Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cranial Density

I read the comment sent to the blog last night, went to their website.

It's the usual, 'You don't live right' situation.

No names given for the author, but some hints. Anyone who uses 'SCOTUS' in their messages, usually has had training or works around the legal system. For those of you out there who don't know, SCOTUS is the abbreviation for Supreme Court of the United States.

Is our mystery guest, who has gone to plenty of websites and blogs to log their anonymous comments about the Jehovah's Witnesses, a lawyer in hiding? Methinks it's possible.

You know the line from Shakespeare's play, "King Henry VI , Part II" about lawyers?


The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

I don't agree with that sentiment. I know some good lawyers. I have also known some who should be in jail. What bothers me, most of them are not interested in settling things, they just want to drag problems out to increase their billing hours.

The ongoing rant from 'Anonymous' is that the Jehovah's Witnesses are letting people die, because they don't allow blood transfusions. They also don't respect confidentiality situations in work relations. If they find out that another Jehovah's Witness has 'sinned' and it's on the record where they work, they report it to the church. Which can lead to the 'sinner' getting booted out of the congregation and the church.

I don't understand the problem here. If they are willing to let themselves die and their kids also, wouldn't that reduce the number of them that this anonymous commentator is worried about? Anon complains on their site about the THOUSANDS of court cases that are brought because of this religion. So what?

There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of bogus lawsuits in this country. Who brings them? People who are able to find a lawyer who'll take the case and file the lawsuit.

What about the TENS OF THOUSANDS that die at the hands of 'skilled professionals' in our hospitals every year? This is documented and a much larger problem.

How about the tens of thousands that die on our roads, because of drugs, alcohol, driver error or mechanical malfunction (another driver error)?

What the anon commentator doesn't want to face is that life isn't perfect.

The question is, how thick is your skull?

'Alas, poor Yorick...'

His skull an empty shell

full of naught but air

no thought flits there.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Why Be Anonymous?

It's a sign of bravery, it's the signature of the strong. The song of those who sing with purity and knowledge in their hearts.

OK, cut to the chase. People who post comments using either 'Anonymous' or any of it's derivatives or, better yet, a pseudo-intellectual, tough guy or bogus handle are....what's a good word here?

Wimps? Wussies? Chickenshit? Gutless?

All of the above!

Don't give me the, "I have to do it to protect my identity, 'cause my boss will fire me." OR the "It's my right to make a statement without having to reveal who I am". Lines of the lame.

You can tell, because they usually write garbage.

(Yes, I could be more emphatic about this, use stronger language, but why? It doesn't impress anyone. I didn't really want to use 'chickenshit' but that's got a special, barnyard connotation.)

You're just kidding yourself, "anon".

Try to learn to stand up for what you believe in and express yourself in a respectful manner, all the while owning up to it in public.

Yeah, takes guts, but you can do it.

After all, if you wind up breeding and have kids one day, you might want to tell them about it.

Hard for the little tyke to believe it when the comment is signed, "Anonymous".

Unless, of course, that happens to be your family name.

End Times, Books and the Internet---------Part Two

I should have known better.

Never bring up religion, politics or sex. It ALWAYS gets someone angry. No matter how you present your topic.

I received a comment, which won't be posted, about how I would "enjoy" a website listing lawsuits concerning the Jehovah's Witnesses. Since the person who sent the comment used the 'anon' signature, I won't post it.

You don't have the guts to sign your name, why should I post your stuff?

First off, I don't 'enjoy' any lawsuit. Been there and done that. I don't think anyone 'enjoys' going to court, no matter what the reason. It goes back to what I mentioned in the previous post. No respect. People who don't respect the law or other people, wind up in court. Sometimes, people who do respect the law wind up in court.

We can get into a long debate about 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' here. One of the freedoms guaranteed us is religious freedom in America. The problem is, too many people want to tell other people how to live. They don't stop at what you do, but how you do it, where you do it, who you do it with, and what you wear when you do it.

It's none of your business, how another person lives their life, as long as they respect your rights and your space. Step over the line, try to tell them how to live? Who gave you the right to do that?

