Falling in and Out of Love

In the post below I related part of my friend Jim's story about his divorce. Old Jim surprised me with a telephone call a short while ago in which he asked me to ask my readers a question about love.

He would like to know if you fall in and out of love with your spouse throughout a marriage or if you just always know that you are in love with them.

There you go Jimmy, lunch is on you.

Hindsight is 20/20 But you Cannot Change the Past

Within the last two days visitors to this blog have seen a number of different things, posts about sex and the impact children have upon it, earthquake news and a couple of cuts off of U2's album The Joshua Tree.

It is one of my favorite albums. It came out my senior year of high school and it always brings me nothing but good feelings and great memories. If I close my eyes I can see myself at the beach. There is a group of 25 or 30 of us, girls in bikinis and all of the guys listening to the album.

It is one of those moments imprinted on my brain. It is May and we're listening to Where The Streets Have No Name. In a short time we are going to graduate and we're all going to head off to college and the song just feels so right.

My girlfriend and I have recently broken up and I am staring hard at a couple of the girls, wondering what it would be like to kiss them. I want to speak with them, but I am too shy.

Fast forward to January of 1995. I am back in Israel and walking through Jerusalem when the song hits on my walkman. It is well past evening and the lights are gleaming off of the walls of the Old City. Just ahead of me is David's Citadel. In a few moments I'll be passing through Jaffa Gate and on to the Jewish Quarter to meet a friend.

I remember just being amazed and really happy, so very content. The song seemed so appropriate to the situation. There was nothing but potential in front of me.

There is still nothing but potential in front of me, but life is more complex than it was then. A dear friend and I have been discussing life choices and how to deal with making them when you are no longer the only person that is involved or impacted by that decision.

Jim is in the process of getting divorced so you can see how the topic came up. It hit him out of the blue. He knew that his wife was upset about some things, but he really was surprised that she was so upset that she just wanted to end it all. They had been married less than two years when she told him that she was going to leave him and said that there was no reason to bother with counseling.

I know that he has spent time trying to figure out if there were any signs that he had missed, that he questioned some past decisions and wondered what his role in all of it was. But I don't think that it serves us well to focus too much upon the past. What we have done there impacts us know and may very well impact our future, but it is not the sole arbiter of what happens. That is assuming you haven't committed some heinous crime.

And the ability to look backwards to see mistakes is not always indicative of having been stupid or blind. Most of us are not gifted with prescience, we are not clairvoyant. So the best that we can do is act upon the choices we have made in the manner that makes the most sense to us. Life is about how we act and react. I prefer to act, but sometimes you are forced to react to situations that are created but not of your own choosing.

The beauty of people is that we do not always follow the logical or rational path. It is a common theme in science fiction. Artifical intelligence takes on human kind, begins to win the war and then loses because it doesn't have the ability to go outside of the box the way that we do.

Set your course, sail your ship and don't be afraid to drop anchor in unfamiliar ports or to weather the storm. Slow and steady can mean growth and progress.

Sex, Death, And Crap

I'd like to be asleep. I'd like to just hop into bed and drift off, but I am agitated. I can't quite get my body and mind in sync so I am here at the computer just rambling on about nothing at all. There is a reason why this blog is called random thoughts and you are seeing it.

My mind moves at light speed and it is always on. There are times when I get lost in thought, when I drift away from reality for untold amounts of time. It could be an hour, it could be 5 minutes or 5 days, sometimes I am not all that sure. And there are times when I consider it all and wonder just what I was thinking about and then I realize that there was a tremendous volume of information running through my head.

There is so much going on that it is like a river which overwhelms the dam, class five rapids here. It is ok, I really haven't known any other way to be. I am who I am. Overall I am quite happy with myself, there are not too many changes to make. If I had to pick one thing it would be to correct my dysfunctional digestive system.

It sucks having to worry about what I eat, to be concerned about having access to a toilet at a moments notice. The other day the urge hit me while I was out on the town. It was more than a little uncomfortable, but I managed to get there in time. Thus far I have always been successful. I know others in my situation who have not. I admit that my fear is that there will come a time in which I will fail. But it won't be for lack of trying.

I am tired of the Schiavo case. I am tired of the bickering and finger pointing. It is like the presidential election. We point, push and pull and yell obscenities at those who differ from us. If you think that her tube should be reinserted you are a proponent of life and goodness. If you think that she should be allowed to die you are a champion of human rights and dignity.

And if you come between the two sides you need to be clothed in a rubber suit and hip waders because the crap is flying. None of this speaks well for us. It is a time in which I am happy that my children are too young to be discussing this.

Two more friends are getting divorced. Two more couldn't make it work, but that is a description that is unfair. I am not convinced that every marriage is capable of surviving all of the stress and strain. Some relationships have a finite life and others are able to go the long distance.

One of the men told me that I play basketball with has been married for 38 years. He told me that he has more trouble keeping his hands off of his wife now than he ever did. That is all fine and good, but what caught my attention was his comment that they fight to take care of each other. Each wants to attend to the others needs before their own.

Now that is a special relationship.

Moving along on the topic of relationships another friend asked me if I could say that I have lived a life of no regrets. I cannot say that I have. I can say it is a life of minimal regret, but I know not how to remove that primarily because there just isn't time to do what I want to do.

I sometimes wish that I could have a thousand years of life so that I could do more, there is never enough time.

More Earthquake News

After all of the posts and comments about sex it is time to talk about a different way of making the earth move. I read an article with upated information about the earthquake that led to the December tsunami.

Here are some excerpts that grabbed my attention:

"PARIS (AFP) - In a reassessment of the December 26 earthquake that unleashed the Indian Ocean killer tsunami, scientists say the quake measured 9.3 on the Richter scale -- more than twice as powerful as originally estimated and the second biggest quake ever recorded.

The quake split the ocean floor northward from Sumatra along 1,200 kilometers (750 miles), twice as long as previously thought, according to their research, which appears on Thursday in Nature, the weekly British science journal.

The event released so much strain along this particular part of the fault that in theory there should be no quake of similar magnitude, or a similar tsunami, there for another 400 years, said geologists Seth Stein and Emile Okal of Northwestern University, Illinois.

But farther south, it is a different picture.

The scientists -- who wrote before last Monday's quake, which also struck western Sumatra -- warned with uncanny prescience that "a great earthquake" with the potential to generate a large tsunami remained a threat south of the December 26 site.

The December 26 quake occurred off northwestern Sumatra, at the nexus where the Indian plate of the Earth's crust is sliding under a tongue-shaped sliver called the Burma microplate.

It was initially thought to be 9.0 on the Richter scale.

But an evaluation of very low frequency data from seismograms shows that the quake was in fact 9.3 magnitude.

As the Richter scale is logarithmic, the difference between 9.3 and 9.0 is 2.5 times, the study said.

"Conventional methods used to assess earthquake size dramatically underestimated it," the study said.

"(...) This makes the Indonesian earthquake the second largest ever to be instrumentally recorded."

