Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day ...not just another party.

A day to Remember 
 Today is a tragedy for Veterans and all those who paid the ultimate price of sacrifice. Another holiday of truly forgotten promises is only made worse by the memory of valiant soldiers and their selfless sacrifice of life and service so that we may live to forget.  I can think of nothing more despicable than the endless parties of raucous laughter, mindless enjoyment that holds nothing in common with the memorial that should be taking place.

In memorial we look back to what was and how we became what we are.  In memory we shape our thoughts toward the future in preparation of what we can become.  It is only though the memory of what used to be that a meaningful future is possible.  But we are a forgetful nation, a people calloused to the emotional ties that used to bind us as one.  Instead of memory we have lapses, gaps in judgment that propel us, hurling headlong into the abyss of hard insensitivity and calloused forgetfulness.  We are a people without feeling and without regard to the past, living forever in the present.  

As a recently retired teacher, mostly from middle school I've learned this tragedy first hand.  The selfishness of our youth is profound, a gift of negative proportions supplied most generously from their equally egoistic parents.  These young minds are filled with smut, lust and an extreme sense of lasciviousness that shames the most hardened soul.  The very mention of selflessness draws blank stares of incomprehensible astonishment.  They have no idea how to act in a selfless manner, nor do they care to learn.

From the greatest generation to the worst generation in our counties history, this is a national disgrace.  We should all be ashamed for allowing these cretins to wallow and demand their self-induced and government supported entitlements, draining the very life from what was once the greatest union of altruistic minds and efforts ever assembled. 

The hope however, still rings clear as efforts of a few still stand as a sentinels of what used to be.  There are still those who revere the glory of goodness and repose in humility to those who sacrificed that they might be. 

Our hope is in them.  Can we recover, can we regain what was lost and rebuild this nation back to what it used to be
or are we too far gone to escape the tidal pulls
that rip us from the shore of sanity?

For those few, even the fewer leaders I pray most fervently
that their minds will be filled with the goodness and power of humility,
their hearts turned toward the memories of what used to be
and their minds focused on service and sanctity.
Our hope is in them.

Today and in every country for those who feel pride and thanks for those who died for us, take a moment to really think about the sacrifices made, the ultimate gift of life paid by so many, so that we could choose to mindlessly party and play, carrying on like there was no tomorrow.    

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Variety is the spice of life

Beyond the simplistic option of black and white how far do we go to instill the minutia that seems to be controlling our lives?  Henry Ford said candidly “customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black", (you undoubtedly noticed I used gray in the lettering, just wanted to mix it up a little) referring to the public demand for color option on his Model T. Now you drive down the road and you see the virtual rainbow of hues and shades.

While painting a house the paint rep gave us a painting guide that contained most of their colors, it was three inches think and when I say most, they can custom tint any color you can imagine.  The options are indeed endless but that level of opportunity also has a level of responsibility as well.  The more choices we have the more choices we have to make and consequently the more we have to live with. 

For fun I was interested in the different options that encompass contract law and specifically the provisions that surround wills and estates.  Listening to a CD, I just happened to have in my gray car, the speaker was excoriating the massive legal issues surrounding the seemingly simple process of establishing an executable will and in the same breath lauding the process that allows for an almost infinite stream of minutia surrounding every conceivable scenario, there is nothing simple about a “simple will”.

We live our lives based on the minutia and not the certainties or absolutes.  We wake up with decisions about what to wear, what to eat, what to listen to on the radio on the way to work.  We make thousands upon thousands of decisions each and every day and each person makes thousands of decisions per day added to this their contrasting views, differing perspectives and alternate ways and the number of decision choices reached into the billions and billions (I sound like Carl Sagan) but to each his own we say, knowing that if we want to be able to decide than we have to allow others that same privilege.

Here in lies the problem.   Is there a black and white; is there a right and wrong to every scenario?  The Manichaeism believes there is.  The Ying and Yang, the Good versus Evil in every scenario.  Perhaps the answer is not that black and white but more part of the search for that distant hope of certainty that we develop these multiple options in order to sustain us through the uncertainty that is life.  For in all we do, even life and death, the two complete opposites are not defined cleanly, how can we be expected to see the absolutes so clearly? 

