Monday, April 30, 2012

A Testament To Human Will

Every Saturday night my partner and I attend a party at Drama Libre in Second Life. These parties are unique in that the owners build a new set each week and people dress to the theme.

This past Saturday the theme was The Lusitania, the passenger ship that was sunk by German U-Boats during World War I. It was the event that propelled the USA toward joining the war as 114 Americans were killed in  the attack.

A total of 1119 of the 1,924 aboard died. It was a horrific act perpetrated against civilians and while there were reasons for Germany to consider the Lusitania to be a military target, such as it being refit for guns and ready to convert to military use if needed by Great Britain and that she was carrying war materials in her holds, they had to know that at the time of the attack the ship was carrying a compliment of non combatants.

It took a total of 18 minutes for the ship to sink. Very little time to launch life boats or try and save oneself. But even with this little window of time people stepped up and tried to save others.

In the ship's nursery Alfred Vanderbilt, one of the world's richest men, and playwright Carl Frohman tied life jackets to wicker "Moses baskets" holding infants in an attempt to save them from going down with the ship. The rising water carried the baskets off the ship but none survived the turbulence created as the ship sank to the bottom. The sea also claimed Vanderbilt and Frohman.

These men, and I am sure many others, had to know that stopping to help anyone was most likely signing their own death certificates. But they did it anyway. I have always been in awe of people that sacrifice in this manner. I wonder if I am a good enough person to have done what they did. Hopefully I will never be given the opportunity to find out.

Good people do great things when circumstances present with difficult choices.

"Bravery is the capacity to perform even when scared half to death."~~Omar N. Bradley

May 7 is the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Good God The Inhumanity

I have been reading an article entitled 'Testicle Squeezing In Street Fight Causes Man's Death' and I automatically and unconsciously reached between my legs in a protective manner. How is it possible that one can die of having your testicles squeezed.

The story from China News 24 states, "There are worse ways to die, but you probably don't want to think about them, especially if you're a guy."

"A Chinese man was reportedly killed last week when a woman squeezed his testicles until he collapsed during a fight over a parking space."

"An unidentified 41-year-old woman in China's Haiku City in the Hainan Province rode into town on her scooter to pick her child up from school. The woman tried to park in front of a local store, but the store owner, the 42-year-old victim, refused to allow it."

"The resulting fight escalated, leading the woman to call her husband and brother, who in turn got into a more violent fist fight with the shopkeeper, according to the website. At some point in the fracas, the woman grabbed the man's testicles and squeezed them until he collapsed. He was taken to a hospital for treatment and later died."

DAMN!! Do not piss a Chinese woman off!!

Now I know that in moments of passion a woman has been known to give them babies a little squeeze but in my experience there is a pleasurable component to that process even though pain may be associated with that passionate squeeze. The intensity of this Chinese woman's squeeze had to be tremendous.        

I picture this poor shop keeper writhing in pain like a fish at the end of the line. His eyes bulging out and his words unintelligible through his screams.

I have no idea if she was charged with anything. Assault and battery? Unlawful ping pong game on a busy street?

I hear that the United States Embassies in China has issued 'ball squeezing' warning to US citizens with the suggestion that all males wear 'protective gear' at all times when in public.

A google search of 'testicle squeezing' brings up an amazing amount of articles in the subject. The ones that worry me most are in search of information as to method with younger girls asking about technique and results.

If woman perfect this technique men are up shit creek. This is the A-Bomb of sexual power that will give full control to women and relegate men to actually having to give that allusive orgasm we have been promising since the dawn of time.

Two things are certain for me at this point. I will learn to be more attentive to my partners needs for the sake of my balls.

And I will not eat at a Chinese restaurant without protective gear in place.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fate And The Road That Guides It

I am a believer in 'FATE'. Fate that we create with our choices. That does not mean that I accept my fate or anything that comes with it. If its not liking I can and I will change it.

