Sunday, November 25, 2007

Caucus Turkey

I was working last Wednesday at the radio station when I was supposed to have the day off and thusly, I was in my more casual attire. Yeah, you know, the Wednesday before Turkey Day, aka Thanksgiving. As I diligently worked to get done to be home with my family, I looked out my office window to see the suit coat of some guy that looked to be some presidential hopeful. I could not quite make out the man's face through the glare of the glass and wondered who would possibly humble themselves to stump at a small radio station. I thought, could it be Mike Huckabee, as I had mentioned his like-ability on the air a few times? Or, be still my beating humor, Stephen Colbert? I stood up at my desk to see who it was and if it were worth my "vacation" time to actually get up and speak with this suited man.

Oh, my dear Tsar! He looked like Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko as he was poisoned! This beckoned my curiousity beyond my better judgment. So, I walked out of my office to get a better look, and, of course, he came up to me and introduced himself. I'm sure he said his name, but "just another no-name cheap presidential wishful thinker" came out. I thought how sad that he could not get up the energy to shave before stumping at my station. Then, his trophy wife came out of the restroom, and I thought, huh, he really thinks that if he can lay a good-looking wife, then he can run for president?! Oh, yeah, Kucinich.

The presidential hopeful gave me his brochure that pretty much said nothing about him. It had his name, which I actually caught for the first time as Cap Wingdig, or something like that. He even had a website at He was running under the Republican Party stage (just be careful of the horses' hooves, Cap). He asked if I'd be interested in doing an interview with him. No, on my vacation time, no you are not worth it, I thought. Now, if you were Mike or Stephen, damn, I'd drop everything.

As he left with his trophy blonde, I returned to my office, doused my hands with hand sanitizer, and thought dreamily about Huckabee or Colbert walking through the radio station to stump me for the caucus. Damn, Huckabee, I'd convert to Republican if you did that!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Campaign of Truthiness

Apparently, the South Carolina Democratic Party has decided that Stephen Colbert's campaign isn't truthy-enough.

Doesn't it seem that the campaigns of many presidential candidates are just big charades? This is all too cheesy, anyway. All the candidates are characters, and believe what you may, Colbert's campaign is chocked full of just as much truthiness as the next. Colbert's just a little too honest about it sometimes.

Westboro Baptist Church Gets Some Discipline

The Westboro Baptist Church, outside of Topeka, Kansas is finally seeing some discipline after protesting at the funerals of soldiers who gave their lives fighting in Iraq.

I blogged on this church's rude and cruel activities a while ago.

It is one of those WDJD issues. What Did Jesus Do? I never read any accounts of Jesus at a soldier's funeral with a protest sign that read "Thank God for dead soldiers."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Presidential Candidates Just An Act??

News Satirist Stephen Colbert is running for president! In South Carolina. Yes, I know this is old news. The newsfolk have a way of regurgitating old news and Colbert for President continues to be the news pet. In fact, I am pretty sure this is the most Colbert has been stroked, ever. I wouldn't be surprised to see Stephen doing silly pet tricks on Letterman some night. (Okay, he's been there...10/10/07)

Some reporters wonder if we should take Stephen Colbert's run for the president seriously, and if perchance Stephen Colbert were to become president, who would actually be running the country: the character or the real Stephen Colbert?

Why do they wonder? These concerns seem so... strange. Look, Stephen Colbert is a satirist and a patriot who wants the best for his home country. His stage character is an uber-patriot, and isn't that the kind of president we want? Colbert uses comedy as his medium to get us citizens to think and to do our patriotic duty. We should take his run for president satirically, not so much serious, and enjoy every last bit, because life without humor is sad.

Why worry if the character or the real Stephen would run the White House if elected? Why think Stephen is only out for the drunken college student vote? Why treat him any differently than any other candidate for president? Just because he is out to make you laugh?! Think about it. Colbert is a character. Clinton is a character. Obama is a character. Edwards is a character. Romney is a character. Guilliani is a character. Okay, I admit, these guys make me laugh, too, but I don't think that is their intention. They are all acting. Do you think these candidates act this way in privacy?

The whole charade of the presidential campaigning season is all an act. Colbert exemplefies that whole notion. At least Colbert is honest about his act. The rest of the candidates I would be more leary. So, let's just call it even and have a few laughs together.

Long Time, No Commentary... Or, I Haven't Quit My Day Job, Yet

Sorry about the delay in posting on this blog. I am sure all one of you have waiting on baited hook, wondering when I would write some great epic journal entry. Well, keep wondering. I have no idea when I will ever write anything that could be considered epic. However, I am glad that you have decided to continue checking in on my blog ever so often. I do appreciate your interest in my zany, off-the-wall thinking and my odd flair for words.

As my readers, you do an excellent job reading my posts, even more so than I in writing. Continue the great work. And, remember, much of my writings are about as rooted in reality as the ghost stories we have told around the Halloween bonfire. Okay, some may seem more serious, and maybe they are. It is all in perspective. There is always truth somewhere, and each perspective holds a different, valid and intriquing view of the reality we call life.

See you in the next post, and please don't forget to post your comments! I love to read your thoughts in words, too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Am I America?!

The 80s gave us "We Are The World", a strange rendition of charity sung by pop star sensations (USA for Africa). How can you, rolling in money rich celebs, be the world, and yet cannot overcome world hunger? Are there just not enough Burger Kings and McDonalds in Africa to satiate our world? Sad, indeed.

Being the world was way too much to shoulder in the 80s. Just look at the effect it has on our pop stars, even today. Rehab is becoming a booming industry. Maybe we are expecting too much from our celebs.

Luckily, this decade is giving us I Am America (And So Can You). I applaud that Stephen Colbert is America. It takes a lot to be America. And I don't know if I could do that. This offer that I can, too, is a bit scary. I don't know if I want that. To be America, or not to be, is that a question we really should be asking? The thought just scares me.

So, the book I Am America was released this week. A mix of uber-ego and self-help. For some reason, I read the title as either a bold American hero claiming his 'right'ful (conservative exulting) title, or America in a 10-step program.

I haven't purchased it, yet. Don't know if I will. I recall a famous person once said "I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart."

Is this a fact book? I think it is the work of fiction, because there is no way I can be America. Ironically, all I hear on the radio as I type this is Bryan Adams' "Straight from the Heart." Maybe this could be the first heart book ever published. Irony doesn't work in a vacuum, so it has to be true. "Behold the only printed word to be trusted." Yes, it must be.

I must think too much. And thinking leads to fear. This is not a book to think about. The title says it all: I Am America. A bold statement. No thought whatsoever behind it. Yet, even more bold is the statement in parenthesis: (And So Can You). It's just like the Dr. Pepper commercials from the 80s: "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?" Why, if you put it that way, yes, I would.

Am I America? Sure. I Am America. Free and brave. I think...

Someday I might get up the courage to buy the book, but reading it? That's another story. A hero's story.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Enjoy the Silence

It's been almost a week since the 6th anniversary of 9/11. The day that changed the world.

Enjoy the Silence

This video is the most spectacular and, yet in light of 9/11, the most eerie thing I have seen to date of the WTC towers. It was a 1990 French promo video of Depeche Mode's song "Enjoy the Silence."

An innocent video with words that strike to the core of my own thoughts on 9/11. I think of the souls we lost, those who lost loved ones that day...

Words are meaningless...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bad Vibes

Do you ever get a bad feeling about something? Yeah? Well, I do.

I had a bad vibe about the mining cave in at Crandall Canyon Mine near Huntington,Utah . A terrible situation. I pray for those lost souls and the survivors of that disaster. And I pray the mining owners stop such risky mining exercises.

I also have a bad vibe about the return of the Space Shuttle Endeavour coming back to Earth. Sigh. I always hope in the back of my mind that everything will be fine, but sometimes that doesn't happen. It would be sad if Endeavour experienced a similar fate to Columbia, and even sadder to see the second teacher with her venture into space end in tragedy.

The issue with the space shuttle's small, but deep gouge troubles me, and the last time NASA said it'd be okay, it wasn't. Officials say the risk to do further damage just to repair the deep cut is what causes them to be cautious about fixing it in space, and apparently outweighs the risk of re-entry explosions from the shuttle's exposed surface igniting. Sigh. It's their judgment call. I just hope they are right.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Heaven is a Soul Filled with God's Love

Psst.... Don't we all know that salvation has come? Salvation is not something for us to be achieved or earned. It is a gift. It is given by the grace and mercy of God. Let us then stop seeing Heaven as a self-righteous goal that we must earn for eternal life.

Rather, let us "yearn" for God and His love. All that great loving stuff we do for each other, then, is just an outpouring, a reflection of God's love in us. As we "yearn" in God's love filling our soul, we are with God, and really, this is Heaven.

Condition of Your Soul

I've been wrestling with the concept and need of God's grace in a growing culture and church where we are so task and goal oriented. I believe this is similar to the wrestling match Martin Luther faced personally and professionally.

