Give of yourself and Take care of yourself

How was your Christmas?  What did you get?

Imagine having the physical strength of Superman, the intellect of Stephen Hawking, the insight of Socrates, the compassion of Mother Teresa, and the money of Bill Gates.  Just kidding on the Bill Gates reference… ok, not kidding.  But… seriously.  Imagine, please, on the other things, at least.  These traits are exaggerations that belong to famous people that will be remembered by the public.  But what about common folk; like you, the reader, and me?  What will the people we have touched remember about us?

Lately during the Christmas season, I have been surrounded by things that scream, “LEGACY!”

In case you’re wondering, watching mass amounts of Christmas movies; such as, “Its a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “A Christmas Story” will seriously melt your brain tissue into a bubbling, lava-like substance.  The side effects are writing highly emotional and semi-meaningful blogs that seem to go on endlessly driving one to mutter, “What is your point?”

I recently emptied a full self-storage unit into my living room.  Not a wise thing to do if you have a really nice living room, but I really don’t have a really nice one right now; so, I don’t feel too badly of the explosion of moldy stuff in my house.  This 10′ x 10′ storage unit was filled to ceiling back in June of 2001 after I moved from the 3-bedroom townhouse I rented for seven years in DeKalb, IL back into my parents’ house; the same house I grew up in.  At the time, they certainly did not have the space to accommodate all my stuff.

Over the past ten years, I lost both parents and my grandmother, bought the house, got married with three lovely step-daughters, and now this up-coming year I am looking down the barrel of my second divorce.  When lives get turned upside-down, one tends to lose integrity and loads of money.  With the wife and daughter out of my house and on their own; they are struggling to make ends meet.  The lost benefit for me of a second income in this economy has really hit my bottom line.  My modest and decent income as an engineer for a nationally known company is gratefully continuing to flow in; but the out-flow is way more than what is coming in.  In an attempt to stop the bleeding, that money sucking storage unit was the first on the budget chopping block.  And that is how all of it’s contents have landed in my living room.

And what does one find in a time capsule?  The past.  Imagine opening your life history with each box of papers, books, photos, and collection of stuff.  There are boxes with records of my income and spending.  There are boxes of my son’s toys he loved to play with and books we loved to read.  There are boxes of old sports gear I wore before and during my high school years.  There are boxes with papers that carry collections of my thoughts, feelings, and learning from another obsolete decade.  There are pictures of trips I’ve taken and people I forgot ever existed.  There are even love letters from the girlfriends of my past.  Sigh.

Sorting through all this stuff will take some time.  I’m not the fastest “sorter” to begin with, and I wasn’t blessed with the gift of organization.  I can spend too much time looking through the “looking glass”.

The Looking Glass Self

The Looking Glass

During the warmer months when my Harley-Davidson motorcycle makes its home in my garage, I will take weekend jaunts to Mount Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst, IL to give a homage shout-out to the folks and paternal grandparents.  Not to be play favorites, I often wondered about my maternal grandparents’ burial site.  Its a little embarrassing to think I have yet to visit their grave site since they passed during the 90’s.  In the spirit of getting things done, I asked my Auntie Ree back in the spring of 2011 where to find the site.  Her directions were tested after many years of not visiting herself, but she had an idea and I figured close is good enough for me; I would find them.  On the Memorial Day holiday, I decided to take a trip on my Harley to Mount Carmel Cemetery.  The sun was scorching that day.  In full riding gear (for me); mock-turtle neck long-sleeve pull over, jeans, leather jacket, and boots, I walked a half-acre section where my aunt thought the stone could be.  Nope.  I had to leave or surely I would melt.  I realized cemeteries can be much larger than one might think.

A few days after Thanksgiving 2011, my cousin, Tina accepted my friend request on Facebook.  Why?  Because after three years of not “being friends,” I thought perhaps it was time.  If for any reason, that was it…. time.  Tina and her family were all once visible on my Facebook friend’s list until I cut them off.  Not wanting to get into all that; I decided to request back their friendship, and they all accepted.  On December 22nd, Tina posted a photo of our grandparents’ grave stone marker with some hesitation because of not knowing how the other family members would feel about seeing it.  Without blinking an eye, I was the first to rejoice with knowledge that someone can give me definite directions to that very spot on earth that I was looking for.  Tina used her SmartPhone to photograph a map of where and how to get there.  I was very pleased.

