Friday, December 27, 2013

A New Year... a Chance for a Clean Slate

I have learned to build walls. I have hidden behind them. I am an expert mason. I have taught myself that the only person I can trust is me.

Consequently, I have walled myself off from others. It is a lonely, cold place to be. I have Scrooged myself and probably hurt those I do care about in ways I cannot measure.

For 2014, I pledge to change that. I pledge to love each of you better. Whether you are a friend or a family member, I pledge to love you in the best way I know how. You may get a hug. I may look you in the eye and tell you that I love you. It may be awkward... but you're getting it.

The last time I spoke to my mother about 16 years ago, I told her “I love you.” I can go to my grave not regretting that. I have plenty of other regrets in life... I don't need to add to the pile.

So there you go. My New Year's resolution is not to quit some bad habit (working on that too.) But it is to form a new habit. To love you.


How is that?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hurt

I don't know how else to  title this post. It just seems appropriate.

I have thought of doing this publicly, of metaphorically painting myself into a corner. Facebook is an avenue, but I don't trust all of those people. They are not all true friends. I don't fear much in life, yet I fear those judgmental eyes. I will likely fail repeatedly, I will likely fall flat on my face multiple times, much like a toddler learning to walk.

I could throw it out there to the 100+ people who claim to be my friends, or I can share it with the select few of you who have chosen to listen to me. I trust you far more.

Here is my original post, destined for Facebook... but I wimped out.

*****



Dear friends... I have a revelation to share with you.

I almost did this a few months ago, but I felt too many judgmental eyes staring at me. Paranoia, perhaps. Maybe this is not the best way to go about this, but I am betting it all on this single roll of the dice.

Now, I simply don't give a shit.

And if you are going to sit in judgment of me... then I further don't care. I don't want you as a friend.

As we enter the New Year, I will admit....

I drink too much.

I have been drinking since I was 11 or 12, when I first discovered some of my dad's whiskey. I managed to be functional... I graduated High School, I have an associate's degree (AAS) and continue to this day to be working on a bachelor's. I even held down a career in the U.S. Air Force. I have done things which you can only imagine. I don't even want to try to calculate how much this has cost me over the years.

My dad was an asshole, he murdered my mother. There are other facts I can bring into this, feelings of pain and loss, but I am really no different than you.

I have been running from pain and, I suppose, life. A close and intimate friend reminded me of that recently. My life sucked... but didn't all of ours? I don't hold a monopoly on suck-ism. I am simply sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I will likely fall flat on my face, at least a few times. But I am turning and fighting back.

As we go into the New Year, I am cleaning house. All I ask as we move forward... if you are a true friend, remain so. If you are a new friend, become a better (and true) friend.

I am not asking for your pity or sympathy. I am simply asking for you to be a true and loyal friend as I venture down a road I have never traversed.

--Sam

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

War is over... if you want it

So this is Christmas.

Anyone who knows me would never accuse me of being a pacifist.  I will go on testosterone infused rants, I pack a pistol most places I go, and if anyone dares to cross me by invading my house or threatening my loved ones, they do so at their own peril.

But I *AM* a pacifist.

I do not wish to harm anyone else, and I don't want to be bothered.  But I will inflict egregious harm if the need arises.  Leave me alone, I will leave you alone too.  Live and let live. I served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, I was prepared to fight, to harm others, or die myself. Fortunately, it did not come down to that level of self-sacrifice, but I did participate in campaigns...  the first Gulf War, Kosovo, etc.  I actually don't know how much blood is on my own hands. Yet no one despises war more than the warrior. The armchair generals & politicians are far too generous with pawns and the blood of others.

So this is Christmas.

I am reflecting.



(If you can watch this emotionless, you are a tougher sumbitch than yours truly)


I landed in Guam a few hours before the horrendous attacks of 9/11/01. It was supposed to be a 15 month tour in a tropical paradise, but I awakened to a changed world. I helped with the transit of a massive amount of troops and armament headed to Afghanistan in that post-apocalyptic world. I came back at the end of 2002, and then I got to participate in the build up to the 2003 Iraq war. I retired in 2004, just because it was time. I came into the USAF at the height of the Cold War, when things were black & white. Somehow the lines became blurry, and the shades merged into gray.

Back to the subject... We went into Afghanistan, we bombed the hell out of them, and then we bombed them some more. At some point, all we did was make the rubble bounce.

Now, I am not saying we should not have started it, for the Taliban government was giving Osama bin Laden safe asylum, and by most accounts they were not exactly a humanitarian form of government.

Yet we are still there, 13 years later. Why?

The countries of central Asia and the middle east do not have traditions of democracy, and no matter how much we cram it down their throats, all the copies of the Magna Carta  you can muster will not make them eat, breathe, and sleep representative government.

Unlike WW II, when the country was committed to victory, we are now happy with mediocrity.  We have become so efficient at war that the country does not feel it.

So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

War is over... if you want it.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." -- Jimi Hendrix

Just some semi-random thoughts.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Let's hope 2014 brings us a little closer to "Peace on Earth."