Judgmental situations arise every day. We all judge people and events, not knowing all the facts. I have worked with Jehovah's Witnesses at different jobs. Guess what, they are people, just like anyone else. They just have a belief system that's different to the point of bothering those who are more sheep-like than others.

Ever notice that people who have a firm belief are never afraid to express it? Doesn't matter if they are a scientist, a religious leader or a politician. They are SURE that what they are saying is correct, until proven wrong.

Now the key word here is BELIEF. This is where the tribe empowerment comes into play. All those folks who back you up reinforce what you think is correct.

Remember, they burned people at the stake a few centuries back, because they believed that the earth orbited around the sun. At that time, the people with the torches were sure that the sun orbited around the earth. Some even thought that the earth was flat.

Which brings us back to that other thing that I mentioned in the last post, perspective.

I don't know it all, neither do you.

It's always best to try and get some perspective to any situation.

What I do know is this. When it comes to my body, it's none of your business how it's treated and cared for. You aren't paying for it, so you don't have any say in it.

As for people who refuse blood transfusions, I'm one of them. No, I'm not a Jehovah's Witness.

I'm a person who's worked in a hospital and seen doctors, nurses and others make mistakes. Some of which killed people.

Why do you think that doctors and lawyers have 'practices'?

It's because they're still learning on the job.

End Times, Books and the Internet

I was looking for something to read the other day. My house is full of books and magazines, most of which I had read. I was looking for something with quality.

Found my old set of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare". A two volume set that I read many years ago. It's a Book Club set that was printed by Nelson Doubleday. There's no printing date, so I don't know the year I got them. They have to be at least forty years old, as I started reading them in grade school. I drag them out every so often to read.

It got me to thinking about what people read these days. After seeing the latest news that about 30 percent of our high school students drop out. Hearing tales from my neighbors of their kids quitting school. They aren't doing it to work, they just want to hang out and be 'cool'.

Mr. Shakespeare definitely influenced me. We studied his stuff in high school, saw "Romeo and Juliet", the movie, when it came out in 1971. I was in Europe at the time, so it may have come out in the USA earlier. A writer still being read and having his work made into films, centuries later. It gives you an idea of the power of the word.

The next day, I went out to get the mail. As I walked back to the house, a car pulled in the driveway. An older man and two teenage girls. I turned around and went to their mini-van to find out what they wanted, figured they were lost or selling something.

The old man asked me if he was still in his county, I told him that the line was up the road. He was out of his assigned territory. No matter, he wanted to talk.

They were Jehovah's Witnesses. When he started to ask me if I was concerned about it being 'the end times' I knew where the conversation was headed. My question took him by surprise, "You're a Jehovah's Witness, right?" He nodded.

He asked me if I watched TV. I told him, "No." Which shocked him.
"How do you get your news? You read the newspaper?"
"No. If you believe in the Bible, why do you watch TV and read the newspaper?"
That got his attention.

The local Jehovah's Witnesses quit coming around here about a year ago. They found out that I would talk their ears off. What they heard they didn't like. This guy was more tolerant. He got back on the 'end times' thing.

I asked him about the Mayans. They predicted an 'end times' a couple of thousand years ago. He had never heard of them. I suggested that he might want to read up on them. Do something new, like look at things from a different point of view.

So, I asked him about the Internet. He confessed that he had just bought a laptop about two weeks ago and was now going to get on the Internet to see what it was about.

One of the questions that I ask is "What church or religion is mentioned in the Bible?" In any group where I mention this, most don't want to discuss it. Probably because they aren't Jewish. I'm not Jewish and the Jews that I know usually don't want to discuss the Bible either.

The second question that I ask is, "What did Jesus do between the ages of 12 and 30?" There is no mention of this time period in the Bible. He had no answer to this one either.

I asked him if he knew that other groups had records of Jesus visiting them. Didn't know about it and acted like he really didn't want to hear it. Ignorance is bliss.

We briefly got on the topic of how reading a book leads people to believe what they read as being the only way something can work or how something happened. I tried to bring up the perspective of the author.