"Scanio Headstone"

My grandparent's grave marker

The snow-less day after Christmas, while the sun was shining bright low in the south against a vast blue sky, I went to Mount Carmel cemetery in Hillside, IL and easily found the names of my mother’s parents on a large piece of reddish-brown granite.  I took some pictures for my very own.  I wished them Christmas blessings.  I asked forgiveness for not being the best grandchild I could have been.  And lastly, prayed they watch over all of us from Heaven.  My grandfather had a reputation of being more like the “hard-love” male figure in the family.  So, I smiled and pictured a swift backhand from him to the head of those “brats” in my family that so desperately in need of one.

The wind was blowing steadily and creating a chill to my face, ears, and hands.  I surveyed the area, examined the neighbors, and after sharing a final good-bye, I hurried back to the warmth of my car.  But the cold was not enough to stop me from slowly touring the paths of this old and majestic cemetery.  The huge numbered sections are lined with towering and exorbitant grave markers.  There are rows of crypts with names boldly engraved above the door.  And the names of the deceased popped out at me as if I have heard each one as if each were a part of my family over the years.  I made some stops for more photos.

I left there with a feeling like I want to come back and explore.  I took a right turn out of the cemetery exit and headed to whatever road I recognized that would bring me back north on the west side of of the tollway.  I now planned a visit to Mount Emblem and the Carlstroms buried there.  The afternoon sun was quickly dipping westward and the chill was getting chillier.  I took one pretty photograph when I pulled into the cemetery and my visit to the site was one I have seen often.  I already have a picture or two of the newer grave marker with the four Carlstroms’ names on it; Henry, Florence, William, and JoAnn.  The original Carlstrom head stone, still in the ground about 10′ feet away was green from age and half of it sunk into the ground.  Yes, there are two.  So, the camera stayed in my pocket.  I said my prayers, admired some of the nearby flower arrangements, and once again sought the warmth inside my car.  Those fir branch “blankets” covering the graves

An Example of a Fir Grave Blanket

with the red flowers is very festive and nice looking.  Maybe someday I’ll spring for a couple… even though, well, you know.

On Christmas Eve 2011, I invited myself to another cousin’s house that lives about an hour away from me, so that I could enjoy a little human interaction and family togetherness on Christmas.  The wife and daughter flew away to spend the holidays with her family, which I could not blame her for doing at all.  However, I guess the thought of me being alone on Christmas Eve with four dogs in a disheveled home was just a little too much excitement for me.  The party was a simple gathering.  My cousin, Patty, her husband, Tom, and two kids, well-known in the neighborhood for their parties, scaled way down for this night of celebration with my cousin’s dad, Dave, my sister, Karina and her husband Brad, and two recently graduated from high school kids in attendance.  The holiday menu was “make-your-own-pizzas.”

They own a tri-level type home; where guests enter through the front door to the open plan middle-level living room which also has the kitchen and dining room separated by an island.  Up the short staircase on the left leads to the bedrooms and large bathroom.  Down the short staircase on the right takes one to the large family room, an office area, and bathroom.  One of first HD (high definition) flat screen televisions I ever saw belonged to my cousin and they found an interesting spot where as to view it; above the down staircase.  The island has seating around the outer side of the kitchen, so the blending of kitchen, living, and dining rooms is nicely entwined without over-encroaching on any space.

With everyone mingling about; whether in the kitchen, at the island or in the living room, the TV is in view and as with most parties in my family, it becomes in an integral part of the evening.  For the majority of the time, the NFL professional football game between the Detroit Lions and the San Diego Chargers was playing in the background to the amusement of the men.  But there was a program on the TV that followed the game in which Detroit pummeled the Chargers 38 to 10.  I remember Tom changed the channel to “Its a Wonderful Life,” that Christmas classic movie starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.  Patty was furious and insisted he find something else.  I’m glad I didn’t interject or I might have had to dodge an object flung at my head.  But some other program was chosen to her satisfaction and while we enjoyed the homemade pizzas, the TV filled the room with its ambient noise.  But as with most televisions in a party setting, they have a way of capturing the attention of one or two people in the room and the whole group within eye and ear-shot like a pack of prairie dogs turn their heads in curiosity of what is on the set.