Only one measured quake has been bigger: a 9.5 event that struck Chile in 1960."

And

"Research led by Chinese seismologist Ni Sidao of the University of Science and Technology at Hefei, Anhui province, sheds dramatic light on what happened on the floor of the eastern Indian Ocean.

Their computer model, also published in Nature, suggests that the quake delivered a high-frequency shock that lasted a stunning 500 seconds, compared with 340 seconds for the Chile event in 1960.

From Indonesia to just south of Myanmar, the ocean ruptured at 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) per second in an arc measuring 1,200 kms (750 miles).

The rip occurred along the so-called Sunda megathrust -- the great tectonic frontier along which the Australian and Indian plates begin their descent beneath Southeast Asia.


Stein and Okal also estimate a rupture of 1,200 kms (750 miles), and say that this figure would explain why Sri Lanka and southern India were so badly hit by the tsunami.

The reason: the biggest waves that struck their shores came not from the quake site off Sumatra, to the southeast, but from the thrust of the ocean floor to the east.

"Tsunami amplitudes are largest when perpendicular to the fault," Stein and Okal note.

The pair estimate the rupture to be some 11 metres (35.75 feet) deep and 200 kilometers (120 miles) wide."

It is beyond words. Here is a link you can use to understand the strength of a quake. And here is a link to a list of other deadly quakes.

New Music Video Function

It is located at the bottom of the page, not sure if I will keep it or junk it. Now playing The Lonesome Kicker by Adam Sandler.

Updated to:

U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name

Punched in the Stomach and Kicked in the Teeth

It is always a bad feeling whether done literally or figuratively.

Update: Children and Your Sex Life

I have received numerous comments regarding this post. Two of my respondents were women who emailed me about this and said that I could quote them as long as did I not reveal their names because of the sensitive nature of this topic.

The general consensus was that they have marriages in which the sex has never decreased because they always make themselves available to their husbands, even when they are tired. "It is not that hard to take care of him. It doesn't have to be a marathon, sometimes it can be quick. It is so easy to do, such an easy way to make him feel special and loved."

The other woman said that her friends use their bodies to control their husbands, that they use sex as a tool to leverage things and that she thinks that they are making excuses when they deny their husbands.

I rather expect to get some heated remarks to this post, but that is essentially what they shared with me.

Does Having Children Prevent an Active Sex Life

This is a topic that the boys and I have had on a number of occasions. It is usually a night on which we have gathered for an evening without wife or children to just spend a little quiet time for ourselves.

We'll drink a few beers, shoot the breeze and at some point in the night we'll notice that there are attractive women walking by. They could be in groups of two or three or walking by themselves. They may or not be pushing strollers. It doesn't matter, there will be something about them that catches our eye and we'll try to be discreet about checking her out.

Since our significant others are not included in these affairs we may even spend a few moments talking about the eye candy we have been enjoying. And for a moment we might even quietly fantasize about her, what it would be like to be single and to be able to rejoin the hunt for a brief time. Of course we'll have conveniently forgotten all of the things we didn't like about being single, the fact that even if we were available she might still choose to ignore us. Just details and who likes details.

At some point someone will talk about what it was like before children. Spontaneous trips to Vegas or Hawaii, nights in which you walked in and took your wife in the kitchen or bathroom or some other random room in the house. Evenings in which you didn't have to worry about fitting sex into a schedule etc.

Don't get me wrong, one of the things I love about my friends is that they love being a father as much as I do. We get off on taking our sons to the park together and spending quality man time bonding with them. But every now and then you remember the past and wonder a little bit about the future.

So I have to say that I was pleased to read this article by Ayelet Waldman. It always made sense to me that our wives would have similar conversations to ours and that there would be at least one or more couples that were still very active in the bedroom.
"I HAVE been in many mothers' groups - Mommy and Me, Gymboree, Second-Time Moms - and each time, within three minutes, the conversation invariably comes around to the topic of how often mommy feels compelled to put out. Everyone wants to be reassured that no one else is having sex either. These are women who, for the most part, are comfortable with their bodies, consider themselves sexual beings. These are women who love their husbands or partners. Still, almost none of them are having any sex.

There are agreed upon reasons for this bed death. They are exhausted. It still hurts. They are so physically available to their babies - nursing, carrying, stroking - how could they bear to be physically available to anyone else?

But the real reason for this lack of sex, or at least the most profound, is that the wife's passion has been refocused. Instead of concentrating her ardor on her husband, she concentrates it on her babies. Where once her husband was the center of her passionate universe, there is now a new sun in whose orbit she revolves. Libido, as she once knew it, is gone, and in its place is all-consuming maternal desire. There is absolute unanimity on this topic, and instant reassurance.

Except, that is, from me.

I am the only woman in Mommy and Me who seems to be, well, getting any."
I am sure that there are some people out there who see this post as a complaint about my life. It is not that at all. Just a brief observation and comment about people. I find people to be incredibly interesting, it is one of the reasons I went into sales.

We have so many similarities and yet we are so very different. Our thoughts and ideas on how we view the world, the way in which we approach life are just so interesting to me. I think that this is one of the reasons why I enjoy blogging and reading other blogs so much.

The boys and talk about many things along these lines and the general topic. It is kind of interesting to me. Before we got married there were a lot of things that might have gotten tossed out there. You definitely heard about the wild women and their ways in the bedroom. You heard tales of love and conquest.

And then after we hooked up the shades came down. We all got be a little bit more guarded in what we told each other. It wasn't like we were all that detailed prior to this, but for many years we have been a little bit more circumspect. Now we circle around the topic two or three times before we are willing to broach it.

Billy wants to know if he has the only wife who received a ring and stopped offering oral sex. Ted wants to know if anyone else is told that once a week is as often as he should expect it because not one else has a wife who does better. Jim is strangely quiet, is he not sharing because he is living a dream life and doesn't want to upset the others, or is he embarrassed.

Bob says that he overheard his wife complaining to her friends that men are only interested in their own pleasure and suggests that perhaps that is the problem. Of course no one in the room admits to this and that is not to say that any one of us is guilty or innocent. It is just part of the conversation.

Those of us who work as the sole provider grumble a bit about not being given enough respect for the load that we carrry. Murmurs abound about being more appreciated for that and comments like "I know that is hard to be a full time mom, but give me some credit" float through the room.

And at times I wonder if the women's tales are all that different from ours. Slightly different complaints, but similar in nature. We all miss the time in which we were the focal point and now we have subjugated our own interests.

Returning to the story I cited earlier I wonder about a few things.

"And afterward my husband will say that we, he and I, are the core of what he cherishes, that the children are satellites, beloved but tangential.

He seems entirely unperturbed by loving me like this. Loving me more than his children does not bother him. It does not make him feel like a bad father. He does not feel that loving me more than he loves them is a kind of infidelity."

I don't think that you have to love your children the same way you love your spouse because it is a different kind of love. It is an all encompassing love for your children, but it doesn't have the same kind of passion. You don't make love to your children, but you make love to your spouse.