Here are the lyrics to go with the above video, if you're inclined to listen to the words and understand with your heart.

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun


And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young


A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear


And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong


And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight


A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear


And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun


And so Happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear


War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now...


Monday, December 23, 2013

Woefully Behind Times...

So I've been (as the subject implies) woefully behind times.  A lot of stuff on my mind, and have also been busy with my college classes.

Of course plowing my car into a utility pole on Nov 24th didn't help, and it put me into a bit of a funk... lost car, and the ensuing soreness. In addition to soreness (aren't airbags supposed to be SOFT?) I felt depressed & hopeless for a while after that.

Volvoritos go "Crunch" when you eat 'em!

Just before that accident, I had taken a step forward and earned an industry certificate. (CIW Web Foundations Associate).  But that whole situation had to go by the wayside.  The remainder of my term, which ends on 12/31, was at risk. My advisor/mentor told me what was at risk.  So in about 1 weeks' time, I managed to crank through two classes of material and two exams. Together, those equate to my CompTIA A+ certification. It wasn't easy. I did everything except sleep in front of my PC. Were it not for my 30+ years experience working with computers, it would have been nearly impossible. It wasn't rocket science, but it wasn't super easy either.

So here ya go... I'm going to try and write more soon... but don't hold your breath. I'll do what I can, when I can.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winning the Lottery (Part 2)


In case you missed it, here's my earlier post on this topic:





So it finally happened... I checked Google Maps earlier tonight, and my semi-immortalized self showed up in all my vagrant, derelict glory.

I was beginning to wonder if they simply did a drive by just for the hell of it.

(Click for larger version, if you dare...)


I should have mooned 'em.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Presidents vs. Crazy Horse (Part I: The Presidents)

Most everyone is aware of the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Unless you are blind or have lived under a rock, you have seen many images of this American symbol.  I have seen it in person, and it IS impressive.


As a patriotic American and USAF veteran, I am proud of this sculpture and what it is intended to portray. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, chose his subjects for specific reasons:  George Washington represents the founding of the nation; Thomas Jefferson, its expansion; Abraham Lincoln, its preservation; and Theodore Roosevelt, its development and emergence onto the world stage in the 20th century.


The two images above are the most common presentations depicted in media, and when one walks through the entrance to the memorial.  Directly, front-on.  But now I'm going to throw a few different perspectives at you.

It is difficult to fully appreciate the scale of the carvings without a reference of known size.  Even the trees in the previous image seem like they could be saplings... but they aren't.

Maintenance workers atop the carvings.

The true scale.
As one approaches the memorial, winding through the scenic Black Hills, the first image you may see is this one, a photo I snapped in 1990:

From SD Rt 244

 After you park your vehicle, you'll see the "Avenue of Flags" as you enter the memorial:

Avenue of Flags (From NPS website)

Here is a photo I took of a model inside the interpretive center.  It is one version of what Borglum intended the sculpture to look like, but as I understand, after he passed away and his son took over, they ran low on money.

Sculptor's model

Here is one angle you don't see often... SD Rt 244 winds around behind the memorial. I think that this image is more difficult to capture now, because the trees have grown taller. Here is Mr. Washington in a profile that I snapped from that road:

Heading 'round behind the mountain....
There is also a road opposite Mt. Rushmore, called "Iron Mountain Road" (US Rt 16 & 16A) It is a scenic drive, is narrow in places and has many twists and turns.  It also has a tunnel which perfectly frames the sculpture from one direction, and is best viewed earlier in the day. (Later in the day, the carvings are in shadow as the sun goes down.)

Iron Mountain Road tunnel view. (From NPS website)

Another view from Iron Mountain Road,
visitor's center visible at base of mountain.
(From NPS website)
This project was undertaken during the Great Depression and was ultimately funded by Congress.  It cost under $1 million and was completed with no fatalities, despite the hazardous and precarious working conditions. It is impressive to contemplate and view.

Now for the Dark Side...


Like many achievements of the United States of America, there is a shameful side to this magnificent American icon.  It is not obvious; the casual observer, as I once was, will never know it and go away with good feelings about our nation and its history. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the good things the USA has accomplished, but I feel it is important to not be ignorant of the shadows in our past and skeletons in our closet.

First of all, The Black Hills were promised to the Lakota Sioux by the Treaty of Laramie in 1868. It was supposed to be forever their land.  They consider the land sacred, and for it to be scarred in this manner is abhorrent.

The Name "Mount Rushmore" was applied by a party leading a man named "Charles Rushmore" on a gold prospecting expedition in 1877. (I only just learned the following detail myself: Apparently one of the locals in the party was David Swanzey who was the husband of Carrie Ingalls, the sister of Laura Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie fame.)  Regardless of name, they were prospecting illegally.

These incursions by settlers and prospectors led to the Sioux & Cheyenne war of 1876/77 and the U.S. Government to reclaim the land.  (A notable battle of this war was The Battle of the Little Bighorn, aka "Custer's Last Stand.")