The segment being played was about some of the celebrities who died during the past year.   We all watched and we made random comments as a name and a picture would cross the screen; comments of remembrance, comments of disgust, comments of reverence, or comments of who-cares.  And immediately with little prodding, I thought how come these people get our recognition at the time of their death?  The media will show the faces and names of those who entertained us, those that sang to us, those that manned the cameras, the booms, and the lights.  These people played sports or they starred in movies a long time ago.  And we are drawn to that as if they literally made a difference in our lives.

My thoughts went to my sister’s husband, Brad.  His mom died unexpectedly just this past summer.  She landed in the hospital after a serious illness.  The doctors found something, and within a week her soul left this planet.    This was his first Christmas without her.  At her visitation service, Brad and the preacher spoke about her and her lasting effect on others.  I never knew of her work with the church food pantry and service to those in need.  Maybe her name and photo should grace the television set.

On Christmas Day, I cried for the little 12-year old Amish girl accidentally killed by a stray bullet to her head fired over 1-1/2 miles away.  I cried for a family in Connecticut that perished in a house fire.  It is sad.  It is much too sad for Christmas.

Awright, ENOUGH!  What’s my point?  My point is that before we end up in the ground, it would be nice to leave a legacy of some kind.  Will I be known for my physical strength, or my intellect?  Will there a be a legacy of money left behind for my heirs?  Will I be remembered for my character or maybe my sense of humor?  I figure I can start worrying about this for a long time.  At this point in my life, I don’t much runway to get my aircraft off the ground.

When I thought about Scrooge making up for lost time, he started throwing his money around.  It went to good causes, but why would anyone take the old goat seriously about his new attitude or changed demeanor.  The Grinch took the materialistic things away from the Who’s and they figured out how to have a Merry Christmas without those things.  Still, the Grinch has a long way to go to in my book to gain their trust.  George Bailey saw everyone else’s life has if he had not been born.  That totally freaked him out; and surely he had a new appreciation for his family, friends, and life.

My contemplation of these events have led me to centralize my thoughts to the core of my being; to be responsible for who you are and what you do.  What did I get for Christmas?  Nothing I can unwrap.  And I came to this conclusion;

Life is about give and take….
And if you want to do it right;
Give of Yourself, and Take Care of Yourself

It is pretty simple, you will be happy and people will remember you.

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Christmas ~ A novel idea

If I were to ask the average joe to write an original Christmas novel, I wonder what would be the final product.

Every year, starting in November, the last two months of the year come alive with holiday music and movies.  Several fairly well known cable TV channels that often play the romance-type dramas during the year, dive into heart-warming Christmas movies.  The big screen movie companies put out one or two big productions for the season.  I’m not a big book reader… ok, I am rarely seen with my nose in a book, so I don’t know what Christmas novels are printed each year.  But I can imagine the publishing companies need to get something on the market for public consumption.  Even advertisements, which are a predictably “in-your-face,” ring all the bells and whistles and use the traditional Christmas themes to get the public to buy their products.  My point is that we are showered with the Christmas plots from many media angles.  Our exposure to the Christmas ideal isn’t a flash in the pan… it is out there; everywhere!

So, I began to think about the common denominators of the typical Christmas movie.  Is it me, or is there really only a couple of plot summaries out there that are run through the wash and dry cycle, but still always about the same outfit.  For my first example, there’s the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.  How many adaptations of this story can we possibly create?  The numbers are staggering.  Yet, in 2009, Walt Disney Co. (DIS) released an animated, 3D version of this story with big name voice overs; Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, and Cary Elwes.  Even though the movie grossed over $325 million covering its $200 million budget, the American public only pitched in 42% of that gross amount.

Let’s scratch our heads in unison.  A multi-billion dollar corporation invests hundreds of millions of dollars into a movie where the story and script has virtually been created over a hundred years ago to reap a mere $125 million in profits.  Which means all the money spent went into 3D animated computer imaging and to the actors for the use of their voices.  What did the audience pay for?  Sights, sounds, and a little substance.

Ok, I am not a Charles Dickens-basher.  The story line is priceless and apparently timeless.  It has a great meaning and effect on those that let it.  It warms the heart and scares some sense into the audience.  The reviews are in and it is a smash!  But, it is the same story told over and over.  How about something different?