How we live our lives and even how we consider “life” as a dictate by our internal definition of what life means, bringing to bear the entire cycle of human existence in the simple desire to “be alive” or simply exist.  Death as well has its own level of confusion but so far those questions are left to the religious and thantalogical thinkers, most of us are really not that concerned with what we cannot understand.

From a religious perspective we have commandments that provide us with a more acute standard than those given by man-made laws; they are more absolute, meaning that they are less gray than the multi-colored options of life on earth.  Religious rules are often more absolute, more defined, with less wiggle room.  Because of the infinite minutia that bombards are senses, overwhelms our emotions and inundates our every decision the idea of living in an absolute frame of mind is often lost and considered by many to be inconceivable and impossible.  And those who even chose the religious life have declined seeking instead for the more open and permissive choices with many churches swaying souls back to church with open and permissive rhetoric. 

There are absolutes.  A woman is either pregnant or she is not.  The cycle of the sun raising and falling.  We may not want to think in absolutes because it requires a level of devotion and commitment that most are unwilling to make.  Living a certain way, being loyal to that choice does require black and white decisions.  Not to smoke, or drink alcohol those are absolutes.  The choice to remain true to your spouse and to yourself, these are decision that create a pallet that is more harmonized and in stark contrast to the confusion that surrounds and infiltrates most of our lives.
When the universe and all its complexity and variety is viewed from a mortal perspective we can only derive the notion of Chaos but when it is viewed from the perspective of a creation then it becomes a system of planning and absolute certainty. 

As parents we often see the mistakes of our children long before they realize their missteps.  They are unable to see the “whole picture” they are unable to visualize the effects of their actions.  Good parents are more like a master chess player they can visualize an entire game, move by move prior to moving the first piece.

This life may seem chaotic and minutia filled, but it is that variety that at least for me provides the principle and foundational surety that each and every color, plants in all their variety, bumps in the road and mistakes are all known.  The minutia of life is cause, not for concern but for praise that we too have a parent who not only guides us but allows us to learn from our mistakes, a heavenly being that lives, that gives us the challenging opportunity to wade through the throng of never ending choices, opportunities to hopefully find ourselves as He is, all knowing, all good and eternal, always making the right choice as if everything were black and white.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Primordial ooze ...again

Primordial ooze revisited

At first sight the level of work needed to make this old house into a home was staggering.  The weather was not helping either, with rain predicted for the next two weeks and intermittent drops of temperature that would bring between two and three feet of snow just made matters worse.

I’ve worked a lot of jobs but this one was slightly misrepresented.  I was hired to redo the kitchen and maybe one bathroom, if it was needed but upon my initial inspection of the associated report the basic services to the house were in desperate condition.  There was no water, no heat, the walls were cracked and there was mildew that seemed to cover large portions of the walls and floors.  It was a little late to back out however, I was being paid by the week, I had a clean and comfortable room at the local motel and a food allowance with no completion date.  I guess they (whoever they were) knew of the work needed but knew I wouldn't accept initially.

As I entered the house, through the back door, the front door was jammed; the rush of air that blew past me seemed to go right through me.  It was as if it was trying to escape and the associated feelings were that I should do the same.  I needed the money and this was going to be a long term payoff, so I shrugged my shoulders and drove my hands deep into my pants pockets and entered.

The mud room was the first room I physically saw and I was amazed at the amount of growth on the walls and floor, the black, almost fuzzy, mossy stuff seemed to be everywhere; I could feel it under my boots with each step.  I removed my painter’s knife and scraped at the nearest wall, the stuff fell away easy enough, just like peeling some dead skin off an old wound.  I let it drop and moved on into the kitchen.

