July 20, 2013

Trayvon Martin, President Obama, and "Stand Your Ground"

My thoughts on whole situation:

1. The entire situation was a tragedy of IMMENSE proportions. Trayvon Martin lost his life in an incident that should have never occurred and George Zimmerman has ruined his own life FOREVER.

2. Mr. Zimmerman should have stayed in his car. He did act properly by calling the police, but he should have left it at that. Instead, he caused the fight by stalking (yes, that is the only word for it) Martin. As a
typical American youth, Martin felt threatened (I know that I would have felt threatened by someone stalking me). So he fought him (as most people would) and ended up getting shot. Both sides were, at least partially, in the wrong. Though it would have been VERY difficult, either side could have retreated.

3. One point President Obama made that is VERY valid: What if the tables had been turned and it was Trayvon Martin who had shot George Zimmerman? Martin would have been arrested ON THE SPOT (Zimmerman was free for quite awhile). The trial would have found him guilty (yes, the probabilities are VERY strong in this favor) and he would have done serious time.

4. Another point: The whole trial was based on George Zimmerman's word. What jury of white females (or white anybody, for that matter) would have taken the word of a black teenager about the shooting of a Hispanic man? That is the sad truth of our country today.

5. The jury should have had a more diverse background. There should have been African-American representation on that jury. The prosecutors didn't do their job properly during voir dire. What were they thinking?

6. "Stand Your Ground" is part of the problem with our NRA-approved, gun-idolizing, macho-thinking, "I'm entitled to everything I want and you can't stop me" U.S. culture of today. To call it exactly you what it is, it's survival of the fittest: no  more, no less. If you have a gun, then you are automatically right, no matter what you do (let me correct that. If you have a gun and you're of a certain hue on the color chart, then you're right. If you are not of that hue, then good luck because you will have luck of the draw in the judicial system).  After all, sometimes not fighting or not shooting can display a strong character trait. Even our Lord, Jesus the Christ retreated when threatened with violence at several times in his ministry.

7. A lot of people blame the liberal media for their "slant" on the news, yet the conservative media has their own slant, which is JUST AS WRONG. I won't say they're racist, but there appears to be quite a bit of evidence toward that conclusion. I notice that, because George Zimmerman was found innocent, it was a "fair" trial. Some conservative organizations (Newsbusters.org) are as bad as, if not worse than, the liberal media. In those cases, I'm ashamed to say that I lean more toward conservative than liberal.

8.  The conservative media has pointed at Zimmerman's defense of a homeless black man and Martin's alleged criminal record. Zimmerman's defense is not a "feel free to shoot at will" card and Martin's record is not a "okay, you deserve to be shot" license. Each and every situation is different.

9. Finally, having traveled the U.S. and the world extensively, I've been in a lot of situations not unlike Trayvon Martin's (where people are looking at me and saying "You're not from around here, are you?". I'm thinking "What gave it away?"). So, if I 'm shot, was I wrong for being there?

Having said all of that, I think that the jury did the best it could in a lose-lose situation. I back President Obama (I'm worried that I might be morphing into a Democrat, which is a nightmare that could make me wake up at night screaming in terror) on his remarks yesterday. I know my conservative friends will damn me to the seventh ring of hell (courtesy of Dante's INFERNO), but I will "stand my ground" (pun intended) because, after all, RIGHT IS RIGHT!

June 25, 2013

LIFE GOES ON

I've ignored this blog for an extended period of time. Just forgot it was there. That's the best that I can do.

Anyway, here's an update on what has been going on during this period.

1. I was in a Maryland hospital for a week in February 2013. I had toe surgery that went wrong. My leg got infected, so I had to take off two months for it to heal and had a partial toe amputation on my left big toe.

2. I will be out of work on July 20,. 2013. My health has deteriorated and this has caused a slowdown in my work. I've not been able to do as many computers as I need to be, so some deployment supervisors have complained. It's all for the better since I would not have quit this job and I have needed to for a long time.

3. I'm still as much in love with Cindy as I was the day I married her. That much NEVER changes.

May 1, 2012

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1988)

As I sat in a hotel room in Bangor WA, I decided to watch a movie that I had never had a desire to see, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. It turned out to be magnificent! I now know that ANY Tim Burton movie will be good, especially with Johnny Depp in it.

October 6, 2011

Thoughts on Facebook

I want to state some random thoughts on Facebook. For the record, I use Facebook quite often, to share thoughts, ideas, and pass along information. WHEN USED PROPERLY, it is a WONDERFUL tool.

However, people have slammed Facebook for giving out too much information, which is a typical American response. Place the blame somewhere else instead of taking responsibility for a personal error. Yes, I'm saying it is not Facebook's error! It is on the individual that puts the information in the public domain. Here are examples of what I mean:

1. There have been complaints of Facebook selling data to third-party companies. OK, Facebook shouldn't sell profile data, but, if a user was STUPID enough to publish private data, that's a consequence of their action (yes, I know that consequences are a concept foreign to American society today).

2. A lot of people use Facebook to publish private family information. In the process, some families find out what is going on in the family BEFORE a personal interaction occurs.

December 7, 2010

Holiday Season Contemplation

Every Christmas season, Cindy and I begin a discussion on a question which never seems to get resolved. So, this year, I am going to blog on it and then post a link to Facebook. If someone could come up with a satisfactory answer, it would be appreciated.

There are actually TWO Christmas's which are celebrated. These are:

   1. Christ's birth: This is the REAL Christmas. This is the holiday
       which I celebrate. Christ's birth is the most important event in
       the history of mankind, as he came to die for man's sins. I bow
       to the glories of heaven for this, as I know I will go to heaven
       because of this sacrifice.
 
   2. The "Christmas" season: This holiday is a secular creation
       designed to act as a reason to give gifts, celebrate family,
       and have parties. This, I believe, was  probably part of
       the original Saturnalia, the pagan holiday that Christmas is
        "piggy-backed" onto (Christ was suspected to have been
       born in the spring).

With these two Christmas's (in our thinking), neither one is truly compatible. How can a Christian church mention (and support) thoughts and songs of Santa, St. Nick, Christmas trees, etc)? Doesn't this go against the very fundamental belief of Christmas as the birth of our Saviour?

We mentioned this to one person and they became quite upset at the thought of this. In fact, they were not aware that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday. Also, Christians get quite upset at the fact that people don't want to call "Christmas" Christmas; however, if they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, what would it really matter? Let it be called "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" Day because it is the saving grace from Jesus Christ that truly matters, not the name of the secular holiday.

This isn't meant to be a party killer. We get into the holiday spirit as much as anyone else (Ask John and Carole Lancaster. They've treated our family to Christmas celebrations every year for the last four years). We are just looking at the reality of it all.

So, here is the question: Should churches mix the secular aspect of the holiday (tied in with Santa and all that) with the religious celebration? Or, as Cindy and I have questioned, have we overthought this WAY too much?

September 26, 2010

Too Many Movies! So Little Time!

I watched a heartbreaking movie last night that everyone needs to see. It was:


TO DIE IN JERUSALEM (2007)This is the story of two girls (one Israeli, the other Palestinian) who had a lot of similarities: 17, looked similar, and both were headed towards bright futures. However, their lives intersected in a Jerusalem supermarket when the Palestinian set off a suicide bomb.

This film helped me to understand what happens to the parents who lose their children to suicide bombs. Everyone needs to see it, if only to understand what is happening in that part of the world.

From PA to WA (FINALLY)!

Our family finally made it back to Oak Harbor WA on July 31, 2010, and not a moment too soon! What an eventful trip it was.....drama, comedy, and everything else mixed in. Here are some of the highlights:

1. We had a truck loading party on July 22 at 130 East Fifth Street, Lansdale PA. It was the hottest and most humid day of the year (98 degrees with about 70% humidity). The people from First Baptist Church Lansdale and some friends from Calvary Baptist Church helped us move. There was 15 people in all. I almost cried when I saw all of the love pouring out for us.

2. Cindy drove the Grand Caravan and I drove the Budget truck. We got separated for 200 miles (from the Allentown PA service plaza until almost to the OH border). After we got back together, we stayed together (for 5 miles). It wasn't until I saw her in Toledo OH that we got back together again.

3. I watched an idiot in a Family Dollar semi almost sideswipe our van in Chicago traffic. If I ever have to go back to the East Coast again (and I hope I won't), I will NOT drive through Chicago. I will go via Louisana, if I have to.

4. We got together with a classmate from Homestead High '76 (Fort Wayne IN) in Rosemont MN (Dewey and Debbie Roth). It was a wonderful time.

5. North Dakota has finally been added to the states that I have travelled. It was all that I expected...and less.

6. We hit a whale of a storm in Montana. I had to pull over because the truck was rocking so much and lightning was all around us. Met some neat people on motorcycles who had taken refuge in a car wash near where I had parked.

