“A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.” Oscar Wilde

"A man who does not think for himself does not think at all." Oscar Wilde

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dining Out ... A New Idea

Each time I see the news 98% contains violent crimes, Trump's tweets, celebrity misbehavior and then occasionally there is a story that reports something uplifting. 

A few weeks ago there was a news story on PBS of a new concept in eating out. Its not a new nationwide fast food place or an all you can eat buffet. Rather it is a restaurant willing to go the extra mile to accommodate ALL its customers. 

How often had you looked around the restaurant and saw a senior being helped by another ... perhaps that person had dementia or Alzheimer's, or a child with Autism or someone with Downs syndrome? Maybe a person with a service dog laying by their chair. There are people who experience a personal discomfort seeing someone or even being close to a person with a disability. Folks, those conditions are not contagious. They are all human beings allow them the dignity and respect to enjoy life as you do. 

Eating out can be a challenge for many, their families or caregivers. There are now  restaurants that will go above and beyond to make that dining out experience enjoyable and successful. Those establishments will provide the accommodations that enhance the dining experience of someone who suffers from a disability. They have staff members that are specially trained to understand different needs and have the patience and empathy to help them enjoy their experience. 

This concept is called a Purple Table Reservation. While in its infancy Purple Table Reservations is currently available in a handful of restaurants in Massachusetts, Ohio and North Carolina. With a little help it could be become available nationwide. 

 Going out to lunch or dinner at a restaurant should be a lovely and relaxing experience.  It is something to look forward to, and many of us take the experience for granted.  However, many choose not to go out to eat because for themselves or someone they love it will be a challenging experience.  Let's help to change this.  Purple Table Reservations will change this.

Call your favorite eating place and ask if they know about Purple Table Reservations. Each time you eat out ask the manager if they are aware of Purple Table Reservations. Explain what it is and what a difference it can make. Learn more at:  https://www.purpletables.com/ or just Google Purple Table Reservations.

 It would be so great to see this logo in thousands of restaurants  from coast to coast.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Something to Think About

Last night 60 Minutes reported on the health crisis in Yemen. According to their report one child is dying every ten minutes. That truly makes me sick.

In short, they reported the problem is rooted in the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Or, essentially between the Sunni and Shia muslims..

While watching the 60 Minutes' story I began to wonder how many people over the milleniums have been killed in the name of God. Not being a fan of organized religion, my initial thought was probably more people have been killed in the name of God than any thing else. A rude awakening, my thought was wrong.That statement is provably false and historically inaccurate.

How many people have died because of religion is an impossible question to answer. I am not being fatuous or dodging the question it's literally impossible.

If religion were used as the tool of choice to get people to do the killing, then it were done in religions name. It doesn't matter that the actual reason was politics or money - the killing was carried out because of religion.

If you want to discuss incidents other than war, we cannot count the Holocaust as "religious" violence, since Hitler hated Christians and other non-Aryan races as well.

The Holocaust  was genocide, not religious violence. But even if you count it, the total is between 16 and 31 million deaths due to religion in recorded history.

Most wars have been about resources (give me your stuff), power (bow down to me, not some god), or political or border disputes. Only about 7% of all wars in history have been waged for religious causes, accounting for only about 2% of all history's war deaths.

In fact, anti-religion has caused more deaths than religion.Communist dictators enforcing their religion-free societies have accounted for more deaths than all the religious violence in all history. Mao and Stalin alone account for over 100 million deaths.

Now .... what does this history lesson have to do with a child dying every 10 minutes? That answer is both simple and complex.

If we were to put a group of toddlers (from 1 to 3 years-old) from all races and ethnic groups in a room together they would play together without regard to the differences. If we were to put a group of 3 and 4 year-olds in a room, each who spoke a different language they would still be able to communicate in some fashion. Prejudice and hatred is a learned behavior!