With each step further into the house I could feel my breathing become labored and knew at that point that the black mold was affecting me, I would have to get a hazmat team in here for removal.  I instinctively put my hand to my face and covered my nose and mouth with my sleeve.  The kitchen layout was nice except for an island area that had fallen into disrepair.  One side of the oval shaped island was falling through the floor revealing a slight gap into the basement below a level of blackness that seemed to draw you in, your eyes seeing only the blackness their focus riveted by the nothingness within.

Even with my hand over my mouth and nose the darkness started to creep under my palm, I could taste it.  The foul but strangely sweet taste dripped down my throat, causing me to gag but the sweetness came and it actually tasted good.  Nothing I've ever tasted before but a pungent sweet and sour mix that confuses the senses, at least I could drop my hands.

Passing though the kitchen into the dining room I pulled on the soiled and dusty curtains hoping the lights from outside would alleviate some of the dankness, but when I pulled down the heavy cloth the windows were still covered with the gritty ooze leaving only a shadowing glimmer to the once darkened rooms.

Making it to the front door I had to use all of my power to budge the massive oak door from its locked position into opening.  This shard of light blasted the darkness like a flashlight in a darkened cave but the sight it revealed cramped my breathing and forced me to dive out of the house.

I had never seen what I just saw and hoped beyond hope that I would never see again the images that would forever be emblazoned on my psyche.  As I knelt panting and gasping for fresh air, even with the rain soaking my clothes I was grateful to be free of the grasp of that reality within.  And just as I had committed to move away from the house the house pulled at me, willing me to return and in some way explain itself, to rationalize, I thought to downplay what I had seen. 

With sever trepidation my feet began to move prior to my mind agreeing and before I could stop myself I was past the threshold, closing the door behind me.

For weeks no one knew what had happened to me or the house.  For me it was only a few moments but for my employers, it was three weeks.  They had heard nothing of me or any progress reports only my silence.  My rented motel room had thought nothing of my never returning. After the initial two week payments had been exhausted they simply cleaned the room and rented to another.

As for me, this is all I remember.  I remember closing the door and the smell attacking my senses so completely that I felt sick, after that only bits and pieces, dreams and snippets of nightmarish images that still bring tears to my eyes, even now ten years later.

I drove by the house a few months back and it’s still there, Still boarded up and dark.  Still vacant, well vacant from our perspective but from mine it’s very much occupied, very much filled with borders and tenets, not the paying kind, they really don’t want to be bothers but when they are they take the time to get to know you.

They got to know me.  Every inch, inside and out, they got to know me, for as soon as I closed the door and reentered their world I was theirs.  They are not evil per say, I don’t think they know what evil or what good is, they just are.  For three weeks the blacked moss grew over every inch of my body and extracted whatever it was they wanted.

My memories, my fears, my dreams and my very existence were theirs to use as they pleased.  I still don’t know what they are, but I know who they are, they are both life and death, existence and void, they are the primordial ooze that started all life and from which all life had its humble beginnings, except there not from around here, there not from earth.

The only clear thing I do remember is that their not sure what to do with what they started.  This house is another test spot, like the old misty ponds of millennium ago, except now there in a house.  What will come next, I wasn't told but I could feel that there was more going on than just me.  It felt like I was being evaluated and something new was about to be introduced and whatever it was would not be human. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Freedom or tyranny?

Freedom is: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.  It is the absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. It is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved physically, mentally or emotionally.

A stark but trivial reminder of our loss of freedom is our willingness to buy into the notion that governments know best and are good stewards of those lauded inalienable right.  One seemingly innocuous event transformed my opinion of what real freedom is and how easy we are letting it slip through our fingers, occurred yesterday.

I’ve been working on restoring an old house near Cleveland, Ohio.  One of the surrounding cities has some fairly stringent policies toward home ownership and makes it a point of sale to outline infractions that must be repaired in order for the owner of the property to get a refund of a sizable fee placed with the city to ensure compliance.  I do understand the need for oversight but this level of bureaucracy was staggering in its micromanagement.

In order to set the stage for a clearer understanding of the situation let me outline that the amount of work needed to get this house looking nice was staggering. I don’t want to get into the details of what had to be done other than to say this was not a weekend project by any means so when a guy shows up to the house and asks for the owner, my first thought was that he was there to sell me something.

