August 31, 2009

It's not really about race


What would constitute a true dialogue on race? I'm of the opinion that it would be a civil discussion and presentation of all points of view on issues surrounding problems arising from interaction between people of different racial backgrounds, in an attempt to come to a meeting of the minds.

The problem this thought creates is that we are far too argumentative in nature, today labeled as dramatic, for this to take place. We have the ability to do this with ease. Yet, we lack the discipline to accomplish such a simplistic goal. Human beings are the same regardless of race. We all want to live in peace while we traverse trough our daily lives. Within us we hold teachings of past lives, some of that wisdom that has become outdated.

Opinions are controlled by stereotypes that have plagued us for centuries. The simplest way to overcome such ingrained thought is to ignore it by creating a truly level playing field. Take race out of the picture completely and it no longer is an issue. To achieve this we must first accept what is true and what isn't. To do this you must only look at your life, personal accountability. This is as far as it needs to go.

The first rule of all rules is that there are exceptions to each and every rule. These exceptions are present in everything, yet they are something that has to be visited when the time is at hand, and can be afforded to collaborate for an appropriate course of action. Evaluating yourself honestly is something we rarely do. You know what your faults are, and you know how to repair them. There isn't any fix that can be purchased, although we try. From physical appearance to mental anguish, we know the causes. Peace isn't something that can be achieved in the form of a pill, or in some half assed vengeance we may seek to sate a desire for retribution of past sins visited upon our fathers. Indeed, who among us can afford the time to even begin to list the things that were done to those that lived in our past. My own family tree consists of Irish, Scottish and Cherokee ancestors who's predecessors were sold into servitude and bondage for a litany of reasons historically written about for centuries. Every race can make the same claim.

To define hatred or prejudice isn't necessary either. We all know what we are talking about. Each of us have seen it, heard it, handed it out, and experienced it at some point in our lives. There are many ways to look at crime statistics in order to attempt an understanding of which groups need to be addressed. Yet all groups are represented, leaving us with only one viable option, everyone needs to be addressed. Yes, we all treat each other like shit....

Each race can be broken into groups that hate each other, each group can be further broken down into segments that again, hate each other... All the way down to the individual. That is why the first step must be taken by you. A realization that you are the same as everyone else is step one. Step two consists of admitting your personal transgressions to yourself and recognising them for what they are, your responsibility. Clean your own house before you attempt to clean someone else's.

Each person has the same rights that you have. Their opinions are different than yours are, yet they have the same guarantee to them that you have. Think for a second about your passion for your religion, the comfort it brings you, the certainty you have that it will be exactly as your holy text tells you it will be, that indeed, God's word is law, and it is the truth. Now.. come to the startling understanding that the person next to you doesn't believe what you do, they believe something entirely different.. They were raised another way, taught something completely opposite of what you believe. And... They feel the same passion about their theology that you feel for yours, whether you believe what they do or not.

Within this understanding lies the only way to move forward as a society. You want to be comfortable in your world, we all do. Understanding that we are all different, yet the same over all is the key to this comfort. The key to this understanding is tolerance, that's it. The way to learn this is written in many forms... The golden rule.. we all know it.

Set the foundation for yourself carefully and with purpose. Keeping it simple, using honor, character and personal responsibility. You are where you are in life because of the decisions you have made, and you are the only one who can change this, or keep it as it is if you are happy. Discipline is the only way to accomplish this. There is a karmic truth involved here. When you have set your life in order and include nothing foul in it, life becomes simple.

For every injustice that can be shown befalling a group, an equal mistreatment can be shown by the group accused of that injustice. Having a competition about who is treated worse doesn't accomplish anything. The acceptance that everyone has been through it at some point in history levels the field, and then we can move forward. Discussions at this point in history should be geared toward topics like making requirements equal for all in gaining access to a school, a profession, a club or a group. For a desired goal such as these, all requirements should be the same for both genders and all races. Want in this school? Make these grades.. This job? Meet these requirements... Play this sport? Run this fast... Are you going to be offended? Sure you are, we all are... There is no document that guarantees anyone the freedom from being offended.

When a white person can look at a black person and see only a human being, or a black person can look at a latino person and see only a human being, or a straight person can treat with a homosexual and not feel strange about it, or when groups from all religions can realize that most of the holy books preach love for everyone... In other words, when people can stop listening to rhetoric and start learning from the past, start to find things out for themselves instead of listening to what others have to say and taking it as the truth without investigation. That is the moment that differences of all types become a non issue.