Anyhow, the convention is that God and His love is unconditional. Yet, instance after instance God threatens civilization and in some instances destroys communities due to their evil deeds. Then, tells later evil civilizations that the community he destroyed previously stands a better chance on the day of judgment than the current evil community. How can this be unconditional? God says through Jesus that if someone wrongs us that we should turn the other cheek. Forgive them seventy times seven. Vengence is mine, says the Lord. Sigh. What is God trying to say?

Okay, this is how I see it. We only have two cheeks (or four, depending what you deem to count), so basically that's like giving the benefit of the doubt twice (or four times). After that, consequences are needed. Sometimes, people need to know they did something wrong, so after a couple of times for those wronged to let it slip and give that proverbial benefit of the doubt, it's time to allow the consequence to correct the wrong-doer, if you will. Consequences are not vengence, in my humble opinion, which should rightfully be left to the One who judges.

So, in the situation of the evil deeds of a civilization receiving destruction, it is a consequence, then? Sure. I think vengence is much more personal. Something between the individual and God. Just my perspective anyway.

Now, onto those who think that if I only repent and accept Jesus, then I will be saved and attain Heaven at the end of my days. I really contemplate this sometimes, because we as a society are so pressed by that equation of "if, then" in our daily lives. If I work hard at my job every day, then I get paid and I can support my family. It's an equation that we understand, know, and live by every day.

Thus, it seems humanly logical that salvation can only be attained if we do something to achieve it. And, many churches also give that ultimatum to members, either outright or subconsciously. You must repent and accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior to attain God's graces. In this equation it is up to you, basically, to work for your salvation. And in our humanly minds we accept this conditionality of salvation. Humbly, I do not think this is God's salvation. This is humanity trying to save itself.

"If, then" statements work great for a computer. God is no computer. I don't think God is a conditional freak. He is not about "if, then". That is what we are as humans. But what about Sodom and Gomorrah? He basically was giving them the ultimate "if, then" statement, right? No, I don't think so. I think that was a consequence of sin.

God's salvation came through death on the cross with Jesus. Remember when Jesus said, if your arm (or eye, or whatever body part it was) causes you to sin, cut it off so that you may be right with God again (it was something like that). It is not the act of cutting something off that saves one from sin, but the ability to stop the sin, to keep the soul healthy and in essense keep it from death in sin. So, death also carries salvic value to those who face the consequence of sin. Death in many ways may be the ultimate band-aid for our sin. It is quite possible that death is the ultimate cut-off from our souls to sin. And, in a strange perspective, quite fitting for Jesus' blameless death on the cross to take sin from us.

You think that we still need to act to be saved? If God forced humans to act for their own salvation, then why the whole fuss about Jesus and Jesus' death on the cross? What need is there for God's grace and mercy if the things we do as humans, to "accept Jesus", to "repent our sins", to "pray", to "be good and love your neighbor", our own actions to personally save ourselves and attain heaven? It seems most Christians think if we just repent and accept Jesus as our personal savior and do good, that we will win our ticket to heaven. There's that whole "if, then" equation that seems to trip us up.

It's not about that. It is about the condition of our hearts/souls/spirits that God has made for us, and entrusted in us. True Christians do the things they do because of the condition of their soul. True Christians repent because their soul yearns for God. True Christians show the love of God because of the condition of their soul is filled with God's love. It is the act of God alone that fills them. It is the act of God that saves them. Nothing in our own power alone can save us. We are helpless by ourselves in our salvation.

Thus, it is God's grace and mercy that transforms our souls to reflect God's love. It is the condition of your soul God will judge at the end of the day, as only God knows who we really are.

And, why are you so concerned about the end times? The end times will come, at a day and time we do not know. God's beloved will be called for service and we will see light that has not been seen before. It will be then that the light will either be absorbed in the darkness of the soul or reflected out and radiating from the soul, depending on its condition. That is why we all must be ready, but not worried. God promises to protect His own.

And don't be worried about your own salvation, as salvation has already come. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Woo Hoo! A Legend of an Amusement Park

Wooooo! Yeeeeeeah! Let's do it again! One more time!

There is just something to love about those old wooden roller coasters, and the "Legend" at Arnold's Park makes you love it. At first glance you notice its small imposing curved posture as you walk to the park's entrance from the parking lot. You may think this is just another small, old coaster. The coaster's train rumbles overhead, almost in slow motion, and you think there could be no thrill left in that roller coaster. It's a classic white wooden coaster, with distinctive red rails and railing.

As you walk through the entrance of Arnold's Park, you walk under the station house of the Legend, and notice the old Tipsy House built into the coaster's infrastructure. Although it seems old and outdated, you enter out of curiosity. Walking around, you feel as though you drank too much at a college kegger, and somehow your mind has been completely flipped and you can't decipher up from down. Finally, you get to the "balcony" of the Tipsy House, hoping to find some relief from the topsy turvy feelings beginning to rumble in your tummy. Grabbing hold of the railing, you look out at a spectacular view of Lake Okoboji and feel the cool breeze through your hair. Yet, the sloping floor beckons you to finish the tour of the Tipsy House.

Finally, you exit the architectural antics of the Tipsy House and find yourself in front of the Mirror Maze. You enter, thinking two things: this is a kiddie attraction, and so was the Tipsy House, so you never know. Walking in you think that to make it difficult you will not look down. BAM! Okay, so it's not so easy. You make it to the back of the Mirror Maze, and the wacky, wavy mirrors in the back make you wonder why we have diets when we ought to replace conventional flat mirrors with these.

Managing to make it out of the Mirror Maze mostly unscathed, you view the elevated station for the Legend roller coaster and notice the short line for the ride. You begin to walk over to the plank for the coaster when the horn from the park's train honks in your direction. You are again sidetracked glancing over at the park's train, with its nostalgic engine, coaster cars moving past you, and the ding of the railroad crossing sign warning pedestrians to get out of the way.

You then become determined to ride the Legend as it calls you to ascend the ramp to the station. Balancing yourself against the strip of wood on the plank to the station, you wait in anticipation as the train comes into the station with shouts of satisfied coaster riders. You wonder how such a coaster could make people scream like that.

You sit in the car, the fourth row from the front, and notice both a lap bar and safety belt. You think, there's probably a reason for the safety belt, and you tighten the strap across your lap. The train leaves the station and dips below the exit of the Tipsy House before hooking up with the chain drive that leads the coaster up to the first summit. Clinkety, clankety sounds echo like an amusement park bell choir and the air seems oddly still for a moment. Then, the breeze comes up again, catching the leaves of the surrounding large, old oak trees that thrive in this area. The branches bend down as if they were trying to high five the thrill-seekers in the coaster cars. Looking up around the rustling branches, you see at the peak an ominous sign: The Point of No Return.

The car begins to go past the sign as the coaster sends you downward and you gulp to catch your breath for a moment. You let out a whoop of excitement as you pass under a section of the roller coaster you have yet to experience. The train leads you up to the curve and you feel as if you are flying. Nothing extreme. Pleasant. As if you are a hawk flying among the grand oak trees that frame the coaster.

Once you feel that this is a nice, tame coaster, you plunge downward, then feel airborne as if you are about to be ejected from your seat. Not so tame after all. You scream and now know why people love the Legend at Arnold's Park.

(Thanks to the Youtuber Greiman23 who made this video.)

Airtime, my friend, wonderful airtime. That is what makes them scream, wanting to come back for more. Something too amazing to capture on video. It's not just any old airtime, this coaster makes you fly, float, and you feel your heart soar as the last two hills take your breath away. As the train pulls toward the station, you see the lake, with its waves that twinkle at you. It charms your soul into exhilarating screams of gratitude--Woooo! Yeeeeeah! Let's do it again! One more time!!

The Legend roller coaster at Arnold's Park, Iowa, USA is the 7th oldest coaster in the USA and the 13th oldest in the world. It was built in 1927 as a freeform figure 8 design by John A. Miller, John F. Pierce and Harry Baker, manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. The ride time is one minute 12 seconds, a height of 63 feet, and speeds on its tracks at 50 mph. Originally called the Giant Coaster, when I went to the park as I was growing up (1970s and 1980s), it was called the Big Coaster, and around 1995 it was renamed The Legend.

As I grew up, Arnold's Park also featured an indoor skating rink and the Roof Garden that held a dance hall, retail shops, and the Fun House, that had a spinning horizontal barrel, moving planks (back and forth, and up and down), a spinning wooden king of the hill type of ride, and, my favorite, the large wooden slides.

In 1968, the Roof Garden was hit by a tornado and rebuilt, however its days were numbered. The Roof Garden was a popular concert venue (featuring area bands and nationally-internationally recorded groups, including one of the last bands to play: The Romantics) up until its ultimate demise in 1987 when the park closed and many of the buildings were razed, including the Roof Garden, that met its fate with the local firefighters who burned it down as a training exercise. Arnold's Park was reopened in 1989, with a refurbished roller coaster and fewer attractions.

In 1999, Arnold's Park was purchased and threatened to close as the new owners had ambitious plans for a condominium complex. They gave the community an ultimatum that they had to raise around 4 million dollars to save the park. In 30 days, the community rallied to save the park and raised well over 7 million dollars.