To me they are distinctly different and not something that you can judge as being right or wrong. I find it to be a very interesting topic and something that I want to mull over and consider in more detail.

From Monkey Business to Baby Love

This is a cool story about love and marriage of a different sort. The story is too long to post, but here are a couple of key segments that help to explain it.

"Their courtship had an awkward start. She was aloof. He was frustrated. He lunged at her. She backed away. But even in wildlife, there are second chances. A few weeks later, she threw herself at him. He touched her gently.

In the confines of a private outdoor enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo, Minyak and Kalim became the dream couple — two pure Bornean orangutans. They were spotted one day caressing and grooming each other for hours.

"It was a pure love fest," said animal keeper Megan Fox.

For a week last June, they mated every day.

Their coupling would produce one of the zoo's new spring additions and offer testament to the physical prowess of the once sickly and depressed male, Min- yak, and the nurturing skills of the unproven Kalim, the female. Long before the birth, zookeepers had to play the roles of matchmaker, therapist and trainer."
and
"After their mating last June, keepers began their vigil for signs of pregnancy, watching Kalim as obsessively as tabloid editors scrutinize photos of Demi Moore for evidence of the same. Was she or wasn't she?

Zoo staffers tracked Kalim's menstrual cycles. They bought home pregnancy tests and dipped the sticks in Kalim's urine. They never got a positive result.

Then, slowly, Kalim started to show physical changes. She stopped menstruating. Still, Kalim's handlers were nervous about making a public statement.

"We actually thought she was pregnant a long time before we actually admitted that she was," Jennie McNary, the zoo's curator of mammals, said with a laugh. "We didn't want to blow it."

An ultrasound, performed through the mesh siding of Kalim's exhibit when she was six months along, revealed that she was carrying a live baby. But preparations for a birth were underway long before that. Zookeepers calculated a rough due date, Feb. 13.

First-time mothers, particularly those raised in captivity, are often clueless with their newborns. Deprived of role models in the wild, and sometimes hand-reared by zoo staff, they often ignore their babies, carry them upside down or injure them. Kalim, raised by zoo staff, was seen as an at-risk mother.

So after confirming the pregnancy, mammal curator McNary decided the zoo had to teach mothering to Kalim. Animal keeper Megan Fox, Kalim's primary teacher, started by putting a furry brown stuffed orangutan from the zoo gift shop in Kalim's enclosure.

"It's just natural for them to pick something like that up," Fox said.

When Kalim picked up the stuffed toy, she was rewarded with a snack. "Once she knew that the whole training thing was based on the stuffed animal, it was easy for her," she said.

Eager to please, Kalim would try to give the toy animal to her keeper. "They like trading for stuff. I had to be careful not to reward her for trying to stuff the baby through the mesh," Fox said.

When Kalim manhandled the toy, Fox walked away from her. "I wasn't going to reward her for pulling an arm off." Keepers ended up going through four stuffed toys over the course of Kalim's training.

For a while, Kalim carried the toy upside down and Fox would say "over" until the orangutan learned to turn it right side up. "They're so smart. You don't have to do a lot of steps generally to help them understand behaviors," she said.

Then Fox trained her to bring the toy to the mesh of her enclosure — with the toy's face pointed outward. Fox wanted her to be comfortable keeping the "baby" at the mesh for a bottle of milk in case Kalim wasn't nursing well.

Zookeepers preferred that Kalim nurse the baby, so they trained the ape to put the toy to her nipple. "That's another big thing that first-time moms can have problems with, learning how to put an infant on their chest," Fox said. "They may be carrying it and doing all these other wonderful things, but they're just not nursing it."

That took the longest. Every time Kalim moved the toy closer to her chest, Fox would reward her. It was slow going, and with the pregnancy advancing, the keepers decided on another approach.

Fox trained Kalim to put the stuffed toy wherever she pointed a stick. Once Kalim learned that behavior, Fox started moving the stick to Kalim's nipple. Eventually, Fox would say "nurse" and Kalim would put the toy at her nipple.

The training took almost six months."
The whole story is just very cool and very interesting.

Scientists Puzzled No Tsunami After Quake

"EWA BEACH, Hawaii - Tsunami experts could not understand why Monday's forceful earthquake off Indonesia failed to produce massive waves similar to those generated by the Dec. 26 quake that killed at least 175,000 people in the same region.

A magnitude 8.7 quake shook Indonesia's west coast, killing hundreds of people and spreading panic that another devastating tsunami was on the way.

There was no tsunami, but a small wave was detected by a tide gauge on Cocos Island near Australia, about 1,500 miles south of the epicenter, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Oahu.

"I'm baffled an earthquake this size didn't trigger a tsunami near the epicenter," said Robert Cessaro, a geophysicist at the center, which is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is responsible for monitoring seismic and ocean conditions in the Pacific and alerting Pacific Rim nations and U.S. agencies,

Center Director Charles McCreery said earthquakes of at least 8.0 magnitude usually generate major tsunamis."

This is just incredible, absolutely amazing to me. Things like this just remind you about how small we are in the scope of things.

People Have Short Memories

It is a fact of life that people have short memories. In particular I am referring to the various tragedies we have seen, the Tsunami, 911, the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine etc.

I should clarify that for those who lost a loved one or were impacted more directly it probably does not apply with the same strength, but even there I expect we can find it.

And by it I mean that as time goes by the memory fades and most people pay less attention to what is going on in these places. They send less money to charitable organizations that were established to help the recovery slow down and sometimes even peter out.

I suppose that some of this can be attributed to our coping skills, how we deal with things and move on.

Just some thoughts to consider.

Slinging Mud at The Wall To See What Sticks

Ok, I just destroyed an entire post. Eight hundred words were swallowed up by the denizens of cyberspace, those critters that are assigned to eat the words we waste. The words that are not considered good enough, smart enough or cool enough are sent somewhere.

I don't know where, I just know that when I highlighted them and hit delete they were gone. One moment they were there and the next, poof.

I am not sure what I want to write about but I know that I feel like blogging so here is my compromise, a series of links to posts that caught my eye, some old and some new.

Rishon Rishon has an interesting post about language revival. Interesting stuff.

Vince had quite an experience with her beau the Park Ranger at the Cracker Barrel. I have never been so I cannot comment on any of this.

I have to give credit to Brian for the roundup. He does a weekly roundup that is pretty interesting. I do this when the mood strikes me which is pretty much how I operate. I am just not good about doing things that I do not want to do. Maybe I will be in the future, can't say, but maybe Brian's crystal ball will help define things for me.

Spent a solid 30 minutes dancing with my daughter. In a few weeks she is going to be nine months old, but she has a laugh that is deep and rich and a light in her eyes that twinkles when she is happy. Tonight we danced to Conga, Secret World, Dancin With Myself, Dude Looks Like a Lady and For Once In My Life among a handful of other tunes. It was fun, we will do it again.