When you consider these points you come to realize the reasoning behind it all. It's really not about what race people are. It's the human condition that you are up against. You have to overcome what it is that you have been taught. Regardless of what has been implanted in your psyche, you know what is right and what is wrong. Understanding that your right and your wrong are ultimately different from the next guy's not only opens doors to you, it allows you to learn about people from all over the world. There are lines that you will not cross, hold these close to you and keep them with honor. At the same time, show other people that you respect their boundaries. Be considerate and polite, or simply be quiet.

As you grow older you come to see that there simply is no place in life for dramatic uselessness. It really is all about love and respect. Hold these things near to you, at the same time you have to protect them with deadly precision. When someone crosses lines with you, hold your beliefs and stand behind them. Simply do not allow another person to affront you, when you do you give them power over you. Not only your daily life, but your emotions and your mental well being become affected. Remember that these people have no control over you, the only power they have is the power you give them. So put them out of your mind completely and allow them to exist and wallow in their misery, floundering through life in a small mean way. If they attack you, seek justice through legal channels. If you are ignored while attempting this, make a decision to let everyone know about it or forget it. Look that person in the eye and let them know that you forgive them and if they need any help, offer it to them. Or simply stay away from them, it's that easy. When these things can be done, you grow because you truly see that there is actually only one race, and we are all we have.

"We need also to recognize that many great thinkers of the past-- whether in medicine or philosophy, science or economics-- labored not simply to advance whatever particular group they happened to have come from but to advance the human race. Their legacies, whether cures for deadly diseases or dramatic increases in crop yields to fight the scourge of hunger, belong to all people-- and all people need to claim that legacy, not seal themselves off in a dead-end of tribalism or in an emotional orgy of cultural vanity." - Thomas Sowell

August 29, 2009

August 26, 2009

A week of firsts...

As we make our way through the completely ridiculous mess that comprises everyday life, there are moments that stand out for the better. These moments let you know why it is that you get out of bed in the morning. Patrick came in the other day with a grade report that showed an average of 98... Saturday saw a good time at breakfast in town with the family, that included a walk around the square, a visit to Scott's Book Store, Broad Street Sweets (where I had a great cannoli) and we stopped by the hobby shop where James picked up his first ever balsa wood flyer...


Oddly enough, here it is Wednesday and the balsa wood flyer is still in one piece... For me and my brother they rarely lasted an entire day. Yet, when we were kids, every time my mom came back from town she had a few with her... a wonderful two dollar investment for anyone with kids...

This evening I made an executive decision... He is still a bit young for it, so must be heavily supervised, but the time has come for the passing on of the beloved daisy bb gun. When I got home, we ate some quick sandwiches and headed out for the first ever shooting practice. We made our way down to the garden and sat some soft drink cans around at different distances, then sat down for a long debriefing and discussion of protocol concerning bb gun safety... After James was ready to explode out of his skin, I got the gun ready and placed it in his hands. I walked him through the holding and aiming nuances and then stepped back.... What followed was an amazing display of kindergarten marksmanship. I have to admit I was taken aback by James ability. I had to cock the rifle between each shot, but he drew down and took aim with patience and care. He showed tremendous adherence to the rules I had given him, and plinked with the seeming eye of an old pro. All five cans fell in five shots. We moved on to different types of shooting, here he is practicing propping the rifle...


He is still a bit small to place the rifle correctly on his shoulder when firing, but he compensated adequately with perfect results...


Then he wanted me to teach him how the soldiers shoot while sitting down... We went through several different variations, I finally let him adopt his own method.. Again, with perfect results.


The moment arrived when we were about head back in and I was faced with a rather smug kid who had the attitude of "did you expect anything less?" He, like his brother before him, has shown a propensity for marksmanship, remarkable hand eye coordination. Here he is showing off the last can he shot, he tumbled it over about five times with ease...


Being the son of an avid shooter and hunter, I can honestly say that Grand Daddy would have been very proud of James... In fact, I feel fairly comfortable with the knowledge that he was watching the entire evening play out with a big "shit eating grin" on his face...

Ted Kennedy

February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009

Rest in peace at last Mary Jo....

August 23, 2009

Solar Pain or "It's always fun until someone gets burned"

Today was a joyous day. The weather was perfect, low humidity and a constant breeze. This morning while everyone had gone to town for the weekly supply run I cleaned the house and washed the dishes. When everything was completed inside I went out and got the lawnmower ready for a few hours of mindless destruction. I cut the grass up the driveway and then up by the road. When I got back down here I cut the grass all around the house, then promptly gassed it up again and got it ready for our fifteen year old to finish up the job.. Delegation of duties is a parent's gold mine... After coming inside and opening all the doors and windows to allow the breeze to run through the house, I enjoyed a pleasant shower and then settled in to carve a pencil I had been instructed to do for a friend's birthday gift, as a joke. Grateful Dead and Tom Waits blared throughout the house as I worked on the carving, then completed a cane I had been working on.