The exterior is getting ready to be painted and has already received its primer coat. The windows and doors are all covered with plastic, the gutters have all been removed for later replacement and the large construction bin in the driveway makes this house a clear candidate as a remodel with very clear intentions of making the once dilapidated eyesore into a jewel of the neighborhood.  So when the guy shows and blatantly demands that we cut the grass, I thought it was a joke.

First off, I’m not from around here so random people telling me to do something is probably not the best way to gain my confidence.   Second the obviousness of the situation was staggering in its simplicity yet this guy failed to see the scope of project and was singularly focused on his bureaucratic task, telling us that we were out of compliance with a city ordinance and needed to cut the lawn.  Third, it’s been raining cats and dogs for over a week and little or no mention of that reality came across in the man’s demands…

I also reminded him of the amount of work progressing in trying to make this house more presentable and that getting the grass cut was not that high on my list of priorities at the moment but we would get to it soon.  “It needs to be cut by Saturday” was his stringent and curt reply.

So like any good red blooded American I questioned his position and asked him “is this what are taxes are paying for, sending a guy like you to tell me to cut my grass?”  I know this is not a hugely important issue but it does illustrate the level of control that we have all allowed. 

We have succumbed to the tyrannical level of servitude when we allow others to tell us what we can and cannot do, especially in such trivial matters as maintaining the lawn.  This point of slavery is a real reminder of how far we’ve come in order to attempt to maintain a civil and acceptable level of supposed freedom.  More and more often people are literally buying into tyranny.  How many of you live in an association?

In this particular area the city is the association and has enacted rules that everyone has to live by and on top of those rules is a usurious property tax base that boggles the mind.  Home ownership is no longer a constitutional right and I suspect this city and virtually every city and town has the power to impose penalties in the form of liens if we refused to abide by their laws, putting the right of ownership in jeopardy over something as trivial as not cutting the lawn, if that’s not tyranny than what is?

What’s most sad is the willingness most have to willfully accept those conditions and the powers that oversee the minutia that we so often take for granted.  We are selling our souls to the devil with each blade of uncut grass the gentle slope of our enslavement is exacerbated each time we allow others to tell us what to do with what is rightfully ours.

Are we property owners or are we simply leasing our homes and our possessions?  Look, we all understand that we need taxes, society has to move forward and we need basic services in order to function.  We need streets and power and water, trash removal and maybe even parks and libraries but do we really need a guy to tell us to cut our lawns?  Do we really need property taxes that equal the cost or our home every 15 years?  Do we really need a local, state and national governments telling us which doctor to see or what kind of coverage we are allowed or what size soft drink we can buy or how much salt to eat?

What we need is less of everything and more individual responsibility.  More of the inalienable and God given rights to act according to our own desires and conscience, realizing that we are responsible for what we do and we will conversely suffer or benefit from the decisions we make.   

I for one have always been responsible for what I’ve done; I just think it’s time for everyone to be just like me…

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The penalties for free speech...

They say that violence begets violence and if just one person took a stand and stopped, the violence would stop.  It sounds grand and a little believable but it reminds me of an old Star Trek episode where Spock’s hero Surak, the father of Vulcon philosophy approached a similar situation and did stand up to the violence ….and was summarily executed for his effort.  You may remember “help me Spock…”

There are rules we live by but those rules are increasingly being unearthed as the rules of the decadent leadership meant only  for us and not them with illogical and irrational  and not them with illogical and irrational consequences attached.  Taxes and fees, administrative costs and non-refundable filing fees just so the few at the top can keep us shopping at the company store.   Years in jail for smoking pot, or certain “rule breakers” get off with just a slap.

The rules against violence are perhaps the most interesting.  They tell us repeatedly not to engage, not to employ the tactics that might keep us safe, trying to sell to us on the idea that “they” will protect us, but from what?  More like a racket of protection that relies on the fear of those selling the protection in order to keep us safe from them.