They have since added several rides, including a log flume, a kid's play park, and a very nice mini-putt-putt course, along with some nice landscaping around the park. Arnold's Park is alive and well, and in my opinion, doing even better than I can remember.

If you want to experience The Legend and the rest of Arnold's Park Amusement Park, it's located on Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa, USA, just off Highway 71 on Lake Street in Arnolds Park, Iowa (yes, the town has the same name).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What?! No Holocaust?? Consider the Source...

Sometimes thinking in a humorous or obscure view can eleviate the tension of talking politics with mind-set people like in-laws. I always get a bit annoyed by their bad mouthing former President Clinton, usually because they can't put the blow job episode to bed. So, at our Maine visit with them in July, politics come up.

Now, understand that I have taken the policy to smile and nod my head when controversial issues come up ("uh huh, yeah, right" type blended with a good measure of internal sarcasm). Doing so usually keeps me out of trouble.

However, for some reason it internally disturbs me to see devoted Christians, like my in-laws, talking ill of the policies of former Democratic Presidents Clinton and Carter all due to the Republican mudslinging, and disregarding the humanitarian good these presidents have shown their country and the world.

As expected, the discourse of the terrible Presidents Carter and Clinton came up and somehow (a miracle, perhaps) we got off that topic. Only to go directly to the Iraq Conflict and controversy with Iran. [dramatic music] Holocaust deniers! [/dramatic music] There's no way to make that topic any better, I thought, nor any way to make the leadership of Iran any more at our level of human with that topic. World War III--get ready!

Then, like a dove from heaven, a thought came into my head and before I could think it through, I began to say, "you really need to look at it from their perspective." Oh, dear God! What am I saying, I thought to myself. "Consider how they live daily. Ethnic cleansing is normal, every day stuff to them."

Oh, my. I was looking for my foot to insert in my mouth, but no, I continued to talk. "So, what we consider the Holocaust, it's really nothing new for them." Gasp. Oh, God, you know my mother-in-law's mind is difficult to sway, this isn't good, I thought, as I expected her to rant about how terrible it is for anyone to deny such horrendous torture and death.

A brief moment of silence. Then, my mother-in-law says, "I never thought of it that way. You might be right with that." And with that, the holocaust denial discussion was tucked away and put to bed. Whew. That was GOOD.

I have a feeling that my brilliant conclusion might have come from my diligent observation of the off-perspective views from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. If so, thank you, gentlemen, and keep 'em coming. If not, I believe TDS and TCR sentiment is there, and maybe they will bring up this point of view about holocaust denial as business as usual, when it surfaces again.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Painting the Pretty Picture

Anyone in business knows that the way to get ahead is to paint the pretty picture, regardless of what reality shows. So, if your business practices are not up to par and you leverage out your competitors, you cover it up to the outside so those who want to be in the know, like investors and customers, only see the best of your product and your company.

Imagine, however, if someone who claims that they only want to help your company comes out and tells the world your inequal business practices? Well, it would be devastating to your product, and eventually might lead to the demise of the company, right?!

For decades, we have been led to believe that Africa is suffering in dire conditions. Most of the African people living in oppressive, famine-like conditions under evil governments that want to enslave children as soldiers, and such. So, imagine my surprise when I read this article about the implied horrors of Africa.

So, what the statistics from this article tell me is that Africa, well, it's not so bad. Not as bad as we were led to believe, anyway. Take this stat: One half of 1% of the population, in each case, die in war each year, are child soldiers, afflicted with famine, died with AIDS, or living as refugees. That's hardly a drop in the bucket. Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill!

Okay, I do understand things are getting better in Africa. So, why are all these advocates, like Bono and Bob Geldof, not painting the pretty picture? I mean, things won't get better in Africa, until it does get prettier there.

Gotta have that pretty picture so Wal-mart will open there, just like they do here, to help out small, declining rural communities with their economic powerhouses. Just think of all those women and children that previously were forced to be cast as poor, barely clothed and starving (how humiliating and degrading) in all those late night "feed the children" commercials , could possibly be greeters at the new Wal-marts built in Sub-sahara Africa--if only we'd paint the pretty picture.

Who Else Celebrates the Red, Beige & Blue??

So, the president recently commuted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from his prison sentence, saying it was too much. Who didn't see that coming? *waits* Okay, so it was pretty much imminent that this was going to happen. However, it seems a bit in haste, doesn't it? Was Scooter Libby guaranteed no prison time, or was the president pressed to do it now to cover something instead of waiting to give a full pardon at the end of his presidential term?

It would seem that the president's commuting Scooter Libby now, would give even more ammunition to the Democrats on the campaign trail, and further hinder the credibility of the Republicans and their stance on morals and ability to uphold the law. You'd think, right? I don't know, and I don't have a crystal ball (no, I didn't get one with my bachelor's degree, although it seems many bosses in my past seem to think that I have one that works with extreme clarity). Who knows?

Well, among those outspoken critics of the president's actions is Hillary Clinton. How dare she, right?! Just look at what her husband did! [whisper] He lied under oath about a blow job. He pardoned and commuted sentences for, like, a bunch of people at the end of his last presidential term. Yeah, even a former Clinton cabinet member who apparently made false statements to authorities. [/whisper]

See, the difference here is that all this pardoning and such was done at the end of Bill Clinton's presidency. It did not affect Al Gore's aspirations with his presidential campaign, and it did not affect the former president's ability to do his job at the White House while he was there. Bill Clinton did some of his dirtiest work at the end of his White House stint (kept the White House as clean as he could for as long as he could, because who wants to be the president living in the Beige House?). Maybe the current president should have taken note of this (and maybe he did).

However, it seems if Hillary does make it to the so-called White House, she'd better be armed with lots of house cleaners and Formula 401, because she's got a lot of cleaning to do. (Probably one of the best reasons to elect a woman president, they usually know how to clean house. Figuratively speaking, of course! Off my back, women libbers!! It's just a silly social stereotype, anyway, 'cause if any of those social stereotypers knew me, they'd rethink their stupid stereotype.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Watching the Wind Blow By

Sometimes, as the battles of life tend to overwhelm us, it is good to sit and watch the wind blow by. The leaves on the tree branches waving in the breeze. Maybe they are waving "goodbye" to all the problems of the day?

The wind feels cool against the heat of the sun on my face. It is as if the heat is like all the negative challenges in my life and I am holding on to them, for what reason, I don't exactly know. Then, the gentle wind comes up. I don't want to give up the heat and I hold onto it for a slight moment. And then, I release my grip on all the frustrations of day and let the wind carry it away, drifting aimlessly into the blue sky to dissipate into nothingness. It's gone.

I smile as I admirably gaze into the vivid blue sky. I sit up smiling and feel the renewed power of the release. Carpe Diem!

It's All About RESPECT

"Yes! He's gone. He's history!" The first words of the character Sid Philips in Toy Story. Someday I, too, will echo those words... when 'Sid' and his parents, our neighbors in the adjacent rental property move out.

A parent's worst fear we have realized, as our neighborhood Sid has a penchant for disrespect and destruction. Even the images of skull and cross bones are everyday neighbor sights from our backyard.

It is one thing to experience Sid watching Toy Story, and wince at his evil antics. It is another to deal with a Sid character and his parents in real life. When we first met Sid's parents, we were sympathetic to their plight: one just laid off from a minimum wage job, while the other working another low-pay job. They seemed like young parents having difficulties getting a good paying job to support their family. So, we allowed Sid to play with our two boys.

I realized early on that allowing Sid to play with our boys was beginning to have a negative impact on our boys' innocent and polite dispositions. Sid would be mean in his play, and his coarseness was rubbing off, especially on my youngest son.

I also noticed the relationships between Sid and his parents, and it caused me to pause. Their way of handling misbehavior with Sid was to get into a yelling match about it, profane words used by both sides, and Sid trying to talk his inappropriate actions into something that should be acceptable. In the end, usually Sid got away with whatever he did, or he was told to go inside, and he'd yell all the way, calling his mom a "bitch" (and his mom would do nothing about it) as he'd walk inside.

However, Sid's antics made me more of a hawk over my kids when they would play together outside. Finally, it came to a head about a month ago. Here's a forum post I made at a mom website (this is lengthy, but you may get a better understanding of the situation) about that time:

Sometimes I would just like to be able to have neighbors that can respect me and my family, and to respect our property. Neighbors that would stay on their own property and when we are outside, to ask before coming over. (We do not allow our children to go playing in our neighbors or any other person's yard without first asking.) Neighbors that encourage their child to play nice with our children, and when they don't, to have the grace to take their child back to their own yard to play. Is that asking too much?