RD caught my eye with his piece about Red Lake. I keep wondering about this.More specifically I wonder what has changed that our children use guns to settle the scores between them. I was teased and did my share of teasing. In ninth grade the teasing came to blows. The boy who was tormenting received an apple in the side of his head followed by my jumping on him. His attitude underwent a complete adjustment and I never heard a squeak from him again. But I never would have thought about bringing a gun to school.

In large part because among the boys I grew up with that would have made me a pussy and I wouldn't have that. To me it was better to try and talk it out or use my fists to settle things. That is just how we did it then. But there never would have been anything like guns. It concerns me as I am sure it concerns other parents.

A recent poll found that Americans are too sleepy to have sex. I don't know about you, but good sex is a great way to fall asleep. Somewhere in cyberspace there are millions of women shaking their heads about that one. Sorry ladies, the post-coital cuddle is nice, but the snoring is the real compliment to you. We do love you all.

One of my fears is to be eaten alive, but new fear is to be suffocated under tons of manure. Guess that I'll be avoiding the Andy Gump truck for a while.

I still agree with Daniel Pipes about Hezbollah and Hamas and democracy. Ideological enemies are a serious problem. You cannot just buy them or scare them off.

Rose's story is a compelling tale about how one woman survived the war. I enjoyed Ben Chorin's tale of Purim fun from 2004.

I am a diehard Lakers fan, but I want to trade Kobe. The dude fooled me, I thought that he was something special, brains and game. He destroyed my team and I blame Jerry Buss for allowing him to do it.

Some people want to know why I like Monkeys. It could be nothing more than I find Monkeys to be funny or just interesting.

On the Mark at Toner Mishap has a good post about the problem with dropouts here in Los Angeles. Can't say that I am surprised by any of this. Why can't we pay our teachers what they are worth. Why can't we pay enough to attract the very best we have to offer. All we are doing is shortchanging ourselves.

Pat O'Brien, whatever were you thinking.

The World Cup and the Golden Calf

I have been mulling over a post about what we here in America call soccer and what most of the rest of the world refers to as football. I haven't quite decided what I want to say so like many other posts I am going to just write and we'll see what happens.

I am not a huge fan of soccer. I don't find it to be as boring as many people do, but neither do I find it to be the awe inspiring game that so many others seem to think that it is. Some people go nuts, worship it like some kind of sick golden calf.

At times it is exceptionally dull and not worth much more than a glance. And based upon the behavior of many it seems to be a good excuse to act like an idiot. How many examples are there of ridiculous behavior known as hooliganism.

Elijah Wood stars in a movie called Hooligans that is about the rowdy and obnoxious behavior of fans of this so-called sport. There seems to be no end to the stories that I can find online about idiotic behavior surrounding the game.

Several months ago I wrote about a Dutch team and their fans behavior whom have taken to calling themselves Jews. And many of the rival teams fans have taken to trying to aggravate them by making hissing sounds that are supposed to simulate the gas chambers, giving the nazi salute or pretending to be suicide bombers.


But the fans of the team are not exactly the most logical either. In a recent article in the New York Times I read the following:

"Standing in a section behind the goal reserved for hard-core Ajax fans, the leader of the more fanatical of the teams' two supporter associations said he understood that it hurt Jews who lost family members during the war, but complained that it was the fault of other teams' fans.

"We don't say anything that hurts anyone," said the tall, sharp-featured man who would give only his first name, Henk. "Even if we stopped, they'd still call us Jews."

A cheer of "Let's go, Jews, let's go!" started up among the fans around him.

"It'll never change," he said. "It's been our identity for almost 30 years - you can't erase it." He tugged down the neck of his shirt to reveal a large light-blue star of David tattooed on his chest with the word AJAX emblazoned above it in black gothic letters."

I am a big sports fan, but I cannot understand how someone could tattoo themselves this way. Just another example of more fanatic behavior tied into a game that involves kicking a ball and chasing it.

Evolution

That old DovBear tipped me off to this article about evolution. There is yet another foolish argument about evolution and a fight about whether it should be taught in school.

Here is a great quote:

"But pastor and parent Ray Mummert, 54, explained their point.

"If we continue to indoctrinate our young people with non-religious principles, we're headed for an internal destruction of this society," he said.

"Evolution is just a theory and there are other theories," Mummert explained, smiling through his beard.

"There is such a complexity in life, and science wants to hang its hat on a belief that life somehow started -- they say there is no creator, no order ... I believe there is a creator," he said.

Both sides acknowledge the political context of the debate over Darwinism, and the relation to the re-election of staunchly Christian President George W. Bush (news - web sites).

"Christians are a lot more bold under Bush's leadership, he speaks what a lot of us believe," said Mummert.

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step."

There is nothing I hate more than being attacked with by intelligent people and especially the cultured ones, they are the worst.

Terri Schiavo- I Must be a Heartless Killer

I received another piece of fan mail in which I was told that I am a heartless, sociopath because I do not believe that Terri Schiavo is alive in any meaningful way and that I think she has been turned into a political pawn.

I am still not going to spend a ton of time writing about my thoughts and feelings on this, in part because I just don't feel strongly enough to do so. But the few moments I give are enough to say again that this case has rolled out a large number of hypocrites.

This is not a situation that has to be seen in black and white terms and I argue that if you do you are missing out on the many subtleties and intricacies here. It is not about saying that someone is pro0-death or pro-life. It cannot be boiled down to such a simple description.

We have taken the most personal, private and painful moments of a family and placed them on display.

We are not providing coverage of the funerals of our servicepeople. We are not watching as wives/children/parents cry over the casket of those who gave their lives in service to our country. And I am not arguing that we should, but there are people among us who are not coming correct here.

Terri's case is tragic, but it should not be our focus and if we must do so than I would hope to take it to a higher level then the rudimentary discourse I see out there now.

And I still wonder about the people who claim the moral ground here. What do you do in your community. How do you help? What do you do to improve the world? Or is it easier to sit in your recliner and complain about how unfair life is.

Someone Else Wants to Make Me Rich

Boy, there is nothing better than knowing
that so many people want to make me rich.
I just received the email below and cannot wait to go wild.
Think of all the monkey business I can get into with this.

Hello,

I am Mr James Alinco, an auditor of a reputable bank in Johannesburg,
Gauteng Province in the Republic of South Africa. I have an urgent and
very confidential business proposition for you.
We had a foreign client named Mr. Chung, Timothy, who deposited a huge
sum of money (18.6 Million United States Dollars), with our bank.
Eventually, this client died in a plane crash and since his death we have
not had anybody come up for the claims as the next of kin.

You may want to take a look at other passengers, who were on the same
plane; here is a site for your
perusal.http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9708/06/guam.passenger.list/
A situation I have monitored closely with my position in the bank. Now
having monitored this deposit and managed it over the years before his
death, and hence nobody has showed up as the next of kin for the past
years. I now solicit for your assistance to present you as the next of
kin as every other arrangement/ processes will be monitored by me and my
partners involved. However I got your contact from a trade consultant
here in South Africa, though I did not disclose the purpose of my
seeking for a foreign business partner to him. Although we will still have to
sign some agreement before the final transfer of the fund into any of
your designated bank account.