"I  do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing." RONALD REAGAN, First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981

Everyday we are faced with choices and those choices determine what our outcomes are for any particular day. There is no 'set at birth' fate for any of us. But many people believe that and live their lives accordingly.

There was a time when people accepted whatever came their way as gospel. For instance at one time if your father was a 'thatcher' or a 'share cropper' than that is all you could aspire to do with your life. Your core beliefs held that your fate was to be born into a particular life and that was where you belonged.

If any of you watch Downton Abby you will see that attitude displayed by that serving staff. Aspiring to be a server to a titled family is all they want to do and if they show a penchant for doing better than that one of their fellow servers reigns them in.

Over my 100 years of life I have noticed several things about fate. First, you make your own fate no one makes it for you. Secondly, fate takes work. You do not make a choice and live with it for ages. Choices need to be evaluated on a daily basis.

Third, forks in the road that force us to re-evaluate our path come fewer and farther between as we age. This makes decision making much more critical.

Lastly, making a wrong choice is not fatal. There will always be a corrective choice down the road.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule; "Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him." GROUCHO MARX, Woman's Day Magazine, May 8, 2007

Groucho was a very smart man, lol.


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Real War On Women

I have sat back with amusement listening to the media talk about the 'War On Women' as if it is a full blown battle that pits American Conservatives against American Woman. The smoke and mirrors of American politics, and in the name of the election or re-election of people who bask in their own self importance, is obscuring the 'Real War On Women".

What is being obscured is the daily struggle of women in the Muslin world who toil, under the sometimes barbaric, attitudes of Muslin men. Women are held back and treated like second class citizens with little cries in support of their plight.

In "Distant View of a  Minaret," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to deprive her." Just as her husband denies her an orgasm, the call to prayer interrupts his, and the man leaves. After washing up, she loses herself in prayer -- so much more satisfying that she can't wait until the next prayer -- and looks out onto the street from her balcony. She interrupts her reverie to make coffee dutifully for her husband to drink after his nap. Taking it to their bedroom to pour it in front of him as he prefers, she notices he is dead. She instructs their son to go and get a doctor. "She returned to the living room and poured out the coffee for herself. She was surprised at how calm she was," Rifaat writes.

I would encourage all to read "Distant View of a Minaret". It is a short story that will give you a real view of what it is like to be a woman in the Muslim world. It is powerful description of life under the heels of men who believe themselves superior to all others.

If you read no other recommendation I have ever given; please, please read this one.

While this story is specific to the Muslim religion I am not trying to single out any single religion for its transgressions against women. Most religions and many political structures attached to them relegate women to subservient levels. The history of civilization is ripe with examples of the struggles of women.

When you finish your reading I will guarantee you will look at your wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers and all women that you encounter with just a little more reverence and respect. To do otherwise would be an injustice equal to that of which you have just read.


*****Link to "Distant View of a Minaret";

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Whats In A Word?

I have written about the power of words before. A word can hold sway over a conversation and become a rallying cry for those that feel they have been aggrieved. The media understands this and uses words to their advantage to attract readers.

Words like 'massacre', now used for every time someone kills multiple victims, is a prime example. Growing up massacre was used when there was an attack and one group was totally annihilated with no survivors. Technically the way it is being used these days is not incorrect according to the dictionary definition and now every time we have more then one victim we also have a massacre.

The latest word that is making it to the media's happy list is 'outrage'. It seems that we have to be outraged about everything.

Here are some of the things that we are supposed to be outraged about or not.

I am outraged that President Obama ate dog meat. I am not really outraged as where he was living at the time he supposedly ate it dog meat is common fare.

I am outraged that Mit Romney put his dog on top of his car on a family trip. Poor judgement maybe but does it reach the level of outrage. I think not.

I am outraged that Urban Outfitters have put a Jewish Star on the left breast pocket of a T-Shirt because it evokes memories of the Holocaust. Again not outraged. Not everything is racist or anti religious or a source of defamation. Poor judgement? Yes!