I have never been so glad to be anywhere as I am to be out of PA and back home in WA. I made some good friends in PA who I will dearly miss (but they can't get rid of me that easily. I have been staying in touch).

December 3, 2009

Friends that are family!

In my 28 years away from the Summit City of Fort Wayne, IN, Cindy and I have met some wonderful people. There are people who have been so meaningful in our lives that they are really, truly, and absolutely family (even more family than some blood people are). Let me tell you about some of them (I will only use initials, so that I don't disrespect anyone's right of privacy in cyberspace:

1. I K L - This person is the absolute picture of grace, yet they are SO CERTIFIABLE that it's humorous to watch them walk around every day. This individual is full of knowledge (they've also met almost everyone in the world - When Ted Kennedy died, we heard that this person had met him). Both Cindy and I treasure the friendship and I regard them as much as a part of our family as one of our daughters, even though they are older than I am.

2. M A B - This person is one of the "coolest cats" that I've ever met. I've watched them go through a building and give everyone grief every chance that they've gotten, yet take it with an unflappability that is second to none. In fact, the first person mentioned above and this one and I have formed our own little family that is really neat to see. If and when either one (or both) of them leave, there will be a hole in my life (don't tell them that, though. You would need a giant pincushion to deflate their heads if they found out). In fact, whenever I hear the word "CAAAAAAAKKKKKE", I will always picture that person's face. They've already been told that they will remember that story wrong, but that's ok. That's what families are all about and, yes, this person is also very much family.

3. A G S - The Minich family has been attached to this person for the better part of fourteen years and we haven't had a moment of regret in that time. In fact, it was a Tony story when we met this person. They had a pro-evolution with pictures of an amoeba (on the left), a monkey (in the middle) and a man (on the right). Being a total stranger to this person, I turned to this person and said, "My wife wants to know if that's a self-portrait in the middle". I got an elbow in the ribs from Cindy and a fast retort from, as they are now, my friend and Christian family member. The neat part is that this person is so much family now that I can depend on them for straight talk and accountability (something that a lot of Christians don't generally share).

4. J H - This person has been an integral part of my Pennsylvania existence since July 2001. As a member of the clergy at one of the local churches, I have been able to turn to this individual for laughs, tears, film opinions, down to earth talk, and good Christian fellowship. Whenever I feel like a stranger in a strange land, I turn to this person. After my Christian recommitment last month, I came to this person and we had an entirely new discussion, held in an entirely new light. I am proud to say that this person and the Minich family have been well taken care of over the years by this individual.

Whenever I get to feeling down, which I often do, I look to these four people for a lot of laughs. Best part of all, though, is even though we get the laughs going, there have also been some very serious and very deep discussions. As a retired U.S. Navy sailor, let me put it this way: I would trust any of these four people with my life and I have no illusions that they wouldn't do the same.

To the three of you when you read this (as you will know who you are): Thank you for the positive affect that you've had in my life. The Living God put you in my life for a reason and I'm extremely grateful that he did.

November 11, 2009

George Bailey, Redux!

As the corresponding secretary for a local theater group, I was tasked with sending out thank you cards for donations made in memory of someone who passed away. As I dd this, I was reading the tributes to this person. I was really impressed at the impact this person had made in people's lives. Suddenly, it dawned on me in a IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) kind of moment: I wondered if MY life had had any kind of positive impact on people. How other people in my life would have been if I had never lived.


I'm pretty sure that I have not had the impact on most people's lives that I would have wanted to have. Our daughters will remember me as the father who did crazy things all the time, but never let them do what they wanted; the authoritarian father who never gave in when he should have. All of our friends and family will remember me as a man who spoke his thoughts, regardless of what they were; a man who, when opening his mouth, would have people running for cover because of the possibility of any number of things being said. My co-workers will probably not remember me at all because I've driven people away.

I had always been told that I was QUITE memorable. Now I realize that I am really not THAT memorable. I have encountered people that I've known previously who don't remember who I am. It's really quite disheartening.

I know that my family (birth and married) loves me very much. It's just a down time right now. I share this with you for that reason.

August 7, 2009

Film Recommendations - Courtesy of a DeVry University student

In June of this year, I left the hallowed halls of Lansdale (PA) School of Business (LSB). Turns out that it would take six months to finish my Associate Degree when I could attend DeVry and get my Bachelors Degree in a year (I miss the whacked out people at LSB, but I'm enjoying DeVry just as much).

After dropping an online MS Excel course (I need to be in the classroom for that one), I am taking a Humanities 422 course (Film as Literature). I've been having a ball learning to watch movies from a new point of view (I've always been a movie critic of sorts, but now I can understand more of what they look for). Also, anyone who has known me for more than two minutes knows how much I enjoy all genres of the film experience from anywhere in the world. That was explained in an earlier post in this blog.

So, with no more inane entries about The Middle Aged Education of Tony Minich, here are some more movie recommendations (one from the movie course and one from elsewhere) that I've found recently:

1. Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1925) - directed by Scott Pembroke

Prior to Laurel & Hardy (L&H), Stan Laurel had already achieved fame on his own. This short film (20 minutes) is an absolute pleasure to watch. It is a hilarious satire on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. Dr. Pyckle is a revered British scientist who, after ingesting a formula, become Mr. Pryde, a man who terrorizes London pulling practical jokes on people.

As you watch this, the extent of Stan Laurel's genius becomes evident. Having watched many L&H movies, I had heard that Laurel wrote and created a lot of the team's comedy, but never truly understood how great he really was. NOW I KNOW!

Even if you don't enjoy non-talking movies (again, as before, movies were never really silent), try this out for size. At worst, it will only be twenty minutes wasted. Ideally, though, it will be the most enjoyable time you've spent in a while.

2. Memento (2001) - directed by Christopher Nolan

This movie was the first one that we watched in HUM422 at DeVry. I had avoided it for 9 years because it sounded TOO strange, massively weird, and sounded like it would be a waste of time.

Once again, as my beloved bride loves to tell me, I WAS WRONG! This movie is FANTASTIC! It is the story of a man whose wife was brutally raped and murdered. In the process of trying to save her, he sustains an injury that causes him to have no short-term memory.

The movie starts at the end and works its way back to the beginning. It's a throwback to the 1940's film noir (in an interview, Chris Nolan compared this movie with one of my personal favorites DOUBLE INDEMNITY). By the time you get to the end of the movie (which, technically, is the beginning), you will wonder how you got to that point, which means you will have to watch it a second time.

So much for now. More to come (but you already knew that).

September 23, 2008

More Movie Recommendations

As anyone who has known me for more than an five minutes is aware, I enjoy movies a LOT! My movie collection extends from 1902 (Voyage dans la lune, Le/A Trip to the Moon) through 2007 (The Kite Runner). I'm not for quoting movies endlessly: "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no stinkin' badges!", "What we've got hee-yah is a fail-yah to comm-un-ah-cate!", and "....fuzzy end of the lollipop"are some of my favorites. I've got movies from all over the world: France, Yugoslavia, Russia, Iran, Poland, and Canada, to name a few. So, needless to say, I like to talk about movies.

In February 2006, I recommended some movies to watch. It was a good list. However, I have watched MANY more since then. So, as a true movie connosseiur, here are a few more recommendations that I have enjoyed recently.

1. The Kite Runner (2007) Directed by Marc Foster
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If you want a movie that will enchant you with happy feelings throughout the movie, then this is NOT the movie to see. It is a very dark and depressing movie; however this movie is very much a MUST SEE and the book is a MUST READ! I picked up the movie for $7.99 at Starbucks. It would have been worth the full price.
This story is about two friends, Amir and Hassan, in 1970's Afghanistan. Amir and his widowed father are wealthy Pashtuns, Hassan and his widowed father are Hazarajat servants. Within that plotline are many mosaics of stories: Amir and his father and their relationship, Amir and guilt, a thirty year history lesson of Afghanistan, and so much more.
Before you start this movie, make a commitment to watch the entire epic, regardless of how depressing it gets. It will be well worth it.

2. Tell No One (2006 - French) Directed by Guillame Canet
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This extraordinary French movie is based on the novel (of the same name) by American author Harlan Coben. The basic premise of the movie (and revealing no spoilers): A man's wife was brutally murdered eight years ago. He has never gotten over the murder. Today, he receives an Email from her.
This movie was also quite faithful to the book. This movie is still in cinemas here, but it was cheaper for me to purchase it from Amazon.co.uk (being an import, it is already on DVD in Europe and I have a region-free player). I read the book and then saw the movie. Both were wonderful. I was also amazed how they could take upstate New Jersey (book) and transplant it to Paris and various suburbs (movie).

3. Safety Last (1923)/The Kid Brother (1927)/Grandma's Boy (1922)/The Freshman (1925)...and more!
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Harold Lloyd, now, is not one of the names that immediately comes to mind when people think of "silent" (a misnomer, as movies were NEVER silent. They were made to be seen with accompanying organ music) movies. However, back in the 1920's, only Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were more popular than Harold Lloyd. His movies have stood the test of time fairly well.
Any of these four movies are a good way to begin watching Lloyd's movies. SAFETY LAST is notably known for Lloyd hanging 12 stories above Los Angeles from a clock handle. I challenge anyone to watch these movies and not thoroughly enjoy them.