Another example of over-used plots, is the looming reality that each and every year will be the last year of Christmas; or the end to the real Christmas spirit.  Every year, an old, tired Santa Claus and his North Pole empire is threatened by any number of possible evil forces and some how despite impossible odds the good guys prevail at the very last minute before midnight so another Christmas will take place.  This whole premise for this plot is so confusing to begin with because of this “all-of-a-sudden” intermingling of Christmas spirit, Santa Claus, and the greedy, uncaring, unloving millions on this planet that need to be reminded of what Christmas is all about!!  I want to pull a hair out!

Can we gloss over some of the calamities that threatened Christmas?  A blizzard on Christmas Eve; Santa Claus falls off a roof, is single, and ambushed by Jack Frost; not enough Christmas spirit to power the sleigh; a Grinch; a Griswold; elves gone wild; Santa gone wild; or Santa got old and landed in America where no one knows him and he doesn’t know himself!  All of these films threaten traditions, comforts, and joys of Christmas… only to end the movie with a “Yay!  Christmas is saved. And we get to enjoy another unquestioned, unappreciated Christmas with gifts from Santa that magically appear under the Christmas tree.”

My last example of Christmas movie plots that are as predictable as snow in Minnesota during January is the “happily-ever-after” Christmas story.  All of these flicks hover around the familiar topic of strained or non-existent relationships…  unsurprisingly around the holidays.  How can you tell if this movie is playing in front of you right now?  Is the movie on the Hallmark channel?  Is there a main character that is single, engaged and/or is unhappy with their significant other?  Does the main character have children or work tirelessly 14 hours per day or both?  A perfect setup for a happy ending of bringing new loves together, the rekindling of old loves, or the salvaging of family bonds once destroyed in years past.  In some ways these movies get less ribbing from me because of the nature of the content.  Every human is subject to every kind of relationship success and failure in their life’s path.  We encounter good people and bad people.  We trust and be trusted.  We betray and be betrayed.  We deal with the unique attitudes of children and elders.  We feel love, hate, anger, happiness and fear.  And our emotions are so tricky that each of those I mentioned may be disguised as something totally different.  So, in these fictionally sappy movies, there in lies some truths or ideals that maybe we find real or hopeful.

Still, despite the warm and fuzzies from these relational-type movies, there is still an over-abundance of “awwww” moments between the title sequence and credits, or between Halloween and New Year’s Day for that matter.

Which brings me back to my initial paragraph; is there anything new in the world of Christmas media? There are not too many original real modern Christmas songs; the Beatles and Band Aid’s version of Christmas carols are not very heart-warming, sit-around-the-yule-log, have-a-cup-of-hot-cocoa-type Christmas carols.  In fact, I wish the radio stations would stop playing that noise.  The movies are cookie-cutter, and again, I can’t speak on the books.  (Maybe there is hope for us in the books!)

However, there is one movie, in my opinion, that does not fit the usual mold.  It is more popular today than when it was released in theaters back in 1983.  Released just before Thanksgiving, A Christmas Story was pulled from all but a hundred theaters around the country by Christmas.  Today, it has cult status.  It can be found playing on TV channels 24 hours straight before Christmas.  Quotes from the movie can be heard being recited year-round; “I double-dog dare ya!”, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”, or “Fra-gee-lay.”  There are objects from the movie for home purchase; the leg lamp, hats, ties, miniatures, toys and games, for example.  There is a Christmas Story House & Museum located directly across the street from the actual house used in the movie.  There is now a musical stage production touring the nation stopping this year at the historic Chicago Theater in Chicago.  Peter Billingsley who played Ralphie, is the producer of the show.