Violence, brutality, hostility and aggression are real factors that man has had to deal with since he first become conscious of his own mortality.  Those who make the laws have forgotten or more succinctly they want us to forget that violence can only be controlled by those with greater power, more violent perhaps, more brutality, maybe, but it’s the level of power that decides what level of violence will be allowed in any given situation.  Even Jesus Christ used a little violence when He extracted the money changers from the temple, using just the right amount of anger and violence to get his point across.

On the playground the bully decides who will be punished and who will lose their lunch money.  On the battle field it’s those with superior firepower and tactics that controls the war, but our leaders would have us believe that we should be submissive and trusting in their power to protect us, all the while they grind us underfoot, take away our liberties and destroy our very sovereignty, a freedom that was won with the cost of countless lives and violence by the way.

If two people are in a room arguing and one pulls a knife the argument usually ends, that is until the other pulls a gun.  I guess we could make an argument as long as neither had any arms of any kind they would simply keep arguing, that is until the larger or more skilled of the two resorted to fisticuffs and then were simply back to the survival of the fittest, not a great scenario for those of us that are older or weaker or less able to stand our ground, even if we are “in the right”.

That is precisely what is happening in our own country.  The arguments are being controlled by those with more power.  Political correctness has replaced the knife or gun but the power it has over an argument is just as profound.  The pressures of having to speak without hurting anyone has so overwhelmed our vernacular that even those who speak in private are shunned and shamed and punished.  Our first amendment right to free speech is far from free.  Take the example of Donald Sterling and his “racist” comments.  He is being punished for his free speech. 

Whether you believe he’s a racist or not is not the issue, the issue is, does he have the right to say what he wants to say?  Do those in power have the right to censure and punish a man for what he believes or says?  The standard, it seems, is ever changing depending on who is in control.  The violence of his words may have been hurtful, may have been insensitive and may reveal his true character but is not that what free speech is all about?

Violence comes in a lot of forms, not all bloody and physical.  Two synonyms of violence are aggression and cruelty.  Both words seem to more clearly describe the repercussions and backlash given to Donald Sterling and both indicate a level of violence not measured as a suitable response for someone simply stating his beliefs.  Have you been on the internet lately and spoken a word against global warming?  Take a firm hold on your seat and be prepared to be slandered in the most vicious of ways.  If your beliefs do not coincide with others then you will be branded in a most cruel and violent manner just because you have a differing opinion, it’s as simple as that.

I don’t share those same vial tendencies and I don’t think I've ever spoken as Mr. Sterling has but I am not a public figure with every word, every movement recorded and scrutinized as he is.  Free speech is supposed to allow for anyone to say almost anything.  I understand as well that the basketball association has certain powers over their franchisees but like any organized power structure they seem to be overstepping their authority and enacting punishments that are egregious in their violent response. 
This is not really about Sterling, it’s not about free speech, it’s about the power of those that govern our lives to enact rules that continue to destroy not only our freedoms but our will and free expression, our very lives.  The powers of government to change the rules without representation has become a real issue for all of us and one that we can no longer be silent about.  We don’t need to use foul language but we need to speak out and speak often and together we can take our country back, together we hold the majority of power, all we have to do is act upon it, with maybe just a little violence just for fun.... 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The strategy for a conspiracy

There are no conspiracies, no governmental secretes to control our lives, no multinational banks that control the economies of the world, and the sheer mention of these possibilities would put you on the fast track to the loony bin.  There may not be a conspiracy but there is a strategy!

We all strategize and plan, coordinate, manipulate, maneuver and influence, it’s human nature to try to get ahead of the pack, but the problem is not simply moving a bit faster than the crowd, or stepping off onto a different path, the issue is what the large corporations do as they strategize to gain control, increase market share toward their goal of ultimate power.

The first mantra of the business world is “how to we add value”.  Without added value there is no reason to continue. Value brings profits and profits allow for expansion and expansion is power and power is control.  The very essence of the large multinational corporations is no different than the small mom and pop corner store, making money.  But the means by which they achieve that goal is the difference between simply working every day and the strategy of globalization.

