Monday, August 31, 2009

Are you alive?

Live like you were dying.

Quite a few people have said those words, and written songs, poems, and musings about it. Even Ghandi said it...one of his dumber things to say if you ask me. I've known a few people who were dying. They lived in pain. Mostly in hospitals. They got to realize they'd never see their kids grow up and get married. They had painful surgeries, and got time to think about all the things they now weren't going to get to do. Not the things lots of have on a list...like go skydiving, or see the pyramids. Things like growing old with their spouse. Getting to spoil their grandkids, or even just getting to see their son take his first steps.

Even if its not a painful death, and doesn't require me to spend time in the hospital in my dying days...lets face it. If I "knew I was dying" I wouldn't go to work. Why bother, I'm going to be dead. I wouldn't bother washing the dishes...I might even skip the shower, I'll be dead, what do I care if I smell. There are so many mundane, day to day things that would cease to get done if you lived like you were dying. Think that garbage man is still going to come by and pick up your trash? Nope, he's dying, he's doing something else today.

I like the sentiment more, live it like you mean it. Or live life to the fullest....you have only have one life, make the most of it. But lets face it, the day to day stuff still needs to be done by all of us that can't afford to have someone else pick up our socks, and walk the dog, and clean the tub. Isn't there something great to be said for the guy that still went to work everyday to make sure his kids have food, and a roof over their head? Maybe that mom isn't "living life to the fullest", because she's at home, taking care of her loved ones. Isn't that really more important then seeing Rome, or that "big career". Before you get your feathers all ruffled, I'm not bashing moms that have to work. I'm just saying, the ones at home are no less important then the ones in the boardroom.

There's always more we could be doing, and probably even more we should be doing. But I think we should take the time too, and appreciate the things we do. In martial arts, at the end of every session we always stop, and meditate for a moment and "feel good for our efforts today". So today I didn't become the next Chuck Norris or Jet Li, but I still learned something, and got a little better then I was. Wouldn't it be nice if we all took a few minutes at the end of every day to feel good for what we did accomplish? Give ourselves a little pat on the back, instead of thinking of what we didn't get done, or how much there still is to do tomorrow.

And once we learn to cut ourselves some slack, and like ourselves a little more, we can extend that to those around us. Maybe remember to take a moment every day to give a pat on the back to those around us, our spouse, our kids, parents, or even just saying an extra kind thank you to the person that held the door for you on the way into the bank. Wouldn't it be fun to just enthusiastically say something to the checker at the store when you're leaving like, "Thanks so much for your help today, I really appreciate you being here for me.", and then just smile and leave. One person can make a difference in the world, and we don't need to go cure cancer (though that would be nice), or end world hunger, we can change our attitude, and influence and infect those around us with just a few simple words and a smile.

I'd like to challenge everyone to try and take a few minutes every day, and just think about all you DID accomplish. Those little thoughts about, "Yeah, but we didn't do XYZ", kick them to the curb...just focus on the positive. It won't be easy at first, but I think we can do it, I'd love to hear from anyone willing to try, or does try, let me know how it goes.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Share This!

I know not everyone checks out the Blogger Buzz! but they've been doing some neat things lately and one of them is the new Share button on the Blog navbar. If you look up at the very top of the browser window you should see a bar with a B a search box, and then some buttons. There is a new button up there, "Share". If you click that, it makes sharing the entry you're reading. Want to tweet about your friends latest post? Click Share, then twitter, and you're all set!

Check out the article in the Blogger Buzz for some other nifty things you can use the share for...like in your Google Analytics, or watching people share on Twitter...its kind of funny the amount of people using the link to tweet their own posts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's the point?

So I've been putting off writing anything that really related to the reason I started this blog. I have gotten some poetry up, which belongs here, and will have more as I'm inspired to write some. But I've been avoiding the big thing. Mostly I've been afraid of negative responses, and I've been somewhat afraid that as soon I write some deeper more personal things, people I didn't realize were here will suddenly want long conversations involving my soul...and how I'm going to hell...or something. But hey, I have no followers (blog followers people, I'm not starting a religion ;) ), and few people willing to comment (why don't people comment?), so maybe now's the time to start.

Witchcraft

There, I said it. It's out there now...assuming I publish this post. The where, what, when and why will have to be many, many follow up posts. I'll share a little bit of where I am now, and the more recent reason why.