Daisy Red Ryder Cowboy Carbine Tin Sign

Daisy Red Ryder Cowboy Carbine Tin Sign

What makes this movie stand shoulder-to-shoulder to other classics, such as; “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street“?  I would point out first and foremost that I do not believe it fits in with any of the above mentioned schemes.  It is not typical.  It is a story about a 9-year old kid that deals with the ups-n-downs of being a kid during the most exciting time of a kid’s life; Christmas.  He is teetering on the belief of what is magical (Santa Claus), wanting the materialistic gleam of special Christmas presents under the tree, skirting around parents, respecting teachers, and even facing the class bully.  The romantic setting of the 1940’s brings back to mind a simpler time; despite tremendous differences in modern conveniences.  Still, back to my examples; there are no main characters in this movie in search of an epiphany that needs to have the crap scared out of them by Christmas ghosts.  Christmas is not threatened in this movie either.  It is coming.  In fact, Ralphie is counting on the “big man” to help him get his Red Ryder BB gun.  And lastly, the relationships we see at the beginning of the movie are same at the end of the movie.  The silly dysfunctional love of the family at the opening is the same silly dysfunctional love we see at the end sitting around a table in a Chinese restaurant having Christmas duck.

In a way, this non-typical movie is typical of a way of life.  People who need to be entertained may not like it at first, or think it “cute.”  Where’s the drama?  Where’s the action?  But it seems the people come home to what is comfortable and safe… just like in real life.

Congratulations Jean Shepard and Bob Clark, you guys are the average joes and you wrote something different about Christmas that we like.

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My Company’s Pot Luck

Today (in about 30 minutes from now) about 2 dozen folks that I work with will converge to layout a spread of food from which we shall graze.  Oddly, I have read the articles that warn against such events.
No one knows the sanitary conditions of Susie’s kitchen. Who knows how long Amy’s meat paddies sat on the counter before cooking.  Who knows what Maria’s taste is in her seasonings.
And here I am, thinking I will contribute a dish, with my own issues to be concerned about.  A meat dish.  That was the request.  A meat dish I found a recipe for in the Internet.  Something I’ve never made before, and never even tasted before.  Here I am.  The owner of four dogs that shed more hair daily than a sheep farm.  Here I am; testing my limits of cooking potatoes, a fine art I figured out I have no right dabbling in.  Here I am; presenting an unknown meat dish cooked this very morning with an overload and unbalanced mix of milk and eggs.
Thank goodness I brought a bucket of Hawaiian Salad from the Jewel deli as backup.

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Älska mig

Älska mig när jag minst förtjänar det eftersom det är då jag verkligen behöver det. ~~ svenska ordspråk

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Today’s Recalling; Effects of TV Lineups

I awoke this morning as I have for many days now to the Bose radio alarm clock on a table next to my bed.  I have the option to hear the radio, a loud oscillating “tone,” or both as my wake up call.  My radio preset is one of six available that I get to setup and the volume is loud enough to wake the neighbors.  Recently, the preset station has been on 93.9 the Lite FM which plays contemporary pop music from the 80’s, 90’s and today.  Pretty much nothing I listen to on a regular basis or even like; but it is noise and usually stirs me in the mornings.  Which is pretty hard for me.  I can never claim to be a regular early riser.  It takes more effort than I care to admit (which I just did) to get my sorry ass out of bed every day.  Me and the snooze button have a love/hate relationship… more like a hate relationship, no love involved there.

As I was saying, when I hear the music play, I manage to role over to my left side and extend my right arm just far enough to swipe the snooze button.  The sound of silence brings me back into sleep mode.  I get re-adjusted and comfortable and grab ten more minutes of sleep.  The more this repeats itself, the more annoyed I become and eventually I need to stay awake in order to start my day.  Hopefully, it is about the right time, so I am not in panic mode.  I can guarantee that it is not early.  Lately though, when I hear a song by Adele or Lady GaGa, I will let it play, but that is only becuase I’m curious.  However, every day at some point in the “snooze wars,” this radio talk show host who goes by the name Valentine along with his crew is speaking on the air instead of the music.  And every time I prefer the music.  I do not have any feelings either way for this guy.  His job and his radio station are only there to wake me up.  I don’t remember every topic he likes to bring up with his witless companions; but I can ensure you that the topics are pretty mindless.  One time, I got out of bed with a scowl on my face in believing that this talk show host prepares for his work every day by looking at “things” on his drive in the morning, and tries to find irony or a silly question about it.  Then, his pals poke fun at him, and he will take a call from a listener, and poke fun at them after asking them their reaction.  The only thing that keeps him yakking in my ear is my slowness in getting out of bed and hitting the “off” button.

