrets are sometimes just things that are painful and so best left unprovoked.
 It is a common theme this notion of time speeding up as we age. I think it is just the result of spending more time looking where we have been instead of where we are going. The path left behind is certainly longer than the one before us. When we are younger we don't see it that way at all. All we see then is the road ahead. We also tend to think it goes on forever. Well, it does but that is a matter of faith isn't it ? The issue some have is they just can't see that path at all and so deny its' existence. We do have to get through the gate don't we ? Is the key faith or belief ? That is what we spend a lifetime trying to figure out is my thinking. Are the two different things ? I believe that they are. Belief is nothing more than a strong opinion based in proof or probability. Faith is a strong religious belief that requires no proof whatsoever. If I believe something I search for truth. If I then believe that truth no proof is required, I have faith. I think that is how it works. How much faith do I have in that analysis ? I believe it. Time does tend to rush at us when we are faced with the truth. Is it belief or faith that continues the journey ? Moreover one would have to ask, does the journey continue regardless, just on a different path ? Only time will give us the answers to those questions. I'm in no hurry.  Whoa, let's just slow down and enjoy the summer. There are still 52 days of that. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

are you entertained ?

 I have seen in the news several times lately that there are changes being made to what electronics are being allowed in your carry on luggage. The TSA saying if it is larger than a cell phone it must be scanned. From what they are reporting some folks are upset by all of this. I don't fly very often, last time was a few years back and so I am not overly concerned. My first thought was, so what ? I couldn't see where it would be an issue, I mean they are not saying you can't take it on, just that it has to be scanned. Turns out people are complaining about the inconvenience of the process. Well, we certainly wouldn't want anyone to be inconvenienced ! These electronics that they are taking with them are being used for what purpose during the flight ? Entertainment for the most part. Have we, as a society, developed such a need to be " entertained " that it is inconvenient to ensure the plane won't get blown up ? We can't go a few hours without electronic entertainment ! What happened to reading a book or magazine ? What happened to, gasp, actually talking with another person. Yes, you can even talk with people you have never met before, strangers. I don't recommend talking religion or politics though, call that a travel tip !
 I do think we are developing a problem here. The problem is the requirement for some sort of outside stimulus all the time. What I mean is, what ever happened to being alone with your thoughts ? I don't know about others, but I need that alone time just as much as I need to be entertained, maybe even more so. It could be that all this noise isn't allowing us to hear our own thoughts. Could be that is why so many people are saying so many stupid things lately ! Through all the static that is being generated the message is being lost. Maybe it is time to just turn off all that stuff. There are just too many distractions is my thinking. There is just no other explanation for all this nonsense I keep hearing. If all you do is listen to what others are saying, you don't have time for an original thought !
 Seeing that on the news did make me think about this need we have to be entertained all the time. I wonder just what has happened. Are we suffering, as a society, from sensory overload ? Is that the root cause of all the unrest we are experiencing in the country today. We just can't seem to catch our breath. One scandal after another in the news. Crime and corruption are rampant. The criminals are being coddled, the lazy being cared for by the state, and the workers taxed to support it all ! Free medical for everyone, but no one has to pay for it ! Has anyone really thought about that ? Apparently not is my guess. Whatever you want to do is just fine. In fact if you don't agree with it I will call you a string of names. Bigot, migyonist, racist, and deplorable are always a good place to start. Then I'll tell you how you are free to practice your religion. Well you can practice it as long as I approve of it anyway. But if I want my cake or picture taken you have to do that ! I'll sue you if you don't, I don't care what your religion says, but you are free to practice it. After all, I'm inclusive. Do those people ever hear what they are saying ? Do they ever think about what they are saying ?
 You know when I was a kid there were two fundamental forms of punishment that was handed out by my parents. The big one, at least in their mind, was corporal. Yes, I got spanked. Yes, an instrument was often employed, namely a belt. Yes, it hurt ! The other form of punishment, the one I hated the most was having to just sit. No, I didn't have to sit in the proverbial corner but I had to sit somewhere. Wherever that was there was no television, radio, books, magazines, pens or paper. I was to just sit there, and as Dad always said, think about what you have done. I had to just sit there and contemplate whatever actions had landed me in this spot. I hated that. Then after what might be fifteen minutes or a few hours, if he remembered, Dad would come by and ask. Do you know why you are sitting here ? You had best have the correct response or no parole was issued. It did make me think about my choices. I gained an understanding of risk and reward.
 I do think that may be what America needs. A time out ! Shut off all the distractions. Pull the plug on the whole thing and have a few days of silence. Let people think about things for a while. Just sit there and think about it ! No arguments, no discussions, no talking heads. You have to think about whatever it is that you have chosen. Maybe, just maybe some of these fools would see the error of their ways. Well, that is a lot to ask for I guess. Sadly, for the most part all I hear is " let me entertain you. " Many do seem to be distracted a great deal. Think about this ? Who, in America gets paid the most money ? As a general rule, entertainers. Whether they are singers, actors, football players or whatever, their job is to entertain us. And these are the folks we are listening too ? Hmm, like the character in the movie Gladiator I have to ask, are you not entertained ?
 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