A couple years ago I found out one of my best friends was moving to the town we'd moved to. He'd already arranged a house, and they were supposed to be moving down in just a couple of months. We were excited, planning game nights, discussing where he might find work, school for the kids if they stayed that long... but a couple weeks later I got an email, they weren't coming. My friend had gotten cancer. Brain cancer. About six months later I was going to his funeral. He left behind 3 small kids...none of them old enough to ever remember him very well. The world was a darker place without him. Levi was one of those guys that made you want to be a better person, just by being him. He had a way of inspiring and uplifting the people around him, and he was gone, way to soon, barely even 30.

So my "crisis of faith" starts, he wasn't the first person I knew to die, but the first one that really had no reason. My great-grandpa died when he was 98...a full life. Other grandparents were old...my parents are still alive, as are all my siblings. So why him? People around me, and a few at the funeral were heard saying the trite (though I'm sure they think comforting) "The Lord needed him more...", or "God must have plans on the other side he needed him for". To this I say, bullshit. Either God is all powerful, or he isn't. If he is, then he doesn't NEED some person on the other side, he can manage it all himself, and never even break a sweat. What do you mean the Lord needed him more? More than what? More than his wife, his kids, his family? I DON'T THINK SO.

So while I'm dealing with this, we end up moving back to the town where I met him, and I go back to work for another friend. About a year later, his wife ends up in the hospital...and they find out she has lung cancer, and she's gone, 11 days later. Their kids were a little older...but still kids. Again to early...again the lame reasons for why.

I think a lot of people turn to their church at these times...but they were the ones saying the stupid things. Also, you can generally expect clergy type people to act in their own self interest. Their going to give you answers from your scriptures, and things you already know, because they've been teaching them in Sunday School since forever. I don't know a lot about other religions (non christian type ones), and they don't seem to have much representation in town anywhere that's easily findable. So, I do what I used to, search inward for answers...commune with nature. I haven't really found answers for why these things happen, but I have found more peace then I've had in a long time. Things I'd forgotten...

I've always had a kind of kinship with nature. I'm an eagle scout, and used to spend most of my summers hiking and camping as a kid. My mom was never worried when I'd wander off for a couple days, I'd just pack some sandwiches grab a sleeping bag, and walk out the door. I had also been denying my more psychic side. It doesn't fit in well with going to church...and some people will go so far as to tell you its satanic. I'm naturally intuitive, and I've always done things instinctually. Knowing when people are sick...and sometimes being able to help them heal themselves. Just knowing things...that people hadn't told me.

That, combined with nature really fits more into a witchcraft type element. I've always been drawn to that side of things anyway. I've had runes, tarot cards, and similar things. Add to that the Goddess. There is one, though many religions deny it. The why's are many, and they're deep and complex... A lot of them dealing with the more misogynistic side of man, and if you're suppressing women, better make sure to completely deny there's a Goddess. I've never understood though...man was made in God's image. Not just to look like him, meaning God looks relatively human, or man like, but in his nature as well. We're programmed to seek a mate. Few people truly like being alone, and most of us get lonely quickly when left alone for very long. We want to love, and too be loved. This is by divine design. Why would a God who doesn't feel that way, want that for his children? He wouldn't, he wants an "other half" just as much as we do, but somehow people take offense at the mere suggestion. As if having a spouse, or partner makes him less God.

So that's where I'm at now. Who or what do I worship...I don't really know that myself, that's part of the journey, and purpose here. I'm going to wrap this up for now though. Now that I'm "out of the broom closet" so to speak, I'll be adding some links to material of this nature that I like. I'll have it in a separate section of the Amazon area I'll be setting up. If you're not interested, just don't look in there. :) I'll still include more "mainstream" things, like Twilight and what not in there for everyone.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What a movie...

Watched one of my favorite movies again last night; Under a Tuscan Sun. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Its a romantic comedy/drama, that mostly takes place in Italy. The cinematography is beautiful, I've seen the movie a dozen times, and the images still amaze me. I'll not give much away for those that haven't seen it, but it has sadness, happiness, love, romance, a great cast... Yes, yes, it's a chick flick, and yes I'm one of those rare guys that can enjoy those (You did notice I've read Twilight right?).

The movie always gets me thinking about possibilities, decisions, and the steps along the path. At the end of the movie Frances makes a comment about, "Any arbitrary turning along the way, and I would be elsewhere, I would be different." Sometimes we get stuck wondering "what-ifs" because we aren't happy right now with where we are. I think though we often stop and forget that if we had chosen any of those what-ifs, we also wouldn't be WHO we are. Even the sometimes "arbitrary turns" can make huge differences. The time you had to park a block away, and had to walk...never knowing that you didn't get hit by the car that would have come speeding through. The couple that missed their flight, and then weren't on the plane that went down. The time I picked the box of raisin bran...that turned out to be just a box of raisins. The sometimes life altering decisions...the job or promotion...the big move...to get married...all bring us to where we are, and who we are. There are times when I can't stand the town I live in now, but I met one of the best people I've ever known here. How much sadder would my life had been had I never met him?