4. 11'09''01 - September 11 (2002)
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Eleven filmmakers from around the world got together and made eleven different short films: all the films were 11 minutes 9 seconds and 1 frame long. These movies give a different look than the view we have had here is in the U.S; in fact, at least one of them is strongly Anti-American.
One story has two kids in Burkina-Faso chasing Osama Bin Laden for the $25 million dollar reward. Another story shows Ernest Borgnine lamenting the loss of his wife (this one was directed by Sean Penn).
Take the time to watch this. This film is one that you will either LOVE IT or HATE IT! There is no middle ground.

Stay tuned in the future for further movie recommendations!

September 3, 2008

Introduction to Psychology 101 (Discussion 1)

I have started a Psych 101 course at the Lansdale School of Business (this is required for my Technical Support Specialist/TSS diploma). Our reading assignment brought up some serious questions in my mind that I find a need to share.

In the book Invitation to Psychology (Carole Wade, Carol Tavris. - 4th ed., Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008), our assignment was to read pages 53 - 65, beginning with Genetic Influences on Personality. The book goes on to explain that a lot of the research has proven that heredity can play a large part in personality and personality development. One example was Gerald Levey and Mark Newman, twin brothers that were separated at birth. When they were reunited at the age of 31, they:
"discovered some astounding similarities. Both were volunteer firefighters, wore mustaches, and were unmarried. Both liked to hunt, watch old John Wayne movies, and eat Chinese food. They drank the same brand of beer, held the can with the little finger curled around it, and crushed the can when it was empty."

The book also discusses how strong cultural influences can be. Some cultures are individualist, where people do their own thing (unfortunately, the U.S. falls into this category), other cultures are collectivist, where people live as part of a group (the Japanese are an example of this culture category). All the factors are discussed, many of which I do not have space nor time to mention.

Wade & Tavris seem to place a large basis on these theories. To me, they are saying that a large part of your personality is based on environmental conditions which are beyond your control. And, while it is true (to an arguable degree), there is an inherent problem in this line of thinking. IF it is true that a lot of your development is beyond your control AND is programmed into you (hardwired, as we called it in the Navy), then where does the concept of personal responsibility go. A murderer can argue that, "Judge, I killed my victim because I was born with the propensity for murder. It's not my fault.". An alcoholic can claim that, "I only drink because of alcoholism runs in my family. It's not my fault". The homosexual says, "I am gay because I was born that way:" (Yes, I know the jury is still out on that one). I mean, how do you hold people accountable for something that they do, when it could be something that they were born with? To my view, you don't.

Now, admittedly, this was our first reading assignment, so I will be able to learn more throughout the class and might get some answers. But, for now, this is a thought that I wanted to share with the world.

May 10, 2008

Ramblings of the Inane Mind

I haven't touched this blog in awhile. It is not that I haven't found a multitude of items to discuss. Trust me, there is more than enough for ten blogs. Let me name a few:

1. The 2008 primary election - I'm satisfied with the results. Obama won! That's great. Mrs. Clinton was a strong campaigner, but she showed her true colors this primary cycle, that of a person who will do ANYTHING at ANY cost to win. Of course, she learned that from her husband. Fortunately, the Clintons have been relegated to the trash heap of history, at least for the time being.

2. Pennsylvania - I am always left with a multitude of things to say about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, both good and bad. Another time and place for that.

3. Lansdale School of Business (LSB) - I started attending LSB (on November 12th) to get my diploma in Technical Support Specialist (TSS). Between the curriculum, students, and staff, there is enough material for a book. .....To be continued.

4. Discrimination - I am TRULY AMAZED that women can legally discrimate against men now. I encounter this type of prejudice on a DAILY basis.

5. Curmudgeon - I am finding that, as I get older, my outlook on life becomes crabbier. I am becoming one of the people that other people have to "deal with".

6. Movie Collection - I am currently working my way through SEINFELD (Season 8 now) and FRASIER (Season 11 now). I have also watched an outstanding movie Das Experiment (an absolutely outstanding movie (claustrophobic, terrifying, disturbing....yes, but still good).

7. Pacific Northwest - I'm still VERY homesick. By the way, in case anyone is interested, I regard my hometown as Oak Harbor, WA (a small community on Whidbey Island, by the Canadian border), not Fort Wayne, IN. It might be semantics, but WA is where my heart is.

So, now back to life, for the time being. See you at my next post.

December 12, 2006

Militant Christmas

I do not know if what I am about to talk about is a new phenomenon or has just started lately. So, if this is older than I am and you already know about it, I apologize.

I have noticed lately that the "loving spirit of Christmas" (defined by Hollywood as that time to feel good about yourself and others, e.g. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, ELF, WHITE CHRISTMAS, any CHRISTMAS CAROL, etc.) is only a thin veneer on the surface. People love to put up the trees, spread "good cheer", give presents and do good for (at the most) a month, from Thanksgiving until Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). People dress up in their finest attire to attend church and/or parties, smile at their neighbor, etc. It is viewed at THE holy of holidays, since it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Pretty innocuous, eh?

But let's dig a little deeper into this charade. Some of the same individuals that celebrate this "joyous holiday" hold onto their beliefs with a fanatical militancy (How do the phrases "joyous holiday" and "fanatical militancy" go together? It boggles the mind).

Here are two examples:
  1. A rabbi wanted the Seattle-Tacoma (SEA-TAC) airport to display a menorah near their Christmas tree (not an unreasonable request, since Chanukah is around the same time and a large portion of our population is Jewish. Oh, by the way, in case anyone has missed this, Jesus was also Jewish). SEA-TAC chose to remove the trees. Jewish organizations got hate mail (remember this happy holiday? Love? Good cheer? Birth of our saviour?) over this. If Christ were here today, would he be sending hate mail? I don't think so.
  2. I have chosen to display, as my Christmas display, a sign that I created in MS Word that says "Christmas Free Zone" with a display of a "no tree", "no santa" and "no presents" around the words. Nothing obscene, threatening or malicious about it. However, I have had several comments about it. The simplest was that I am a "Grinch" (the person was able to smile and make a friendly joke about it ). Another person called me a Scrooge (less friendly, but still a friendly discussion). The worst one was the person that got snotty about it and told me that I needed to go to church to understand the "spirit of Christmas". This is the attitude of the typical American when they do not understand something. All of this from a simple little sign. Go figure.
Let's not forget the presents. As I stated before in this blog, I don't like presents. But, in this "spirit of Christmas" (whatever defines that), some people insist on giving them to me. The way that it was explained to me by one of the offenders "You must remember the spirit of the person that is giving it to you" (or something along that line). I wonder if that person would try to have a Jewish person eat pork or feed a vegetarian a Big Mac. Someone else expressed the thought "I wonder what is driving that?". There is a strong unwillingness to respect a strong belief structure. I am asked to enable their behaviour by accepting the present and saying nothing. Turns out that this present giving thing seems to be nothing about "it is better to give than to receive" and all about selfishness. If people truly felt a loving spirit, the desire to forego receiving presents would be honored by all parties.

What all of these people fail to realize are several things:

1. The Christmas holiday as it is celebrated today has very little to do with Christ's birth (at least not in this day and age). But your average person doesn't realize that. In order to educate the teeming masses, here are some links about the history of Christmas:

The History Channel - The History of Christmas
Wikipedia - Christmas
History.co.uk - The History of Christmas - Fact or Fiction
Catholic Encyclopedia - Christmas
Worldbook - The History of Christmas
New Life Community Church (Stafford Virginia) - A History of the Celebration of Christmas

2. Part of the Christmas celebration is showing love to everyone. One way to show this love is to understand that not everyone enjoys Christmas. Some people have lost loved ones during this season. Some people don't have family for celebratory parties. Some people suffer from depression. And some people refuse to be brainwashed and sucked into the monetary vortex of inane and nonsensical present buying. This doesn't make them Scrooges or Grinches. This makes them loving and caring people who need to be appreciated, whether you carry the same belief structure or not. And, for the record, this isn't about being politically correct. This is about the true spirit of love.

3. Let me put forth a theoretical supposition: Jesus is still in physical form. How do you think that he would celebrate his own birth? Would he support the ritual that has formed through the years with the browbeating and the militancy regarding this celebration (remember how he admonished the Pharisees for their vacant ritualistic behaviors. The same applies here). Or, is it possible that he would tell us that our celebration/ritual is not the important part, but the condition of our soul (the part that only you and God know about. No one else can possibly know). What good of a superficial celebration for a few days (at the most) if we are headed to hell for eternity because of the condition of our soul? Just something to make you go HMMMMM?!