Legally, this land belonged to the Sioux. This was upheld by a Supreme Court ruling in 1980 in which the land was assessed at 1877 value, plus 5% annual interest. In exchange for over $100 million, the claim was supposed to be settled.  The Sioux have refused the settlement and simply want their land back, even though the money held by the U.S Treasury reportedly has now grown to over $500 million.

Gutzon Borglum's previous project was the carving of Stone Mountain in Georgia, which he left during a dispute with the project organizers. This is a memorial depicting Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee, and "Stonewall" Jackson.  This alone is not a bad thing... many good men on both sides of the Civil War fought and died for what they believed in.  But Borglum is known to have been an influential member of the Ku Klux Klan. Not exactly the poster child of freedom, democracy, and equality.

Furthermore, the U.S. Presidents he chose to depict all had overt policies and views which were hostile to Native Americans. Many of their statements are documented advocating removal or extermination of the native populations from the lands sought by white settlers for expansion.
-------------------------

I look at this memorial, and I remember.  I remember the greatness of the USA and the leaders who formed it in all its imperfection, but also left us the promise of a greater tomorrow.  I also remember the costs to get to this time.  The price in blood, sorrow, lives, and irreplaceable cultures.

It is truly a memorial for all to contemplate both the good and the bad.

TO BE CONTINUED...




National Park Service site: Mount Rushmore
A source for interesting reading:  Mount Rushmore Revisited
Wikipedia article about Mount Rushmore



Friday, September 27, 2013

Native American Day

Todayis Native American Day
September 27th, while widely recognized, 
especially among indigenous tribes, 
is not a Federal Holiday.

In honor, I present this, not as a day of celebration
but as a day of reflection.  Or mourning, if you so choose.

Brief Cherokee History


I have not been in a physical "fist fight" since middle-school.  
(I won the last one, btw, glasses went flying, don't fuck with me...
I'm not a big guy, but I'll bring a gun to a knife fight.
I don't fight for honor, if choose to fight, I fight to win. Period.)

Since then, I have seldom felt the need to exchange blows.  Yet there have been times when various people have said (regarding U.S. & Native history) "Get over it, they lost" or "They couldn't stand up to it, too bad." or words to that effect.

Never have I wanted to punch someone in the throat 
and watch them twitch with a collapsed wind-pipe 
more than at those moments.

Anecdotally, I am part Cherokee.  I have no proof with papers.  That evidence was squelched with the Dawes Rolls.  No matter which side of the railroad or river you lived, you and your descendants inherited "origninal sin."  I don't pretend to know of a Native Utopia... tribes fought, and I don't need to watch Dances With Wolves to get it.

How many of you reading this know that most 
Native Americans were not citizens of the USA until 1924?

If you own  your property, and I come by and pitch a tent on the corner and say, "But I'll only be here a few weeks" is that OK?  Likely not, because next thing ya know, my friends & family might show up. You would be wise to not give me a toe-hold.

By extension, if I have a semi-automatic weapon, and you have a bolt action, does that somehow make your culture or ownership of property inferior?  But that logic has been used on me repeatedly.

Let's just put it really succinctly and simply... Say you own a lovely porcelain and crystal shop.  I want to open up a video game shop.  One day, you are sitting around, cleaning your muzzle loading weapon (I don't want to make you TOO passive...) and I burst in, saying I want to take over, breaking your Hummel figurines & Swarovski  crystal, but you can sell your stuff in the back room, by the restroom, the least desirable area of the shop.  Sound familiar?

Indigenous tribes have been repeatedly screwed by European settlers, in the U.S., Canada, South America, Australia, and so on.  Their conquerors' perceived "might" did not,  nor ever will, make them "right."

Keep that in mind... we can't undo history... but we can learn from it.

This is a presentation I did for a college class.  I took the class (Indian Studies 101) to learn more than I knew from popular culture. I needed a "Culture and Gender Diversity" class, so I thought it would be easy.  It actually was... but not only because of the instructor, who was 100% native.  It helped, but it also gave me a reason to delve deeper into what was already festering in my noggin.  

These are the very same slides "Death by PowerPoint" which I used, 
only the name has been changed.


There is no "American Indian" race... the culture was as varied as is Europe.


\
So there ya go... the Cherokee tried to play nice, as did other tribes.  Look where it got them....


Sequoya... a "civilized Indian."

Right up there with my buddy, Thomas Jefferson... what a renegade Indian, 
and he apparently could not live among White People.

Must have been too busy going around saying
"Me scalp-um pale-face squaw."

Oh, yeah... and whooping his hand over his mouth yelping "Ya Ya Ya yah.... etc....  

I want to put up so many stereotypes as to inherit a  label that says "Panasonic" on that clip.

But 'sall right... All ya gotta do is put up a hand and say "How."