[begin rant] Apparently so, to our neighbors. A couple of weeks ago, it was a typical scenerio where the neighbor boy, I'll call him Sid, was over playing with our two sons and ever so often doing mean things to them. Well, he brought over his skateboard and was laying on it to go down a dirt hill in our back yard, and let our kids do that, too. The first time he yanked the skateboard out from under my 3 year old, his mom yelled at him and they did their usual yelling match. The second time, he yanked it out from our 5 year old as he was just descending down the hill, and my husband came over and told Sid that it was time for him to go play in his own yard. Well, Sid's mom had this look of "how dare you say that to my son" as if her son had magical rights to play on our yard. Sid then proceeded to argue his point why he yanked the skateboard from under my son, and I said told him he didn't need to use words. He said he hated us, and I told him that he made those choices and he needed to play in his own yard until he was ready to apologize and play nice again. His mom yelled at him to get inside at this point, and he did.

Now, mind you, similar behavior was going on previously with Sid, and we would ask him not to do the behavior and to play nice. It got to the point where our 5 year old did not want to play in our yard anymore because he didn't like playing with Sid. This really upset me, because this is our yard, and my son shouldn't feel like he's bullied in his own yard, to the extend that he avoids playing in our own back yard!

Thus, we decided that 1) neighbor kids can only play in our yard when we are outside in our backyard and they need to ask before playing each time; and 2) if a neighbor kid is not playing nice, they will need to go play in their own yard until they are ready to apologize and play nice again. Now, I think these seem like basic, simple rules to follow, not only in the backyard, but in life in general, as well.

Well, I saw Sid out playing in our backyard last week when I got home from work. I got down on his level, as we always do when we talk with him or our own children, and told him in a normal voice that unless we were outside playing and he was ready to play nice, he needed to play in his own yard. He then went in a tangent about how his mom told him that he couldn't play with our kids anymore. I said that is fine, but if you are not going to play with our kids, then you need to stay in your own yard. Then, he wanted to get in a yelling match to argue his point. I continued to tell him he needed to play in his own yard. He then ran inside his house. Fine, I thought.

This past week Sid continues to play in our yard ever so often when we are not outside. Today I went up to him as he was playing near our dirt hill with several of his toys scattered in our yard, got down on his level and said that since he isn't playing with our kids he can't play in our yard. He didn't say a word to me, left his toys in our yard, and darted to where his dad was working on an engine on their driveway. I waited, then calmly walked over to speak with his dad.

I mentioned that since they decided that Sid could not play with our kids, then Sid needs to stay in his own yard. He told me that was ignorance (I don't think he knows what that word means) and said that it should be okay for him to play in our yard because he's not hurting anything and it's not like our yard where he's playing is anything like a nice lawn that he would be destroying or anything like that. I told him its not about that, it's about playing nice with our kids and if Sid isn't going to play at all with our kids, he doesn't need to be playing in our yard. Apparently, our neighbor doesn't know anything about being respectful of his neighbor's property. He did finally tell his son to get his toys out of our yard and to stay in their yard. Sid just stayed in their yard, so I gathered his toys and nicely put them in Sid's yard and walked away.

Latter in the afternoon, there was Sid again, driving in his battery powered black car (actually the skull monster truck hearse version of the barbie jeep) around our yard. My husband was home and went over to talk with Sid and again Sid ran away into his yard, leaving his monster hearse in our yard. So, he went over to talk to Sid's dad to let him know that we would be putting up a fence this weekend. Then, Sid's mom came out and yelled at Sid to drive his car back into their yard and they got into a yelling match, with Sid finally driving his hearse back into his own yard.

It's one of those deals where I don't understand why they are balking against us so much, when it is OUR YARD in the first place. I just want our backyard to be a place where our children can play nicely and not feel bullied out of it. I think that is reasonable, and most parents should be able to understand that.

What do you think?

(And maybe you are our pesky neighhbors, so tell me why you think your child should have free reign and dominion over our back yard, and be able to play in our yard, even though you told him not to play with our kids? How would you feel if our kids played around your backyard without your permission, played mean to your child, and then refused to play with your child? I'm thinking you'd do exactly the same thing we are doing.)[end rant]

There's plenty of stories where that came from, but I won't bore you with them. (Like the gun play and Sid's "jail" or Sid's car-jacking of our sons' toy Gator vehicle.)

Now, by this time his dad got a job as a clerk at the local grocery store, another near minimum wage job. I can understand the frustration of working near minimum wage, especially when you have skills (like the skill of kindness, politeness and respect) and abilities to earn much more (been there, done that--for a very short while).

However, I also somewhat understand why these parents cannot find good work. They have no respect. They have no respect for each other, as they banter and roughly argue, both the parents and their son, on many occasions about the littlest of things. They have no respect for their own property, as Sid is allowed to smash a hammer against his rusted up, beat up wagon and to run over all his toys with his grave digger power wheels car, as his dad tries in constant vain to work on motors (revving the engines ever so often to destroy their own hearing and whoever's in ear shot) pulled out of their vehicles and banging on other parts in their yard. They show no respect for a neighbor's property, and when they do trespass and are kindly asked to stop, instead of seeing the property line (physically and metaphorically) and staying on their own yard, they badger us with a 'how dare you' attitude.

Now, if I was the boss for either of these two adults, and they talked back to me like that on the jobsite, their time with my company would be very limited. There's only a certain amount of tolerance, before disrespect leaves detrimental consequences for people who come from a low economic level (if you are born into wealth and disrespect, well, they call those mobsters, lawyers, or politicians).

We still see Sid and his parents outside, and sometimes at the grocery store. We don't hold their lack of respect against them. It is a sad state for them. They will likely always feel "victimized" because they lack respect within themselves. And they will always bully others because of their own lack of respect.

And only so much empathy I can give to people who sadly just don't know respect. If anything can be corrected in our society, it is the ability for all people to learn and show respect. Why respect isn't one of the three "Rs" is beyond me. It should be the first thing children learn in school and the last thing they are thankful for as they breathe their last breath.

It's all about RESPECT. Aretha Franklin hit the nail on the head with her aptly named hit song. Oh, and regardless of previous personal thoughts, fences do make great neighbors.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Breath: The Ethereal Existence of Life

Inhale. Exhale. Rest. Repeat. We all breathe. It is a sign of life. It is a sign that our body still has the capacity to live. How do we live, breath after breath? How do we take our life from the everyday mundane, to the extraordinary, to the ethereal existence of life?

Life becomes mundane, because in many senses, we forget our senses. We forget to, say, stop and smell the roses. We forget to slow down and enjoy the breezes from a mild, warm afternoon with the sun peeking through the clouds. We forget to quiet ourselves to hear the sounds of nature all around us.

Instead, we busy ourselves with the mundane. We surround ourselves with materialistic things that dull our senses, and create more mundane-ness in our lives. Listening to surround sound stereos that enclose our senses into an impenetrable egg. Watching TV that saps the energy from our bodies. Working constantly during the day without stopping for breaks. Seemingly escaping with illicit drugs that bring a quick high, but essentially enhances the dulling of the senses. All of these are ways of distancing and dehumanizing ourselves from our vital functions of life. And they all make us slaves to the mundane.

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. --Genesis 2:7

We all began with a breath.

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. --Job 33:4

It is our primal instinct to breath, and it is our in survival that we continue to breathe. It is our subconscious duty. Inhale. Exhale. How we easily forget that we continue this vital prayer of life. Breathing is our silent prayer. In speaking, we add words to our silent prayer. In silence, we pray, sometimes with thought, and sometimes thoughtless. Sometimes listening to the breath of the Almighty, many times listening to the dead space of the mundane.

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. --Job 32:8

Maybe we take breathing for granted too much? Have we forgotten the power of breath? Take a moment, close your eyes, silence your mind, and just breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Rest. Repeat. It feels centering and focusing on the basics. It feels natural and soothing, envigorating, quieting and subtle. Peace. Patience. Understanding.

Next time you pray or go to church, stop first and breathe. As you pray or participate in the church service or mass, be conscious of your breathing. Be aware of the emotions and thoughts, both positive and negative, that escape your being as you exhale, and the renewing senses as you inhale. Feel the presence of the Spirit with each breath.

Whenever life seems crazy and chaotic, or when you feel caught up in the mundane, just breathe. Get away from the mundane. Go for a walk. Go lean against your favorite tree. And breathe.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Soothed by the Rain

Ah... The soothing qualities of rain. There is a magical, ethereal quality about a raindrop that hits the dry, parched earth. The soil clenches up as if shocked by the touch of water drop. Then, it gives way as the rain drops accumulate. The dust is no longer blown away in the breeze, but stays together with the soil it yearns to remain.--Me

Thursday morning, while I was enjoying a lovely dream, I was suddenly awakened by our bedside weather radio alarm. I thought, this had better be good, since it woke me up 4 minutes before I needed to wake up at 4:30 a.m. No, it was a Severe Thunderstorm Watch--not a warning! And, no, it wasn't for our immediate area. It wasn't even for our regional area! It was for Faribault County in Minnesota!! I couldn't believe it! I know that I programmed that weather radio to only alarm for warnings and only for my county and surrounding counties. It must have been an act of God. Or something...