When the family returned with the week's provisions we unloaded the car and my niece called to see if our five year old wanted to come over to play with her daughter. So with the day's remaining chores delegated to the fifteen year old and the five year old away playing, my wife and I placed some solar lights around the property while riding on the kawasaki mule for a while, then came back in to enjoy a good nap with all the cool breezes and freshly mowed grass smell permeating the area.

With the onset of evening, I decided it was time to have the first fire of the season. The air outside was cool enough to enjoy a nice fire and the pile was getting high, so the time was right. I spent some time sorting through the pile of limbs and debris that we keep to use as fuel, building a nice sized fire, but keeping it reasonable. James, the five year old, had returned from playing and was excited to help me tend the fire. We played and talked as night began to set in. He actually tried to roast some vienna sausages on a stick, but as you could imagine, the dogs ate well... James was going through the yard looking for anything that could be used as additional fuel for the fire and happened across an old rusted can. He ran up to the fire and tossed it in, as I told him not to throw anything metal in there. A few minutes later he used his "poking stick" and raked a pile of coals out of the fire as I was stoking it up. I told him about the dangers of spreading the coals around, and noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was bending over. I looked at him as picked up the can he had thrown in the fire... He dropped it quickly and said, "Ow that's hot!" I said, "yeah you shouldn't do that.."

He came over and I looked at his hand, he had burned his thumb and index finger. The burn wasn't bad, just slightly red and no blisters. He played for a minute or two then went inside. After a few minutes my wife came out on the porch and wanted to know what had happened. I went inside and James was in a panic, his fingers were "ripping apart"...

What followed was a about an hour of him screaming at us and running away from us, then demanding that we provide him with more cool water for his cup that he was holding his hand in. He wouldn't let us look at it, but we saw enough to know that while painful, it wasn't bad enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, a small bit of blistering on his thumb was about all we could see. Being a veteran of many burns, cuts and self inflicted injuries from my hobbies, I informed him that it was going to hurt for a bit, but would eventually stop. We called my niece, who had some solarcaine on hand and she came over to bring it, James hid in the bathroom from her...

He kept wanting us to spray it on so "It will stop hurting right now!" The panic in his eyes over the pain was stressful, but we knew what had to happen and waited it out. I promised him a ride on the kawasaki mule to check out the lights we put around and he yelled, "I don't want to go anywhere, I want mom to keep putting the solar pain on me until I feel better so I can use my hand!!"

Once we gave him a couple of hours to calm down, and a good dose of tylenol, he began to get over the pain. I checked his fingers out and he was fine. When his emotional state began to return to normal we were a bit drained... yet James remembered the promises of a "mule ride" So I loaded him up on the kawasaki and we set of at walking speed with the head lights off.... and had to visit each light we had placed... twice...

The late night ride gave us time to talk about what all had happened during the past few hours and I asked him, "What did you learn from all this?" He looked up at me and said, "Never to touch anything hot, and I don't want to be outside for anymore fires..." Yet by the time we got back home, noticing the fire had burned down to embers, he wanted to check it out and wound up tossing a few more sticks on it and running around dancing before he realized he hated fires now. So we sat there and stared up at the crescent moon, and I listened as James saw a star and made a wish... He was whispering so I listened carefully.. "And please make the pain stop I can play without crying.." Even with all the drama, it was still a good day...

August 21, 2009

Clown Car Vagina


By now we have all seen this picture. The Duggar family... They have eighteen or so children. Think about that for a second... Eighteen children to guide through life let alone feed and clothe. When we go out for a nice lunch, catch a movie, then maybe take in a stroll that includes our favorite candy shop, followed by a cup of coffee, that's about one hundred dollars spent. There's only four of us.

Time... How do you find the time to do it? A frequently brought up issue here is that each child requires understanding, and teaching, a calm force of guidance in life. I agree with that, I see the point. Children should be exposed to the finer things, like classical music. Lessons about responsibility and how it ties in with things like honor and character should be taught at all times. Each difficult situation that arises should be met with a stern calmness that teaches your children the correct ways to react and behave. They should be reading things like Tom Sawyer and Tarzan. Playing outside using their imaginations should be the order of the day.