I am outraged that a person, any person, can not marry whomever they fall in love. Now kiddies we have found something that I do get outraged over.

I am outraged that I can not get a knish or a decent egg cream in North Carolina. Yepperrs this one pisses me off. I have to take a 500 mile drive to kill this outrage, lol.

In Wednesday's Wall Street Journal one article is titled "To Pay Off Loans, Grads Put Off Marriage, Children" discussing the high human impact of borrowing to pay for college.

In the same section there is an article about how the University of California at Berkeley, a taxpayer supported college, will be borrowing as much as $447 million to pay for the renovation of the school's football stadium and a new training facility.

Let's see, the state of California is the verge of going bankrupt as spending exceeds revenues. Students are making momentous life decisions as they wallow in the student loan debt and state aid to public colleges is being cut. So, the solution must be to borrow a huge amount of money for a nicer football stadium?

Now that is an outrage especially when my son may be heading out there for graduate school next year.

Over the course of a week we are treated to multiple things that we are supposed to be outraged about and this trend will continue until a new talking point word is found by the media.

Remember 'gravitas'?


Friday, April 20, 2012

I Feel Very Little Sympathy For These People

Warning labels have been used on cigarette packages since 1966 in the United States. Print, radio and television commercials educating us to the hazards of smoking have been offered to us for many years. Finally, regulations that have crippled the tobacco industry, in the name of disease prevention, are passed anew yearly.

I believe smoking is a ridiculous habit with far reaching health repercussions. My only regret over all the private and government intervention into the tobacco industry is the affect it had on Southern American farming.

Having said all that I find the last round of television commercials against smoking repugnant,  Here we are offered a glimpse into the lives of people that, through their smoking, have developed severe health hazards. We are treated to people with amputations, lung disease, heart disease and an entire menu of ailments caused by smoking.

My dislike for these commercials is not the subject matter nor even that they exist. But rather the hypocrites that are put in the commercials. These are people that, even after years of being warned, still choose to smoke and in effect caused their own disease. These hypocrites are first in line to accuse the tobacco industry of causing their health problems and in many cases first in line for a monetary settlement.

I am very sorry that they became ill but I have very little sympathy for their circumstance. I believe that anyone who continued smoking, lets say 10 years after the warnings started, are solely responsible for the situation that they now find themselves.

I find particularly sickening the one commercial that had a mother, in a post stroke condition, explaining how she is totally dependent in others for her care. She states, "sometimes my care is done by a visiting caretaker, or a nurse or sometimes like now my son". We are treated to a scene of her son bathing her. A teenagers life in ruins because she decided to disregard the warnings. Her son now a caretaker for her rather than looking to start his own life.

My sympathy runs to the son who, and I realize that this is a commercial, needs to pack his bags and get out of this losers life leaving her to wallow in the mess she created. YES! SHE CREATED!

While the tobacco sold to her was the cause of her disease; her own stupidity is responsible for her situation.

We live in a world where smoking is legal and a major tax revenue source on the one hand and then is vilified for its effect on the other hand.

There will always be people that smoke. Warnings be damned. In my mind the time has come to place the blame for the consequences of smoking on all the parties involved. The tobacco industry and their willing accomplices who light up everyday.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Who Do You Talk To?

Early every morning I hold a verbal conversation in which I speak to people from my past and to God as I believe in Him. When I say speak that is exactly what I mean. Out loud so I am heard. No inner quiet thoughts. The spoken word so what I am saying can be heard and understood. Verbal conversation may be a strong term as I live alone and my words fall only in the ears on my dogs.

This is always followed be about 30 minutes of meditation that I developed in the early 70's through the study of Transcendental Meditation. This is a process that helps get my day off to a decent start and relaxes me.