time and context

  There are certain moments, certain memories captured in our minds that we really can't share with others. They are those times when we say, you had to be there. I am often reminded of that when I try to relate some of those old stories to my wife. No matter how much I try to " set the stage " and put the situation into context, it comes up flat. The reason is simply because you did have to be there. This is almost always associated with a humorous incident. You don't seem to have the need to have been there if it is a sad thing. I wonder why that is ? Is it easier to relate to sadness than happiness ? Empathy is just easier to fake I think. Laughter has to be genuine. At least that is what I believe anyway. That is how it is with me. I can spot forced laughter a mile away. When someone expresses their sorrow or offers sympathy to me I accept that as genuine. Yes, there are times when I get a feeling that they may be mendacious. I just found that last word, it is a polite word for being dishonest. I do try to be polite when insulting others. But I am getting off the subject here.
 This was brought to mind as I was trying to think about what to write. I have been making a conscious effort to avoid political posts and controversial subjects for just a bit. The only reason for that is at this point, at least with politics, I would be beating a dead horse as the saying goes. I've already had enough disagreement in that area. Yeah I touched upon the whole Transgender in the military issue but was non-committal. That was different for me, is it growth ? No, I don't believe that is the case, being indecisive isn't growth. I have written about most subjects, some more than once. I have found that I just don't have that many good stories to tell. A great number of them you would have had to been there to understand. If you need to provide a prologue the story will not be relatable. When telling a personal story the listener needs to know the characters. If I have to explain the characters the story will get lost.
 As a person that really enjoys sharing my memories it is a difficult thing. Memories are kept alive by the sharing of them. Over time you do lose contact with those folks contained in some of your stories. It is when you lose those " personal " memories that a sense of sadness can overcome you. Whereas I do occasionally sit and chuckle at my personal memories I also feel a need to share them. When there is no one to share with, it is depressing. Nothing sadder to me than an untold story. Well that's not exactly true, sadder still is no one that understands your story. That is when you are alone. That is why we mourn the passing of our loved ones. Personal memories leave with them. Those closest to us share those " personal " memories, the little incidents and happenings in life that we shared with them. No one else understands. They were not insignificant moments, rather they formed the basis of your relationship with that person. That is exactly why we say, a personal friend.
 It is a difficult, if not impossible thing to explain. How do you put those moments in context ? Perhaps if you were a screenwriter, playwright or novelist you could do that. I believe it would take at least that much to establish a foundation. Not many people have the ability to do that. Fewer still would have the patience to listen to it ! It would be a bit much for a chuckle. I thought I would tell you a story this morning but you know, you would have had to have been there ! It involved going to the bowling alley and seeing an old friend. She asked my friend and I, if we were married. We just looked at her smiled and responded with, no we just live together ! Then I reached over and took his hand ! You should have seen the look on her face ! Well, like I said, you had to be there. Time and context intermingle to create a good story. Sometimes it is just impossible to recreate that mixture. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