Yesterday afternoon we experienced T-storm watches and warnings, but somehow we just were not fortunate to enjoy more than a few drops of rain. Very disappointing since our lawn looks more like a hayrack spilled its contents all over our yard. However, at 2:30 a.m. this morning, I was awakened by the sound of strong winds and thunder. Thor must have listened to my heartened pleas, because he was out in full force this morning, banging away with flashes of light in an otherwise dark night.

Then, the downpours came. The first one was so soothing and refreshing, however, that was not good enough for Thor. The second storm system converged shortly after the first, and it began with a thunderous boom and then--poof! All the lights were out in our end of town. The lightning darting from the sky seemed to almost leap at us in the dark-black night landscape. As the zags of lightning flashed in the night, I could see the trees bending down, as if they were trying to touch their roots. The sheets of water pouring down from the sky made the scene a hazy blur.

Soon after, the angry Thor god ushered himself onward to the next unsuspecting, sleeping community. The soft, gentle rain continued, massaging the stressed ground, as I dashed from my car to get to the door and into my dry work cave. I am always refreshed by the effects of a good thunder boomer, but this morning I was soothed by the rain.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Advent of Computers and the "Tubes"

I feel compelled to share this bit of humor with you. I typed it in a forum post discussion on remembering the beginning of the internet, in a humorous context. I hope this will add a bit of a smile to your day.

Yeah, I remember the days of the text only internet.

Oh, you know that reminds me of the first time I saw a computer porn show. Really. Let me take you back. The year was 1985 and I was on my first "date" with this geeky guy, a sort of premonition that I would be destined to love geeky guys. After the homecoming dance, he took me back to his house and it was all dark. 'Pretty sure my parents are upstairs banging away,' he said to me. Great. Then, he said he had to show me something. I'm thinking he's really crazy or really horny. Found out he was both, but that's another story. He took me over to his dad's den and, as we sat in front of the computer, he put a 5 1/4 inch floppy into the drive. 'You gotta see this,' he said. Okay, this better be good, I thought. All of a sudden the drive starts to make this grinding noise, and on the screen it says something like "Oh, baby, yeah. That feels so good." The floppy in the drive starts to make whirling sounds and then more grinding. "C'mon, baby, work it harder," the screen said. More whirling and grinding, and I swear the computer was going to have an orgasm! Either that or it was going to explode! "Oh, Oh, Oh My G-d, Come. Yes! Yes! Yes! Ooooooh! Ohhhhh!" Wow. I don't know if his intention was to turn me on, which it didn't, but I got a great laugh out of that.

You know, I think it was the intention of the designer of the computer and the tubes to make it just a bit suggestive. Think about it. You insert your disk into the drive... and in the old days, disks were huuuuge. 5 1/4 inch was small compared to the 8 inch monsters. It is a bit ironic, too, that they called them floppy disks, because any man who needs viagra would be very pleased if he could be as rigid as a floppy disk. When the 3 1/2 inch floppy came out, it was even more rigid than the 5 1/4, which was great because 5 1/4 inch floppies were just not lasting long in my backpack. Another great internet tool that I miss is being able to "finger" someone online. Kinky, huh? Yeah, I remember posting on the BBS, and if my favorite poster wasn't there, I could "finger" him. It was always fun to get "fingered" online, too. For those who have no idea what online fingering is, I can tell you what it is not: It is not giving someone the online bird, unless after you fingered them you gave them the computer version of the bird; It is not touching the computer screen with your sweaty fingerprints; It is not exploring the inner chasms of the tubes in search of pleasure... Oh, ah, actually, yes that is what it is. Okay, boys and girls, fingering is like ICQ, or instant messaging. Get your mind out of the gutter.

There's some of my odd sit down comedy. My own experiences wrapped in the topic of discussion. If I got you to smile, or even chuckle once or twice, or if you actually learned something, then my typing was not in vain. I kind of think that way about my life, too...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Two Birds to the Head

Sometimes an odd event seems so strange that it should indicate something. This Sunday morning (May 27, 07), I took my two sons with my sister and her family to go to church. Now, this is a small town church with a basement that originally had access by going outside and the basement is where the only restroom in the building could be found. Well, my oldest son needed to go to the restroom during mass. We walked outside and found the basement door locked. I tried to get him to go outside in a wooded area next to the church, but he wouldn't do it.

I then asked if he could hold it until the end of mass, and he said he could do that. As we were walking up the steps outside to the church, two birds were diving down from the belltower, their wings seemed to be entangled, and hit my son in the forehead. The two birds untwined in a nearby large flower pot and quickly flew away. Of course, my son was a bit shaken up and I was taken aback by it all, as I right next to him.

It took a couple of minutes before my son regained his composure after the incident, as I gave him a hug and reassured him that everything was okay. Oddly enough, he didn't have any bumps or bird droppings on him after that event, and thankfully he didn't wet himself, even though we weren't able to find a restroom for him.

So, are getting hit by two birds on the forehead on church grounds a sign of anything? I just hope that if so, it is a good sign of great things to come.

Strange Dreams

I've been having strange dreams lately that have intrigued me. One dream, though, stood out from the others. I dreamt that I was with someone who looked just like a girl I went to school with and looked like her current age with shorter hairstyle than I remember her currently having. Anyway, she had been injured, but healed quickly, and I was wondering why I was there with her, as we didn't have a close relationship.

Well, on Saturday morning I was covering Hillary Clinton's visit to our area, and when she came out I recognized the face. It was the woman in my dream the other night. For some reason, Hillary has very similar facial features of my former classmate, but when I saw Hillary's face up close it was unmistakable that it was Hillary in my dream. Hillary was also wearing a turquoise colored suit, which seemed familiar to me, especially that shade of blue. Another dream I had last week had my aunt looking at turquoise jewelry, which she loved to wear; and also in that dream an association with strawberries, as I must have subconsciously linked the two sometime in my childhood, as I love strawberries and the color blue.

I have had weird dreams before, and some of them premonitions of later dejavu experiences where some of the substance of a dream came about in reality. I don't think too much of my dreams, but this one certainly made me remember it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day Is Every Day

Yesterday was my son's last day at preschool before the summer break. All the emotions some mothers share about great days in their children's lives, well, at first they weren't welling up for me. I'm not really a showy emotional person and it was probably subconsciously trained during my own childhood.

Sure, I was proud of my oldest son's accomplishments and his process of overcoming challenges with Aspergers. He has reached milestones during this year of formal preschool that were such barriers at his child care center. Yes, thinking back to all the parent-teacher-AEA meetings, and all the issues that were preventing my son from being an active and achieving student and all those who worked to make sure he was understood, included and assisted so he could achieve, and my son being able to now do things that seemed frustrating before, I do begin to get all teary-eyed.

Wednesday, the preschoolers came to the front of the church and presented a program after mass. The children lined up sang and many of them fully participating, doing the actions of the songs, and reciting a prayer. There was my son, standing at the end of the back row, swaying, looking around, pulling up his shirt and touching his belly button (nervous trait), doing some actions, not really singing. And I was proud of him.

As the children were called alphabetically by name to receive their certificate of completion, he stood there waiting patiently until his name was called. When they called his name, he walked down just as any other child in his class and received his certificate, and even paused a while as I tried (unsuccessfully as the flash and camera were taking too long to do their thing--apparently I wasn't pushing all the way down on the button, you know, emotions) to get a good snapshot of the moment.

The last day of preschool, the class went to the park for a mini-picnic for the morning. I came to witness his last day with his friends in a fun environment. It was nice to see how the other kids interacted with my son, and how he felt comfortable playing with them. When my son did something odd, some would comment, but from my perspective the comments were never negative or derrogatory. The kids then walked back to the preschool room to finish their day.

I came to pick him up from his last day at preschool at the same door I dropped him off at for the first time. All the preschoolers were outside waiting and it was the first time I saw other kids beside my son hanging around his "favorite tree" just outside the preschool door. His favorite teacher gave him a small, white sack and pointed at me. Then, he gave it to me. A Mother's Day gift. I didn't open it then, because he just doesn't realize that he had already given me a Mother's Day gift of who he is today. Yes, I am very proud of him.

I let my son play with his friends around the tree before we left. After many of them had already gone with their parents, I let him know its time to go and asked him to go and say thank you and goodbye to his teachers. He went over and gave them leg hugs and thanked them. As he came back to me, I saw a girl from his class try to come toward him, arms extended to give him a hug. He didn't see it and he was focused on me. I mentioened to him that she was trying to give him a hug. He turned around, walked toward her, extended his arms, and they shared a long, warm, friendly embrace. This coming from a kid who specialized in no-arm hug-leans before preschool. This was a special moment. I held back my tears, as he came toward me and we hugged, and waved goodbye to his teachers and remaining classmates.

In a society that seems to at least disregard and sometimes highly disrespect anything atypical, for a brief time my son found a group of people who respected him for who he was, and he grew and flourished in their midst.

Every mother's quest is to create a brighter future for their children. It is a quest that goes beyond emotion. Mother's day is every day that we see the twinkle in our child's eye, a stance of positive interest and intrigue in our environment, a look of concern and compassion for others, a smile of sunshine that brightens our day, a glimmer of hope in their soul that the future will bring peace.