So, think about adopting a new attitude toward this holiday. Try to show true love to everyone (year around instead of a few days a year) and respect their feelings toward this season (not because of political correctness, as some ignorant people would assert, but because you care).

June 13, 2006

Philly Cheesesteaks & English

There is a sign that has been placed in one of the landmark eateries (Geno's) of South Philly. It reads: "THIS IS AMERICA. PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH". It symbolizes a debate that has been going on in this country lately on forcing immigrants to learn English.

The only positive part of Joe Vento's (owner of Geno's) sign is that he has the right to put it up. The First Amendment protects the right to free speech, no matter how mean-spirited, foul, racist, xenophobic and ignorant it may be (which is the spirit of this sign, contrary to Mr. Vento's assertions). I will defend his right to put up the sign, but my support clearly ends there.

First and foremost, Geno's is NOT known for their hospitable and friendly atmosphere. Truth be known, if you want a taste of the bad side of Philadelphia, go to Geno's. This famous eatery specializes in rude and arrogant behaviour. Their cheesesteaks are more like gutbombs than sandwiches (best tasted at 2 A.M. when a drunk wants some munchies and nothing else is open for service). On top of that, Mr. Vento is not a rocket scientist (after you have heard him speak, you will understand what I mean). Fortunately, I have met a lot of good people from South Philly. I know that Mr. Vento is an anomaly. But people like him still give Americans and Philadelphians a very bad name. They use their "patriotism" as a billy club and a bully pulpit.

The debate over making immigrants learn English is not debatable for people who have a clear view of history. It is true that previous generations have learned English and assimilated into our culture. However, what most Americans fail to realize is that it took at least a generation or two (in some cases) before previous immigrants learned the language. My family came to America in July of 1838. As late as the mid 20th century, they could still speak some German. Not everyone is blessed with the ability to become fluent in a language that isn't native to them.
In fact, some of the "Speak English" people have that problem. They can't learn another language. That is part of the reason that they are unwilling to allow immigrants to speak in their native tongue.

Also, I have been told by some people that the immigrants "refusing" to speak English is a threat to our way of life. This is poppycock! America is a melting pot and always has been. Our way of life, as we know it, has come from many different cultures. In fact, our country was founded on some people who immigrated from another country (Britain). So how can a melded culture be threatened by more change? It can't.

I believe that this debate is rooted in racism. The "Euro-Americans" are afraid that the Latinos/Africans/Asians/Arab/(name a non-white ethnicity) are taking over and going to ruin
our country (what will be ruined is never explained). But the FACT of the matter is that this is FAR FROM THE TRUTH! These people will add more color to America, just as our ancestors did when they emigrated.

Last, but not least, I had the privilege of living in two countries where I did not speak the language (Italy - four and a half months, Germany - two months/twice). It was hard enough to get around and try to learn the language. I didn't have the barrier of trying to support a family in that country (in some cases, holding down two or three jobs). I didn't have the barrier of a hostile population (yes, Americans can be a hostile group). I also didn't have the barrier of being in a totally foreign atmosphere (I was deployed to a NATO base where English was the primary language and I could fall back to, as necessary).

To sum this up, there are NO immigrants not trying to learn English. There is a group of people who came to a country thinking that this was the "land of the free". Free to live a life free of persecution. Free to worship and free to live your life. Even to go so far as to be free to learn English or not learn English. I guess that was their mistake. Maybe this country isn't as free as we once thought it was.

March 9, 2006

Dubai Port Deal

I stood on the fence regarding the port deal for far too long. I didn't know enough about it. Now that it has been cancelled, I now fully understand that which I did not before. Here is where it all lies:

1. The forces against the Dubai company purchasing the ports deal were mostly driven by "Arab-phobia". Our culture is one that fears Arabs, even pre-911/pre-WTC bombing/pre-Lebanon(1982). Look at the movies that come out of Hollywood. Arabs are usually portrayed as an ignorant evil people. For an example, name one major Hollywood movie that shows a sympathetic view of Arabs. I can't think of one. Examples of poor portrayals of Arabs: Air Force One and The Sheik .

2. There was an impression that the Dubai company would have presented a threat to our national security. I don't know how to break this to anyone, but 9/11 occurred when WE were in charge of our airport security. The first World Trade Center bombing occurred when we had the watch. So on and so forth. Now we will have our ports back (at least the six that were going to be outsourced). Hopefully, we can do the job right this time. The next time that something happens, we won't be able to blame the Arabs (not that we ever could). It will have happened on our watch.

February 23, 2006

Clueless Schools?

I am going to give you a list of places and see if you know what they have in common:

Moses Lake WA, Bethel AK, Pearl MI, West Paducah KY, Jonesboro AR, Edinboro PA, Pomona CA, Fayetteville TN, Houston TX, Onalaska WA, Springfield OR, Richmond VA, Littleton CO, Conyers GA, Williamsport PA

If you haven't already figured out the answer, let me clue you in. These places have experienced school shootings since 1997. Our schools have become dangerous places. Students are killing other students on a regular basis. But that is not the scariest part. I found out through conversations with a principal in WA state and some faculty in PA that the staff is clueless. I am starting to realize that a lot of educators don't believe that it can happen in their school. They go through the drills and show token concern. But, in the one incident (post-Paducah, pre-Columbine) the principal was not going to notify us that our child's life had been threatened.
She was shocked when I showed up to confront her about the event. In the other incident (relatively recent), one of the teachers was going to publish a list of Special Ed students' names, addresses, phone numbers and Email addresses. This teacher felt that a 16 year old Special Ed student should be responsible to know what to give out and what not to give out (with a total disregard for the parents/guardian's legal obligations, which generally mandates a permission slip).

The problem is that school personnel have been led to believe that they have a God-like role. This means that these people feel that everything they say is gospel truth and truly believe it (even when they are placing our children in VERY REAL danger). The fact is that our educational system is broken, placing our kids in a very precarious position.

The lion's share of this problem is the average American parent. They do not listen to their children when they come home. They are not willing to show up at the school and confront the school staff when they catch wind of something wrong. In fact, some parents use the school system as a surrogate parent (This teacher informed me that one parent asked to have the teacher talk to the child, since she would listen to the teacher and not the parent). This is SO wrong as to be a BOZO NONO. Any parent that would let a teacher usurp her parental authority needs to be turned in to the appropriate governmental agency for child neglect.

What it breaks down to is this: As parents, GET EDUCATED AND GET INVOLVED! Chances are that your local school district does not hold you in high regard (I'm at that same end of the spectrum but for a different reason. I WILL confront problems as they occur. Now I doubt that I will win a popularity at my child's school, but I'm not worried about it because of one factor: I'M RIGHT!). They feel that you aren't aware of how things work. The sad part is that they are not wrong. So change it! Talk with your children about school and, if you hear something that doesn't sound right, confront the school. Schedule meetings. Talk with teachers and principals. Go to school board meetings.

If you are not willing to do any of that, then you deserve the school you have and you are a profound part of the problem with the broken American educational system.

February 11, 2006

Ted Kennedy

I am not going to go into a long discussion on this topic, but a some questions came to mind during the Judge (now Justice) Alito hearings. I watched Senator Ted Kennedy try to act like a moral arbiter. Ted Kennedy. The same man who was a drunk driver who, in 1969, allowed a young lady to die because he was trying to save his own career. Now, here is the question:

Why is he still being elected to the Senate from Massachusetts? Even though I know that the U.S. Congress has been filled with cads of various sorts for over 200 years, why is he still warming a seat in the "hallowed" chambers? Shouldn't he have been drummed out of the Senate and held over for a criminal trial? Or did I miss something in the past 37 years that would have caused that not to happen?

Just things that make you go HMMMMM!

February 3, 2006

Bigot

Before I go into today's discourse, let's look up the definition of a word. The word is "bigot". As defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, it is defined as:
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French: hypocrite, bigot
; a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own prejudices or opinions.
If I were to use the word bigot, what comes to mind? Cross-burnings? KKK? Racial incidents? Bigotry goes much deeper and appears in many more topics than that. Let me give you an example.

I was "blessed" to have heard the opinion today that all women in prison are there because of men or something that men told them to do. When challenged, this person took the natural position of a bigot and told me that I felt threatened (Blatent stupidity overtly astounds me and causes me to feel pity for the person. The only way that I might feel threatened is that there is a possibility that there might be more uneducated people like this one. No, actually that scares me, not threatens).