new places and old memories

 I've lived here in Greensboro for about 25 years now and I'm getting to know the place. I should say, I'm getting to know place names. An example is, red bridges. If I say that to another person that has lived here for any length of time they know where I am talking about. I might say, the perch are running up to red bridges. Then that person knows exactly where I mean, although the sign at the entrance says, " Christian Park. " Another example would be, saying I live in Greensboro. Someone that lives on the western shore of the Chesapeake bay, say Baltimore, would just call it the shore. The " shore " for those of you from Long Island, is like saying The Hamptons. The shore (eastern shore of Maryland ) contains many towns. They are just all grouped together under that one heading. The folks that are born and raised here never say, I was born on the shore, or I live on the shore. It is only the wannabes and those that move here that might say that. The shore carries, in some folks minds anyway, a certain distinction with it. It is a status thing to some but not to the natives. To the natives it is just home. When I arrived some twenty five years ago the " shore " thing wasn't a big deal. In fact the then Governor of Maryland, Donald W Schafer referred to the eastern shore as the " shit house side " of Maryland. His words, not mine. Naturally many took offense. But, then it became a popular place to be, on the shore. Housing developments began springing up left and right. Everyone wants to live on the shore. The big housing boom went bust and things have slowed down some. But, everything is still advertised and promoted as a " shore " thing. Want a bargain on furniture, come on in it's a " shore " thing, you get the idea.
 It was place names that I was thinking about when I started writing this piece. I used to live on Main Street. Now when I ride by that house I might say to my wife, the old house looks good doesn't it ? She knows exactly what I am talking about. All I have to say is, the old house. I can say Mr. Bob's place and she knows were that is. Mr. Bob passed away over ten years ago. That house has been sold a couple times since. Thing is, it will always be Mr. Bob's house to us. That is the place names that I am talking about. Back in East Hampton I might say, down to Ambroses. Only folks that were born there or lived there many years ago would know where I mean. Jungle Pete's place , same thing. Well, in East Hampton much is made of the past and folks like to pretend they are " natives " and all, but the real locals know the deal. I expect if I went to East Hampton today I would get lost. I had a friend of mine tell me that just that the other day. She and her sister were lost in their hometown ! That can be the result of not having been home in a good long while. I can understand that easy enough. When I first moved here getting directions to places was difficult. Place names are often not on signs, maps or even known to everybody. I kept hearing about a good place to go fishing, the tomb. Just where is this tomb ? Well turns out there is a " tomb " nearby. The tomb of Colonel Richardson, veteran of the revolutionary war. It is tucked into a small corner of a piece of property. No other graves or tombs are nearby, I believe this land was his families at one time. Whatever the case it isn't easy to find. It's a good twenty miles from Greensboro. Just a country mile to the locals.
 It appears to me that the majority of these housing developments are given names. I wonder if they will stick and be used in the future. There is Hokum as one example. The sign outside that development says " Hokum " the great bend in the river. I know that because I often drive by it. I can't say I remember any of the others although I go in them often. I do wonder if say thirty years from now will people say, I live at Hokum ? To me it is too general a description, like saying I live in Greensboro. Okay, but where. Then I might say. you know where the funeral home is ? Yeah, across the street and two doors down, right across from the insurance company. That's a place. I wouldn't think to give you a physical address unless you asked for it. What are you going to do, write me a letter ? I thought you wanted to stop by. LOL Now the wealthy name their homes and I see this mostly at the beach these days. In the movies plantations were named but now it is just estates, big houses or homes at the beach. I rather like that idea though. I've always thought if I had an estate I would name it. Something like  Twin Oaks or Just south of Heaven. Then folks would know exactly where I live.
 It could be that in order to live in the present we need to know our past. Maybe that is why those place names are so comforting to us. We feel familiar and at home using them. They are comfort food for the soul. A connection to the past that gives continuity to our lives. Is that the uneasiness I sometimes feel ? An interruption in time ? It could very well be. I have found that as time goes on and I acquire new " places " that feeling is diminishing. I am starting to feel comfortable here. Those new " places " are holding old memories. And times moves on.  

Friday, July 28, 2017

A History box ?