I have involved a very senior official in the operational department,
and we have agreed that after the transfer of the money into your
account, you shall be entitled to 30% of the total sum, my colleagues and I
will have 65% while 5% will be used to reimburse any expenses incurred.
All necessary precautions have been taken to ensure a risk free
situation on the side of both parties. Please note that this deal can only
take place on the following conditions;
1. Absolute confidentiality and sincerity will be required and
guaranteed, considering our positions in the bank.
2. Assurance that our own share will be released to us in good faith
when this money finally gets into your account.
Please treat with utmost confidentiality. Contact me as quickly as
possible through my e-mail.

Expecting your urgent response,

Best Regards,
Mr. A. James

A Life of No Regrets

I have spent a large part of my life living a dream. I don't care to explain that in great detail now so I'll climb up onto my soapbox and begin my session of preaching to those who need it and to those in the choir.

I am a voracious reader, it is something that I love. I read almost anything, nonfiction, fiction, biographies, science, medical files, legal, this and that. My library is a potpourri of odds and ends, an assortment like Forest Gump's box of chocolates. You don't really know what you are going to find there.

My personal library is an area filled with snobbery and high falutin' ideas. It is a place that I can always find solace and sanctuary in, although there have been times where it is hard for me to catch that little thing that makes me smile.

I am moody, at times more high strung than laidback and then the exact opposite. A dear friend calls me consistent in my contradictions. If nothing else I am longwinded and not as concise as I could or probably should be. Members of my fan club take me to task for not getting to the point, but if you are reading my words you are probably willing to take the long way home.

For years I have listened to people cry about their lives. Untold tales of sorrow and woe, high drama and things that are so petty that I just shake my head.

The basketball gym is filled with men who could have done something. I hate that. I grow tired and weary of listening to stories about what people could have done. Don't yammer on about what you could have done, tell me what you are going to do. Tell me about how you have discovered a new love and how you are going to bring this love into your life.

It could be a person, a hobby or a career. If you are speaking/writing about things you love there is an energy that radiates from you. I am a big believer in exposing myself to that kind of passion. It is a highpowered fuel that fills me with belief in my own dreams.

I hate change, but I hate regret more. I measure success in my own happiness. Can I look in the mirror and feel good about myself. Do I like me? Would I want to be friends with myself. All that newage crap that you read in the greeting cards, I internalize a lot of it.

There are many people out there who have suffered more than I have, whose lives have been much tougher and there are many who haven't begun to plumb the depths of sorrow that I have. There is a darker side to me, a place in which the sun seldom shines. It is filled with thorns and the dead rose petals. I know it for what it is, a graveyard in which I store the pieces of me that have died.

But a cemetery does not have to be a place of endings, it can also be the site of new beginnings. So I can look at the dark side and see the potential for many good things. It doesn't have to be a place filled with regret. People bring flowers to the cemetery and they add bright and vibrant colors.

For no reason whatsoever allow me to share one of the contradictions of my life. I have often felt that I would either outlive most of my friends and family or die at a young age. I have already lost several friends so I don't really expect to be among the vanguard of souls into the world to come. There is still too much to do and see so I expect that I'll be around for a long time.

In Tolkienesque terms my doom is to watch over those around me and to eventually be the one to turn out the lights when the party is over.

And now on to a more exciting topic.

From the Midst of a Bazillion People

Apparently Audioblogger is not working because I tried to post from the middle of the Happiest Place on Earth which also happens to be the location of a bazallion people. And these bazaillion people were all milling about in a gazillion different directions making it difficult to traverse the rugged terrain of Frontierland, the wacky landscape of Toontown and just forget Fantasyland.

Hadn't been to Disneyland in about five years, definitely not since they added California Adventure to it.

Somehow we managed to park in the one lot that didn't have tram service. It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been loaded down with sleeping children and gear. It was literally a 20 minute walk from the car to the entrance. I had a backpack that weighed about 12 pounds and alternated between 17 and 38 pounds of sleeping child so I suppose that I am ready to begin basic training.

It was a good day, we had a lot of fun and so did the children. But today my body is feeling the pounding it took. My son and I had a great time on many of the rides, but the Pirates of the Carribean takes the cake.

It was a new experience for him and we was a little scared so he spent a lot of the ride tucked underneath my arm and squeezing my hand, but he still liked it.

We considered purchasing an annual pass, but there are too many blackout dates and I am not willing to spend $300 a pop to avoid that. It is about 45 minutes from the house, so we will go back but at these prices not that frequently. All in all it was a good day.

More From the Mailbag

Dear Jack,

I have been following your blog for sometime now and really enjoy the fiction you write. Will you tell me something about how you write?

Thanks,

Mike

Dear Mike,

I write with a pen or sometimes a pencil. But if I am feeling really lazy I have my manservant take dictation from the houseboy. They make a good team.

Dear Jack,

You are one of the most obnoxious people I know and if I had my way you would never blog again. I can't understand why any woman would ever want you. One day you'll get yours.

Eat shit and die,

Your Pal

Dear Pal,

Are you sure that you know me, because if you did you would understand that women cannot help but throw themselves at me, just like you are now. I'd like to spend an evening with you, it would be educational for both of us.

Ok, maybe not educational, but I do believe in charity.

All of my love,

Jack

Dear Jack,

What do you think about Bush?

Regards,

Tim

Dear Tim,

After I finished smacking myself for all of the obnoxious remarks I'd like to make I want to say this ##%&$@#$&$&$^&$&$%#&*^*^, and how.

A New Installment of Fragments of Fiction

Here is the latest installment. To follow the complete story click here.



More About Georgie

If you were to ask me why I started hanging out with Georgie I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. I don’t know why. It is the kind of answer or should I say non-answer that used to infuriate my father. When I was a child I could never have gotten away with explaining that I didn’t know why I had done something. An answer like that would not have been acceptable to him.

Of course like most teenagers I had responded to most of his questions about what I did or didn’t do with the very thing I just mentioned. It is part of a rite of passage to try and irritate your parents and I was a master at it. One of my father’s favorite movies was Cool Hand Luke.

Maturity is a wonderful thing as it allows you to look back and see what a jerk you really were. All those times you thought you were being cool, all those moments when you thought that you were just like James Dean have a way of being colored by time to your advantage. But if you stop and think about it, if you are honest and truthful you find that most of the time you weren’t that cool and you might have even been a complete asshole. Maybe I am being too egocentric, but I suspect that I am not the only one who sees their past this way.

My father worked hard at trying to maintain a relationship with me. He tried to be my friend and to stay involved in my life. I hated it. The simple questions he asked me felt like an interrogation so I did my best to be difficult so that he would stop.

Often when he would try and speak with me I would quote Strother Martin’s famous line:

“What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach, so you get what we had here last week which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it.”