I have always believed that, by the virtue of them having passed away, family members are always available to hear me. Respond to me? Well no. But I take comfort in being able to address them as if they were in the room with me.

To set you minds at ease, I have not lost my mind and my dogs do not speak to me. Although at times they do give me quizzical looks.

I particularly like conversations with my parents. When they were living, and for reasons that I will never understand and that all come from within me and not from them, I could not seem to have a normal face to face conversation with them.

My father was a bit intimidating. Talking to him about personal things always came hard to me. He was an intelligent, strong self made man that held me in awe my entire life. This sense of awe, that kept me from having a meaningful relationship with him when he was alive, was a flaw in my character. He raised me to stand on my own two feet and to be self sufficient. I manage my way through life even today based on his teachings.

My mother was a completely different story but in every way my fathers equal. But that equality did not show itself for general consumption. It was there to be seen by precious few and at times when they were sure no one was looking.

In reality my mother was the engine that made my family flow smoothly. She was the one who made sure we all had what we needed to function and everything from food on the table to the condition of our home was in her domain.

That was proven when she became ill in the late 60's and was unable to function as she normally would. Until mom was back on her feet we were a ship adrift as a family. Thank God she recovered and get us all back on track.

There are always things left unsaid between people. Things that should have been said when it was possible to say them. Things that eat away at you for years. I have found that my morning conversations with my mother and father help relieve some of the regret that comes with our unsaid thoughts.

Even with one sided conversations problems can be resolved and regrets satisfied.

There are others I regularly speak with early mornings. My grand parents, who were major influences on my life, have become sounding boards for many of my real life problems. In life they were the captains that held sway over my problems and in death their role in my life is no less important.

Then, of course, there is God. For me my conversations with God are more of a 'why did you allow me to do that?' or 'how can I be here when you choose to take them?' type conversations.

For me parents and grandparents seem to be solvers of tangible everyday life problems that can be solved around the dinner table.

God is a another ball game altogether. My conversations tend to lean toward the philosophy of life with my life being that canvass my thoughts are painting.

I personally believe that I would not function well if I were not to hold these meeting. Call me nuts but I feel a better person for having them.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Little Head Dilemma

Its another case of a man living by the word of his little head and ignoring that common sense put forth by his big head.

From a story out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; 'Dean Cochrun, 28, is asking for $1,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. He also asks in the lawsuit that his foreskin be restored "in the hopes I could feel whole again," though he acknowledged that he didn't expect such a restoration to be anything more than aesthetic.'

Lets break that down for you people living under a rock; Mr Cochrun wants his foreskin surgical replaced so he can enjoy what he thinks he has been missing.

A little background on Mr Cochrun.

1. He is acting as his own lawyer. Finally a case that a lawyer would not take, lol.

2. It took him 28 years figure out that he had been circumcised. 28 YEARS!!! Did he never look down? Is he a member of a religion that bans mirrors? Did he never have a girlfriend that said, "WOW this is really clean?

3. Now for the kicker. He is in jail convicted on a charge of kidnapping. Where is he going to use his penis. Circumcised or not. HMMM!! Maybe a circumcised penis would be appreciated where he is now living.

I want to send good wishes to Mr Cochrun on the search for his foreskin. The one thing that I am sure will come his way is an award for being one of this worlds 'stupiddest people'.

Now where is my craft paper and magic markers so I can make that award.


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Giant Among Men

Children collecting brass along a busy road in Laghman Province Afghanistan. A very dangerous thing to do and a scene that is common in every war.

A child collecting close to a heavy moving vehicle and in danger of being run over. A soldier rushes out in front of the heavy vehicle and saves the child from being hit but in doing so he is struck by the vehicle and later dies of his injuries.

That soldier was Spec. Dennis Weichel of Rhode Island.

"Specialist Dennis Weichel's life was marked by bravery, selflessness, and commitment to others -- and unfortunately it was in demonstrating these remarkable characteristics that it was lost," Governor Lincoln Chafee said. “And he will be remembered, and mourned, by people across our state as a great Rhode Islander.”