I find this reprehensible.  Even Richard Nixon was forced to "abdicate" when faced with a Supreme Court against him, and no allies in Congress.  Yet when 2/3 branches of government agree... we (or the Cherokee) are screwed!  The Supreme Court has no enforcement power!

As I have presented evidentairy... the Cherokee were indeed civilized... they just happened to live where whites wanted to live.  Some even adopted the white culture of owning slaves...


4


Think about it... I actually don't personally carry a 20 unless I have to.

So, I'll throw in a last ditch popular culture reference.... 

Indian Reservation... by Paul Revere and the Raiders

Aww, heck... I love this Johnny Cash song too... 
If you are passionate about 
Native causes, you should already know this song.


My Native wife is striking these drums today also... 
Our collective blood boils, although it is tepid against time and events. 
But I won't let it go without striking a match.









Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wildfire...

I'm likely to catch some flack from some that read this first part, including my lovely wife, who grew up with horses.

But why are horses any more majestic or special than other members of the animal kingdom?  I think bison, deer, elk, and other animals are beautiful too, but also tasty... horse is on the menu in Europe, and I've tried it.  I wasn't any more impressed than with a mediocre steak. Maybe it was the preparation or the cut, I don't know. Whatever the reason, it's not something I crave.

If you're an omnivore, everything that moves about is a potential appetizer, entrĂ©e or side dish. (I'm not advocating cannibalism, so we're off the menu.)  The suffering of a cow or pig is no more or less than a horse being slaughtered.  If you really care about animals being butchered, become a vegetarian or vegan.


OK, that beginning tangent is not the purpose of this post, I will now attempt to focus my diatribe.

I analyze songs I like, to see what they mean to me, but also to hopefully ascertain what the singer or songwriter meant.  (I've posted some entries like that, and there will be more, along with my comments on events or whatever else I am inspired to write.)

I love Michael Martin Murphey's song Wildfire.

The song is beautiful, but extremely sad and dark.  In the opening, he says that "she" is coming down the mountain on a cold Nebraska night.

Then he gives the background.  "She" (his wife?) was lost in a blizzard when she chased her horse after it got away. She froze to death.

He planted by the dark of the moon, which is Old Farmer's Almanac guidance for when to plant root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.  But his crops failed.

Now he is starving to death.

(There's been a hoot owl howling outside my window now, 'bout six nights in a row.)

Owls are traditionally a harbinger of death, especially among Native American cultures.  Presumably, this is the seventh night when she is coming for him.  (The number "seven" repeats and has significance throughout many cultures, especially in The Bible.)

So he will be taken away and reunited with his wife.


According to Murphey, the song came to him in a dream, and even he can't say for certain what it is about. He mentions a legendary Native ghost horse that his grandfather told about in the Southwest, and Jesus riding a white horse when he returns as told in the Book of Revelation.

I don't think it is a song about ponies or horses... it is a song about ghosts and death.

And then some jackwad juxtaposes the song with images of pretty ponies.

But I guess any song can have its own meaning to the listener.  Perhaps I am just too literal to read between the lines.

But as long as the video exists on YouTube, here ya go, pretty ponies & all.



She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark, flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night

Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down it's stall
In a blizzard she was lost

She ran calling Wildfire
Calling Wildfire
Calling Wildfire

So by the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
Been a hoot-owl howling outside my window now
'Bout six nights in a row
She's coming for me, I know
And on Wildfire we're both gonna go

We'll be riding Wildfire
Riding Wildfire
Riding Wildfire

On Wildfire we're gonna ride
Gonna leave sodbustin' behind
Get the hard times right on out of our minds
Riding Wildfire

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Science vs. Religion: The Heavyweight Match

This is a paper I wrote for college... twice.  The first time was for an English class which I took through a U.S. college while stationed in Europe in about 1992 or 93.  The second time, I used it as a framework to rewrite for a Humanities course, which was Introduction to Religion.  

Both times, I was attempting to reconcile the religion I was taught as a child, to make sense of the contradictions, the lack of logic or fact.  I was actually trying to support the belief with facts.  Perhaps a fool's errand, because some people of faith do not look for facts to support their belief.  I am primarily referring to Bible literalists, who take everything exactly as written and also use the words to REFUTE science. And some even stick to only one version of the Bible regardless of how many versions predate, for example, The King James version.

With my earlier version of this writing, the instructor liked my paper so much that she had me read it aloud to the class. I was embarrassed, but also flattered (and wanted a good grade!)  By the time I finished, I could tell the fundamentalists from the free-thinkers.  The fundies were all shaking their heads.

I still don't think this paper is "wrong" but I now find it difficult to reconcile the two camps.  I will likely write more about this in a future blog.

For now, here are my unedited thoughts from 8 years ago, and by extension, although rewritten, 20 years ago.  If these words help you, great. If not, either way you have a peek into my own theological journey.

(btw, the "Huston Smith" I refer to is the author of a book called Why Religion Matters which we read for class)


**********
Sam I. Am
Dr. MyTeacher
Humanities (Intro to Religion)
August 9, 2005

Science and Religion:  You Kids Play Nice!

