Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oh The Horror Of It All....

  Funny the things we remember.  I imagine a shrink could have a field day with my little brain.  Recently I was reviewing upcoming programming on the TV.  I still think the DVR is the greatest invention ever!  Anyway, I came across a film called Pit And The Pendulum.  It was a cheesy production of Edgar Allen Poe's short story.  Of course it starred Vincent Price and, as often happens with these kind of films, about the only thing that the story and the movie had in common was the title.
  Though I have never been a big fan of horror films, I did have a fascination for Poe's works.  When Pit And The Pendulum came out in 1961, I, a lad of twelve, was looking forward to seeing it.  I even had the movie advertisement clipped out of the paper and pinned to the wall over my bed.
  As I was saying, funny the things we remember, because I cannot remember any other films that I saw in 1961, so what is your diagnosis, doc?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Joys Of Being A Dad - Part 2

  Aaron was my first born and has the honor of making me a father for the first time and for that I am very grateful.  I suspect that being the first born of six children must be a task that no one would accept if offered the choice.  There you are, the pioneer that has to hack out a path for your younger siblings and being point man for those that are looking up to you for guidance and leadership.  And, like a parent, untrained for the job but learning as you go.  I never thought about my oldest growing up and going through this when it was happening.  If I had, I might have been more sympathetic.
  In spite of being in a crowd of six kids, Aaron managed to be his own man and maintain his individuality.  He has a gift to see beauty in ordinary things and relishes in celebrating life.  And to this day, as a grown man, he is unique and lives and loves life on his own terms.  He may appear rough, but he is really a gentle and sensitive individual.  He has found his niche in an art style that he can really put himself into and I sense that he finds it very satisfying.
  He has given me my first joy of being a dad.

Every man is the son of his own works. - Miguel de Cervantes

Friday, November 26, 2010

Life Forces - Epilogue

Image result for life forces  Okay, so my little series on emotions wasn't the most stimulating and entertaining of my blog entries but Life sometimes isn't.  Sometimes Life is hilarious and sometimes it can be downright devastating.  My goal was to help make us more understanding of ourselves and others, or at least hold a mirror up in front of us.
  So thank you for being patient with me as I am still growing and still learning.  If any of you have an interest on my viewpoints on any aspects of Life, feel free to let me know!

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Looking Back

  Music is great because it can always explain exactly how we feel and think.  As we get older, we have a propensity to reminisce and I am no exception, especially as we roll into the holiday season.  As the band Chumbawamba says in their song Tubthumping;

He sings the songs that remind him
Of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him
Of the better times

  One of my favourite songs is In My Life by The Beatles, although it is a love song, it fits my mood to look back and reminisce about the good times and good friends and family, of which I have been blessed with many.

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All this places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life-- I love you more

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Broader Look At Thanksgiving

  The first Thanksgiving was in 1621, a usually annual event patterned after the Pilgrim's charter requiring a day of thanks to God and for a successful growing season.  The Puritans followed suit in 1630 with a similar harvest festival.  This continued as a localised event in the colonies with varying dates and customs.  Ironically, even though the colonists were giving thanks for their harvests and their religious freedoms, there were some of them in 1692 who thought they had witches amongst them, for various reasons.  Among those reasons may be that they had different customs because of their cultural backgrounds and were thought of as evil or someone did not like them for personal reasons and fabricated tales about them.  So even though they wanted freedoms for themselves, some felt that others were not entitled to the same freedoms.
  It has been said that Man is a natural enemy to God and that we have to master our 'dark' side.  I don't know if that is entirely true but I know it must be partly true.  Taking it a step further, we are likely to be natural enemies to each other if we allow ourselves. We can be very vicious to those around us and  can have a certain persona when we are in public.  On the other hand, when we are alone or with those very close to us is when we are our 'natural' selves and have a different personality.  That is who we should look at closely and examine if we are, as the Army ads say; being all we want to be. 
  Flash forward to today, we are giving thanks for what we have in a world where there are wars and contentions that have lasted centuries.  To be more accurate, we should be giving thanks for having the things that we need as opposed to having the things we want.  Or are we giving thanks at all?  Maybe to a lot of us it is a day to overeat and watch football.  To others it is a time to be with family, which is not a bad thing.  Just as we should make an effort to remember the meaning of Christmas, we should also remember the meaning of Thanksgiving and the rich heritage that is contained in it.
  And in closing, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song. - Konrad von Gesner

