The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: July 2008

Was Convoy a Redneck version of Battlestar Galactica.

Sometimes I wonder where I get some of the things that pop in and out of my head.

Case in point.  This evening I was driving back to the house after getting a little something to eat and they were playing the song “Convoy” on the radio.  For those of you who either do not listen to country music or are too young to recall the song by Bill Fries, it is moderately catchy tune about a group of truckers that decide, for some reason or another, to form a convoy to protest toll fees, or some such nonsense. So they truck across country, plowing through anything that the studio budget would allow them to.

This caused me to think about the 1978 movie by the same name that was, unfortunately, a movie based on the song.  Never a good idea, in my opinion.  Another thing we learned in this movie was the Kris Kristopherson’s early days of movie making left a lot to be desired and gave this viewer the feeling that he was watching a 120 minute train wreck… in slow motion… at subtitles.  Add to this that we learned that Ali McGraw did for acting, in this movie at least, what Michael Tyson did for the boxing industry, only she had a nicer rack and was a little easier on the eyes.

Through all of this thought, it suddenly dawned on me.  The movie Convoy was a parable for Battlestar Galactica (aka BSG.)  BSG had a “rag tag fleet, looking for home” and Convoy was about a fleet of various trucks trying to get somewhere.  BSG had a leader calling the shots and Convoy had “Rubber Duck” (Played by Kris Kristopherson) leading them across the country.  BSG and the fleet were constantly being harassed by Cylons trying to wipe them out.  The Convoy had the police chasing them trying to stop them and arrest them.

You may not see it, but it suddenly ocurred to me that Convoy was a Red-Neck Battlestar Galactica.

And you… my dedicated followers, might have never realized that, until I shared it with you.

As a side note, it appears that I was not the only one that thought of this, as shown in this fan video.

…More to come…

The Wife and I just returned from one of our “Gorilla Vacations”, as a friend of mine likes to call them.  I am not sure why he would, I cannot see how anyone would say that 2100 miles in four days and about cities/towns, would qualify as a gorilla vacation!!!

Anyway, I will be posting details of the trip and reviews as soon as I can.   Stay tuned!!!!

Allergies and this valley…

In this post, I am venting… well, I would like to vent if I could breath.

Anyone who has lived in the San Joaquin valley knows that our air is, for lack of anything better to describe it, CRAP. I can honestly say that I mean that in both the figurative AND literal sense.

This valley seems to be the catchall for the smog, humidity and cow odors from the surrounding towns and cities. There was even a survey done a few years ago that determined that we were getting smog from as far away and San Francisco.

It was not always this way. Even in my comparitively short life, I can recall when the valley had a lot cleaner air than it has today.  I can recall seeing the mountains that ring this valley more often than not.  Now a days, you are lucky to see them at all during the course of the average week.

More and more you hear about kids developing Asthma or other respiratory problems and many times it can probably be traced back to the air itself, in this valley.  One example I love to give is my Mother.  Back in 1995, right before she left this valley, and California, for Alaska, she had just been diagnosed with the beginnings of Emphysema.  While my Mother does smoke, the doctor advised her that that was only part of the problem, the other part was the air in the valley.

Sure enough, after living in Alaska for some time, the doctor up there said that the emphysema had reversed itself.  She still smokes, I doubt that she will ever stop that, but the clean air up there was the key to helping her get through the problem.

I would like to see the pollution go away, but I really see no way that will ever happen.  It is more or less a case of just getting out of the valley for now.

So for now I will continue to sniffle and sneeze, then, one day, get the hell out of here to higher and cleaner climes.

Chasing life, or running from death?

Disclaimer: The following is meant as a motivational and philosophical outlook.  If you interpret it as anything else, then this is your own doing.

In our pursuit to live fuller lives by taking chances and living to the “extreme”, I thought about what people do and how they do it in order to get more from their lives. It dawned on my through this that, maybe, instead of actually chasing or racing with life, they might actually be using that as a way to show that they are running from death.

I see shows and read stories about people that are contantly looking for ways to do “Death Defying” feats and acts.  Pushing the limits and challenging fate all the way.  Some of it looks fun, like sky diving and hang gliding, other things just look flat out stupid… like jumping twenty cars on a motorcycle or other silly acts that are nothing more than an attempt to see how close you can get to death without making the full introduction.

A majority of us do not really WANT to die and we dismiss it as so much forgotten future history that we would rather not deal with until the time comes, oblivious to the fact that we never really know when it will visit us.

Then there are those like myself, who accept death as a part of my life. I know it will visit one day, hopefully later than sooner and I respect it. As Billy Jack said in the movie The Trial of Billy Jack, “…only when Death is our constant companion can we truly live.”  This does not mean that I am wanting or inviting death, just that I know it is there.  You can either learn to accept it, or run and hide from it, in which case you live a closed and shallow life, always worried about what lies around the next corner.