It was getting obvious that this was one of those 'can't see the forest for the trees' deals. When you get too close to something, you lose perspective. People join groups, no matter what they believe in, whether it's a drug gang or a political party, so they can feel like they are part of the tribe. It's a sense of empowerment. I'm now part of a larger group and that gives me the power of their numbers. They believe in the tribal power.

Too many things are written with an agenda that has no relation to the truth of the matter. People who are unwilling to search for the truth on their own, will always take the easy road and believe what they are told.

Which brings us to the situation we are in today, worldwide. There is no trust between people, locally or nationally. Respect has gone out the window. Why should anyone respect the rights of other people. As long as they can get their way, they don't care if you suffer for it.

The irony is that in the end, we all suffer for it.

As for the 'end times'?

Well, everything ends, sooner or later.

Just like a book.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring Fever

You can tell it's Spring and a full moon. Everyone is acting weird, some of it's off the charts.

I write posts about the influences in my life that led me to write. Pretty boring stuff. I could fill up a blog post each week about the different authors that I have read who influenced me.

The good ones and the bad ones. The problem is that I see more bad writing now than ever before. Most of it is in magazines, but there are some real stinkers out there in the book world, too. We won't even go into the 'fake memoirs' or hoax biographies file.

Wasted a good hour this morning on a scathing email to a friend. She continues to send me bogus emails, purported to have been written by a general or a celebrity or some such knowledgeable person. The basic rant, 'everything is perfect, except for those unbelievers out there'.

The email then broke down into the usual psycho-babble propaganda. Spurious statistics, allegations and outright lies.

Which leads me to the real problem.

Nobody wants to accept responsibility for anything they do these days.

It doesn't matter who it is, someone else is the problem.

Things going bad? Blame the media, the government, the stock market, 'those people', blame it on the foreigners. Point the finger at someone, but don't look into the mirror and go, "Hey, it's up to me."

That would take guts.

I really enjoy the 'anonymous' people who send in comments on blogs and other sites.

You can't sign your name to it, then it's not worth talking about.

I didn't see 'anonymous' sign the Declaration of Independence.

Guess they were sick at home that day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Your Course May Vary

You can always count on having things change. Doesn't matter what you planned to do, there will be some adjustments made before the event takes place.

I have been working on my latest book now for over three years. It seems like forever. The page count grows and the words get hammered out when they don't flow onto the screen. It's the wrapping up the story that is giving me fits. Every time I want to work on it, I have other things to do on the farm.

It's been a very wet Spring, like Ireland around here. I love Ireland, home of Guinness, Irish whiskey and red-headed women. It's home to some great authors too.

J.P. Donleavy, displaced by his own choice, American that he is, lives in the Emerald Isles. The man is indirectly responsible for my penchant for prose. Mickey Cooper was the catalyst. Where he is and what he's doing now is beyond me. I've heard that he's in Colorado, but that's not been confirmed. He was one of my high school football coaches in Brussels.

We were on the bus, riding back from Upper Heyford, England. The U.S. Air Force high school there had just whipped our butts and we were on the road back to London. A night on the town, sucking down Bass Red Ale and ogling the birds would do our wounded pride and aching bodies good. It had been a wet, nasty cold rain of a game, played in mud about three inches deep. You couldn't tell who was who after the first quarter, except for the color of their helmets. Now, in the late afternoon, Coach Cooper decided to distract us with a short story from Donleavy.

He read the opening lines to "Meet My Maker, the Mad Molecule". I was probably gazing out the window, watching the gray sky outline the thatched cottages as we trundled down the motorway. My camera was with me, always ready to take a shot, if a good photo opportunity presented itself. Coach yelled at some guys who were still talking to shut up. Then he started again. I turned my attention to him.

When he finished, I sat there, thinking about how a story works, where it starts, where it ends. In London the next year, after a track meet, I bought my own copy of Donleavy's book. I went on to read almost all of his work. Able to relate to the soul-crushing hell that life can be, especially if you are down in the cash or ego department. The ministrations of the winsome female or their scathing rebukes well known by this male. After reading the journals of the masters, I charted my course.