 I just threw out my birthday cards. Do you save them ? What about letters, do you save them ? I used to hold onto them when I was in the Navy. They have all been thrown out now. I can't see where they would be of interest to anyone else. I'm thinking that only occurs when a person becomes famous. If you gain fame, I mean real fame, then every scrap of paper you ever wrote on becomes valuable. Just your signature can be worth hundreds of dollars. I don't think anything of mine will ever be worth much more than sentiment. Even sentiment is in question as far as I can tell. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not complaining just speculating about the truth of the situation. Now I do think after several generations have passed that may change just a bit. I have a postcard that my grandmother wrote to her father. I value that highly for the sentiment it expresses. She wrote, " Dear Papa " and that she loved him. It is the only example of her writing that I have and as far as I know the only example of her handwriting in existence today. Is it valuable ? Only to me I suppose. It is possible that future generations will value it as much as I do however. The question is will it survive ? I certainly hope so.
 I have an online friend that wrote a whole book incorporating old letters. It was entitled " A gift from the attic " and if you haven't read it I highly recommend you do so. Those letters are indeed a treasure trove. Those letters were packed away and saved. It is obvious that the person receiving them treasured them. I believe it is a wonderful thing that they were saved and then published for others to enjoy. That being said I don't think old birthday cards would be of much interest. The same thinking applies to holiday cards. I know it was a custom, for a little while anyway, to write those Holiday letters, a summary of your year. Those would be worth holding onto I'm sure. The information they contain would have to be valuable to later generations. My wife's Aunt Grace did that a few years. I have no idea were those letters are today. I did receive them back before I took an interest in all this stuff. You know, back in the day when I felt I would live forever. That's how most of us feel when we are young, we have all the time in the world. We just don't realize how small that world really is. Now Aunt Grace has left us and there will be no more Holiday letters.
 It is true that folks just don't write letters like they used to. I never had one but pen pals were a popular thing at one time for grade school children. I expect they just do that on the internet nowadays or snapchat, whatever the kids are using now. Facebook, I am told, is for old people. I fit that description and so that is where you will find me. I do have a very good friend that has resisted the use of computers and the internet. It is from him that I get a card with a " note " inside. What I mean is he will write more than the salutation and good wishes followed by a signature. He has even been known to write an occasional letter. I have received e-cards in the past. What do you think of that ? I appreciate the thought but it does seem like cheating in a way. Then I dismiss that with, it is the thought that counts. Do you believe that ? Is it solely the thought that counts ? Or does some time and effort have to be expended to be valued ? Does throwing out those cards and letters mean that they were not valued in the first place ? Seems as though you should hold onto things you value. I'm just holding onto the thought ! Is that a cop out ? Hmm, I'll have to think about that.
 I have a wooden chest that I call the archives where I store my treasures. In that box are old photographs, old papers and stuff like that. I guess you could call it a history chest. It does contain a great deal of that. Sometimes I think about organizing that stuff. I really should at least label and explain what some of that stuff is. I would be the last to know in some instances. My life in a box ! It is kinda sad to think about it in that way. To have my existence reduced to the confines of an old wooden shipping crate ? That is what that box was, a shipping crate for " torpedo's. "  Those torpedo's aren't what you think. Unless you are a railroad buff you probably wouldn't know this. A " torpedo " in this context is an small explosive device placed on a railroad track. When the train runs over it, it explodes telling the engineer of danger ahead or some other condition making him stop the train ! Really it just makes a big bang, like a giant cap. The wooden box that I have was the shipping container for that. I got it when I worked at the factory that produced them. See, a bit of history just in the box ! A small piece of my history. Still, it is a little unsettling to think I can reduce my history to fit in a box. Well maybe that box will be carried forth into future generations. It would seem less likely to be discarded, like a card or letter might. Maybe I will work on that after all. It could be an interesting project although it does strike me as a bit " morbid. " What do you think ?  