"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears! Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided byirrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reekingwith carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not betaken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. . .

. . .Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to themeans whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God." --Julia Ward Howe, from her Mother's Day Proclamation, 1870

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Terror Strikes Within US

This last weekend we saw terror strike the United States and take lives. It was a natural disaster in the Midwest and especially Kansas. Tornadoes and flood waters that ripped through communities and left a trail of trashed treasures, broken lives and many tears.

We are learning that terror can come from many sources, not just from the generic violent terrorist who wants to kill people for their somehow misguided views. Mother Nature herself has a way of terrorizing us and bringing us to our knees in times violent storms and its consequences. The lessons from Hurricane Katrina apparently have not sunk in to our country’s collective ability to respond to terror.

Again, battered communities look for help from our states’ National Guard units for assistance and find that the Iraq War has left us with less homeland security. This sad reality should be a wake up call for our states to demand our National Guard and our National Guard equipment be returned to their home states in defense of our homeland security.

This may be the best time to demand that our state National Guard troops and equipment come home, as Congress continues to deliberate an acceptable budget and schedule for the Iraq War. Our homeland security and our states’ defenses are being unacceptably compromised by their presence in the Middle East. Now is the time to re-establish our security and defend our home country from terrorists, foreign, domestic and natural.

What will happen if terrorists of a human kind attack again within the United States? How will our armed forces be able to respond? How will we defend ourselves when our resources have been shipped to a foreign region half way around the world? How will we recover from the violence?

How will we be able to respond if the next big earthquake hits California, or the next big flood engulfs the Midwest, or the next big hurricane inundates the coastline?

One thing’s for sure, we will again be brought to our knees. Some will be on our knees in prayer, as others will be begging for their next breath, and others for peace in the midst of chaos.

Now is the time to stand. Now is the time for us to think about our vulnerabilities at home and take action to be a nation of strength within. A nation that is able to defend its homeland against terrors foreign, domestic and natural. Message to Congress: Keep our National Guard at home.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jon Stewart: True Patriot

Oh, Jon Stewart, you seem to be begging for the Golden Ruler Award! And you deserve it!!

If you didn't see last night's Daily Show where Jon Stewart interviewed John McCain, go see it now, in two parts: Part I and Part II.

Jon Stewart's words of great measure:

"Is it part of the insurgency, and isn't this part of the difficulty that we have to win over the Iraqi people and can we win them over when we seem to almost consistently diminish their suffering. Rumsfeld has said 'when you fly over Baghdad the whole place isn't on fire.' Condi Rice has said that this is birthing pangs. You know, think of how we're grieving for (the deaths at Virginia Tech), and rightfully so... (disrupted thought about mismanaged war) But even the mindset... (again disrupted thought win/loss militarily or politically) But don't you think we already won militarily? (disrupted) Can we describe this as won or lost? Even the president said this isn't the kind of war you win and people surrender on a battleship. Shouldn't we get away from the language of win or lose in Iraq and get more to a descriptive success, a metrics, deadlines, if you will, timetables."

"They're fighting each other. We're there keeping them from killing each other. Surrender is not--We're not surrendering to an enemy that has defeated us, we're saying how do you quell a civil war when it's not your country?"

(In reply to McCain's audience comment "I think I know who's side they're on.") "They're on America's side because they're patriots."

"If the architects that built a house without any doors or windows don't admit that's the house they built, and continue to say it's your fault for not being able to see into it, then I don't understand how we're supposed to move forward."

"What I believe is less supportive to the good people who believe they're fighting the great cause is to not give them a strategy that makes their success possible...(disrupted thought) All I'm saying is you cannot look a soldier in the eye and say questioning the president is less supportive to you than extending your tour for three months when you should be coming home to your family. And that's not fair to put on people that criticize."

"And you know I love you and I respect your service and I would never question any of that. And this is not about questioning the troups and their ability to fight, and their ability to be supported. And that is what the administration does and that is almost criminal."

In regards to this interview as an observer, John McCain wasn't listening attentively to any of the questions or comments Jon posed, and it seemed to my unskilled ears that McCain was answering questions from some make believe interview that was happening at the same time, as if Jon Stewart wasn't really saying anything. I don't believe there was one question that John McCain directly addressed and answered in the theme of Jon Stewart's moderate perspective.

Sad that a Republican candidate for our highest office can't get off his party's rhetoric and spin long enough to truly listen to and honestly answer questions from a true patriot: Jon Stewart.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Americone Dream Challenge Diet

It has been four weeks, almost to the day, that I had my first taste of Ben & Jerry's Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream. It was love at first bite.

After that, I vowed that I would go on the Americone Dream Challenge Diet. I would eat only one meal a day until I could find another pint of Americone Dream. Then, I would ration my pint of Americone Dream to last for the week.

Sure, I've fallen off the Americone Dream diet wagon a couple of times, but I always get back on. I am also a loser, too. I have lost seven (7) pounds so far!

I am also looking for another pint of Americone Dream, too. The local Wal-Mart always seems to be out of it now. Good for my diet. No so good for my poor taste buds.
The American Dream is to own your very own home. I believe the Americone Dream is to taste truthiness in all its truthy glory. And the best way to do that is to maintain a pure and uncensored gut.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What if PE Taught Self-Defense?

The best years of my life were at college. After 13 years of bullying and cliques in a small midwestern community school, my reflection of college was like heaven. I was finally able to live life without being harrassed daily and I could surround myself with people who were similar to me. It was there that I experienced epiphanies that changed my view of life.

So, it was with great shock and sadness when I heard about the shootings that occurred Tuesday at Virginia Tech. I can only pray that the survivors may find a positive epiphany out of their sorrow.

Whenever I hear of such tragedy at the hands of an armed gunman, I begin to feel defenseless and helpless. It is from such a feeling that I wonder why we are not better equipped to handle such situations in our lives. Why aren't we taught how to defend ourselves in school?

I recall hearing the news on April 20, 1999 as I imbibed some cocktails with co-workers at a restaurant in the Denver Tech Center area. I watched the TV screen at the bar with disbelief as local and national media recounted the story umpteen times about Columbine.

I then thought, what would have happened if PE classes routinely taught self-defense to all grade levels? What if all students knew how to confidently, proactively, quickly and respectfully diffuse a negative physical altercation?

It's all fine and dandy to know our readin', writin', and 'rithmetic, but how does that prepare us to live as good, responsible citizens? How can we prepare our children, our next generations, to be better citizens and be responsible and caring members of our society? How can we teach our children to face evil and subdue it?

Our first response is not the trained police or authorities in these situations, it is people like you and me. We are the first response. I'm not talking about arming teachers and professors with weapons, as I believe weapons are motivation for violence (we all go off the edge ever so often, and I can't imagine what would have happened if one of my worst teachers had ready access to a gun--doubt I would be here today). I'm talking about knowing exactly how to deal verbally to calm a potential violent situation, to infuse kind respect to everyone involved, and if there is a weapon (a fist, a knife, a gun, a kicking leg, etc.) that those involved can make quick, unnoticable motions to take over the weapon, safely secure it, and calm the perpetrator to the good of all who surround the incident.

Then, the nation was jolted by the events of September 11, 2001. I immediately thought, what would have happened if the people on those three fateful planes could have known how to properly diffused that terror situation in the air? They had the strength in numbers. But they didn't have the knowledge to intelligently overcome the terrorists and physically subdue them.

The after effect of the tramatic events of September 11th was not to equip all citizens in our nation with self-defense strategies to subdue any form of terrorism. No, it was to put guns in the cockpit. What will that accomplish? Guns, in the hands of someone preoccupied with something like flying a plane, can easily be used against them.

Now, if pilots and flight attendants knew self-defense and knew how to coordinate efforts by the passengers to maintain control of their plane at all times, then we could say we've done something to combat terrorism.

Flash forward to this week. Again, victims were held defenseless because instead of being taught how to defend themselves through 13 years of primary school, they were taught how to do the tinikle (You know, when you had to jump between the rhythm of the clapping bamboo sticks? Our PE teacher would call it double dutch with bamboo sticks.) in PE class.

What would have happened if the girl and the RA practiced self-defense against the attacker in the dorm? The worst that could have happened if they had tried to subdue the attacker with self-defense moves is exactly what happened to them that fateful Tuesday morning.

The best thing that could have happened is that they would have been able to successfully subdue the attacker before the gun was raised, or even if the gun was raised, they strategically and successfully gained control of the weapon from the attacker, were able to subdue the attacker while maintaining respect and consideration to the attacker as a fellow human, and allow him to understand that his decisions and choices to attack were not the right thing to do.

I know this is a pipe dream in a utopian world. But, just imagine... If we were all taught how to effectively think through choices and make decisions in our daily lives that would not only benefit ourselves, but also benefit all those around us? If we were taught not only self-defense, but also how to maintain positive relationships, regardless the situation?

Think about it. Imagine.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Stuffed Up on the 13th

As I suffer with my spring fever, I will give you a video that is fitting for the date (Friday the 13th). I hope it scares your funny bone just enough to squirt your Mountain Dew out your nose (won't happen to me, too stuffed up today).