Science and religion are two schools of thought which for some time have not been able to peacefully coexist, at least in modern times, and probably never.  Some examples from Western culture are the rejection of Copernicus’ and Galileo’s ideas about the structure of the universe, and more recently, the controversy surrounding Darwin’s theory of evolution.  This was hotly debated in the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in the early twentieth century, and to this day tempers flare and court cases are filed when ideologies clash.
I agree completely with Huston Smith when he assails scientism as the belief that science can answer all our questions and solve all our problems.  Smith places it as the floor of “the tunnel” metaphor he uses to describe our current dark ages and lack of spirituality.  This “ism” is only part of the problem, in my view.  The “ism” on the other side of the coin is religious dogmatism.
I am the product of a Christian family from Virginia; I attended Sunday school and church quite regularly as a child, and even spent parts of my summers at a local Bible camp.  My family primarily attended Presbyterian services, but we did sometimes switch, trying Baptist, Assembly of God and Methodist churches.  And the influence of the Southern Baptist church in that area can not be overstated!  I still recall listening as my grandmother tuned in to radio sermons and listening about “hellfire and brimstone” and wondering if that guy would ever stop to catch a breath!  I also fondly recall the set of Bible Story books by Arthur S. Maxwell my mother had, and when I visit my sister back there, I still like to flip through them.  And believe it or not, we had some missionaries who came to our school periodically in the 1970s and taught Bible lessons, long after the Supreme Court rulings in the 1960s.  (They used an easel with felt figures which stuck up there and then added or removed them, or even unveiled a new one to illustrate the story… I thought it was pretty cool!)
So by the time I hit my teen years, I was thoroughly indoctrinated in the stories of the Judeo-Christian Bible, mostly of the King James flavor.  However, this created an inevitable conflict, for I was also interested in science.  I read about dinosaurs, prehistoric men and the ice ages, volcanoes, earthquakes and was fascinated by the concept of plate tectonics in the fourth grade.  I also watched some of the last Apollo moon landings, and even had a toy astronaut with all the accessories when I was in first grade.  Therefore, once I learned the scientific theories behind what I was reading, it just didn’t fit with what I had been taught through all those religious methods.  I tended to embrace the scientism, and push religious dogmatism to the side.  In my mind, it was all or nothing, one camp or the other.  They couldn’t both have truth… could they?
Albert Einstein and about every physicist since him have worked toward a unified theory, a theory of everything.  This would tie together the laws of space, time, gravity, electromagnetism, radiation, and the other forces in the universe.  I’m no Einstein, but I think there can be many unifying things between science and religion, rather than the two camps always being at odds.  I intend to explore several issues from the Judeo-Christian Bible, offering ideas of how these seemingly supernatural events can be explained without suspending scientific rationality.  While I would like to explore the belief of other religions, I am not familiar enough with them and time does not permit me to study all of them.  But I think the method can be applied to any religion.
Where to begin?  I Might as well start at the beginning:  Genesis 1:1 states “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  A very simple statement, yet the explanation from science is “The Big Bang.”  According to this theory, all the matter and energy of the universe was condensed into a singularity, an infinitely dense point which contained everything.  Genesis 1:2 says, in part “And the earth was without form, and void…”  Void is defined as “nothing.”  If there was nothing, is it not conceivable that there were no laws of physics either?  Imagine a sudden energy burst, illimitable in proportion and of divine origin.  As the energy spread and cooled, it condensed into matter, and the future universe was set into motion.  And given that light was created by God before the sun, it fits with the sequence of events that led to the solar system later in time.  Modern cosmologists and physicists can explain events all the way back to within a fractional second of the Big Bang, but not before.  So how could such a point ever exist?  Maybe it didn’t!  Perhaps the burst was simply willed into existence by God.  There is even a school of belief that the universe is merely a thought in the mind of God, but that’s another topic.
Most who interpret the Bible literally believe all of creation to be only a few thousand years old.  I find this problematic, because I don’t believe God would have made the universe into some kind of puzzle problem for us to figure out, with the laws of science conflicting with reality.  Science shows that the universe is about 15 billion years old, so how to explain the difference?  Time is meaningless to God, and there are at least two passages in the Bible which state this.  Psalm 90:5 says “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” And 2 Peter 3:8 says “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  Therefore, if we take the “days” of creation as a metaphor, each one could represent millions or billions of years, and they wouldn’t even have to be of equal length.  Of course one could argue that the Biblical account is literal, and that God created the trees with rings, Adam and Eve with navels, and the earth filled with fossils.  But if so, this seems an unusual trick to play on the mind of man.
As for the emergence of life, a literal interpretation seems to show that life simply “sprouted” from the earth at God’s command.  However, this germination process could have taken “days” and followed natural laws of selective evolution.  Interestingly, man is created later, just as anthropologists say.  And when man is brought forth, the story has an interesting context:  God speaks using plural pronouns in Genesis 1:26, whereas in the other parts, He simply says “Let there be…”  So when He says “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”  Was this the “royal” pronoun? If so, why wasn’t it used earlier?  Perhaps God was speaking to the animals, evolving man from them, but imparting him with a divine soul, or “the image of God.”  Another interesting thought comes from Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael.  In this book the gorilla philosopher suggests that Adam and Eve were not two people, but were a group of people who were not the beginning of man, but were the beginning of our culture.