  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

a few thoughts

 I write these blogs about whatever comes to mind. Usually it is just what I heard during the previous day or something from the news. These are the things that spark conversation and so that is why I write about them. I've created some controversy on occasion, none of it intentional, but that is to be expected. We all have disagreements. It even happens with our friends. Well, with some friends it happens more than others. I would say the strength of a friendship is an aggregate of agreement and disagreement. Just how much do you think alike ? Or is it how much are you willing to compromise for that friendship ? The bigger question being should you have to compromise at all ? To make it short, I think you should. Compromise, for me, ends with deceit. I will not compromise the truth as I see it. That is the key to it all, the truth. One does have to understand that there can be more than one truth. I will not agree with something I don't believe to be true. Also I will not fight to the death over everything I believe to be true. There are times when it is best to just leave the battlefield. That isn't surrender, that is common sense. True in war and true in relationships.
 Yesterday President Trump reversed a policy from the Obama administration concerning transgender people serving in the military. I'm not quite certain how I feel about that. I spent twenty years in the Navy and don't believe I ever encountered a transgender. I don't doubt that they were there, people being people and all, just that it wasn't spoken about. It was that way with the gay folks too. I suspected a few " shipmates " sailed a different course than I did but it wasn't announced. Hey, whatever, but I have to admit I don't think there was any degradation of the Navy as a result of that. It did create some trouble every now and again. Well, like I said people are people. I realize that times and attitudes change and all of this is just an extension of that. In the medical field the debate rages on. Is transgenderism a mental disorder ? Many highly esteemed professional believe it is. I would say it is certainly an aberration, a deviation from expected behavior. I do wonder how many of these aberrations in human behavior we are going to decide to normalize ? More importantly perhaps I wonder about the reasons for dong so. Are we compromising the truth to just get along ? Is it tolerance that we are teaching ? Tolerance is an allowable amount of variation from a standard. In this case what are the standards ? Moral standards are what we are discussing. The difficulty lies in determining those standards. Perhaps what we are trying to enforce is a compromise. A compromise between truths. The " straight " person believing transgenderism is morally wrong or a mental disorder. The compromise is allowing ( read tolerating )  those same people to openly practice this perceived moral depravity and giving tacit approval to do the same. A compromise of the truth.
 I wonder, does compromising your beliefs, your truths, make you a better whatever ? Whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or whatever will that act make you a better one ? Is that the reason we have reached a point where that is what is being preached ? Do not stand firmly by your belief or you will be labeled as an extremist ? Your views are extreme ? That is certainly what is being said regarding the Muslims. If they believe everything that is written in the Quran and then practice that belief, they are extremists ! That isn't my opinion, that is what is being taught. At least that is what is being taught to all the non-believers ( non Muslims )  isn't it ? To the Christians and the Jews we are being told we can believe whatever we want, we just can't openly practice that belief. We have to be tolerant, we must compromise our standards. We are further being told that by doing just that we will be practicing our religion ! So, we have to compromise our truths, defer to the others in order to be faithful ?
 It just seems to me that the agenda is the removal of any religious belief from society in general. We are trying to establish some autonomous body of legislators to delineate human interaction. No mention of a higher power, no mention of eternal consequence. Our laws are to be based solely on what ? Just how are we to determine right from wrong, what is the criteria ? Now that is something to think about. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

decor

 My grandson was returning home from camp and it has become our custom, Grandma and I, to spruce up his bedroom before hand. Sometimes we buy him new curtains or maybe paint the walls, put up those wall cling things (fat heads ) stuff like that. This year we included a vase full of fresh cut flowers. We figured he was old enough to enjoy them without being embarrassed about it, you know what I mean. We were surprised when he said he would like to have a plant of some kind in his room. He wasn't overly thrilled with the cut flowers though, he was talking about a house plant. And so then I had this idea. I would get him a terrarium. Hey, they are neat and he probably wouldn't kill those plants. I know him well and he ain't gonna spend a lot of time caring for a plant. A terrarium would be perfect.
 First I went online to see what was available. Turns out the glass containers are rather expensive. I found that strange considering what they are. I can buy the same containers, just by another name, for far less. The difference between a jar and a terrarium ! Well I get it. I did look at complete kits that you can purchase. With those all you need to add is the plants. Cacti and succulents is what I had in mind. Low maintenance you know. I started reading about all of that. I'm no farmer that much is sure or botanist. After just a short time I decided to check the local garden center. I'll just see what they have to offer.
 I did check first at the Walmart and was told to go online, they didn't carry anything like that in the store. It was suggested I try the local craft store, Ben Franklin. They had some containers, quite pricey I thought and the other supplies. I mulled it over some but thought this is turning out to be too much work. I headed for the garden center. It was there I struck pay dirt. They had an array of them. When I first asked the person working there, an older lady about a terrarium she said, you mean a fairy garden ? Wait a minute here I thought, what are you trying to say ? I don't want a fairy garden I want a terrarium. A terrarium is terra firma you know, the earth, a miniature world, something masculine, like the bottled world of Kandor or something, it doesn't have anything to do with fairies ! Then she showed me a terrarium and I said yes, that's it. Turns out that is what is popular right now. People construct these terrariums but call them fairy gardens. Apparently you place fairies in hidden places or some such thing. It is definitely a " millennial " concept. I'm thinking there are bound to be rainbows and unicorns involved in this somehow. Anyway, to shorten the story a bit I didn't purchase a terrarium. The only one they had that I really liked was $92.00 and that was out of my price range for where it was going. Hey, this isn't Christmas you know ! I did buy a pot of cacti though. They will have to do. I haven't given up on the idea of a terrarium and may make one for myself. I'll just keep my eyes open for a bargain on a container of some sort.
 I thought finding a terrarium would be a piece of cake. I talked to two people that didn't even know what one was. I guess they are just not in vogue anymore. My sister had a large one, on a pedestal. Well now that I think about that it was the 1970's maybe things have changed since then. I was just a bit shocked when I was asked if it was a fairy garden I was seeking. I mean, do I look like someone that would want a fairy garden ? OMG.   