Spec. Weichel was not regular army. He served as part of the Rhode Island National Guard. There was one thing that was, I am sure, more important to him than anything else. He was a family man with three children of his own.

He sacrificed his life to save a child. Not one of his own but a stranger. A child in need and few American soldiers would stand around and not react. It is who we are no matter what others think of us. We see this occur time and time again.

Somehow the humanity of man finds its way to the surface even in the worse of situations. Spec. Dennis Weichel proved that once again.

Keep him and his family in your prayers today. Keep that little Afghan boy in mind also. Pray that he has the opportunity to grow up and make something of himself. It would help validate this sacrifice.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

He Is So Wrong

Many of you grew up with Kirk Cameron in your living rooms every week when he starred on the sitcom Growing Pains. Kirk left main stream Hollywood and embarked on a life that he has dedicated to God. Every person has a right to their own path and I am sure that Mr Cameron believes his to be a righteous journey.

Certain remarks he has made about homosexuality are disturbing and hateful. He is quoted as saying, that he believes homosexuality is "unnatural... I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

He further sates that,  "Marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve -- one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don't think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don't."

Mr Cameron has a right to his opinion no matter how archaic and unrealistic it may be. In our world who is to say what is natural or normal. Homosexuality has been around for centuries and yet civilization keeps plodding forward.

As for God defining marriage; Mr Cameron's Adam and Eve theory is based on a book written by man not in Gods words but in his own.

Sexual orientation does not spell the downfall of civilization any more than the possible lose of the Twinkie due to weak sales.

Same sex unions do not weaken marriage they strengthen it.

Homosexuality does not weaken civilization it enhances it.

Take a look at this article and accompanying video done by former Hollywood child actors. It rebukes Mr Cameron's views while giving us some insight.

Do yourself a favor. Never walk away from bigotry. Walk toward it and help stomp it out.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Finally A Trial

George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with Second Degree Murder. Now Trayvon Martin will get the justice everyone seems to be craving. But justice is a two way street and now that a trial is in the making we will see which one of these two individuals justice touches.

The jump to conclusion media and its usual cast of suspects have tried and convicted Mr Zimmerman in the realm of public opinion. Seems a familiar story and especially brings Casey Anthony to mind.

What facts do we really know about this case?

1. Trayvon Martin is dead.

2. George Zimmerman is charged with his death.

That's really pretty much it. But there are other things that we know.

1. A rush to judgement was and is in full force.

2. The race card was played by the likes of Jessee Jackson and Al Sharpton but this time they can not find anyone to place the card on as Mr Zimmerman is half Hispanic.

3. Mr Zimmerman will finally have his day in court but his life, no matter what the verdict, is forever changed.

4. Trayvon Martin's family is about to have their nightmare expanded and no family secret, if there are any, will be sacred.

5. The news media will be gaga over all this and will draw their own conclusions. They will fan the flames of hatred and confusion in the name of readership or viewership.

6. In the end there will be a verdict and we will all be split over its validity because our heads will be full of the media's coverage and opinions.

Remember that we have a justice system in place that we need to let do its job. If Mr Zimmerman is found guilty so be it and let him suffer the consequences.

If he is found innocent lets all put this behind us and move on. Life is way to short to drag something out for a lifetime.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Do We Owe Our Ancestors In Todays World?

What Do We Owe Our Ancestors In Today's World? A interesting question in light of how Americans are perceived in the world today. Almost everyday we read how the image of the United States has been tarnished by events over the past twenty years and especially since 9/11.

There are many factors that go into this supposed decline and they have been reported to death recently. Our ancestors came to America with eyes wide open at a time when we were considered the 'shinning light' of the world. Many came because they believed that our streets were paved with gold but most came just looking for a better life for their families just as people do now.