Now for the facts on why this was a bigoted statement.
  1. This line of thinking gives men a power over the female race that we have never had. No one ever told me that, as a male, I am able to control the destiny of a woman. I have never met a man that is THAT good. A lot of men I have met and share my gender with aren't that good. Now I find out that there is someone who believes that men have a power we have never been vested with.
  2. This line of thinking degrades women also. This individual would have us believe that women are so stupid that they can be controlled by a male. I don't know about anyone
    else, but I have always marvelled at the intricacies and complexities of the female gender. After almost twenty years of marriage, I have yet to find a way to outsmart my beloved bride. She is usually one step ahead of me. On top of that, American women have spent MANY MANY years fighting for rights that belonged to them from birth, but were stolen by men. This person would have us believe that the fight has been for naught because women can be controlled by men. Scary concept, eh?
  3. There was NO statistics or numbers offered to prove this opinion. But bigoted statements never have proof. Just reaches and grabs to attempt to make an
    inherently ignorant statement seem believable.
  4. Last, but never least, this person was unwilling to defend their "opinion" in a rational manner. All they could do was walk off sputtering their bile with a lame and weak "It's a fact and you're threatened". Again, the true sign of a bigot.
The form of bigotry this person was using is known as misandry. Wikipedia has this blurb on misandry:

There are different forms of misandry. In its most overt expression, a misandrist will openly hate all men simply because they are men. Other forms of misandry may be more subtle. Some misandrists may hold all men under suspicion or may hate men or who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories. Entire cultures can be said to be misandrist if they treat men in ways that can be said to be hurtful.
Also, let's make one thing perfectly clear: do not think that I am saying that a misandrist is a homosexual. Neither homosexuality or misandry/misogyny (a person who hates or distrusts women) have anything to do with the other. In fact, I know male misandrists and female misogynists.

Let's hope that everyone can work together to eliminate all forms of bigotry (including misogyny and misandry). The injustices done by both genders to the opposite one can never be corrected without it.

February 1, 2006

Old Movie Recommendations

I know that there are a lot of people who don't enjoy old movies. But, in a spirit of turning people on to old movies and (heaven forbid) to silent movies, here are some recommendations that even people who won't watch movies from the 20th century will enjoy:

1. Stalag 17 - 1953 (William Holden/Otto Preminger)

The subject is a group of American POW's in a German camp. In Barracks 4, there is a stool pigeon (and no one knows who it is). The movie is fantastic and highly recommended to everyone. The same premise was used for a hit '60's TV series (Hogan's Heroes) and an Academy Award winning movie (La Vita e' Bella/Life is Beautiful). Even if you can't stand B&W movies, try sitting through this one. You will love it. But be warned. While it is a wonderful movie, it is not a cheerful movie.


2. His Girl Friday - 1940 (Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell)

This was a remake of the movie The Front Page/1931. It is a rare time where a remake is better than the original. Cary Grant stands out with his screwball antics and Rosalind Russell is a "doll" (to use a politically incorrect euphemism) and a terrific actress. It has also dated well and can still be enjoyed by anyone. Again, ignore the B&W. You will be treated to some true artists who created a wonderful piece of work.


3. City Lights/Modern Times/The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin)

I wouldn't recommend jumping into a silent movie cold turkey. Try any one of these three movies. A lot of the work Charlie Chaplin did is still being imitated today. Both City Lights and Modern Times are silent movies that aren't silent movies (they have synchronized music with minimal sound effects). I challenge anyone to watch these movies and not have a desire to see more Chaplin.


4. Casablanca - 1942 (Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman)

Roger Ebert once said that Casablanca is a movie that even people who don't like old B&W movies will enjoy. Try it once. Snuggle up with a date or your beloved and watch it. You can't go wrong.


5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - 1939 (Jimmy Stewart/Jean Arthur)

Any movie with Jimmy Stewart is good, but this would be the best one to start with. With all of the shenanigans going on in Washington today, this movie stands as true today as it did in 1939. Frank Capra (the director) had a keen eye for things like that. His movies were known (oft-times) as Capra-corn, because they always ended up cheerful. The ending may seem corny now, but watch this movie and then pick up a newspaper or go online and read the news out of D.C. You might find the same thing going on 66 years later.

Try any of these out and let me know what you think. I hope that you will be pleasantly surprised.

January 15, 2006

Martin Luther King Jr. 2006

I reread last year's blog about Martin Luther King. It still stands true. But I have come to realize that Martin Luther King was only at the head of a great movement. He put a face to ideals that a lot of people put their lives on the line for and, in some cases, died for.

Up until I heard a National Public Radio (NPR) presentation last week, I had only minimal knowledge of the 1961 Freedom Riders. For those who haven't heard of that group, they were a mixed racial group that rode busses into the Deep South to protest segregation (segregation had just been declared unconstitutional for interstate travel by the U.S. Supreme Court). The trips started in Washington D.C. and were to end in New Orleans LA.

The whites would ride in the back and the blacks would ride in the front (reverse of the law of some southern states). Some of these courageous people ended up being murdered by radical elements of all levels of some state governments (Alabama was known to be the worst). The group never made it through Alabama. Busses were firebombed, people were gravely beaten and many more people arrested.

When I read the history of that group, along with MLK Jr., Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, and many, many others (too numerous to mention), I realize that how much a lot of people have given in the fight against racism, yet how prevalent racism STILL is in all societies today. I am astounded at how deeply rooted it can be. But the problem is that it is coming from all directions. Some people feel that it is just white on black. Others feel that the African-Americans have been given so much and then ask what it is that those people really want. Still others don't see a problem at all. All three sides miss the point. This is a fight that will never end. I'm not sure that there is a solution, since this problem is programmed into our beings at a very fundamental level. I have my idea of what utopia would be (everyone living together and getting along). But no society has achieved that. People tend to look down on people who are different (Sunnis and Shiites, White and Black, etc.). But I will still fight for that belief as long as I draw breath.

Take a small amount of time on Martin Luther King day (and every day after that) and do two things:
1. Pray a heartfelt prayer that you never fall into the ignorant trap of clumping people into stereotypical groups based on race, religion, creed, sexual preference, political affiliation or any other group that really doesn't matter.
2. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and smile at people and offer them a good morning. If you try this, you will receive a blessing beyond belief. In Philly, I have seen so many facades shatter when I do this. People have smiled and talked with me after I have done that. They lose the Philly attitude almost immediately.

October 9, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

I bought the movie Hotel Rwanda several months ago, right after it came out on video. I finally got around to watching it today. The movie (for the uninitiated) is about the Hutu genocidal massacre of the Tutsi minority (who were suspected of being complicitious with the Belgians when they controlled the country.

One advantage of older age is that you remember things that younger people only read about in the history books. I remember when the massacre was going on. I heard about people hiding in churches and being killed in there. It was beyond my comprehension then (and I was in my 30's at the time) that something like that could happen in my lifetime.

As I watched this movie, I got madder and madder. At what was happening in the movie, at what was happening in our world, at what was happening in our country/government AND, most of all, at what WASN'T happening in myself. In the movie, a hotel manager saves the lives of 1200 PEOPLE (not rodents, lizards or rabbits, but people). People indiscriminately killing people. From the movie AND what I remember, the U.S. government did NOTHING. We were still smarting from the butt-kicking in Somalia the year before. But I was also mad at myself because this happens every day in every way everywhere and I do almost nothing about it. In the past 50 years, it has happened in Germany, Russia, Cambodia, the U.S., the Middle East, Bosnia, Colombia, and Latin America.

NOW, WAIT A MINUTE, I imagine you saying. It has never happened in our country, the land of the free and the home of the brave. If it did, it was in the past. I knew nothing about it. But in the streets of our cities, people of all races are dying everyday just because of the color of their skin. Mugged, raped, tortured, murdered, etc. All over the US EVERY DAY!

Where does the cycle stop? When can we learn to love each other for our difference instead of hating ourselves for them?

June 6, 2005

Heavy Thunderstorm Thoughts

I am in the middle of a real cool electrical storm right now. That is one of few things that PA has over WA. WA has electrical storms, but they are few and far between. PA has at least several every month during the late spring/summer/early fall timeframe.

The storm has put me into a pensive mood. My loving bride has accused me many times of being an eternal skeptic and believing no one about anything. This is probably true. But I have come to find out that nothing is exactly what it seems to be. Here are some examples:

1. I know that my wife and children have chosen some families to admire as the perfect families. However, I have learned that there is no such thing as a perfect family. ALL families have problems. Every family has a certain amount of dysfunction, whether they admit it or not. I firmly believe that the only PERFECT family is a dead family (morbid thought, but a true one). Some people believe that the perfect example of the typical American family is Ozzie and Harriett (or Ward and June Cleaver). My response is: These families were never an example of the American family when these shows were on television. Keyword: TELEVISION (as in: NOT REALITY).

2. Our society tends to look down on the developmentally disabled (DD)as having less than most people because they don't meet a certain IQ standard, don't act a certain way, do "strange things" or any number of reasons. I have come to wonder if these people possess certain wonderful qualities that we "normal" (I guess that somewhere there is a standard makes us normal, but I am befuddled as to what that standard is) people have. I have been to/around Special Olympics several times and have seen some really beautiful people. Maybe not in the looks department, but those are transitory. They have an inner beauty that transcends any outer beauty by a long shot. In fact, I know one DD teenager who always manages to smile no matter what happens in her life. Her heart can be breaking into a thousand pieces and yet she will manage to pour love out to people a little bit later. She never carries a grudge. She has tantrums, but still is the most loving person I have ever met. And there are a lot of people like her. I know that MOST "normal" people don't have that capability. I firmly believe that we can learn from the DD's of the world.