Possibilities. In a somewhat early part of the movie Frances is feeling pretty down, and one of the people she's met in Italy, Martini, tells her; "Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.". I know I often don't do things because of all the negative things that come with the idea of trying to accomplish some things. The how's, where's, why's...with out the positive of the "some day a train will come" type attitude that I might not know the answers now, or even how I'll manage to get the thing done...but that it might be worth doing anyway.

This is one of those movies that always leaves me thinking, "Why aren't there more movies like this?". If you know some other movies of this caliber, I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

KFC

They may "do chicken right", but websites...not so much.

The other night my oldest daughter had a friend staying over, and we were trying to decide what to do about dinner. I decided that chicken sounded like a good idea, my wife agreed, and off to the website we went to try and plan the menu.

The website initially looks great, you see the menu items, the first one is chicken. That's great, we want chicken! I click chicken and another page opens telling me all the different kinds of chicken they have....this is good. I click "original recipe", I'm partial to that one. The next screen opens, there's a little blurb about the chicken, a link for nutritional information, and back button. Ok...but I want to know about buckets of chicken...how many pieces, what are my options, prices, how many sides come with how big of a bucket...so I click back and attempt to find what I'm looking for. So I search the website up, down, and sideways, no joy. No prices, no real meal layouts, no help. There is a link at the top right that says, "KFC Coupons", well that might be helpful right, I can find a coupon to use that will give a price guide.

So we click over to the coupon link, and they first ask for your birth date. I'm confused...they need to know how old I am before they'll give me a coupon? So I decide to tell them I was born yesterday. Next they want my name and address...I don't want the coupons mailed! They have a link that says "Print Coupons", great. I click that, but it asks for my name again...they really want to know. Ok, whatever, fine. I get the coupon...for 2 pieces of chicken for $24.95. What a deal do these people think I was born yest....oh, right.

In all seriousness though, why do so many of these businesses have websites that just aren't helpful at all? We're an online generation now, and they need to get on board.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Muse

The page is blank
The canvas dry
I sit alone and wonder why, when...

She calls to me in darkness
Her silvery voice alluring
I listen carefully to the tinkling whispers on the wind

Her scent fills my senses
Roses, lilies, earth, rain
I inhale deeply as my head swims with images

Mouth-watering in anticipation
Her nectar is luscious, lingering, savoring
I lick my lips, and take a bite, the fruit is ambrosia on my tongue

Her beauty is alluring
Elegant in her exquisiteness she moves
I am blessed to behold her loveliness, drunk in the vision before me

She brushes up against me
Feathery silky caresses
I reach for her warm embrace, enraptured by her grace

With her presence draped around me
Through me, filling me, sustaining me
I am moved to reach for the stars, move the mountains, and achieve the impossible

The page is full
The canvas drying
I sit full of wonder and awe, at the magic of it all

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Look to the heavens!

Tonight and tomorrow (Aug 12th and 13th) are the best nights for catching this years meteor shower! :)

If the weather is bad, never fear you can see them up until the 22nd. Look to the NE (for many of us), the highest concentration will be around the constellation Perseus.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Health care

I've been thinking about writing something on health care for awhile now, but I've put it off since it doesn't really fall into the nature of this blog. I was just reading over at: Thinking Out Loud and her recent post on the topic made me think I need to put thoughts out there.

I'm tired of all of the insanity surrounding Health Care. Why can't some people get it through their heads how necessary it is, and stop trying to just tear it down? I was taught long ago that if you can't at least bring an idea to the table about how to improve something, then keep your yap shut, because you're just complaining (i.e. whining) and some people have things to get done.


The Republican's favorite spin is "responsibility". The adage, well I have health care (read insurance), so I don't know what your problem is. The implication is always that I'm too lazy to get it, and wasn't bright enough to get a good enough education to afford it. Until the recent layoffs I had a decent job, nice salary, company vehicle, they even paid for all the fuel. However insurance for just my wife and I, cost $250 a month. Tack on nearly another $400 a month if I want to include my kids. If you've got that kind of extra money floating around, good for you. But to top it all off, the corporate offices were in another state. So, that's where the insurance group was acquired and, pretty much, where the only considerations were made. If I wanted to see a doctor covered by my insurance, I had to travel to another state. So I'd better plan at least one day off for anything requiring a trip to the doctor. Not to mention I couldn't afford the out of pocket expenses until I met the deductible.