Globalization in itself is the pursuit of free trade, open borders, opportunities and a truly free world economy, but the globalization of a corporation is quite different.  Let’s start with a quick scenario:  Imagine a small software company started by a very motivated young man.  He develops a good product and is able to sell that product effectively.  Like all business the saturation of the market naturally prevents unlimited growth forcing the young man to change or add to his product base. 
Soon the young man has multiple revenue streams and is able to buy his way into new markets by purchasing his competitors business or even more effectively destroying the competition through a variety of means, negative adds, political favors, espionage etc.  The young man is developing a strategy similar to those used by other great corporate giants like the old railroad, steel and newspaper tycoons used.  It’s important to keep in mind that the number one goal in business is to make money…period.  There is really nothing wrong with making money, we all need it but it’s in how we make that money that creates the problem.

In the young man scenario he could continue to expand and globalize, ever seeking more markets and more power and more control with no end in sight a vicious cycle very similar to a battle strategy to increase land area by taking from others.  Corporate strategy is the same as war strategy.  If you've ever read The Art of War   by Sun Tzu, you’ll understand.

The globalization of business may seem beneficial to many, especially when our products come cheaper and are more available but the subsequent cost of that availability will almost always produce a level of dependence that can be manipulated.  That manipulation is very seldom positive and requires an imbalance in human activity in order to maintain the current need and supply.  Good examples can be found throughout history.  When one civilization or people has a continuing need they or those that supply that need resort to inhuman methods to ensure continuity. 

Sweat shops, work houses, the pyramids, the coal mines, the railroads, present day taxes, to name just a few.  The corporate giant will find a way to amass the means to supply the needs in order to line their pockets with unimaginable profits.  The strategies of the old ways have changed but the goals are the same.  The banking industry is a long way from the dreamy vision of, It’s a wonderful life; it has taken on a much more sinister level of oppression and greed more akin to the recent movie of The international

There may not be a secret conspiracy but the evidence of illicit strategies is well known and documented.    The number one goal for almost all corporate concerns is to make money, the more money the better.  The simple truth is often avoided but the reality is brought to bear using the words of Abraham Lincoln:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
—U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 
(letter to Col. William F. Elkins)

The global corporate concern is indeed the new monarchy.  Abraham Lincoln was right and that oligarchy of power is firmly held in the hands of a few.  According to Forbes there are approximately 147 companies that control almost everything. 

They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all. The top 20 are at the bottom of the post. This is, say the paper’s authors, the first map of the structure of global corporate control.

The real truth is who are they and who controls those companies?  Who are the few who wield the power over our lives?  This is not about the corner store owners desire to open another store in order to make a few extra dollars to send his daughter to college, no, this is about the giant retailer’s corporate board and the few massively rich leaders who care nothing about the store owner, or his daughters education and only want the point or two of market share that helps maintain their life style and pursuit of total control and power.  It’s about those in governments and those same few who manipulate policy, motivate law makers and influence countries and financial markets though evil strategies that will if not stopped ruin us all.

The simple solution, stop buying from well funded, massive concerns and buy from those that make.  Use the corner store, frequent the local hardware shop not the big box retailer.  Don’t go to the multinational of anything.  We actually hold the power to change our lives, at least we do for now….

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Not just another Day....Mothers Day...we all have one.

With tears in my eyes I listened to the 911 call of Amanda Berry as she excitedly proclaimed her existence and her freedom after what must have been ten years of hell.  The timeliness of this revelation comes in concert with our celebration of Mother’s Day and the real tragedy is Amanda’s mother dying before the news of her daughter came to light.

One year ago from these events Amanda Berry has changed her name, gotten a book deal, probably preparing for the soon to be released made for TV movie and has taken charge of her life with astounding speed and confidence.  Her mother would be so proud of what she has not only become but what she has been able to endure.