I will call this "Pizza Delivery: Meat Lovers with Extra NWO"

Vote for ME! Blogger's Choice Awards

Hey, vote for Indigo Lake as the Best Blog About Stuff at the Blogger's Choice Awards! Yep, I'm a nominee! So, if you enjoy reading my off-the-wall thoughts and inquisitive questioning of perculiar things, please put your vote in for Indigo Lake.

And, THANK YOU for your vote of confidence! I knew you could do it!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

1914: End of Times??

Jehovah's Witness stopped by the other day. Must have missed them, because they left one of their Watchtower's behind. As I was about to throw it away, I noticed on one of the pages a timeline that read something like this: "1914 Christ enthroned in heaven." What?? How do JWs know the exact year of such an occurance?

JWs are really into the apocolyptic vision in Revelations and believe that there are 144,000 annointed ones that will be saved and be placed on the right hand of God, along with Jesus. They are also apparently really big into thinking that unless you are one of the 144,000, you are an observer and will not (or should not) partake in the feast.

Okay then, so who in the JW camp is the all-knowing eye that knows when God enthroned Christ? Well, they explained their calculations based on Bible prophecy. Sure, I read it, and yeah, I am a numbers person, but I am not a mathemetician. Math mumbo-jumbo to me.

So, I thought, is there some cable link between the JW camp and God that captured this significant moment? How do they know and not the Catholics, or the Lutherans, or Anglicans? And what does 1914 have to do with anything today?

[reflection] I have wondered and thought that the end times Jesus spoke of are a more personal echo of the foreseen end times for the world. We all are physically born and we all will likely physically die. Spiritually, we are coming to the end times in our self daily. Each breath marks a breath closer to the end times. Each trial, each struggle marks a strife toward the end time in each of our lives. Our own personal battles and achievements in some way echo the battles and achievements that may be (or have been) met on a worldly scale. [/reflection]

Okay, first of all, there is a possibility that we may be living in the so-called "end times", but no irrefutable proof. So, JWs may think that the end times began in 1914. Maybe. What happened then?

It seems that all the major events listed in Wikipedia could spark the thought of the end of times. Sure, a couple of events stand out:

  • Ford Motor Company creates the standard for the work day at 8 hours
  • Mexican Revolution on January 10th
  • ASCAP is established in February
  • The first successful non-direct blood transfusion
  • Irving, TX incorporated in April
  • Mothers Day proclamation
  • July and August see a lot of Countries bickering--must be PMSing
  • Pope Benedict XV (yeah, you seeing something familiar there?!) succeeds Pope Pius X in September
  • Diamond capital Antwerp, Belgium falls to Germany (must be those Belgian waffles they were after)
  • Speaking of diamonds, the Boston Braves (aren't they in Atlanta) defeat the Philadelphia Athletics (wait... what's up here? The As are in Oakland) in the World Series
  • The Fed (er the Federal Reserve Bank) opens in November, just before the New York Stock Exchange reopens for bond trading after a war-induced closure in July
  • German and British troops stop fighting for Christmas

Yeah, all of those events are kind of crazy. What was up with these folks back in 1914? Were they poisoned by something? Did they have some psychosomatic illness? C'mon, we all know that the Braves belong in Atlanta and the As in Oakland. I do admit that Belgian waffles are worth fighting for, they're that good, but did the whole world have to get into it? Yup. It was the Belgian waffles.

However, I found another info website that states in 1914 that the Federal Trade Commission was set up, Army was the NCAA football champions, and the world's first red-green traffic light was installed in Cleveland. Okay, combine the Belgian waffles and the traffic light, and I think I am beginning to see the light. Yeah. The end of times began in 1914.

Cat Fight at Fox News

I think we all love a good cat fight, but this one is a duesy! Here are my thoughts as I watched this spat.

CAT FIGHT!!! Go O'Riled! Go Giraldo!! This is good!!

You know what really sucks about this fight? Not only did O'Riled not nail Giraldo on his truthiness concern of his daughters (really, it doesn't matter who your daughters hang out with, when they innocently come into the path of a DUI driven vehicle), but the heart stopping heart of the matter is that our legal system doesn't work. (The legal system does not protect citizens.) If O'Riled could really talk coherently, that is what he would have said. But, no, like Giraldo said, he had to make it into a talking point of illegal immigration.

From what I read about the DUI illegal immigrant incident, this was this guy's 2nd DUI charge, and who knows how many times he had DUI'ed without getting caught?! So, basically, the first DUI charge didn't work for this guy. And la migra didn't pick him up after he served his first sentence and take him home. So, our legal system failed, not once, but twice!! Then, our legal system failed a THIRD TIME when an apparent innocent person was killed by this DUI no green card guy. So, the message is that our legal system doesn't work, but that is not O'Riled's talking point. And Giraldo missed out on completely nailing O'Riled because he couldn't get past the whole DUI issue killing someone.

[insane idea] Well, after I had a chance to let the whole thing sink, I decided that maybe O'Reilly had a point. Hmmm... Yeah. It's about immigration. Sure. Darned Mexicans. So, if all our social ills deals with immigration, why don't we just get rid of Mexican immigrants by annexing Mexico into the USA? [/insane idea]

Monday, April 09, 2007

The First Threesome? Lilith, Adam & Eve

Did you know that Eve wasn't the first woman created by God? Apparently, not according to Jewish Midrash. It was Lilith.

Last night I watched the History Channel show Banned from the Bible II, and they exposed this possibility that Adam's first wife wasn't Eve, but Lilith. The Jewish Midrash explains it by claiming that God indeed created man and woman on the sixth day, that being Adam and Lilith. However, Lilith did not follow the idea that she should be submissive to Adam, and Adam didn't like that. (And this may explain why Frasier's wife was named Lilith, too--you know Frasier?NBC? Cheers? Okay.)

So, God apparently agreed with Adam and said that he would make Adam a mate from Adam's own rib, so that the woman made with a piece of Adam would know to be submissive to Adam. Thus, the story in Genesis that Adam went into a deep sleep and God made Eve from Adam's rib.

Lilith apparently was banished and made out to be a demon. Or, as the Jewish Midrash describes, that Lilith was made a demon. (Was she being the jealous lover in the guise of a snake? Or did God change Lilith into a snake? For the sake of all humanity, I would hope God was more kind to Lilith than that.)

However, "Everything derives from woman," according to Midrash: Genesis Rabbah, 17. So, how can man dominate woman? Is this the intent of God when He created woman, for man to dominate woman and for woman to completely submit to man? In a perfect world, sure this would work, because man would not be human and do stupid things to subordinate and severely impair woman's gifted role in life.

But, no. God's creation in Eve caused the "original sin," as Adam submitted to Eve's encouragement to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of life. I'm sure God was shaking his head in disbelief that Eve, the woman who was created to be submissive to Adam would be the undoing of the entire human race. Eve was supposed to be submissive to Adam, not to a snake. And Adam was so gullible. I mean, where's Adam's balls here? Why didn't he stand up to Eve and just say NO? (Too bad Nancy Reagan wasn't alive then.)

All our anguish because Adam was a wimp. He couldn't live with God's first creation of woman. (Maybe Lilith was the one with the balls, not Adam??) What was so flawed with Lilith, anyway? Why couldn't God give marriage counseling to Adam and Lilith, so they could work out their differences and learn to love each other? This really throws a wrench into the Catholic thinking that a man and woman are bound for life in matrimony, with no reprival for divorce. Look at it this way: The first man and woman bound together by God, was put asunder (Was God really okay with this?), and God basically scrapped Lilith and then created Eve to mate with Adam. Could this event actually have been the first "original sin"??? Could this have a direct effect on the "original sin" of Adam and Eve? (Someone has got to create a play or Broadway show on this whole drama between Eve, Lilith and Adam.) Did Lilith get a bum rap on this?

Men have been playing this one-up game with women, apparently since the beginning of time. Men in power creating cultures that subdue and diffuse the powerful gift of women. Women were created by God to give life, and most women also have the power to care and nurture that life. Men, when they play their games to force submission on women, forget their own role to provide for women and to provide for their offspring, and men forget their role in relation to God and their world.

Women, being of the mind to care and nurture, have taken up the slack of men. It has been that life-giving power of women that have created the greatest strides in human rights around the world.

It seems that men want to break dance and show off, when God would prefer ballroom dance.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wizard Awareness

It is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa April 2-6, 2007. So, how do you prepare for severe weather? Marathon watching The Wizard of Oz? Sounds like a plan.

Sure, there are other ways to prepare. Websites abound with emergency preparedness, like:

Yeah, get yourself prepared and get to a safe location for a tornado. If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything. However, think of a tornado like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. What an adventure!

Follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road! Woo hoo!

That's what I'm talking about. Roads paved in gold. Wait. No! Tornados are usually disasterous events that leave neighborhoods riddled with debris and damage.