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

eruditely whimsical

 Like most people I have a few books around the house. I don't have a real bookshelf anymore, you know, like a formal one. A bookshelf or bookcase is something I would have, given the space. I have always thought if I were to buy or build another house I would like to have a formal study, or den if you prefer. I don't want a man cave, I want a study like Ward Cleaver had. You had to ask permission to enter that room ! At least one wall of that study would be lined with books. I always suspected that those books were seldom read, maybe never read, but were there mostly for show. I read once where having books was a sign of wealth. I can see that. There was a time when books were expensive and rare.
 I would say the majority of the books I have right now are novels or works of non-fiction. The hard cover ones almost always have a dust jacket on them. As I looked at the few I do have on a shelf at my desk, technically a bookshelf, this thought came to me. How come the Bible never comes with a dust jacket ? Is that somehow symbolic ? I mean these other books on my shelf have dust covers, does the publisher expect them to sit that long that they need protection from dust ? The books I have don't have the expensive binding that some may have that is true, but their covers are attractive. If you had books that were bound in expensive leather and hand tooled wouldn't you want them to be shown off ? I mean just what damage is dust going to do to my book anyway ? I think the damage would be done my handling them, my dirty fingers soiling that leather. Of course if I were wealthy my hands certainly wouldn't be dirty ! Is that the real purpose of the dust cover, to protect the book from us ? If that is the case those flimsy paper covers just don't cut it. The majority of mine are ripped or faded and don't look too good. Well that's true on the books I do read often. others sit there, protected from dust in pristine condition, unread.
 I have noticed that collections of law books, ever notice the walls of them in a lawyers office or a judges chambers on television, do not have dust jackets on them. Reference libraries do not have dust jackets on them. I think it is safe to say mostly novels have those jackets. Does that mean they are not expected to be read ? That is my conclusion. As I said earlier I have never seen a Bible come with a dust jacket. That certainly means it is intended to be read, and read often. Just like those law books and other reference materials, that book should be consulted. It is a working manuscript. I have seen Bibles come with a zipper to keep it closed and protected. Makes sense if you intend to carry it with you. I'm not saying other books haven't been made with a zippered cover but, I haven't seen it.
 Does any of this make a difference ? No, it doesn't make any difference at all. Sometimes I write these blogs as a discussion. I'm just talking to myself. Even when we are talking with another, having a discussion, that doesn't mean it amounts to anything. It is a part of the art of conversation. To talk with one another, to interact without causing turmoil or hard feelings. Not everything we talk about is life changing or even relevant sometimes. I would call what I have written this morning " musing. " I hope you find it amusing ! That is the intent anyway. Yes you can be entertained by deep thought. Deep thought doesn't always have to be meaningful. Everything we say doesn't have to sound as though it comes from a erudite scholar. Sometimes deep thought just turns out to be whimsy.