Walk into an operating room just after the initial incision is made on a chest or abdomen. The patient is covered in surgical drapes. There is a screen covering his or her's head. If you stood at the foot of the operating table you could see the blood and various anatomical features. None of which would give you a clue who the patient might be. Nothing says "I am white, or black, or brown, or Christian or Jew or Muslim or Buddhist." They are simply human beings. Their blood is red, their organs are the same.

We are all human beings ... when will we ever learn to simply get along and help one another?

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. Would it not be appropriate to demonstrate our thanks by helping someone else ... not with a hand-out but rather with a hand up.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Honoring All Veterans

Blessings to all my brother and sister Combat Veterans and to all those who have served our great nation.

I don't know who the author is of what  you are about to read but I do know he or she has written a powerful view of the 6th day of creation.

When the Lord was creating Vietnam Veterans, He was into His 6th day of overtime when an angel appeared.

 "You're certainly doing a lot of fiddling around on this one."

And God said, "Have you seen the specs on this order? A Vietnam Vet has to be able to run 5 klicks through the bush with a full pack on, endure with barely any sleep for days, enter tunnels his higher ups wouldn't consider doing, and keep his weapons clean and operable. He has to be able to sit in his fox hole all night during an attack, hold his buddies as they die, walk point in unfamiliar territory known to be VC infested, and somehow keep his senses alert for danger. He has to be in top physical condition existing on c-rats and very little rest. And he has to have 6 pairs of hands."

The angel shook his head slowly and said, "6 pair of hands....no  way."

The Lord says, "It's not the hands that are causing me problems. It's the 3 pair of eyes a Nam Vet has to have."

"That's on the standard model?" asked the angel.

The Lord nodded."One pair that sees through elephant grass, another pair here in the side of his head for his buddies, another pair here in front that can look reassuringly at his bleeding, fellow soldier and say, "You'll make it"...  when he knows he won't."

"Lord, rest, and work on this tomorrow."

"I can't," said the Lord. "Not until I have a model that can carry a wounded soldier 1,000 meters during a fire fight, calm the fears of the latest FNG and feed a family of 4 on a grunt's paycheck."

The angel walked around the model and said, "Can it think?"

"You bet," said the Lord. "It can quote much of the UCMJ, understands 'non sibi sed patriae', knows what 'de oppresso liber' means, recite all his general orders, and engage in a search and destroy mission in less time than it takes for his fellow Americans back home to discuss the morality of the War and all the while, keep his sense of humor."

 The Lord gazed into the future and said, "He will also endure being vilified and spit on when he returns home, rejected and crucified by the very ones for which he fought."

Finally, the angel slowly ran his finger across the vet's cheek, and said, "There's a  leak...I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model."

"That's not a leak", said the Lord. "That's a tear."

"What's the tear for?" asked the angel.

"It's for bottled up emotions, for holding fallen soldiers as they die, for commitment to that funny piece of cloth called the American flag, for the terror of living with PTSD for decades after the war, alone with its' demons with no one to care or help."

"You're a genius," said the angel, casting a gaze at the tear.

The lord looked very somber, as if seeing down eternity's distant shores.
"I didn't put it there," He said.

A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount of  "up to and including my life". That is Honor and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it." 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Thinking About The 2020 Election

For the past weeks and months politics have dominated the news. Other major stories have been the devastation from natural disasters and the uncertainty of North Korea. All take their toll intellectually, emotionally and in draining personal energy. It is time to lighten the mood.

Subsequently, after a great deal of introspection and reviewing opinions of American citizens regarding their politicians, I have determined there is a way I can run for the office of the President of the United States without fanfare, campaigning, or spending a great deal of money and win that election.

The first thing I need to do is go to my local courthouse and file papers for a name change. The cost is minimal and it is legal. The main downfall is the time consuming tasks of changing/updating such things as driver's license, insurance, social security, etc. But, that is not even close to impossible.

Since doing those things take time the early part of 2018 would be a good time to accomplish this. Also, in 2018 I'm sure we'll see the advent of various individuals stating their intentions to seek public office. Giving the public a chance to think to themselves: "Oh no! Not that idiot."