It is amazing what thoughts occur to me during a good electrical storm.

May 29, 2005

Something's Gotta Give

My wife and I watched the Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton movie Something's Gotta Give. I was absolutely astounded at how good it was. Up until tonight, I have never liked Diane Keaton. She has always played to a whiney neurotic type. She blew this role out of its shoes. She is gorgeous here and very sexy (definitely un-Keaton like, in my book). After watching part of the commentary, I am also impressed at her comedic abilities.

As for Jack Nicholson, every movie I have seen him in, he gets better. Even though he has a reputation as being arrogant, I have grown to like his movies more and more. As Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert once said, he could be his generation's Humphrey Bogart. Jack is always willing to take roles that are do not glorify him and make him look better. As Good as It Gets and The Witches of Eastwick are two good examples.

I also felt my own mortality watching the Jack Nicholson heart attack scene(s). This is another shining example of a good movie, one that makes you think about your own issues.

Go out and see it if you get the chance.

May 23, 2005

My Responsibilities

Lately, I have contemplated the amount of responsibility that I will have for my children after they have grown. I have been blessed with two wonderful children (this doesn't mean that I don't get angry with them, I DO!) and am looking forward to seeing them grown. But I have always wondered how much responsibility I have after they move out on their own. (or stay at home).

I got to thinking about this because I know a family that moves grown children back home when there is a crisis. They work through the crisis and, once the crisis is over, the grown children move back out on their own. At one time, I would have thought this ludicrous. But, the more that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Isn't home supposed to be a place that you can go to when things in the world get rough? A sanctuary in an ever growing storm? Like the theme song said in Cheers "a place where everyone knows your name". I believe that it is. So, does that end at the age of 18, 21, or some arbitrary number? Does it end once you have moved out? Or is a home always your home, no matter what your age, income, belief system, marital status, employment status, etc.? I also believe that it is.

Now I have also known people who take people into their house and let them live there for as long as they like, sponging off of the owner and doing nothing in return. This is not what I am referring to. That is an aberration of the idea of home. When we take our children into our house after they have grown, they will help with housework, buying groceries, errands, etc.

This has come to mind also as part of my middle age. I am watching our daughter graduate from high school and know that as a part of her life is ending, a new part is beginning. I feel that
I have witnessed the little child I cradled in my arms in 1987 become a very talented adult. This is wonderful. But I now know that I don't want to miss any of her future life. I want to be around to experience what she is going through and help guide her through the trials and tribulations of adulthood, being a parent, guide and friend through all of it. I also want her to know that she will always have a safe haven to come to if life should turn to caca.

I accepted the responsibility for my family in the latter half of the 20th century. I will carry that responsibility through the rest of my natural born days, even after our two children are grown and moved out.

March 22, 2005

Terri Schiavo

The situation with Terri Schiavo has become a nightmare for everyone involved. It is now a no-win situation for anyone involved in this case who is not in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS). Here is where the situation stands (from my viewpoint):

Michael Schiavo - Even if his wife dies tomorrow, this nightmare will not end for this man. His in-laws will continue to make his life a living hell for as long as they draw breath. While he is doing the right thing by having them try to pull the plug on Terri (since she had expressed her wishes to him), I do not understand how he could have formed another family in the meantime. Baffles me to no end. I can't disagree with it strongly enough. But his sins do not have any bearing on the situation with his wife. Just means that, in life, there are no white knights charging in on trusty steeds to save the fair maiden. Only humans with faults trying to make perfect decisions in an imperfect world.

Mr. and Mrs. Schindler - My heart goes out to them. They lost a daughter 15 years ago to a potassium imbalance. It is never easy for a parent to let go. It would tear me apart to lose either one of my daughters to ANYTHING. However, her parents need to get a grip on reality and begin the grieving process. Their daughter will not come back. The time and energy that they are taking for appeals and motions and spewing forth bile about Michael Schiavo(I don't know if it's true what they say, but the courts have also found nothing substantial in it) could be used to help the thousands of other people that are going through the same thing (I do understand that they feel that they must do all they can, but it has gone far past that point now).

Congress - Our beloved congressional representatives and Senators played to their core constituency like a piano player at a recital. They wanted to make sure that they had a vote on record so that they could wave it in the mid-term (2006) elections. Then the Christian right (with all of its various factions and, of which, I am proudly a member) will support them and, hopefully, get them reelected. But they may have shot themselves in the foot. I know that it was a slap in the face to the Florida courts ("We don't trust you. We want a look-see ourselves."). I am reasonably sure that it was unconstitutional (just as it was when Gov. Jeb Bush tried the same stunt). They may have ended up alienating more people than appesing. Plus, on top of that, one question arises above all else in my mind. If the person in the PVS had come from the inner city or a legal immigrant (even an illegal immigrant, for that matter) or had been of another race or had already been disabled/poor, etc., would our esteemed legislators have gone to the same trouble that they went to? I will leave it as a thought to ponder.

Having said all that, understand that I am firmly pro-life. Abortion is murder. Flat out, no exceptions. But this is not about aborting a helpless fetus. This is strictly about allowing a person to have their say in how their life is maintained (or not maintained). The courts have repeatedly found that it was her wish not to be kept on life support. Now let's do our part to grant her one last request.

February 14, 2005

My Little Red-Headed Girl (by Charlie Brown)

I have been around long enough to see the status of many marriages. I have seen people that were in their 80's and 90's who were just as much in love as the day that they got married. I have also seen people who were married only a little while that should have never gone to the altar. The only reason that I point this out is to show you my view of marriage. I know that it doesn't quite fit in with the rest, but I felt like showing you what I had seen of marriage.

Anyone who is familiar with the comic strip Peanuts is familiar with my wife and me. I play the role of Charlie Brown(CB) (which I don't consider bad) and my beloved bride is the little redheaded girl. Cindy makes me very happy, just like CB is happy when his dream girl is around. CB's girl is perfect and so is mine. Perfect in the way that she is perfect for me. No other woman could endure what she has endured and yet still come out ahead with SO MUCH CLASS!!! She has her faults (biggest one that could be pointed out is her taste in men!!) but that is part of what endears her to me.

So I want to take this day and thank Cindy for the many happy years that she has given me so far. I LOVE her SO much!!! We will be celebrating nineteen years of marriage on April 6 and I can honestly say that I have never had one single regret about marrying her. Like Billy Joel said "SHE IS ALWAYS A WOMAN TO ME"!!

I LOVE YOU, CINDY!!!

February 6, 2005

Super Bowl XXXIX

I have never been into watching sports on television. The last time I took any kind of interest was when Ara Parseghian was coach at Notre Dame (I believe that was the mid '70's, or somewhere in that region).

I know that most Americans have a certain team that they root for. I have been in/near Chicago, San Diego, Seattle and Philadelphia and haven't been to a professional sports game since the late '80's (when I went to a Fort Wayne Komets game with my family. My oldest daughter, who was a babe in arms at the time, fell asleep. She was also starting a non interest early).

The fervor in Philadelphia over the Eagles going to the SuperBowl baffled me. I watched intelligent people making complete fools of themselves. There was even a rivalry at work as our boss is from Long Island, which almost makes him a Patriot fan by default (I guess).

I am looking forward to Tuesday morning, since the fervor will be over (one way or the other). But it has definitely been interesting to watch.

January 24, 2005

My Living Will

I am about to break an unwritten rule of mine. I never get extremely personal on the Internet. But I have been tracking, with great interest, the status of Terri Schiavo. That is the woman who went into a coma 15 years ago and has been in a persistent vegetative state ever since. Since this information is written by me, about me, and only involves me, I feel free to tell the world. This is something that Mrs. Schiavo never did. Had she done this (one way or the other), then everyone involved (her parents, her husband and the state of Florida) would not be going through the turmoil involved with the extended legal process.

My wife and I have discussed all legal matters regarding my possible incapacitation and eventual death (we all die, don't we?). Cindy knows where I stand on my health care in all situations (at least to the best of our knowledge). I do not desire to be kept alive on a machine that will rob me of my free will. An example of this is the way that Ms. Schiavo has been kept alive. Cindy will make the determination of that at the appropriate time. Her wishes are to be honored as though they are mine, because they WILL be mine. We have spent many hours in discussion (more than most couples) and are fully in tune with each other on this matter. Anybody who attempts to interfere with this process will not be acting in my best interest, regardless of their status (family, friend, friend of the court, etc.).