I came across another interesting example from Genesis by accident a few years ago that has stuck in my mind.  While reading a book about snakes which one of my kids borrowed from the library, there was a section about pythons which said they were descended from prehistoric lizards that lived alongside the dinosaurs.  They still have remnants of the bone structure where their legs used to be.  I remember being told that serpents walked on legs prior to the “forbidden fruit” incident in the Bible, and Genesis 3:14 says “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou has done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life…”  Perhaps the serpent was punished for tricking Eve into eating from the forbidden tree?
Other symbolism in the Bible fits with widely accepted history.   The exile of Adam and Eve from Eden might represent the switch from being hunter-gatherers to the establishment of agriculture.  To this day, primitive tribes have more leisure time than those of us in the so-called “better” modern world, so might switching from their way of life have been paradise lost?  And when Cain slew Abel, the metaphor could be farmers taking over from herders and nomads, fighting and killing them when necessary.
Moving on from creation, another amazing story from the Bible which nearly all in the Western world are familiar with is the story of Noah’s flood.  Recent research has revealed evidence of a catastrophic flood which inundated the Black Sea approximately 7,600 years ago.  The narrow passage connecting it to the Mediterranean was closed off during the last ice age, and it was a freshwater lake with a level several hundred feet below its current elevation.  Sunken riverbeds have been observed, and Dr. Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic, has found possible evidence of settlements alongside these rivers.  At some point, melting ice caps resulted in rising sea levels around the globe, and the natural dam separating the Black Sea from saltwater was breached.  The ensuing torrent is estimated to have been hundreds of times the size of Niagara Falls, and filled the Black Sea within a few months.  In the process, thousands of people were displaced, tens of thousands of square miles of farmland were lost, and mass starvation may have ensued.  Add the stench and possible disease from rotting freshwater fish killed by saltwater, and you may very well have a disaster of Biblical proportions.
Many older religions have stories of a catastrophic flood, particularly those of Mesopotamian origin, but the one with the most parallels is from the Epic of Gilgamesh.  It mirrors Noah’s flood in many ways, from the flood itself, the boat built to preserve life, and the birds sent out to search for land.  According to scholars, these stories predate the Bible by hundreds or even thousands of years.  Might they all have the same ancient origin?
Of course, conservative readers of the Bible say the story is true just as told.  While reading various web sites for this paper, I came across an interesting theory of how plate tectonics played a part in the flood.  In a nutshell, it outlines how the continents were one, just as science states, and as they split up water sprang from the deep.  There were no mountains yet, so the earth was easily covered.  The Grand Canyon and other great geological features were carved during this period, and the subsequent uplift of mountains and sinking of the ocean floor allowed the floodwaters to subside, and Noah’s ark came to rest on a mountain.  Majoring in Geology, I find this interesting, but difficult to believe unless God is once again playing a trick on our minds with the observed evidence versus the story.  It is worth learning more about, but once again, that is another topic!
As we move forward in the Bible, another very famous set of miracles take place during the Exodus from Egypt.  The plagues sent to convince the Pharaoh to free the Jews might have a basis in nature.
The first plague was the Nile turning to blood.  This has been known to happen in modern times when a polluting agent causes an algae bloom.  These toxic algae would kill all the fish, frogs (the second plague) would leave the river and marshes, and die in the heat.  The fish and frogs rotting would likely result in gnats and flies (third and fourth plagues) and perhaps spread disease killing livestock (fifth plague).  The toxins might have caused the people to develop rashes and boils (sixth plague), since they were dependent on the Nile waters for life.
But what source of the polluting agent?  One theory I found on the internet proposes the explosion of the volcanic island of Santorini around 1,600 BCE resulted in massive ash fallout over Egypt.  Deposits of ash from this event have been found in the Nile delta region, and this type of fallout is known to impact weather.  So hail and darkness (seventh and ninth plagues) might have been a consequence.  Locusts (eighth plague) are a relatively common occurrence in Africa, so one does not have to stretch the imagination to embrace this.  The final plague, the death of the firstborn in Egypt, may have been a consequence of the disease mentioned earlier, or starvation made worse by locusts.
During the ensuing flight from Egypt, the King James version of the Bible states that Moses led the Jews through the Red Sea.  However, according to many sources, the original Hebrew “yam suph” was mistranslated and means “Reed Sea.” Many scholars point to the Bitter Lakes of the Suez Canal area as this body of water.  Computer models have shown that the strong winds of the region can cause bodies of water to “slosh” to one side for a period of time, and some report having witnessed this phenomenon.  And Exodus 14:21 says, in part, “and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.”  And once this east wind subsided, the water would return to its original location.  Pity anyone caught in this pseudo-tsunami!
There are many other miracles in the Bible, and I’m sure just as many in other religious texts.   Many scientists and researchers have offered theories for these events, some plausible, some not.  Some have stated that God did not cause these miracles, but how can they prove it?  The explanations I have used may seem to lean in this direction, but it is not my intent.  This would be scientism, pure and simple.  I believe that if God created the world, He also created the laws of physics and nature which it obeys.  So is it not unreasonable to theorize that He might work within His own laws to achieve the goals?  I leave open the possibility for the hand of God to have worked in this manner.  Otherwise, how would Moses have known when to challenge the Pharaoh, or when it was safe for the Israelites to cross the sea?  And Noah’s flood could have been caused by God, perhaps even to punish those living around the Black Sea.