Each state has specific laws and requirements to be placed on their ballot for an election. Most require a certain number of signatures to be added. With friends, and friends of friends, etc. I believe it would be possible to be placed on those ballots. Along with a running mate to be named at that time.

The remainder of the undertaking is easy. I just want to be placed on the bottom of the ballot as an unknown. The rest would be history. And, in January of 2021 I would be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

Oh, I forgot to mention ... the name change ... I would have had my name legally changed to: "None of the Above."

Have a great week.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

An Open Letter to President Trump

Mr. President,

The past eight months have been a revelation both for the American people and without a doubt their president. During this past week you have been the lead story on most news outlets both here and abroad.

Majority of those stories were not about your concern regarding the devastation caused by hurricanes or earthquakes. Nor, did they focus on your interest about the seriousness of the problem North Korea may pose. No, it was your rants on Twitter about the National Football League's players expression of free speech. At one point in time even calling for the firing of "those sons of bitches." A statement worthy of a ... worthy of .... can't think of an example but certainly not a world leader.

Much has been made of Constitutional rights this past week. Let me quote from Article II, Section 1 of that cherished document: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." It does not say a dictator or a king or any other omnipotent.

In that same section of the Constitution, the last paragraph of that section states: "... he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation - I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

On December 15, 1791 the first ten amendments to the Constitution were ratified and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."

"Amendment I

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Even though that paragraph begins: "Congress shall make no law ..." it does not mean the President can make his or her own laws. Review your basic anatomy of our government's make up. Three branches, Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Each is charged with specific duties.

These first ten amendments were written by James Madison in response to calls from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties. The Bill of Rights lists specific prohibitions on governmental power.

While we as individuals may not agree with certain things, there are avenues to redress such issues. The polls I've seen regarding the recent demonstrations of freedom of speech do not support the NFL players taking a knee. Majority feel it is disrespectful. Among our veterans the feelings are mixed. Many of the mainstream media have reported stories of combat vets while not agreeing with the players actions say they fought for them to have the right to express themselves. Senator John McCain went on the record with that sentiment.

Mr. Trump, don't you believe it would be more productive and in the best interest of our great nation if you focused your energy on such things as helping those left homeless and without anything from the hurricanes. And, how to defuse the situation you helped to create with North Korea and try to have the doomsday clock minute hand moved away 12 instead of closer to it.

Do you think there is a possibility that you may be able to be presidential and not egomaniacal?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Multitude of Thoughts

For the past couple of weeks it seems as if the news was like a chain of railroad cars all painted with the same brush. Not just one major storm in the Caribbean but three, not just one devastating earthquake in Mexico but at least three and not just one headline about our president's unpresidential bearing but several.

Hurricanes ravaged the picturesque islands of the Caribbean on their way to the United States mainland. After wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, on August 26th Hurricane Harvey made landfall at Rockport, Texas.

On September 2nd The Weather Channel reported it had dropped nearly five feet of rain. A large portion of Houston, Texas, the nation's fourth most populous city was underwater.

The morning of September 10th Hurricane Irma hit Florida as a Category 4 storm ripping off roofs, flooding coastal cities and knocking out power to more than 6.8 million people. Some 10 days later Hurricane Jose brushed the coast of Now England. At the same time Jose was winding down and headed into the northern Atlantic, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico knocking out power to the entire island, a United States

The death toll continues to rise from these storms. People from across the country descended on the stricken areas to volunteer and help. They brought boats and food and clothing. Color, religion, political affiliation didn't matter who was helping and who was being helped.

To our south the same scenario was playing out. On September 19th a strong earthquake crumbled buildings and changed the landscape of some areas of Mexico. More quakes followed from the capital of Mexico City south to Guatemala. Just like in our nation color and social status didn't matter to those helping and those being helped.

A few weeks before the natural disasters reigned on the news, events in Charlottesville, Virginia was in the spotlight  A day of rage, hate and violence turned deadly with what began as a march of white nationalist and white supremacists. Counter protesters caught authorities off-guard with their persistence and determination. When it was over it was reported there was one dead and 19 injured.