So, why am I giving him my blog time?  His ramblings this morning made me try to remember some trivial matters, and in doing so brought my thoughts to a distant and different time in my life.  This type of retropsect I felt was important enough to write about.

Today’s topic was TGIF (Thank goodness its funny!), the ABC network’s Friday night television lineup slogan during the late 80’s into the 90’s.  I listened to their discussion.  Valetine was trying to rustle up the memories of the Friday night line-up on ABC starting at 7:00PM.  The female crew member spoke with authority about what she recalled; Full House, Webster, and Perfect Strangers.  TV show names were tossed out randomly and the subjects of that show were guessed.  Line-ups were recited in order with opposing views.  A remark was made about how every male watched Who’s the Boss? becuase of Alyssa Milano.  The comeback by Valentine was that she was 9-years old at the time.  (Actually, she started the show at the age of 12 and finished at the age of 20 in 1992.  Her character Samantha is written as a pre-teen for the initial show.)  Then he totalled disgraced himself with the comment that Judith Light’s character on the show was “hot.”  Valentine took a useless call from a listener, and I pushed the “off” button.  By that time I was standing… possibly wavering, and beginning another day.  Oh, by the way, after a little research, Who’s the Boss? was on ABC but not on Friday nights.

Where did my mind take me?  First of all, who remembers a network slogan for a night a television?  I don’t remember TGIF.  I tried, but I don’t remember it.  Then I began to recall that after I married Pam in the mid-80’s, I DID have television regulars.  There was NBC’s “Must See Thursday” lineup!  I watched more typical TV shows during those days of my life.   The ritual began at 8:00PM with Cheers, Night Court, and Hill Street Blues, which later changed to L.A. Law.  I remember, my wife and I and eventually our little Denver spent our Friday nights as our ‘videos and pizza night.’  We would rent a movie or two, order a pizza, and slosh down a liter of RC Cola.  RC was my favorite soft drink at the time.  I would finish off a whole liter of RC and bag of “Cheese-Toes” when I was dating Pam.  Why was I so surprised at my weight gain?  Good livin’!  Ugh.

In my mind, I saw myself sitting in “my chair” at our home on North Avenue in Des Plaines.  At the time, I thought nothing of the hours spent watching the TV.  In the speed of a thought, I touched on a lesson learned about relationships; spend more time with family then a TV program.  Show more interest in your family than the characters on TV.  Get moving more and watch less TV for your health.  Don’t eat in excess; especially pizza and soda… it will make you big.  All these lessons are invaluable when you are in a serious relationship.  I can’t help but believe it had some impact on my failed relationship with Pam.  However, in truth, it would have ended… and it may have ended in the same manner.  The past cannot be re-written to see if there is a different outcome.

Another lesson learned came to mind when I thought that my attention was given too much to a TV instead of my wife.  I may be over-exagerating in some regards, but in my nature as a person, I did not have that ability to operate in a loving relationship.  I was deficient and dysfunctinal in an area I thought that came “naturally.”  I thought of what happened to my relationship with the “tube” after my divorce.  It really evaporated.  I had to get HBO, in order to watch movies for my entertainment.  In the 90’s and since, I have missed significant TV shows.  I was no longer laughing with canned laughter.  I was no longer in need of zingers and one-liners.  I was no longer interested in sexual inuendo or the sexual tease.  My attitude towards TV has lightened since then.  I watch it, but I don’t HAVE to watch it.  These days, I probably watch as much TV as many people.  I prefer movies when I have time.  I like some particular shows, but if I miss them I move on.  I will never remember a TV’s ad campaign to watch a lineup of shows on any given night.  Mr. Valentine, you made me remember my past (not like I need a lot of help in that area), but you are dumbing down your audience with these meaningless topics.

Another singlular moment flashed from my past; I sat at the kitchen table which was covered with papers in our small beginner’s home.  I was an anal record keeper and wanted to create what I thought was a budget… or perhaps I was working on our income taxes.  Regardless, I was intently doing my thing when Pam came into the room, stepped behind my chair and proceeded to lean in and give me a neck hug.  In my insensitive manner, I bent my head away and down and waved her away with my hand as if a fly had landed on my ear.  At that moment, that small action, made an awfully large statement that has stayed with me for over 25 years.  If someone you love wants to hug you; let them.  If your hands are free, hug them back.  Touch them.  If your spouse or a child, a parent or sibling, a friend reach out to you for a comforting display of connection… DO NOT turn them away, accept it.  Embrace it.  It will not secure your future but it will ease your pain, your present.