What I have written is from only one religious perspective, only ideas, and not intended to be exclusive of others.  But if more common ground between science and religion could be found, I think more people might be inclined to embrace spirituality in some form.  And, as a lesson, if all people could learn the good from religion and focus on what we have in common instead of our differences, the world would be an infinitely better place.

\\\\\\\\\\ Well, that's the end of my ancient text! //////////

And that pretty much sums up the way it often ends...


And on that note, this is the end of this post!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Runnin' Down A Dream...

I don't know exactly what hallucinogenic drugs Tom Petty or his producers took to inspire this video, but the song is a favorite of mine.  I'm not a musician, but I absolutely love the guitar riffs.



Not unlike Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55", this song is dangerous.

Although I had a reckless driving citation and license suspension in 1982 after crashing my mom's car, and a subsequent speeding ticket from the same VA state trooper (1987), "Runnin' Down a Dream" has yet to get me in trouble, even though I have a tendency to put my foot down and speed when it comes on the radio.

"I Can't Drive 55" got me in trouble outside Pound, VA in 1987, as I mentioned... I was racing a Camaro while in my 1988 Chevy Beretta.  Piece of crap car, ultimately, but I thought it was cool at the time.  My radar detector went off, but I didn't hear it because I had the Sammy Hagar song blaring. The trooper was coming at me from the opposite direction.  70 in a 55.  I was close to the State Line, I almost went for Kentucky...

It would have been a cool "Cops" video as I perhaps became a bullet riddled corpse.

(The Camaro driver was a pussy... I won, except for getting pulled over by the cop...my car at the time topped out at around 130 MPH.  Yeah, I've verified it... not that particular day, but I can tell you the top speed of every car I had as a younger man.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One Tin Soldier...

A duplicate post, almost identical from Facebook, but if for no other reason, it's my archive.
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Any of you that know me should know I am not a pacifist. I will defend myself and my loved ones vigorously, and if need be, there will be blood.  I am not squeamish. I will rip your still-beating heart out through your neck if the situation calls for it.

The drums of war are once again beating, and this song came to my mind. I hope we can settle our differences without any additional loss of life. The song is a message of protest, from the days of the Vietnam War.

This song goes way back, and many of you won't recognize it if you were born in the late 70s or afterward. It tells a story of the Mountain People with a treasure they are willing to share with the Valley People, but the Valley people want it ALL and take it by force, only to learn that the treasure is a simple message: "Peace on Earth."

Poignant, but the words that hit me the most deeply are "Do it in the name of heaven, you can justify it in the end." Whether you believe in a god or not... I don't think this is how it is supposed to be...



Sunday, September 8, 2013

I'm Going to Visit the Island of Misfit Joys...

My wife has started a blog, I hope she finds it to be as therapeutic as I do via my own. Although I want people to read my thoughts, at the end of the day, they are my own. Much like the cheese from "The Farmer in the Dell, " it stands alone.

The Island of Misfit Joys

I'm helping her get it up and running, so please forgive any hiccups which might take place.

Hers is likely a collection of random thoughts and proclivities, much as is my own.

Please check out her thoughts and perspectives on life. She's an interesting soul, which is why I love her.

Here is my own blog:

(Which if you are reading this is perhaps redundant...)

PaleBlueDot

But wherever you go...there you are.

Sam I. Am

I Was Feeling Nuts This Morning...

This morning I woke up with a penis between my legs. (Gasp!)

It was my own, and it is still there.  It was erect, that’s just how it goes, especially early in the morning.

Approximately 50% of the population has one and touches it daily to do such things as going to the restroom, bathing, or masturbating.

The other 50% have a wonderful device known as a “vagina.”  I’m pretty sure those of the female persuasion also touch their hoo-ha daily.

Why is this a naughty secret or concept?

I do not think of my mother or grandmother in a sexual manner, but I know they had sex. I hope they enjoyed it, and I hope it was more frequent than the number of aunts & uncles or brothers and sisters I have. I also do not think of my daughter or sisters in a sexual manner, I do not imagine people going to poop either, but I know it happens.  Have a nice bowel movement, smoke a cigarette if you want, have your hubby put his ding-dong in your hoo-ha, or go masturbate.ENJOY IT!