The psychological damage done to an individual during 10 years of captivity can take a life time to balance.  Amanda has a long way to go but her current attitude I will attribute to her desire to be a mother to her child.  The act of being a mother supersedes in a great respect all the evils and trials one can endure.  The instinct of Motherhood trumps those life events and creates a direct line to the Divine with the ability to tap into that goodness; the Amanda’s of this world continue to thrive despite the evil perpetrated.  It is the power of being a mother….

Not being a mother but trying to play one at home has offered me a differing perspective of what it means to be a mother.  Let me get something straight right off the bat (an idiom that refers to doing something quickly, immediately and had its origins within either baseball or cricket, not the bug but the game in England) I am not a mother, will never be a mother and would not want to be a mother but I am learning, slowly what it means to be a mother and it’s not an easy process.

Being a mother requires a level of empathy that I will probably never develop, I’m not wired to feel that way when my kids or any kids for that matter fall down and hurt themselves.  I don’t have the same level of concern over their safety and often find myself going about my business without thinking about what the “children” are doing, lost in the garage or some other manly place that allows me to retain my masculinity, just assuming that all will be well.

Amanda’s mother suffered daily over the loss of her daughter, as did her father but the level of loss by her mother is profoundly more acute than most men can even fathom.  As males we do feel and we feel deeply for those we love and often for those whom we serve but the differences between men and women in relation to deep and abiding emotions are palpable and to never have had resolution of that loss for Amanda’s mother could only have been described as insufferably intolerable, perhaps the closest emotional connection humanity can have to true sorrow and the beginning of what our Father in Heaven must have felt when he had to silently watch as His Son struggled through Gethsemane and His death on the cross.

Mothers more keenly share that divine connection and often bask in that glow of that mother child connection.  Men try, they really do, some are even very good at it getting close to learning the essential skills that come naturally to women but it is that chiasmic depths of eternal love born into their genetic coding that helps women help us to understand our place in life, our past and our future.  It is those feelings that separate us (men and women) from the animals and monsters that plague our natural state, those that would cause us harm and steal away our lives for their own evil inclinations.

I would like to give homage to a relative of mine the one and only Anna Jarvis who dedicated her life to pursuing the dreams of her mother and in the process established “mother’s day” in the United States.  For a full historical profile of mother’s day, click the link: 

As we approach Mother’s Day perhaps we can try a bit harder to understand the pressures of our mothers, our wives and our sisters and daughters.  The history of women has not been an easy one nor have the accolades provided much solace for all that these valiant women have accomplished and endured.  One day a year we slow down, start looking for gifts and end up sending flowers or letting our mothers not do the dishes, or completely make the meal, they deserve so much more.

Amanda Berry became a mother while in captivity, her shining star the result of a heinous act of selfish brutality but the love she has for her daughter is unmolested by the molestation of her birth.  She is a true mother, a great example to all of us.  She has what I can only dream of possessing and will most likely continue to thrive now that she is free.  (My words are not prophetic by any means but her present level of success is a testament to her veracity and stalwart personality.)     

My advice to all is simple, learn about your mothers and potential mothers and treat them with the eternal deference they deserve.  As men it is our responsibility to guard and protect and in so doing respect and revere those who gave us life and continue to give of all they are so that we might be.  The least we can do is try to do more than flowers, maybe actually try to do the work she does every day for just one day…that would be nice. 

And on this particular mother’s day I want to let my wife know again, and again….what an incredible woman I have for a wife. I know this is not wife's day but she is the Mother to my children (10) yes I said ten, all healthy, somewhat balanced and responsible and progressing though life as expected, they are all great kids and I attribute their success and stability to their mother, who has never shrunk from her duty and has excelled in every aspect of motherhood, including putting up with me.

I love you....from Cleveland…will be home soon…I hope.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

You Heard me Right....

The other day I got a hunger pang about an hour before I usually feel the need for food.  I’m not one of those who have to eat at the prescribed time nor am I one of those who go through a series of personality changes, bordering on the insane, when food does not arrive or is not ready or is unavailable for whatever reason.  I actually pride myself on my ability to keep, as it were, an even keel. 