To say that my ship has not followed it's star would be deceptive. Many of the wrong headings fall upon me, as I didn't act at the right time or miscalculated a position, only to run afoul of bad weather or a rocky bottom. More that once my leaky boat has gone to the bottom of the economy. I have learned to swim in the roughest of waters. The sharks have nipped, but not devoured me.

So, I now work at another career launch, as it's most laughably called by the professionals. As if one's life has no background and you start fresh in every endeavor. We all build upon that which has been done before, whether it's by us or someone else. My ship of words, built thought by thought. Sentences fitted to make a seamless hull. As a new chapter begins for me on the literary ocean.

I'm a better sailor now, having weathered the storms and tasted the fear. There is nothing ahead for any of us, except death.

For that reason, there is nothing to be afraid of in this life. Which is why you should sail through it, using the wind when it's with you and tacking into it when it's not.

Set your course, endure the changes and keep your eye on the star that guides you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Smoking Pears

It's almost 0800, I've been up for nearly three hours now. We had heavy frost warnings down here, so I set the alarm for 0530. I woke up at 0515 and got out of bed and dressed in the heavy winter coat, watch cap and gloves.

When I went outside, the dogs were surprised to see me. Thor stuck his head out of his insulated dog house, then rested his chin on the frame, watching me prepare the fire. Scoundrel didn't even look out, at least I didn't see him. He's smart enough to know it's too cold to be out. Anyhow, the rabbits won't be feeding for at least another couple of hours, so why get up?

When I moved on the farm, a surprising discovery was the old, gnarled pear tree outside my back door. It was surrounded by a makeshift brick enclosure, which the previous tenant had use to dump all his cigarette butts and other debris. Before I realized that it was pear tree, I almost cut it down with the chainsaw. It didn't look like it would live another year and it's close enough that it would interfere with my building a patio off the back steps.

I cleaned the area around the tree and kept it watered during the long, hot summer. It had a pretty good crop of pears the first summer. Pruned it during the winter. The next year, it produced an excellent crop of pears. I was giving them away to neighbors and family, much more than I could eat. Pints and quarts of pear jam and jelly came back to me. Store bought is convenient and some of it's excellent, but there's no comparison to farm fresh.

The past two years, late frost has killed the buds, just after the blooms fell. The pear preserves stock is gone. My father called the other day, one of his main concerns was whether we would 'lose' the pear tree again this year. There's a huge tree on the other side of the farm, but this one produces the quality pears. That's why I was up at 0515 this morning.

Last night I put the 55 gallon drum under the tree, loaded it with kindling, fresh cut grass from the lawn and some wet wood. Paper from clearing out my desk went into the bottom. Most of you are wondering, 'wet wood'?. Yep, I want smoke and steam when I get this fire going. Gotta keep the frost off the tree.

The fire put off clouds of steam in the predawn light, stars going out overhead as the night faded. Smoke billowed up around the tree, shrouding it in a protective blanket. I let the dogs run, but the rabbits were still snoozing, so they came back in short order. They watched me do some exercises, while I kept tabs on the fire.

When my friends in the city ask why I live out here, it's hard to explain.

Morning grass growing gray-white with frost.
Air still, no wind or noise.
Pink-rose smudge of dawn along the ridge,
like a bud blossoming
into the gold of morning sun.
Draw a deep draught from the ocean of air.
Another fish in the sea of humanity,
swimming in my own, quiet pool.
Let the sharks swim in the cities.

You can't buy this kind of peace.

I look forward to the taste of fresh pears in the fall.

Meanwhile, there's hen fruit in the kitchen and the cast iron skillet's hot. Time for my morning omelet.

May your day be as good as mine!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Return to the Blog

It's been a while, I'm still here. Been working on my latest book.

No excuse for not updating this site.

Plenty of things have happened.

The movie is out, so now I'll talk about it. Too bad it didn't do better at the box office.

Have had some of my work reviewed by a published author. He gave a one word critique. Will discuss that later.

Will expand on my previous posts about our perceptions regarding 'life'.

You are what you think.