Aside from the complexities of our brains, next in line are the mysteries of our reproductive organs.

Why is it a dirty idea for me to talk about putting my ding-dong in a woman’s hoo-ha? I wake up and wish to do so on an almost daily basis.

Sex is wonderful, I plan to have it as often as possible, and if I’m doing it correctly, she’ll be back for more.

(Why else is she coming 'round the mountain when she comes?)

What the hell...?

The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.
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Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat), or endothermic  (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time.

So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving.  I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave.  Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different Religions that exist in the world today.   Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.   Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.   Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.   The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being, which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."



THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY "A "

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Dogs of War

Careful... you just might learn something....

The Dogs of War, by Pink Floyd

(Choose your weapon.)

Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don't discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
Hell opened up and put on sale
Gather 'round and haggle
For hard cash, we will lie and deceive
Even our masters don't know the web we weave
One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world

Invisible transfers, long distance calls,
Hollow laughter in marble halls
Steps have been taken, a silent uproar
Has unleashed the dogs of war
You can't stop what has begun
Signed, sealed, they deliver oblivion
We all have a dark side, to say the least
And dealing in death is the nature of the beast
One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world

The dogs of war won't negotiate
The dogs of war don't capitulate,
They will take and you will give,
And you must die so that they may live
You can knock at any door,
But wherever you go, you know they've been there before
Well winners can lose and things can get strained
But whatever you change, you know the dogs remain.
One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world
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I am sorry that so many people have died and are suffering in Syria. I truly am.

I have lived the life of a warrior... and no one hates war more than the warrior.

But America, do you realize that we've been at war for about 23 years now?

Are you numb, or are you just stupid?

You have your head up your ass, or in the sand. You watch the Kar-trash-ians, and how many other reality shows? You can recite who won American Idol or what someone wore on the Red Carpet, but you can't point out Iran, Iraq, Syria, or even your own country on a map?

The first Gulf War started in 1990. Afterward, the allied countries continued to enforce a no-fly zone in Kurdish (Northern) Iraq, and Shia (Southern) Iraq. Saddam Hussein repeatedly locked on and shot at U.S. aircraft. All acts of aggression under the terms of the cease-fire.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden declared Jihad on the West. His followers blew up the Khobar towers military barracks in 1996. 19 of my fellow U.S. Air Force members were killed. Then in 1998, two U.S. embassies were bombed, in Kenya & Tanzania. Hundreds killed, thousands wounded. Acts of war, yet the U.S. populace was blissfully silent while the Clinton Administraion blew up a few tents in the deserts of Afghanistan.  The U.S.S. Cole was bombed in 2000, killing 17 sailors. But hey, it was "only" the military and diplomats being killed. That makes it OK, right?

9/11/2001 should not have been a surprise, in the context. It was shocking, but I was not surprised, because I try to follow world events. I showed up for my first day of duty in Guam shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Thanks to the international date line, they happened during the night before I awoke. What a coincidence. I had to hit the ground running. The "sleeping giant" Admiral Yamamoto spoke of after Pearl Harbor was once again awakened.

We went after bin Laden in 2001. We missed. 

So when the 2nd Gulf War kicked off, it wasn't just Mr. Bush. It was a combined force of history, a continuation of the 1990 conflict. I didn't agree with going to war immediately again, but at the same time, I felt it was inevitable. I just wish the U.S. had aligned more friendly powers on our side.

We have finished (as much as we can be) with Iraq. We're still up to our knees in the quicksand of Afghanistan. We have blood on our hands with Libya, and for what end? Who is in charge? Are they friendly or not?

Now, finally, Syria is on our radar.

There is not a single Syrian that is worth one drop of my son's blood. We can fire missiles, launch air strikes. We will only kill more Syrians. We can not solve their problems.

They hate each other... None of us can cure that.

I think it's about time that Mr. Obama earned that Nobel Peace Prize that was handed to him for... nothing.


Here's another weapon for your own arsenal, from which you can choose:

War Pigs by Black Sabbath
War Pigs


Generals gathered in their masses 
Just like witches at black masses 
Evil minds that plot destruction 
Sorcerers of death's construction 
In the fields the bodies burning 
As the war machine keeps turning 
Death and hatred to mankind 
Poisoning their brainwashed minds 
Oh lord yeah! 

Politicians hide themselves away 
They only started the war 
Why should they go out to fight? 
They leave that role to the poor 

Time will tell on their power minds 
Making war just for fun 
Treating people just like pawns in chess 
Wait 'til their judgement day comes 
Yeah! 

Now in darkness world stops turning 
Ashes where the bodies burning 
No more war pigs have the power 
Hand of God has struck the hour 
Day of judgement, God is calling 
On their knees the war pig's crawling 
Begging mercy for their sins 
Satan laughing spreads his wings 
Oh lord yeah!

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(Sorry, the videos don't make it through e-mail... click here to 
go to the original blog and check 'em out if you're interested.)