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Joys Of Being A Dad - Part 1

  When you become an adult, you don't stop growing.  I think of myself as still 'growing up' and I will consider myself as doing so right up until my last day.  One of the great things about being a dad is that you can secretly, OK openly, be a kid right along with your children.
  Something that really tickled me some years ago, was when one of my sons had an article about him in the local newspaper.  At the age of eleven, Brent developed a cartoon character and had some fun with it.
And it goes like this!............
  As Brent grew up, he had a variety of interests and directions, and Baby Big Teeth was one of them.  His crowning glory, however, was having a family with five wonderful daughters and now he knows the joy of being a dad.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Life Forces - Chapter 9 - Anticipation

  Anticipation is one of those emotions that can go either way.  You anticipate with joy the coming of Christmas or you anticipate with sadness the ending of summer.  Because we are creatures of intelligence, we can think a lot about something that is yet to happen.  As often the case, this emotion can connect with others.
  I have been anticipating the arrival of this emotion in my series with happiness because it is the last one.  Once I started the series, I realised how much work it was.  It was like giving myself a homework assignment.  Nevertheless, once I started it, I was going to finish it.  I hope you found it, at least, mildly interesting and informative!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Watson, Come Here, I Need You"

  Alexander Graham Bell probably had no idea what the future held after he uttered those famous words into his first practical telephone in 1876.  The first transatlantic call by radio was in 1927 and the first transatlantic cable telephone calls were possible in 1956.  Then a mere six years later, in 1962, Telstar carried the first phone call via satellite.  For good or bad, telephony has virtually become the heart and soul of everyone.
  What may be high tech at one point in time, becomes archaic at another time.  Case in point; in the film Sabrina, Humphrey Bogart plays a successful businessman, conducting business on his phone while being chauffeured around.  It is 1954 and you see him talking on a bulky radiotelephone handset with a huge antenna on top of the limo.  High tech then, ridiculous now.  Today we almost lose our phones in our pocket.  Not to mention video calls on the Internet.
  Nevertheless, technological changes are exciting.  Too bad our world wide sense of cooperation couldn't keep up the same pace.  In closing, let me leave you with a popular song that came out to celebrate the Telstar satellite:  Telstar by The Tornadoes

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Short History Lesson

  I received something in an email, yesterday, that I had seen before and thought I would share it with you.  Billy Joel had a hit song in 1989 called We Didn't Start The Fire.  It was a clever compilation of historical references of 50 years.  Someone by the name of Ye Li (I don't think it is the Chinese basketball player) put it into a pictorial video: 
             History Made From Concentrate 
  I hope you find it interesting!


Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I" and "The Catcher in the Rye"
Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye


We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser aand Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy hn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez


We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"
Lebanon, Charlse de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo


We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it
Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land"
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion
"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say


We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodsto/ck/, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
"Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore


We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Life Forces - Chapter 8 - Anger

anger.gif  Anger is one emotion we see too often, but a natural condition of humans.  Some secondary emotions of Anger are irritation, exasperation, rage, disgust, envy, and torment.  It can be caused by a vast range of sources from the most basic, such as survival, to the most complex such as relationships and competitiveness.  Of course, Anger can be linked to any and every other emotion.  There aren't too many positive attributes to Anger, but there are some, such as anger in oneself can lead to self improvement.  It is something that everyone is familiar with so instead of belabouring the point, suffice it to say that it is something that should be controlled and limited, when we 'lose it', we lose our common sense, self control and rationale.  You had better agree with me because you don't want to see me angry!

Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools. - Albert Einstein

Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them. - James Fallows

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Phone Addiction

  I saw this commercial on TV and thought it very interesting:  Windows Phone Ad  I did not understand their sales strategy of trying to sell their cell phone by showing how ridiculous people can behave with a cell phone.  However, it did show how preoccupied phone owners are, albeit a bit exaggerated.  Makes one wonder how we ever managed without one. 
  There are two things I hate shopping for; clothes and cell phones.  When I have to purchase a new cell phone, here is a list of all the features that I look for in it:
  1.  Ability to send and receive phone calls.