That phrase “as it were” has always bothered me.  I asked a teacher once, thinking they knew it all but she was unable to explain and I’ve been in the dark, as it were, ever sense.  The meaning of the phrase is easy but its origins are not. The meaning of the phrase is: so to speak, in a manner of speaking, to some extent, etc…. but the origins are a bit more muddled, and by the way, I’ll get back to the story in a second, in a manner of speaking that is.

The form were is a past subjunctive, and it is used in a construction that is common in hypothetical situations:

He would kill me if he were able.

She behaves as [would be fitting / etc.] if she were upper class.

The phrase is theoretically short for as [it would be if] it were [so], though it is uncertain whether that is really where it came from.

The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.) has its earliest quote from circa 1386:

As it were: as if it were so, if one might so put it, in some sort: a parenthetic phrase used to indicate that a word or statement is perhaps not formally exact though practically right.

·         c1386 Chaucer Nun's Pr. T. 26 She was as it were a maner deye.
·         1399 Langl. P. Pl. C. ix. 22 Ich wolde a-saye som tyme for solas, as hit were.
·         1531 Elyot Gov. (1834) 211 It draweth a man as it were by violence.
·         1579 E. K. in Spenser's Sheph. Cal. Mar. 11 Gloss., The messenger, and as it were, the forerunner of springe.
·         1692 E. Walker Epictetus' Mor. (1737) xxii, You're as it were the Actor of a Play.
·         1711 Steele Spect. No. 32 31 She has thought fit, as it were, to mock herself.
·         1881 Buchanan God & Man I. 124 She took him at once, as it were, into her confidence.

Ok, I got that out of the way, as it were and can now get back to the story.  When I got hungry I had the opportunity to stop working and take a few extra minutes while the tile I was setting, set.  I drove a few blocks to a small but quaint little downtown area in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, there are a lot of these little hamlets but this one was the closest.

I chose a restaurant I’d visited previously thinking the food was good the last time, anyway I sat down and ordered a breakfast, it was 11:00 AM and I had yet to have my breakfast so it seemed like a good idea.  While I was waiting the gentleman seated kitty corner (ok that’s another phrase that kind of bugs me …but later for that one) from my table asked what the waitress’s name was and I thought I heard Cantaloupe.  What a strange name I thought and then got back to the local paper I had borrowed on the way in.

A few minutes later the waitress brought the man his cantaloupe. It took me a few seconds for it to register and then it hit me like a ton of bricks, as it were.  How could I have gotten that simple exchange so wrong?  I was close enough, my hearing is good enough and I was actually paying attention.  When the man stopped the waitress as she was passing he raised his cane to get her attention, it also got mine.

I’m still trying to figure out how “what is your first name” sounds like, and I’m just guessing here, “What kind of fruit do you have?”  He had to ask for fruit, her answer was clearly cantaloupe.  If something so ordinary can be so misunderstood can you imagine what we do to the complicated? 

I've always had an interest in language, its origins, their meanings and their transformations and I thought I could not be duped so completely in regards to the basic understanding of the oral language, including idioms, synonyms and the subtleties of the spoken word, but I was and it’s actually disturbing.

Disturbing because I knew of the illicit practices of our politicians, the corporate world, local and state governments ….suffice to say, I think most of our organized functionaries try to conceal, obfuscate, cover up or just try to confuse so that they can refrain from following the path of honesty, it’s perhaps too expensive to be honest.

I knew they, (the above mentioned), did their best to keep the public in the dark, that’s what those who hold power have done since the first tribal leader embellished his skills for the purpose of staying in power, but to fall so easily over something so trivial as a cantaloupe, It was unexpected and eye opening at the same time.

It is easy for any of us to be manipulated into thinking something that is simply not true.  That is why we need to study the facts, as it were, in order to keep from making the fatal mistake of using that unintended but damaging information like I almost did when I was about to ask the waitress for some water.  I was about to call her by name, thinking that would ingratiate me to her and I would get better service.   “Excuse me, Cantaloupe; can I please have some water?”  Maybe she would have given me the cantaloupe, as it were, in my face…..