Yeah, right... I'm sure there are people who have lived like this, I just haven't met any of them. I grew up in a house with four siblings, a mother that tells it like it is, and a father who had a propensity for explosions and loud noises... Mealtimes at our home were loud and argumentative. Play time was when my parents ran us outside and away from Gilligan's island. We would wander around a bit then find something to occupy our time that usually ended in some sort of painful or expensive corrective process. Like everyone else we did things that we weren't supposed to and we paid the price for these offenses, with a swift and sure hand. And like everyone else, we toed the line when we had to.

I have read several blogs and articles on line about the Duggar family. Ninety nine percent of what I have read is negative, rabidly so. I have misgivings about this family myself. During this time in history I can see how it doesn't make sense to have a family that large. This isn't a time when an army of a family can come in handy on the farm. So, I decided to do what I usually do in these situations... Stop listening to other people's opinions about something and check it out for myself.

I had read enough about them on line to know that they are viewed as "cult like" in many circles. They seek corporate sponsorship for many things to pay for a good bit of what they do, they are very religious, sticking to a strict belief system and enforcing it with their children. I know too that when it comes to reality television, we are given a polished product to view that has been put together with the utmost of care. So I avoided any sort of "Duggar information" for a while and put them out of my mind. Until I saw the program was on television, and watched it.

I put aside all opinions deciding to let the product the family and sponsors put together speak for itself. This program had been on before, but I simply never paid any attention to it other than to periodically shake my head as I glanced up to see the group getting on a bus to travel somewhere, or lining up at a bathroom. While I didn't really enjoy the show, I have to admit, I didn't see what all the fuss was about. Putting aside the fact that we all know it's heavily edited, what I saw was a family doing what they enjoy. They were spending time with each other and undertaking tasks that helped others. In the episode I watched they were helping another huge family build an addition onto their home. There were something like fifty six people on the scene and only one working bathroom for the entire visit. A parent on the show said that there was someone on the bathroom twenty four hours a day. Yet what I saw seemed to be a bunch of happy people. They were enjoying all the noise and camaraderie of the job and visit. I was reminded of an Amish barn raising. The odd thing was.. after the show, I found that I was confounded by the vitriol that I had been exposed to about this family while reading articles and blogs concerning them.

I mean, yeah.. I found them to be a bit creepy in a Stepford Wives sort of way, but they seemed happy. I follow a live and let live sort of philosophy, the "take nothing from anyone through force or fraud" mindset is firmly ensconced in my psyche... I like to believe it is anyway... So I began to wonder about the people that seem driven to rip these folks apart and make fun of them.

I went back around and read several things about them again and came to the usual conclusion that people are just plain ass unhappy unless they are being mean to someone or tearing something down in order to make themselves feel better about their own lives. This prompts the question, what is so lacking in your life that you feel it's constructive to be this damn mean about a bunch people who snookered a network into paying them money to be filmed. The complaint most often spewed about this, and most reality television, is that it's bad for the children. Everyone seems convinced that all of the underage females will inevitably be employed in the porn industry, while all of the male kids will be strung out on drugs and one day featured on an episode of VH1's behind the scenes. And they all seem to be poised to watch the crash during the race while calmly stating that they have no interest in the family at all...

It feels like the people that make fun of the twilight series of books to me. If you like them, I say enjoy them and be damned what people think about it. We all have things that we enjoy which will make a large group laugh at us. I get the strangest looks from people at intersections when I have my car windows down and I'm singing along with a Tom Waits cd, or belting out a loud rendition of "Happiest girl in the whole USA" in tune with Donna Fargo... But damn.. I like the music. If the Duggars are happy in their lives, and find purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in adhering to their beliefs.. Then good for them... If there are people that are willing to kill an hour during the week watching a group of people helping someone out on a project, or going on vacation, or playing softball... Then, meh.. why the hell not....

Like all things involving other people, it doesn't really have any effect on you as an individual unless you allow it to. I wasn't converted to some far out religious cult by watching it, or had no desire to approach my wife and discuss having a litter of children. I just enjoyed watching a group of smiling people doing things together. Was I brainwashed by the subliminal messages hidden by the family and producers in the background scenes? Sure, probably... But somehow I really don't think so. Besides.. come on.. it's just tv.. turn the damn thing off.. Enjoy yourself for a while... let the smug suffer in their useless hatred.. as usual...

August 16, 2009

Oak Hiking Stick


Oak hiking stick, six feet in length, with leather wrist strap.







August 12, 2009

Government intrusion, why can't they hear it...