Hmmm... Yeah. Okkkkey... I'm beginning to see the light. That means clean up time, too! Woo hoooooo!! There's a reason why tornados instinctively go toward the trailer parks and the lower grade homes. God is saying that we need to clean up those neighborhoods. Since we didn't, then God takes it upon himself to git 'r done.

Sure, some nice expensive, fancy neighborhoods get hit occasionally, but there's probably a reason for that, too. So, next time the tornado siren goes off, find shelter and just think: there's no place like....

Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday

I was going to blog about the thought that permanent US bases in Iraq will force US involvement in the "Iraq War" to continue into oblivion, but nah, I think we all know that by now. Let's get to the heart of the matter:

The Big O
For those who remember taking physiology in high school or college, you know that if you are the O blood type, that you are a universal donor (regardless of charitable disposition). You may also remember that the AB blood type is the universal receiver (blood suckers), and that type A and type B can only receive their own type or type O blood. If Danish scientists have any say, in the future you may not have to worry about your blood type. These researchers have found two enzymes that can break down the antigens found on A, B and AB blood cells, thus rendering them as type O blood, which does not have antigens. O yippee.

Bloody Curse? Cure!
Women may despise their monthly visitor, Aunt Flo, the curse, whatever you want to call it, but it may just save a life. Yes, you read that right. And, I think I will quote blots from a couple of sentences from this article for the jist of this: "Japanese researchers have harvested stem cells from human menstrual blood...AND...these stem cells could be coaxed into forming specialised heart cells, which might one-day be used to treat failing or damaged hearts." Period. End of story?

The Breast Way
So, what is the best way to detect breast cancer? Good question. Apparently, experts don't know either. Some advocate mammograms every year to two years for women starting at age 40, while others say annual mammograms for every 40+ year old woman has too many side effects that outweigh the benefits. There are now some experts that advocate MRIs along side the routine mammogram for women with a high risk of breast cancer. Regardless of experts' view of modern screening devices, the best way to detect breast cancer is to know thy breast. Doctors rarely give their patients the credit we deserve that we know our own bodies better than anyone else. So, make yourself as valuable as your doctor and begin to know thyself. Start with breast self-exams, then begin to listen to your body and sense when things are good and note when they don't seem so right (keep a health journal to show your doctor). If you feel a bump where there once was no bump, or if you feel something is really not right, get it checked out by your doctor. Be specific with your symptoms as to what doesn't feel right. Doctors are only as knowledgeable about you as you tell them what to be knowledgeable about. Doctors usually do not get their doctorate in mind reading, nor are they the god that some doctors (i.e., House) elude to be. And know that 70 per cent of breast cancers are found by self-exams. So, YOU are the best way to detect breast cancer.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mary and the Snake

Yesterday was my soon-to-be 5 year old son's kindergarten roundup at the Catholic school in town. Many of the kids that will be going there are in his preschool class this year, so he was surrounded by familiar faces. I went to pick him up and he went into the coat room by himself, found his coat, and attempted to put it on by himself. He's growing up so fast!

Then, as we walked towards the doors to leave, he stopped in front of the statue of Mary in the entry. As he looked up at the large statue, I asked him who it was. And, of course, he knew it and said, "Mary" so matter-of-factly. Then, he walked closer and touched the snake in the statue that was slithering at Mary's feet. The school principal walked by, noticed my son's interest in the snake, and said that many kids ask about the snake.

Hmmmm... I never noticed the snake in this Mary statue before, although I've walked by this statue many times before. This really caught my interest, too.

Genesis 3:14-15
Then the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Walk Through Walls and Other Fascinations

I've always believed that architecture has a higher purpose than just to protect us from the elements. It forms our basis of relating to ourselves and to others. It creates the foundation of our organization and thought processes. A building is a manipulation of space and elements.

Since I can remember, most of my dreams have involved the organization based on architecture and the relations that develop in those spaces. I have had dreams of beautiful palaces, of interlinked deckwalks on a swampy bog, and intricate details of imagined churches.

I recall in elementary school I was one of a handful of kids in my class to test out of our final year of reading, and we were thrown into taking Spanish. Our Spanish teacher was a young man of northern heritage who grew up in Chile. As a class filled with smart kids, we usually would lead our Spanish classes off-topic or playing Spanish Password and BINGO. One day he talked about living in Chile and hiking the nearby mountains and what he'd found on his explorations. He mentioned that it was then he would gain ideas and insights about the forces of nature. He made a side remark once that he believed that in the future humans would be able to walk or pass through doors and walls without effort. (Maybe he had read something like this futuristic dream.) The thought intrigued me.

It was also during this time that I became involved in calligraphy and began perfecting my calligraphic writing. (Still not perfect, yet.) Several years ago, the Smithsonian magazine featured the first illuminated script of the Saint John's Bible. Wow. Researching illuminated script and sacred geometry pulled up even more interesting information: Coding sacred numbers and design into the illustrations.

Maybe there's a connection here between sacred architecture, geometry, faith and our physical nature.

Coral Castle: Mysteries of Sacred Geometry and A Man's Passions

Coral Castle is a work of magnificent manipulation. Many ask how one tiny man could build these structures by himself... Me too. So, what did he know that I don't? Who knows. However, some try to figure it all out.

Edward Leedskalnin, the creator of Coral Castle, or referred to as Sweet Sixteen, built this place as a beckoning to his unrequited love, Agnes, a sixteen year old who left him a day before their wedding. What a way to grieve! He flees his homeland of Latvia and comes to southern Florida to build this epic rock garden for his sweet sixteen. I don't think any guy I dumped would have gone to that extent to woo me back.

And that is the point, this guy built this world wonder for a girl! Not to exploit his scientific knowledge to the world or to boost of his intelligence, but he did it for a girl. Now, I do know guys who go crazy over a girl, and sometimes never get over it. But this is extreme.

And it is impressive. I don't know if I'd want to live in a rock quarry, but the structures are overwhelmingly impressive. If I were Agnes, I don't think this would convince me of a man's love, however. (I'm thinking Ed Leedskalnin was maybe an autistic-savant, but I think that savant is an underestimate.) He certainly didn't seem to understand what really turned his woman on.

Sure, having a huge door that can be opened by a slight push is nice feature for a woman, but, no, it really doesn't do the trick in the aspect of love. Creating an air conditioner is a nice feature, especially in Florida, but not so much for Latvia. A rocking chair in rock. You know, they make those in wood, too, and they're probably more comfortable, too.

Women like pretty things like flowers and pretty pictures. Now, if Ed Leedskalnin had sent his beloved a drawing of his sacred geometry of magnetic currents, maybe that would help his cause. Notice the drawing of magnetic currents, courtesy of Jon DePew. Connect the dots. Doesn't it look like a heart? The designs of sacred geometry using this design is beautiful, too. Can you imagine the wallpaper that could be created with this design?

Now, this man was smart. Very smart. Almost too smart. That may have been his biggest fault in the courting department. Ed Leedskalnin's passion became Coral Castle. His passion was marked with outstanding intelligence. He may have known the inner workings of magnetic currents, but he apparently fell short on human magnetism.

China's Cancer Apple Juice

If you knew how much apple juice my three year old son drinks and the majority of the apple juice selection in our local grocery stores are from China, you would understand why I just about had a heart attack reading the article linked in the title of this post. I found this article from my favorite new blog that focused on China and how cancer is multiplying there and being exported here.

This line really got my panties in a bunch: "toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung." Besides the air, what other cancer-ridden products could China be exporting? Noooo, not apple juice!!

However, I then read this article about how apple juice, and especially pulpy apple juice, can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Phew! Thank goodness! I guess that negates the possibility of getting cancer from China's apple juice, right?!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Alcohol Trumps Ecstasy and Other News

Yes, I know, I know. There are more pressing issues out there than some British report on recreational drugs. Like the eight fired US Attorneys (so do they have to relinguish their monkey status, as well?), and John Edwards' wife's cancer has returned (note to Edwards' family: life is short, enjoy it now!), and the tainted pet food (aw rats, I can't believe it's poisoned).

However, in my unconscious ploy to uncover news stories that affect the most people, I think this one takes the keg, er cake. Let's get a show of hands here... how many of you have indulged in alcohol in the past month? The past week? The past day? Okay. You get the point. Most people do enjoy alcohol once in a while.

What if I said that alcohol is more harmful than LSD? Worse than Ecstasy? More horrible than marijuanna? Yup. And so is tobacco. At least according to some British scientists hoping to better classify these recreational drugs according to the harm they cause.

This is just a bit disappointing for me. (Reflects a moment...starts sobbing...) This is impossible. Why would alcohol and tobacco be legal if our government really wants to protect us from such evils? Why didn't they rate them with the other illicit drugs during the "Just Say No" campaign when I was in high school?

Alcohol is bad... no it can't be all that bad. Those experts also say wine and beer are good for my heart. Damn! What's it going to be?? I mean, we can't go around touting everything is harmful, can we?

And what's next? Fast food? Heck, let's just rank legal pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, and see how they fair against the bad boys of the drug world--who's more harmful now? Yeah, I can see it now: Heroine is for wimps, Asprin will eat your insides alive, until you're dead.