After all if you are going to try and aggravate someone you might as well take something they love and twist it, offer it to them in some perverse distortion of itself. And it worked. After a while my father just stopped speaking with me. He gave up and I got angry. It is kind of silly because he was only doing what I wanted him to do, but all it did was piss me off.

Maybe that is what pushed me towards Georgie. I didn’t have any older siblings and without my father there was no longer any sort of male role model in my life. Not that Georgie was any older than I was, but he did have some life experiences that I didn’t have and he had a certain kind of charisma. I can’t explain it, won’t even try other than to say that he had a magnetic personality that attracted people.

And he was confident. Lord was he ever confident. Georgie walked like there was nothing in the world that could stop him from going wherever it was he was headed. He moved with an attitude that radiated from all sides of him. Mean, nasty, arrogant, cocky, bold and confident. He was all of those things and proud to be described that way.

If you asked Georgie if it was better to be feared or respected he would have picked feared without hesitation.

Georgie’s reputation for violence was earned and well deserved. You already know about Georgie and the Tree Man. I’d like to say that you have seen Georgie at his worst, but it wouldn’t be true. There were moments that matched or exceeded the treatment that the Tree Man received. There were many times that Georgie made it clear that he had more than just a mean streak.

A streak makes it sound like a little thing, but that is just not accurate nor true for Georgie. He should have been the model for some Country-Western song, the kind that tells you a story. But the reason why he couldn’t is that those songs almost always have a happy ending and stories about Georgie almost never did.

She knew long before I did that my friendship with Georgie was going to be a problem. She knew me so much better than I knew myself, but the problem I had was that I was young and male. My ego wouldn’t allow me to listen to her. The woman I loved so desperately knew that I was in trouble and I was too stupid to listen to her.

The thing about Georgie was that not only did he have that magnetism, but he was both shrewd and clever. He manipulated the situation so smoothly I didn’t have much of a chance. As he started reeling me in I began to hear bits and pieces about a woman’s place, her role in a man’s life. And it wasn’t as his conscience.

So when she started asking me to back off and find someone else to be my friend I took it to be demeaning, controlling and obnoxious. I wasn’t about to allow some woman to have that much control over my life. And I told her that. I let her know in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t have it. I was the man and if she wanted to be with me she needed to just shut up.

We had a few fights, some disagreements before this, but never like this. I had never told her to shut up with the kind of venom that lay behind those words. I had been poisoned and I was too dumb to recognize it. If I think back I can see the hurt in her eyes and I can feel the pain I caused her. When I spit those words out at her she flinched and actually drew back from me. And it just got worse from there.

For a moment I was sorry, so sorry that I had hurt her. I wanted to take her in my arms and just apologize for hurting her. I wanted to make her understand that I hadn’t meant any of it, but I couldn’t do that. I didn’t know how because I couldn’t figure out how to apologize and still show her that I was an independent and strong man.

The confusion and guilt only made me get more upset. I became even angrier that she had brought this up. I was furious with her and started screaming. For a moment she stood there and just looked at me and then she just left. She didn’t say anything, didn’t yell or scream. She just gathered her things and left.

There was a definite roar, but the silence was deafening. And if I had been a real man I would have stopped her from leaving. I would have insisted on talking it out and made amends, but I didn’t. Instead I let her go and allowed three days to pass before we spoke again. And when we finally did I didn’t mention it and neither did she.

It was the elephant in the room that neither one of us would forget or ignore, but could not speak about. It was the beginning of the end of something special and dear, the first of many cracks that would eventually cause us to shatter and split. Where there had been nothing but good there was now an ugly bruise that just ached.

And like so many other couples it was only a matter of time before the topic reared its ugly head again and the bad feelings came back to the surface. Another fight, another argument and more pain. It became a pattern. We would fight, make up, fight and then make up again.

Eventually I tried to do the right thing. I tried to break free of Georgie so that I could prove to her again that I loved her, but the problem was by that point in time there were so many nasty remarks, so much bad blood she couldn’t just believe me. I wanted her to believe in me again, but I couldn’t bridge the gap.

“We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can't you see
What you're doing to me
When you don't believe a word I say?

We can't go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can't build our dreams
On suspicious minds”

Suspicious Minds- Elvis Presley

After it was over I can remember kidding around with Georgie that once the trust was gone in a relationship it wasn’t fun lying to your partner any more. We both laughed, but my laughter was hollow.

The Original South Park- The Spirit of Christmas

Here is a copy of the original South Park. I hadn't watched it in a long time. Still makes me laugh. If you are easily offended you may want to skip it. Click here to see it.

Canada: No refuge for U.S. soldier

I have a number of comments to make about this story, but first here are a couple of sections that are noteworthy:

"TORONTO (AP) -- The Canadian government has denied refugee status to former U.S. Army paratrooper Jeremy Hinzman, a major blow to a handful of U.S. military deserters who have fled to Canada rather than fight in a war they claim commits atrocities against civilians."
Is there an example of a war in which civilians are not hurt, injured or maimed. Is there any time in which civilians are not placed at risk. This is not to say that it is right or good for them to be hurt. Civilians should be protected, but there is a difference between protection and intentional targeting of civilians.

"Pvt. 1st Class Joshua Key, 26, of Oklahoma City is the latest war resister to flee to Toronto, arriving two weeks ago with his wife and four children. He told the Toronto Star that he served in Iraq with the 43rd Combat Engineering Company, which was deployed in April 2003.

Key said he served eight months in Iraq before he left the military when he was on leave back at the 43rd's base in Fort Carson, Colorado in December 2003.

"I was in combat the entire time I was there," said Key. "I left for Iraq with a purpose, thinking this was another Hitler deal. But there were no weapons of mass destruction. They had no military whatsoever. And I started to wonder."

Ok, so this soldier was over there and is familiar with the situation, but I don't see anything here that suggests that there was intentional targeting of civilians. Combat is not nice, it is not supposed to be.

"The ruling, written by Immigration and Refugee Board member Brian Goodman, said Hinzman had not made a convincing argument that he would face persecution or cruel and unusual punishment if sent back to the United States.

Goodman said that while Hinzman may face some employment and social discrimination, "The treatment does not amount to a violation of a fundamental human right, and the harm is not serious."

Hinzman's attorney, Jeffry House, said his client would appeal the ruling and still believed that he would be granted refugee status in Canada.

"He is disappointed," House told CBC TV. "We don't believe that people should be imprisoned for doing what they believe is illegal."

A couple more comments, working backwards. The attorney's comments about not being imprsioned for doing something that you believe is illegal is just specious. I could make the same case about not paying income taxes.

But what irks me more than anything else is that these men enlisted voluntarily. They were not drafted, they signed up. And they should have understood the risks involved in signing up to be a part of the armed forces.

If they come out and say that our troops are engaging in intentional harm and destruction of civilians and civilian property I might have more sympathy, but that is not what I hear and even if they said it I would need more evidence to prove it.