That seems to be the real question. Regardless of the label you carry, left or right, the government is extending and pushing toward levels of involvement in your life not yet attempted. There are regulations that tell you how much water you can flush down your toilet, schools are sending home papers to be filled out asking how many people live in your home and wanting you to circle the "correct figure" that matches your household's annual income. Don't worry though... it's to be kept confidential.. for grant purposes... even though your name and address appear at the top of the page next to the bar code....

Now, every time you see any media it's full of scenes from these town hall meetings of angry people yelling at senators and representatives. The left leaning people are screeching "it's staged!" and the right wingers are belching forth with "see! i told you!".. Protests being staged and backed by sponsors is nothing new, most are, and always have been.

What's behind the anger that these people are expressing is fairly clear to me. Government intrusion in general. Quite frankly ladies and gentlemen suffering smugness.. we are tired of it. By all means continue to label these people as rubes, uneducated, racists, staged, zealots, xenophobes, etc, etc... You are easily making their points for them, Why you ask? Because everyone is watching, that's why...

I live in Georgia, the land of the eternal racist.. I must admit that I haven't heard mention of obama's race at all. What I am hearing is a daily round of, "Damn...". Working in small business is a scary place to be right now. Our book keeper is telling us what's coming down the pike, and we don't like it. Since we are a business with a single owner the business income is listed as personal income, and the taxes will go up, being that we gross over 250k per year. That simply means that our business will have more money taken from it by the government in this already tricky economic atmosphere.

On a personal note, it irks me to watch people finally getting to confront these ass-hats from Washington, and then see the cut away to a smug faced commentator as he/she launches into the usual attacks against the people you just watched demanding answers from their representatives. Quite like being stuck in a room with bill maher as he rants about how stupid southern people are. Then I make the rounds to blogs and news sites to be treated with the litany of "my god these people are stupid... health care for free? who doesn't want that?"

Tonight I watched as Claire McCaskill a senator from Missouri dealt with people shouting at her at a meeting. And what were they saying? "You work for us" "Why cant you hear us?" These people are like me. They don't care if obama is black, they don't care who's fault it is. They are just tired. What was her response? "why are you being rude?" give me a damn break.. It's time people were rude, they don't seem to pay any attention otherwise...

We work all day long. We are kept away from our homes and families for ten to twelve hours a day. The time we put in is turned into money. The government is taking 40 to 60 percent of our time already, and they want more. When we turn on the lights in the morning the meter is running. When we turn on the water, when we drive, when we buy gas, food, when we drop the kids off at school, when we get home and turn on the television, or talk on the phone, when we pay property tax on our homes, land and cars... The government has its fingers in everything we do.. They make money from all of this, not to mention from our incomes as well... We are taxed when we earn it, when we invest it, when we save it, when we spend it, and dammit.. when we die and leave it to our children... enough is enough already.. Going to build a house? Why... you must do a perk test, dig a few holes in the ground, then pour in some water and time how long it takes for it to drain out, then write it down on a form, then turn it in to your local government office... AND you get to pay them $175.00 for the privilege...

We the people that actually get out there and work our asses off and pay the taxes on everything from income to food, utilities, clothes, cars, property, homes, phone usage, television, internet, death, birth, medical needs, school, etc etc are getting a bit fed up with whole mess...

Government employees have no problem voting in raises for themselves while we squirm to keep our jobs and pay their bills. The size and scope of this group of miscreants grows each quarter, regardless of which party sits in majority, as the economy that funds them shrinks each quarter. This is not sustainable. It's simple mathematics.

They jail people who cook books and put out false financial statements to wall street while they do exactly the same thing to us. They draw power and money from us and we continue to put the same people in office term after term. Why are we not marching on Washington with pitch forks and torches? Let's get the government to sell some of the prime real estate they own in the heart of our towns and go to cinder block buildings with single dangling light bulbs next to landfills and dog pounds.. sell off some of the marble flooring and new computers and get some PROFITABLE businesses in their current locations so that the economy can grow...

Pass term limits to go back to a true citizen government, pass the fair tax to get them the hell out of our money and lives, and hold heir asses accountable for every dime of ours that they spend... Once all this is done, then we can stand around and point fingers at each other in different parts of the country as we call out xenophobic names meant to impress...

The sad part to me is... I feel that politicians don't care about the money, they see it all going down.. it's sad and scary... I feel that they are more interested in the power they hold, and because of that we should be afraid...

Damn people, start paying attention... Go here and read some of this shit instead of depending on john stewart or bill orielly to tell you about it... pull yourselves together out there before its too late... Because when it's too late... it's over...

August 09, 2009

Sunday morning ride

This morning while everyone had gone to the dread walmart for the weekly supply run, I took the kawasaki mule out for a spin through the woods... It was a peaceful way to start the day.
































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