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Il tuo sorriso

Sorridi anche se sei triste, perché non c’é niente di più triste di non saper sorridere!

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The Killing of Osama

Our amazing country’s leaders simply cannot decide if capital punishment is viable.  35 of our 50 states in our union have put someone to death since 1976.  Texas continues to lead all the states with 474 executions or 37.4% of all planned deaths during the same time period.  Virginia is the runner-up with a distant 109.  In 2011, 35 states allow and mostly implement death by the most popular method; lethal injection.

During the a short period between 1972 and 1976, the US Supreme Court suspended all death sentences in the US because of case that argued capital punishment is cruel and unusual.  Apparently, they have since changed their collective minds.  Publicly, if you hold any stock in polls, the current numbers say that 64% of American voters are in favor of the death penalty.  The highest level of support was recorded at 80% in 1994, and the lowest at 42% in 1966.  Which goes to figure; the sixties was the ‘peace and love’ movement, while the ninties brought us the highest violent crime rates of the twentieth century.

I bring this up because of what appears to be a conflict with having capital punishment or not.  Another Gallup poll stated that more than 9 in 10 Americans still say “yes” when asked the basic question “Do you believe in God?”… a God.  That is very impressive.  Belief in a God or higher power is a major component to “good” moral thinking.  Right?  Good moral thinking may not necessarily be an automatic deterrent to the death penalty, BUT one would think it would guide people away from things like debauchery and all kinds of homicide.

On May 2, 2011 (shortly after 1 AM, Pakistan Standard Time), the founder of Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets, Osama bin Laden was located and killed by US Navy SEALS.

The media had a field day, of course.  The politicians puffed out their chests and claimed a major victory on the ‘war on terror.’  Another poll, which is meaningless said that 79% of Americans approved of this killing and 14% did not.  The remaining 7% was undecided; confused perhaps.  (What’s messed up about this poll is that the fine print states that the poll results came from “1200 to 1300 readers of Rueters” in the Washington, DC area.)  The dancing in the American streets was shown on the nightly news.  We looked liked Middle Eastern nations when they gather to fire machine guns into the air, stomp on American flags and burn effigies of our leaders.

Our pledge of allegiance to the United States of America boldly ends with “…liberty and justice for all.

All except for those that perpetrate crimes against us; especially if you come from a Middle Eastern Country.

Looking back at 2003…

Saddam Hussein was captured by US troops.  He was tried in a court and put to death by hanging for the atrocities commited against the people of the nation he supposedly led.  Why didn’t the US troops just shoot him on site?  What would have happened if they did?  We knew he was guilty, yet he spent 18 months in a courtroom before he was found guilty.  He was sentenced to be hanged and he was executed within a month of sentencing!!  That’s fast by today’s standards in America.

Back to now…

We are dancing in the streets for killing Osama Bin Laden.  Was it in defense?  Shoot to kill.  Is that what we as a nation are about?

Good Morning America showed the graphic pictures of the bloody scene with no “warning of graphic content” and described a method used by the seals; a “double-tap”… shotting the target a second time in the head “to make certain he’s dead.”

In Illinois, Gov. Quinn abolished the death penalty.  Murderers get to live a life paid for by Illinois taxpayers.  The media sensationalized the gruesome attack and killing.  And I thought justice was giving the bad guy a chance to defend himself.

Believe me, I don’t like Bin Laden.  News reports said he shot back at the US special team with a machine gun.  We shot him in a “firefight”.  Bin Laden must be the worse shooter on the planet.  But it was also said, they were told to kill him.  The description was he was hit in the eye… I think that would have slowed him down, if not killed him.  The second shot was the “double-tap.”  No capture, no courtrooms, no delays… dead!

It reads like a Sopranos-style hit.  Go in ~~ surprise.  Kill the target; and make sure he is dead.  Grab the body, and get out of there before being detected.  And then, give him a pair of cement shoes and he swims with the fishes.

I heard Osama’s brain was sent to the states for testing??  Did anyone else hear that?  Maybe there will be a movie about this……..


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