War is not nice. It is not a good thing, it is not something that I welcome or think that we should routinely engage in. But sometimes it is necessary and we all have our roles to play. And when you choose to insert yourself by enlisting you need to take responsibility.

I wish our troops well and hope that they come home soon. I hope that they are safe and I hope that the innocents on all sides are kept safe too. But there is going to be a certain amount of tragedy and loss here and we just need to accept that, even though it may be distasteful.

The Collaspse of the Internet Is Imminent

The Collaspse of the Internet Is Imminent at least if you buy into the arguments made by Professor Hannu H. Kari of the Helsinki University of Technology. As cited in this article he said:

"The reason for this will be that proper users' dissatisfaction will have reached such heights by then that some other system will be needed,"

Kari said, "unless the Internet is improved and made reliable."

Last fall, Kari bolstered his prophecy with statistics. Extrapolating from the growth rates of viruses, worms, spam, phishing and spyware, he concluded that these, combined with "bad people who want to create chaos," would cause the Internet to "collapse!"—and he stuck to 2006 as the likely time."
But if some people have their way they'll blame Bush for the collapse and the chaos that follows. ;)

In all seriousness, I don't buy this argument at all. The Internet has become far too pervasive and intrenched in our lives for it to collapse and disappear. What is far more likely to happen is a movement similar to that discussed in the article where there is a tremendous push to restructure and reformat how things operate.

I don't have time now to go into a long Fisking of this, but I did want to offer it for your consumption. Happy Purim.

The Ghost Ship That Ran Aground

There is a blog that I enjoy reading, although the truth be told I only hit it sporadically. It is called beFrank and it is written by a man who works as a cameraman for a news station here in Los Angeles.

He writes about his experiences and posts pictures of many different things and places that he encounters because of the job.

His post about the Ghost Ship attracted me because I thought that the pictures were kind of cool.

Additions to Fragments of Fiction

I have been working on some additions to Fragments of Fiction. I have a lot of work to do and am anxious to spend more time on it, but have been too busy to accomplish much.

I spent a little time writing more about Georgie and the relationship with the male protagonist. I haven't decided if I am going to use the following 600 words as its own chapter or if I am going to work it in to one of the earlier bits about Georgie. Feel free to share your thoughts.

More About Georgie

If you were to ask me why I started hanging out with Georgie I wouldn’t be able to give you answer. I don’t know why. It is the kind of answer or should I say non-answer that used to infuriate my father. When I was a child I could never have gotten away with explaining that I didn’t know why I had done something. An answer like that would not have been acceptable to him.

Of course like most teenagers I had responded to most of his questions about what I did or didn’t do with the very thing I just mentioned. It is part of a rite of passage to try and irritate your parents and I was a master at it. One of my father’s favorite movies was Cool Hand Luke.

Maturity is a wonderful thing as it allows you to look back and see what a jerk you really were. All those times you thought you were being cool, all those moments when you thought that you were just like James Dean have a way of being colored by time to your advantage. But if you stop and think about it, if you are honest and truthful you find that most of the time you weren’t that cool and you might have even been a complete asshole. Maybe I am being too egocentric, but I suspect that I am not the only one who sees their past this way.

My father worked hard at trying to maintain a relationship with me. He tried to be my friend and to stay involved in my life. I hated it. The simple questions he asked me felt like an interrogation so I did my best to be difficult so that he would stop.

Often when he would try and speak with me I would quote Strother Martin’s famous line:

What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach, so you get what we had here last week which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. And I don't like it any more than you men.”

After all if you are going to try and aggravate someone you might as well take something they love and twist it, offer it to them in some perverse distortion of itself. And it worked. After a while my father just stopped speaking with me. He gave up and I got angry. It is kind of silly because he was only doing what I wanted him to do, but all it did was piss me off.

Maybe that is what pushed me towards Georgie. I didn’t have any older siblings and without my father there was no longer any sort of male role model in my life. Not that Georgie was any older than I was, but he did have some life experiences that I didn’t have and he had a certain kind of charisma. I can’t explain it, won’t even try other than to say that he had a magnetic personality that attracted people.

And he was confident. Lord was he ever confident. Georgie walked like there was nothing in the world that could stop him from going wherever it was he was headed. He moved with an attitude that radiated from all sides of him. Mean, nasty, arrogant, cocky, bold and confident. He was all of those things and proud to be described that way.

If you asked Georgie if it was better to be feared or respected he would have picked feared without hesitation.

Georgie’s reputation for violence was earned and well deserved.

Fragments of Thought and Fantasy

I am dedicated to this blog. I think about it frequently because the words and I have a special relationship. There is a slow dance that we do around the room, it is the kind of thing where your partner just knows where to go, they move with you with little or no prompting.

At least that is how it feels most of the time, but every now and then it just doesn't work. We step on each others toes, trip over our own feet and the dance loses the graceful presence it once had and disintegrates into some macabre spiral of death.

It is like watching a couple of marionnettes in a puppet show. You know that they are dancing, but not because of what you see from them. The reason is that there are elements surrounding them that make it obvious as to what they are supposed to be doing.

In my case that means that the words do not flow from my fingertips with any sort of ease. They show up because I have pounded them out of my skull, forced them out the way you squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the bottle. You squish, and squeeze, pound and push and inevitably you find that last little bit, but it didn't come easily.

It makes me insane because I usually have a decent command of the language, but at moments like this it reminds me of moments when I have been in foreign countries where I only spoke a few words of the native tongue. The people I tried to communicate would look at me, smile like I was some kind of child as they tried to understand what I wanted. I am not a baby, I am not a toddler. I can communicate effectively, but when it is taken from me I feel like I am being punished.

It is a nasty, punitive measure that leaves me frustrated and sometimes flustered. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does it leaves a mark.

I have tried to identify the reasons why this happens, looked for symptoms and signs so that I could be prepared for it and have failed each time.

My failure is frustrating, but it is not daunting. I am too stubborn, maybe even too arrogant to give up. I can't accept it so I keep pounding away until the mental block is shattered and broken. I am relentless and I know from experience that I will get beyond it.

But the experience is never enjoyable.

Zodiac Personality

Discover your Zodiac Personality
Discover your Zodiac Personality @ Quiz Me

Octopuses Walk On Two Feet

"WASHINGTON - Octopuses, known for using camouflage to avoid predators, have been observed apparently trying to sneak away by walking on two arms while pretending to be a bunch of algae. Two kinds of octopus were seen to use different ways of walking along the sea floor, researchers were reporting in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

The movements were discovered by Christine L. Huffard of the University of California, Berkeley, who was studying underwater video camera tapes of the animals.

Berkeley professor Robert J. Full said Huffard was studying octopus movement as part of a robotics project. He said the researchers use examples from nature in designing robots; one project is to build a soft robot.

Octopuses trying to avoid being eaten usually hold still to camouflage themselves. But by walking on two arms, these two types were able to move quickly while using their other arms to disguise themselves.