She also knows that I have NO desire for a funeral and only want to be cremated and my ashes spread over the Straits of Juan de Fuca. If people desire to have a memorial service for me, I want it to be one of happiness, for I will have gone to a happier place. Though I know they probably won't be able to, I want people to be able to share stories of my lifetime and be able to laugh (kind of like the Mary Tyler Moore episode where Chuckles the Clown dies). Don't cry for me, for I will be in a much better place. Stand in the gap with my wife and children, for they will be the ones that need the help the most. Remember that you will show your love for me by passing it on to my family after I'm gone. If someone in my biological family passes before me, then I will do the same for you.

Also, don't do the same thing that they did for William Claude Dukenfield. Old W.C. had a bunch of stuff in his will and everyone ignored (almost) everything.

It may seem morbid, but I have that out of the way. I will update my will to reflect this (I can't remember if I had this in there as our will was drafted around seven or eight years ago). But realize that I don't see death as an end. I see it more as another beginning. The beginning of eternity.



-

January 22, 2005

Snow, Finally!!!

We have been staying in all day due to the snowstorm that struck here the Northeast this morning. We are supposed to have between 12 and 18 inches before it is over. I have been going out and keeping the sidewalk around the house cleared. Since I enjoy shovelling snow so much (and I really do! For real!), I have been having a ball.

In fact, I had a chance to meet the gentleman who bought the house across Ridge Street. Real nice guy. Turns out that he is the Borough Manager for Hatfield PA. I got to talking with him today as we shovelled our prospective sides of the street. Then I went over and helped him shovel his side. After that, both of us came over and did the Minich's side of Ridge. We found out that we got more done quicker than if we had worked alone. I was told later that this was due to synergy, that two together can do more work than two separate. The gentleman who told me this was a wise old prospector type, kind of like Walter Huston in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Being a Systems Administrator (and a computer weenie, in general), it has amazed me how computers have become a very integral part of my life. Not just in work. Or play. I have reestablished many relationships through the Information Highway. Keep up on news. Many other things. I guess I am just a middle-aged computer geek. PROUD OF IT, TOO!


January 16, 2005

Martin Luther King

April 4, 1968 - To me, that will always be the day that I remember where I was when I heard of Martin Luther King's assassination. We lived near Fort Wayne IN on Coverdale Rd. I was 9 years old and in bed sick. It was my younger sister's seventh birthday party. My paternal grandparents had come over for the party (in the evening). Even then I had the habit of listening to the radio a lot, usually WOWO (which was a 50K watt powerhouse back then). The news came over that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. I was shocked that this had happened and went and told my parents the news. I do not remember the reaction.

I firmly believe in the same ideals that Martin Luther King stood for. There is no reason that all of us shouldn't be able to deal with each other as equals, regardless of race, religion, nationality, politics, etc. I don't think, though, that we will ever get past that. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be working our tails off to try and get past it. Unfortunately, though, if we get rid of prejudice against one race (i.e. blacks), we will unknowingly transfer it to another group (blondes?). And prejudice can be as simple as "OK, kids, we are in a bad neighborhood. Lock the doors." when you drive through a black neighborhood. On Martin Luther King day, let's take some time to reflect on how we can work better with those around us WITHOUT the preconceptions that have hindered the races down through the centuries. Do away with the racial remarks that have caused hatred (racial jokes, flagwords, etc). Look at ALL the people around the world as people and not less than you.

One more question that (sort of) ties in with this. Who came up with the color scheme? "Caucasians" (my relatives came from the area of the Germanic tribes, not the Russian Caucasus region) aren't white (my oldest daughter says that we are more like a peach color and she's right), "black" people aren't black (not even in Africa. Arguably, though, they could be said to be closer, but it's still not a true black. I've been to Kenya. I know), "Orientals" aren't yellow and the Native Americans aren't red. I have tried to research this and it all been to no avail.

January 14, 2005

Interesting Discovery

I had read an interesting article on www.fortwayne.com. In Fort Wayne IN (my former residence), the city had replaced a lot of the old stoplights with new LED lights. These are supposedly brighter and save electricity, which more than makes up for them being more expensive. They had replaced a small fraction of the lights and the electricity bill for these lights went down from 28K a month to 21K.

I had gotten to wondering if they had similar bulbs for residential use. So I went to the nearest Big Lots. I found bulbs that were five bucks a bulb. I ended up replacing ten bulbs in our house. Then we waited for the electricity bill to come in.

In the winter, our electricity bill is usually over a hundred dollars. This month our bill ran seventy-nine dollars. WOW! It definitely paid off. One more month like that and the bulbs are paid for.

The only thing to note is that the bulbs don't come on bright right away. They are dim at first and warm up. But a 100 watt bulb of this kind only uses 20 watts of electricity. A forty watt bulb only uses nine watts of electricity.

This is just something that I thought I would share with other people, so that they can look to save money also.

January 1, 2005

New Year 2005

I got very sick on Thursday evening. Since there is an unexpected surgery in the family coming up, I was quarantined to our bedroom. I ended up watching Gods and Monsters (Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser), most of the second season of Everybody Loves Raymond and Beethoven (the dog movie with Charles Grodin). In the process, I learned some interesting things (that most people wouldn't give two whoops and a holler about):

1. At one time, I thought that Frank Barone (from Everybody Loves Raymond) reminded me of a very loved relative. That was only after watching the first two episodes of the first season. This is no longer the case.

2. Binding has many meanings. I learned a new meaning for it over the last few days.

3. I still don't like Charles Grodin (more annoying than a Woody Allen movie marathon).

4. My beloved Cindy is wonderful. Though I have known this for 19 years (now, since I have known her since 02Dec1985), I appreciate it more and more every day. I am willing to shout that from the mountaintop but, since there is no real mountains (at least in my book) on the East Coast, I will use this Blog to announce it. Part of the reason that I have come to realize it is that she endures someone that I am reasonably sure that I would want to strangle at some point. For the answer to this, click here!

5. Everyone looks at an arbitrary number (say, the year 2005) and uses that as a new beginning. They miss the chances they have with every single second of their lives. When I am granted another second of my life, I am on borrowed time (just as we all are). This is not depressing, but a very happy thought. I am glad that I have been honored by God to live that much longer.

6. I have come to realize that a necessary part of my seabag (for life) should be a handy dose of chill pills. A good friend from Oak Harbor mentioned to me that I need to "throttle back" (this person was from the Naval Aviation community). I now realize how true that is. A lot of things that I thought were aimed at me personally, never were.

7. For the first time (in a long time), the scales read a number that I hadn't seen in a while. Fortunately, it was a LOWER number this time. The 61 days that I have been working out on my Power Rider has been paying off.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and pray that the New Year's resolutions that you made were reasonable ones. Keep up the determination and, even if you fail, remember that it is not the end. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep going. Keep in mind that Ty Cobb (one of baseball's best hitters) failed almost sixty-five percent of the time. Failure is nothing more than a dress rehearsal for success.

December 29, 2004

Asian Tsunamis

The sheer numbers of the amount of dead coming out of Asia/Africa from the tsunami disaster is absolutely incomprehensible. As of this morning (0630), the number was placed at 66,000 people (and that number is still rising quickly). Since the number is staggering, let me give three examples that might put it into perspective:

1. Imagine the city of Bradenton FL - The entire city is gone (and there are still more dead on top of that!).
2. Now imagine Fort Wayne IN - Almost one third of the city is wiped out (and the numbers are still climbing).
3. Last, imagine the small Pennsylvanian towns of Lansdale, North Wales, Montgomeryville and Norristown NO LONGER EXIST!

That is how catastrophic this disaster was and the numbers are still being calculated!

One last thought for consideration: This happened in the Indian Ocean, half a planet away. It didn't affect us, did it? But, truth be known, it could VERY EASILY happen ANYWHERE.

Take some time today to have a moment of silence for the people that died or were injured.

December 20, 2004

Holidays

I have found that I share a different outlook on the Christmas than almost everyone else (I won't be arrogant and say everyone because I am sure SOMEONE out there must agree with me. I'm just not sure who.).

I don't feel that there is any need for anyone to get me presents for Christmas. I feel that people have been given the idea that they have to purchase something to show that they care for you. That they can't show they care through other ways (i.e. making something, a hug, showing it the rest of the year, etc.). I think that it also teaches our children that affections can be bought (at least one day out of the year).

I don't want to hurt the people who we love and care for. We have quite a few friends in PA and will treasure them for the rest of our lives. The names go on and on (not as long a list as most people have, but still a few). We have had many people here show they care in immeasurable ways. Why does it have to involve purchases at Christmas when I can see how they feel the rest of the year? The dilemma breaks my heart.

On top of that, this is not isolated to Christmas. I feel the same way about birthday presents. In fact, about the only time I am willing to accept presents would be between my wife and me.

The problem arises when I have express this to other people and I get incredulous looks. Inevitably, to a T, I get the present anyway and a "Well, we just ignored you because we care". From my viewpoint, this does not honor me, even though I know that the giver has the entirely opposite intention (when it happens, the person is someone I think the world of and has a heart of 100 karat gold).