  That's it.  That is all I want it to do.  It is difficult to find a phone that is not loaded with a mess of things that I have no need  for.  Actually, if I had my way, I wouldn't even carry one, but I carry two, one for work and one for personal.  I am damned!
  As I have mentioned in a previous blog entry, I do allow myself the luxury of having eleven phones scattered around the house.  I like to have one within reach when I get a call.  Trouble is, invariably when I do get a call, it is on my cell phone, which is usually at the other end of the house.  Poor me.  Every generation has a technology to complain about.  I can imagine the complaints about the wheel in prehistoric times!

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Skeletons On The Landscape

  My work takes me within a couple hundred mile radius of my home.  That brings me into upstate and central New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.  While I am driving, I always find myself looking at the buildings, how they are built, designed, the condition they are in, etc.  The ones that really grab me are those that have fallen into disrepair.  It makes me imagine what the story is behind them: Are they in probate?  Is the owner too old and/or too poor?  Lack of pride?  As the years go by, the structures continue to crumble.  Reminds me of the old film The Time Machine where H.G. Wells watches things decay as the years slip by in seconds. 
  Route 20 runs east and west through the middle of New York state.  I imagine, at one time, it was a main artery of travel with many bustling little towns along the way taking retail advantage.  When the interstate was built, it took most of the traffic away from Route 20.  Now when you drive down the old highway, you will often see the remains of motels and cottages and once stately homes going to seed. 
  I can take it a step further and point out that during my travels I have noticed many communities that have structural carcasses in the form of old mills and factories that haunt their river banks like undernourished prisoners of war.  That can't be blamed on the advent of the interstate highway system.  We could blame the economic conditions or the politicians, but what I think is closer to the truth is the betrayal of American businesses by outsourcing their industries to foreign lands.
  All of these changes that I have mentioned have become more and more prevalent as we struggle to get by during this economic downturn.  I look forward to better days when the recession is behind us and we can afford, in finance and in wisdom, to have pride in our towns, our country, our world, and ourselves.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Secret To Happiness

Image result for balance  Without getting religious, I can summarize how to achieve happiness in one word; Balance.  Ironically, the concept was first presented to me in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes when I was sixteen.  No, I wasn't an avid bible reader, but Pete Seeger had put the scripture to music and in 1965, The Byrds made it into a hit song which I enjoyed as well as the message it contained.  Now that we know the secret, the trick is to accomplish it and for me that is a big task.  There are so many areas that we should balance and we don't.  A big one is our personality which we mostly have control over but we can blame some of it on our genetic makeup.  If I was controlled by my pet peeves (believe me, I have a lot of 'em), I would be a cranky, cantankerous old grouch.  On the other hand, if I meekly let everything roll off my back, I would be a spineless Marvin Milktoast.  So somewhere in between is an optimum balance that we should strive for to make us a better human being.  That goes for eating, playing, working, talking, and every activity we do.  The application of Balance can affect every aspect of our lives for good if we make a conscious effort to apply it to everything we do.  I bet you didn't know one word could have such a tremendous influence!

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:
1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5. a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6. a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7. a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Life Forces - Chapter 7 - Disgust

Image result for disgust  Anything that conflicts with our sensibilities is Disgust.  The tertiary emotions are revulsion, contempt, and loathing.  In my opinion, our reactions of Disgust are determined by our environment and upbringing.  What may be disgusting to one person may not be to another.   For example, some people would find it disgusting to not shower or bathe everyday while for others it would be perfectly normal to go longer. In our society where image is often paramount, Disgust can be a social tool. Martha Nussbaum identifies Disgust as a marker that bigoted discourse employs to “place”, by denigration, a despised minority. Removing “disgust” from public discourse constitutes an important step in achieving humane and tolerant democracies.

All is disgust when a man leaves his own nature and does what is unfit. - Sophocles