Two individuals of O. marginatus from Indonesia wrapped six arms around themselves, looking like a coconut on the sea floor. They ten used the two rear arms to move backward."

This is really interesting. I found it fascinating.

'Mein Kampf' a Best Seller in Turkey

This is somewhat disturbing to read.

"ISTANBUL, Turkey - Turkish bookshops have a best seller, but some of them are hesitant about giving it too much display.

It's "Mein Kampf."

The popularity of Adolf Hitler's book, filled with anti-Jewish diatribes and dreams of world domination, is puzzling some Turks. Does it reflect rising anti-Semitic or anti-Western sentiment in Muslim Turkey? Or anger over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and the war in Iraq (news - web sites)? Is it a backlash against the country's moves to join the European Union (news - web sites)? Or does it simply offer a cheap thrill?

At least two new Turkish-language versions are out in paperback and selling for as little as $4.50, but they could run into legal trouble. They were printed without the permission of the Finance Ministry of the German state of Bavaria, which was given control of Hitler's estate after World War II and is keen to suppress the book.

German diplomats in Turkey have been told to explore court action. "The book 'Mein Kampf' should not be reprinted," says Bavarian Finance Minister Kurt Faltlhauser. "The state of Bavaria administers the copyright very restrictively to prevent an increase of Nazi ideas."

Last month the ministry said it was seeking legal action to stop the book's publication in Poland.

"Mein Kampf" — meaning "My Struggle," was written in the 1920s and has long been widely available in Arab countries, but no increase in sales has been noted there lately. So Turkish analysts are hard put to explain why tens of thousands of copies have been sold here in recent months.

Lina Filiba, executive vice president of Turkey's 25,000-member Jewish community, called it "disturbing."

She said price and media attention were major factors, but also pointed to a "worrying trend" of anti-Semitic publications such as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" being sold even in bustling department stores.

"Metal Storm" by Orkun Ucar and Burak Turna, a novel imagining a war between Turkey and the United States, is Turkey's top seller. Conspiracy theory books sell well and the press is extremely critical of the United States and Israel.

Filiba tied the phenomenon to the European Union's Dec. 17 decision to open membership talks with Turkey, a move long sought by Turkish governments but unpopular among those who fear it will expose their country to permissive European influences.

"I think there's an increase in anti-Semitic, anti-American, and anti-foreigner feeling that has paralleled Dec. 17," Filiba said."

I think that are a lot of sores festering around the world. There seems to be a large push by people to blame their troubles on others, regardless of whether the scape goat is the real source or not. It is a disturbing development.

The Origin of Garden Gnomes

Here is a little excerpt about the Garden Gnome. And Might I add that I am not a fan of placing them in my yard, but it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round.

"GRAEFENRODA, Germany (AFP) - With his jolly face and little paunch, Reinhard the potter resembles the garden gnomes he produces by the dozen in this little village in Germany where, they say, the phenomenon began.

Reinhard Griebel grew up surrounded by gnomes in Graefenroda, tucked in the forests of the eastern German state of Thuringia.

This village of 3,500 people claims to be the birthplace of "nanus hortorum vulgaris", or the common garden gnome, which local folklore says was dreamed up by a local potter in 1880.

The craftsmen of the village, including Reinhard's great-grandfather, wasted no time in capitalising on the idea and, in the land where the Brothers Grimm created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the popularity of gnomes spread fast.

"With his red hat, his lantern, his wheelbarrow and his basket on his back, he is the very image of the miners who used to work in this region," Reinhard said.

"He's small enough to worm through the mineshafts and always full of the joys of life."

Germany was in the throes of the industrial revolution and workers on their Sunday off found they liked having a decorative touch to add to the garden where they would sit and relax before returning to the daily grind.

Before long, garden gnomes had conquered all four corners of the world.

For Reinhard, the reign of the gnomes reached a low point in the days when the communist regime in East Germany banned them because they were considered a capitalist symbol, although they were happy to export them to the West in return for hard cash.

Since the mines shut down in this region, gnome manufacture has become the lifeblood of the village. And there is no shortage of work -- Reinhard estimates there are more than 18 million garden gnomes in Germany alone."

A Purim Prophecy- The Nazis

There is a tale that I heard a number of years ago. The story suggests that within the Purim story there is a prophecy regarding the Nazis. You can find a link to it here and here. There are a number of other links, but I'll let you find them.

To save you time I'll cut-and-paste from Go West Young Jew and give you the story as he transcribed it.

"When listing the ten sons of Haman who were hanged (Esther 9:6-10), three letters, namely Taf, Shin, and Zayin, are written smaller than the rest (most printed texts reflect this; if yours doesn’t, look in another). The commentaries offer no explanation for this other than that it is a prophecy. The letters "Taf-Shin-Zayin" represent the Hebrew year 5707, corresponding to
the secular year 1946-47.


On October 16, 1946 (21 Tishrei, 5707) ten convicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. (An eleventh, Hermann Goering, a transvestite, committed suicide in his cell.
The Midrash tells us that Haman also had a daughter who committed suicide.) As if the parallel were not obvious enough without further corroboration, Nazi Julius Streicher’s last words were, "Purimfest 1946."
As mentioned you can find more references and remarks about this story around the net. I'll leave it for you to form your own opinion regarding this tale.

He Thought I was a Girl

When I was 12 I was mistaken for a girl, not in person. I didn't look anything like a girl and I didn't dress like one so that never would have happened. Nope, it was my voice.

I don't remember what time of year it was, but my mother had taken my sisters along to run some errands so I was home alone. I do remember that being able to stay by myself was a relatively new privilege and that I felt very grown up to have the house to myself.

At some point during the day there was a knock on the door so I went to see who was there. When I looked through the little peephole there was a man at the door. He was wearing a sports coat, but it was open and I could see that he had a gun in a holster.

I would have pretended that no one was home, but as I approached the door I yelled out "who is it" and received a reply along the lines of "Ma'am this is the FBI" or some other similar identification.

I didn't believe him because I couldn't imagine why the FBI would be at my door. And I had never seen someone carrying a gun through my neighborhood so I was a little anxious and just a little nervous.

So when I responded to him I said that I was getting dressed and then he said "that's ok ma'am, I can wait." I was furious that he thought that I was female, but I was still frightened by the gun so I called the police and told them that there was a man with a gun at my door.

I went into one of the bedroom and waited for the police to arrive. Just a few moments later a squad car pulled up and two officers got out and went to speak with the man at the door. I saw all of this happen because I was watching it through the blinds in one of the bedrooms.

It only took a few minutes for the police to confirm the man's identity but to me it felt like a long time. They came to my door and told me that I had done the right thing in calling them, but that I shouldn't be scared because he really did work for the FBI.

It turned out that the reason he was there was because my next door neighbor had applied for a job working for President Reagan in the White House. So per SOP the FBI engaged in a background check upon her and wanted to speak with us about that.

Years later the thing that sticks out to me more than anything is not that the FBI was at the door and not the gun, but the irritation I felt at being called a girl by that guy.

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