It is not like this is a peripheral belief and I can just placate the person and move on. This has become a core belief or, as they would say in the Army, a "hill to die on" (fight to the end). I worry about hurting people's feelings, but would really like people to understand where I am coming from.

December 12, 2004

Church a Second Time

For the information of the people who are interested, I attended church a second time. I didn't manage to make it through the whole service, but I was able to get out and wake up a couple of times. Cindy's Sunday School class also had a soiree' that I was able to attend. The class is made up of a lot of neat people.

This is definitely becoming a habit.

December 11, 2004

Entertaining the Church Youth Group

We are waiting for the youth group to show up from the church that Cindy and the girls go to. Note the time. Isn't this a little late for a junior high event to occur on a church night?

Random thought:

Why do people move to Florida when they get clobbered by hurricanes so much?

December 7, 2004

Church Food

Why is it that many churches feel that they need to serve food at many events? I don't remember it in the Catholic church (at least not in the degree that other churches do). Between Sunday School donuts, snacks, coffee, etc., it might be a factor (not as big as McD's, but still a factor) in the obesity epidemic.

Couldn't we just fellowship and learn without eating?

December 6, 2004

Something To Contemplate

Since some words in common usage in the English language have evolved from slurs, is it a racial slur if the person is completely unaware of the history of a word and that it is/was a slur?

Random Thought

If someone was born in a certain area (oh, let's say they were born in Delaware), moved a bit in their first 12 (or so) years and ended up in another area (oh, for the sake of argument, let's say they ended up in Lansdale PA) and lived there for 30 years or more, would they be able to claim that they were native to that area?

December 3, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

I went to Hollywood video tonight and checked out two movies (for free, since we belong to their MVP program and since I won't put dime one into Michael Moore's pocket), Fahrenheit 9/11 and Fahrenhype 9/11 (the rebuttal).

Michael Moore tends to write off history. It was not just George W (and H.W.) Bush who believed that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD. Most of the world (both East and West) believed the same thing. Saddam was a pariah even amongst Arab nations. He was very dangerous. Nothing about that is mentioned in his movie. Also, Mr. Moore goes to great lengths to write a conspiracy theory about the Bush administration. If you want to see a good example of the conspiracy theory movie that I believe Moore used for an example, see Oliver Stone's J.F.K. I don't believe 70% of what Michael Moore stated in his movie any more than I believed 95% of J.F.K.

I am looking forward to seeing the other side of the coin in Fahrenhype 9/11 tomorrow night.

December 1, 2004

Personal Facts

I consider myself to be a moderate Republican. I reached this determination during the last election. I watched many dirty tricks on both sides of the aisle that absolutely disgusted me. The Swift Boat Veterans may firmly believe what they preach, but the way they did business was wrong! My question is: why did they wait 30-some years to come out with these facts? And the amateurish butcher job that someone tried to do on President Bush is another one. This election turned out to be about a conflict (even amateur historians realize that Vietnam was not a war, though the line between war and conflict is mainly legal) that was rooted in the past, when the voting public should have been considering the future (and John Kerry's voting record).

One more note: Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 911) should be relegated to the dustbin of obscurity. He considers himself an opposition politician, when, in reality, he is nothing more than a schoolyard bully with a camera and a filmmaker's budget. The sad part is that Michael Moore still doesn't realize that George Bush won BECAUSE of Michael Moore, NOT in spite of him.

November 29, 2004

Neighborliness

I learned something this weekend.

On Saturday, I was taking a desk apart and delivering the parts out to the trash for the garbagemen to pick up on Monday. In the process, I noticed that our neighbor across Ridge (the red brick house with the large hickory tree in front) was raking his yard and bagging it up. The first time I offered to help him rake and bag, he told me that he had it but thanks anyway. The second time, he took me up on the offer. I grabbed my rake and snow shovel (Snow shovels are great for picking up the rakings) and went to town. We worked hard for a couple of hours, bagging and shovelling. It was a blast. As we talked, he told me how much he appreciated this. I asked him if this wasn't the norm and he said that it wasn't. Most people wouldn't do that. I really didn't realize that.

I think more people need to crawl out of their comfort zone and do more for each other. I am sorry that, as a society, we have crawled into mini cocoons and fester there. There is a lot of hurt today and it can (often) be taken care of by personal interaction.


November 28, 2004

Deep Thought

If a racial slur (fill in the blank as there is no need to use examples) is now racist to use, was it always racist? Or was it, at one time, just insensitive to use but not racist?

My outlook on it is that any racist slur/epithet is/was/always will be racist. But I have met people who feel that, at a previous time, the same slurs were just insensitive but didn't indicate racism. I have to be honest in saying that I don't understand this line of thinking. Despite the popularity of those words, racism is/was racism.


Random Thought

At one of my places of employment, I have heard various descriptions of people that have worked there previously. I was told of one civilian lady who was heavily into Civil War memorabilia. Another description was of a boss who was kind of dingy and would climb through ceilings (in a skirt) to get into locked rooms.

All of which brings me to this thought: I have wondered what people will describe me as when I do one of the following: a. Move the family to either Washington or Maine.
b. Die
c. Get a job somewhere else.


Church

It rained all night (very hard) which kept me up most of the night. So I didn't know if I could make it to church today (as I haven't made a full service in 3 years). Both girls were sick, so Cindy and I went alone. I still nodded off several times, but I made it through the service. I was so proud of myself that I had a donut in celebration (not too bright for being a diabetic, eh?). But it is still cause for happiness. Now if I could just continue. Week by week, that is how I will take it.

November 26, 2004

Random Thoughts

Our family is known for random and unusual thoughts that we may toss in from time to time. Please feel free to answer as we appreciate everyone's outlook:

RANDOM THOUGHT

If someone dies from your family that you don't really know and haven't seen in years, are you obligated to go to the funeral?



November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving Day

I am thankful that we are able to share the love that we have with people who love us.

In 2002, we shared Thanksgiving with Cindy's sister Julie and my cousin Bob Shutt and his family. It was a very fun loving time that we had that year. Bob and his family came over from Fort Wayne IN and Julie came from Norwich CT. We borrowed a neighbor's picnic table (our dining table was too small) and had an absolutely wonderful time. I could almost say that it was like Norman Rockwell-like, even though we added our own touches to it.

I remember the Thanksgiving dinners I had the honor of going to when I was MUCH younger. The crush of people, the way that it would rotate between houses (I am sure my parents hosted one once, but I am not entirely sure)., and seeing my cousins (most of whom I have lost contact with, unfortunately). Just like on TV and the movies, I remember all the men gathered around the TV watching some football game (I still don't understand that one. But I have no interest in televised sports).

In almost 19 years of marriage, we have only had three or four times where we spent any holiday with family, on any side. At times, I would say that it is sad. I love my family (both my biological family and my in-laws). But we have drifted apart in many ways. I am now re-learning my father, who I have always loved with all my being, regardless of anything that has happened. I have maintained contact with my mother, but am still trying to get to know her even though we have maintained contact. The rest of the family I love dearly, but have come to realize that I don't really know. That is what time does, makes the mind grow absent. At other times, I know that I have done the best for our children. We have given them good memories of their own and that is the best thing that we could do. I am PROUD that they have had the holidays that they have had.

I say it again. I am very thankful for the loving family that I have lived with and shared 18 years with (even though Cindy would be quick to point out that it has been OVER, yes she would emphasize that, bless her heart, OVER 18 years). Not many people have been so blessed. We have had a heckuva ride on the roller coaster called life, but it has been worth it.

We were invited over for dinner to Pam & Ken Wohltmann's house for dinner. Cindy met them at First Baptist Church, Lansdale. Very nice couple. He slept a lot and she is just silly. But it was a good time. Cindy and Natalie and the Wohltmann's played Pig (not to be confused with the basketball game of the same name). Meredith and I watched several episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond. Our family enjoys that show because it reminds of my family (my father is Peter Boyle, only with a LOT more love and compassion).

November 24, 2004

Just Another Day

I had a wonderful talk with my father today. I have learned so much about him lately. I don't know if I have missed this side all these years, he is getting older and changing, I am getting older and changing, or what is going on. He sends me all these whacked out websites about cockroaches and Space Elevators and things like that. Of course, I have returned the favor with a Burnt Food Museum and a Twinkie test site. I finally feel closer to him than I EVER have.

I had an especially good time with Natalie today. I took off of work early so that we could correct a problem that she had. Then we went shopping in the new Asian food store (Assi International Food). After watching Super Size Me with Morgan Spurlock, it has been determined that our family will no longer eat at McDonald's (if only because of the French Fries that never mold). Cindy and I are also hooked on the shows Dead Like Me and Arrested Development.

November 23, 2004

Our First Blog

I have decided to take our family into blogging. This will basically be an online diary, so that we can share ourselves with other family members and they can share their thoughts with us. This is quite daring, since it leaves us vulnerable to other family members. But, since you are ALWAYS vulnerable 100% of the time, it really doesn't matter. We are learning how important family really is.