So what do we owe our ancestors relating to how we should perceive our 'homelands'? This is a question that I can only answer for myself. Each of us has to look at our family histories and see what brought us here. Poverty, religious freedom, political persecution, past crimes and famine are just a few of the situations that brought people to these shores.

My first ancestor, Rocco Bruno, arrived here around 1865 with his family in tow. The family traveled as a unit with Rocco's wife Antonia Maria DeStefano, his father-in-law Giuseppe DeStefano and several brothers-in-law. They came with little or nothing but had high hopes for a better life.

Their home was in and around Naples, Italy. I say in and around because they were street musicians and made their living when and where they could. The men playing instruments while my great great grandmother sang and danced.

They settled in Manhattan, NY and continued their musical ways playing in bands and giving lessons. My great great grandfather, Rocco, turned himself into an instrument maker. Especially the harp. By the time he passed away in 1899 he was one of the premiere harp makers around and his clientele came from all over North America to have harps built or repaired. Quit a feat for a poor Italian street musicians from Naples, Italy.

Rocco and Antonia had eleven children all raised to love where they were born while loving their adopted country.

So what loyalties do I owe Italy and the Italian people?

My uncle served in Italy during WWII and he told me, when I was a kid,  that when he was there he was overwhelmed with emotion everywhere he went. Especially when he was in an area he knew our family had relations.

I did not understand that until I visited Italy for the first time in 1975. I visited Sermide, my grandfathers home town, in Mantova Lombardia. I stood in a cemetery among my ancestors and heard what happened to them during WWII. I stood in that cemetery and cried. The sense of loss was stifling.  I knew then what I owed my ancestors.

I literally owed them my life. The mere fact that they moved to save the integrity of their immediate families also saved generations of that family. At that moment I knew that I owed everything to them and a loyalty to Italy that I hold dear today.

That is what we owe, I owe, our ancestors. Even when the world thinks ill of us, even when it looks like so many people want us to fail our individual ancestors are owed, loyalty, love, trust and honor.

You all should take time out of your lives and find out who these people are and find away to honor them.

I never pass by someone named Bruno, Schimmenti, Marinelli, Malerba, Destefano or Mantovani and not wonder if we share a family bond.

You will find out some amazing things about your family. Like, my grandfather, Emo Mantovani, met my grandmother, Italina Malerba, in Brooklyn, New York around 1913. The interesting thing is that when they lived in Italy their homes were less than 12 miles apart but they needed to travel halfway around the world to meet.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Home From The Hospital

I have not written here since March 27, 2012 as my illness took a turn for the worse about that time. I will readily admit that I have spent some scary and apprehensive hours over my most recent days but at least I found myself in good hands and finally they have a handle on what is wrong with me.

Congestive Heart Failure!! That is my diagnosis. All caused by my blood pressure that decided to take on a life of its own and put my own life in danger.  I had not realized how seriously I was ill until this most recent hospital stay.

What I noticed was that my legs had begun to swell and that it seemed that I was not getting enough oxygen. I could not walk more than 50 feet without being out of breath and needing to rest. My lungs were full of all sorts of bizarre things. I could not sleep. I could not think or focus.

What I was not seeing, but was feeling, was the swelling around my heart. To quote my Doctor, "if this was 1912 and not 2012 you may well have died". Quite an eye opener.

I was given medications to reduce the swelling and several to get my blood pressure under control. Everything seems to be working well as I feel a million percent better. Not quite normal but getting there a little each day.

I drove myself to Southeastern Regional Medical Center, in Lumberton, NC, and was barely able to walk into the emergency room. The 75 yards from the parking lot to the entrance may well have been a 1000 miles. But once inside I was taken care of as if I was in my mothers arms. I am very grateful for all they did for me.

So anyway I am slowly returning to normal and I will begin to write again everyday. I will be back to insulting people before you know it, lol. Well maybe this experience will temper my insults.

 I doubt it but maybe.