Or how about all the political bs that insurance companies do, because they are PROFIT run people? They don't exist to help you, they exist to make money. I worked for a hotel a few years back. The place got bought by another company. During the "transition" everyone was dropped from the previous insurance (Naturally!), and the new one wouldn't kick in for 30-90 days depending on your pay grade. There was a nice lady who worked in our restaurant who did have insurance with the previous company and now (like many) no longer did. She had already signed up for the new plan, but during the waiting period her daughter got sick. She couldn't afford a doctors visit, and they figured it was probably just the flu... By the time it was so bad they finally broke down and took her to the ER, it was to late. She died the next day of spinal meningitis. Think any insurance companies lost sleep over that one?

Also, more and more companies don't even offer benefits to their employees. You don't have to give benefits to part time employees, so you hire 2 of those instead of one full time employee.

My next favorite argument has to be the "I don't want to pay for other peoples health care, I'm already paying for my own!". Why can't people see that THEY ALREADY PAY FOR IT!? And they pay far more than is necessary. Sure, your "taxes" aren't paying the $50 doctor visit. Instead they're paying for the $1,000 trip to the ER, the money for tests, for fluids, for more doctors etc. Because when people are finally sick enough to force them into the ER, it's far to late for a simple visit and some antibiotics. Or the ER bill for the parent that brings their child in with an earache. These people STILL don't have the money for the doctor, they just don't pay the bill, because the hospital is required to see the patient. So maybe we should just get the word out "Free health care at ER's", bet that would get some health care reform moving. Think the problem isn't that big? I live in a small town, about 20,000 people. Recently our little small town hospital had to up their budget to help cover uninsured people. They raised it to nearly $16,000,000. That's not a typo, that's $16million, for my tiny little town. Do you think they did that out of the kindness of their hearts? Of course not, some of that they will get back from your TAXES, and the rest they'll get from your INSURANCE when they have to charge you more than they used to. YOU PAY FOR MY LACK OF INSURANCE. So you tell me, your taxes for a doctor visit, OR your taxes for the Emergency Room, hospitalization, and surgeries that would have been unnecessary if I had seen a doctor when I was just "sick".

This is a big part of why the U.S. pays more per capita on health care than any other country...and why we're the only industrialized country in the WORLD without a national health care plan. So how is it we pay more, and cover less? The new census bureau data release in August says we have 47 million people uninsured now. That's 15% of Americans. That's more people than the population of the entire state of California. That's more people then the combined population of 24 states AND the District of Columbia. If you rounded up the entire population of nearly half the states in this country, that would be 1.3 million people SHORT of the total number of uninsured people in this country.

Some people point to Canada to try to say universal health care is bad. Well, lets start with, "This is the US, and if we're lucky we could do better than Canada". But lets also point out that you don't see Canadians in a hurry to try to switch to our form of health care. Let me point out again, we are the ONLY industrialized nation in the WORLD without a nationwide health care plan. Are we dragging our feet because we didn't do it first?

"But we don't want the government running health care!" and "We're not socialists" are kind of the same argument in one. My first response is, aren't your kids in public (government run) schools (and many of them are). Sure the school system isn't perfect either, but we're not trying to wrench that out of the hands of "big brother" because we think a country full of "for profit" schools could do it all better. We think its our RIGHT to an education, and we'd say the same thing about health care if our founding fathers had known to include it in the constitution. You are right about us not being socialists though...we're fascists. The government is mostly run for the benefit of corporations, places that make money and can donate millions to their campaigns, of which insurance companies are one. Aetna made $1.8billion in 2007. Wellpoint $3.3billion, and the list goes on. Whose best interests are being served by NOT having a national health care plan? From 2000 to 2007 Wellcare reported an increase in their bottom line of 1,380.3%. Does it sound like these guys are looking out for you, or for your wallet? Don't you think these companies could provide us with insurance that is if they only made say...$100million a year? If I made that much, I think I'd be fine... These numbers are part of a complete listing as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

And lets not forget that all these politicians that are spouting all this rhetoric have insurance-really good insurance, supplied by the government, ran by the government, and paid for with our tax dollars! The bottom line is health care reform is absolutely necessary. It was necessary when Theodore Roosevelt said so, and its just as true today. Lets look beyond the myths. Lets rise above the selfishness of "my tax dollars", and "my insurance".

Most of this entry has been reposted by me at my hubpages site.