Members of Congress voiced opposition to the demonstration and President Trump's subsequent remarks seemed to defend the ultra-right group of supremacists and neo-Nazis saying there were good and bad on both sides. Describing white supremacists as: "very fine people."

Across the Atlantic, in Germany a country with history of white supremacist, Angela Merkle the nation's chancellor, pointed out after a clash of like-minded individuals, Germany recognizes its history and refuses to tear down statutes  and other memories of its past. But, also noted laws have been passed forbidding such groups and it has zero tolerance for that behavior.

More recently, another world leader, Vladimir Putin seemed to hit a nail on the head when he described the head North Korea and President Trump as "children in a kindergarten." The only problem being both these heads of state seem to rule at times with their egos and without leadership a very dangerous combination.

And, on a final note,  I can't help but wonder if our president is the least bit familiar with the Constitution of the United States. The other day his remark about National Football League (NFL) players sitting or taking a knee during the playing of our National Anthem apparently magnifies his ignorance of this document.

At a rally he commented when a player refuses to stand for the flag he would like to see  NFL owners say: "Get that son of a bitch off the field, he's fired." While I may not agree with the actions of the players, I  do wholehearted agree with their right to perform such actions. I swore an oath to defend our Constitution. I have bled defending it. The First Amendment guarantees and protects freedom of speech. Yes, even the right of an ignorant man who was elected to hold the highest office in our land.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rewriting History

It has often been said history is written by the winners. Perhaps, this is a fair assessment but there is a simple fact: History is History. It is something that has happened and has subsequently been documented. Whether we agree about the reasons things happened or like the outcome, history is based on fact. In the case of our nation, it has contributed to who we are today.

  In July 1777 General Burgoyne’s 8,000-man British army, which included German soldiers and American Indians, marched down the Hudson River Valley with the goal of splitting the states and isolating New England. Slowed by the dense forests and its long supply line, the army finally crossed the river in mid-September, won a costly victory against the Americans in the battle of Freeman’s Farm.

Now, 240 years later, we still remember this costly defeat of  the Continental Army. Yet, there was no movement to erase its past. Instead,161 years later the United States Congress authorized the creation of Saratoga National Historic Park in Stillwater, New York.

Now, today people are still dying as a result of our Civil War, The war between the states.

Statues of men of honor, integrity and loyalty are being defaced, destroyed or removed. For what purpose? Because they are now considered racists? Robert E, Lee, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, chose to stand with the loyalty to his state of birth. According to all accounts a heart-wrenching decision.

Now, statutes reminding us of the role he played in the history of our country are thought by some to be vile. Yet, Thomas Jefferson's likenesses and exploits continue to be honored. But he was a slave owner too and is said to have fathered children with Sally Hemings one of his slaves at Monticello.

I recently read a brief article written by Miss A. Dunovant, whom I believe is a descendant of John Dunovant of Chester, South Carolina, a veteran of the Mexican-American War and held the temporary rank of brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Miss Dunovant writes in a piece entitled "Rebels": There is a common saying 'Washington was a rebel, and we are rebels too." She goes on to delineate the differences between those two wars but the similarities are striking. (See footnote below)

We will always have differences of opinion. This is a hallmark of freedom. Our freedoms have been forged in differences and the moral freedom to embrace them. Some may say it is the right to agree to disagree. We must never lose sight of that. However, no matter the strength of each individuals' belief it must be expressed peacefully. And those beliefs must not be forced upon another that is not the freedom so many have died fighting for and protecting.

*Footnote - The text of "Rebels" can be found at this link:  https://books.google.com/books?id=Qhx3AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92&dq=revolutionary+war+monuments&source=bl&ots=UTEfkX0hHr&sig=c8ft2pUm_s0ShQfaxv9Vz80PqqU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjLpYjlv9zVAhUGJCYKHTH2DfA4KBDoAQg-MAQ#v=onepage&q=revolutionary%20war%20monuments&f=false).