Looking at my life, I am not sure which of the two I have been doing, running or chasing.  It seems like maybe a little of both.  In the end, I guess the important thing is that I am enjoying life and harming no one in the process.  If a person can go through life and accomplish this, then that is a life truly lived well.  It does not matter how much you accomplish, what mountains you have climbed, the goals you have achieved.  Only that you have lived a good life, loved much and in the end, left on good terms with yourself and those you left behind.

In the spirit of the philosophy of Billy Jack and Carlos Castenada, I leave you with this thought.  We all walk the same paths but on on separate journeys.  Until we learn that death is important to us as life and can walk along side it as a friend, then we will never truly live free, we will only exist and survive.

Bloggers, Experts and Opinions… Oh My.

As you visit my site, you may hear me talk about myself a bit. I am reaching that age where I can look back at things I have done in life and use them as an example of what to, or not to do. I can look at my decisions objectively and tell you when I have done something that was stupid or something that I am proud of. Unfortunately there are too few of the latter.

You will never hear me say that I am an expert in anything, though. When I hear people call me an expert at computers, I always remember what my mother told me years and years ago. “Never let a person call you an expert… you know what an expert is? A former drip under pressure.”

That has always stuck with me, and I have always lived up to it. I am not an expert. I consider myself well qualified at many things, computers, science, writing, etc… But I will always correct a person when they throw that “E” word at me.

This Blog that I run, the one you are reading right now, is written with the understanding that I might be wrong about things, maybe even a lot of things. I am NO expert. I enjoy writing, and that should be all that I need to be to run a blog, as long as I cause no harm to others in doing so and as has been demonstrated by many other Bloggers out there, writing skills and knowledge are secondary and many times not even a requirement. However I do try to write only about my opinions and things I know a little about or enjoy.

When a person professes them self to be an expert, I see it as a sign of self glorification. I have always taught myself to be proud of your accomplishments, but never so much so that you forget that you are never finished with where you are going in life. Everything you learn means that there is something else that needs to be learned next. If you ever do truly become what you might consider to be an expert at anything, then that is only transitory. If you do not keep studying and trying, you will fall behind the moment that you feel that you stop to bask in your expertise.  Above all, I try and practice humility.

This is not the take away from the fact that there are people out there that are the top in their fields and they may be considered experts by those around them and maybe even by themselves. But calling yourself, or allowing yourself to be called an expert sets a standard that you might not be able to continually achieve. In other words, once you have reached the top, there is nowhere to go but down.

For all you out there that might stumble upon my site and who are, yourself, an expert in any given field.  Please take nothing that I have said wrong.  But you yourself should understand that you are not done and one day, maybe not too far off, someone or something will come along and replace you, so again, remember, that your status is transitory.  We are, all of us, coming and going to and from someplace in life.  What matters most is the journey and what we accomplish and who we touch along the way.

You make yourself a better person not so much by where you go and what you learn, but by what you teach along the way.

Lets all remember that we are teachers.

Of rose’s and time……

How often do we and should we just take a moment to sit and listen to world around us. Every so often it nice to just sit and be and listen to the world. The sounds of the wind rustling through the tree’s, the sounds of birds communicating with each or calling out to friends in different places. Children playing and laughing without a care in the world, theironly concern what they are doing at that moment. No thoughts of what tomorrow will bring, or for that matter the next hour or afternoon. The just live in the moment. Living in the moment is something we should learn to embrace. Just be, enjoy, not worry about how well things are going at the moment, just enjoy the moment for what it is. The times when you can do that, are the times that will remain with you as good memories or funny memories at least, when things don’t go as well as we sometimes hoped they would. How often have we used the phrase, its funny now, when describing some event that at the time, had us pitching fits, or angry or rushed for time. Why wasn’t it funny then, because we wouldn’t let our minds just be in the moment. We are too worried about time or what is going to happen next.

Many years ago, while participating in a writing experiment that at the time I originally thought was silly, I experienced one of those moments, when the words just seemed to flow from somewhere, that I was not aware of. I can remember bits and pieces of what I wrote but not the whole thing. If memory serves me right, it was about time and the passage of it, and much like the earlier paragraph was focused just on the moment. Time is precious and meant to be enjoyed, because we can never have that moment back again. What we choose to do with moment however is important, not the fact the moment is gone, never to reclaimed again. We want to be able to relive those moments and laugh about them or remember them fondly, not as missed opportunities or wastes of our time.
Enjoy what you doing at the moment and do worry about it going right or wrong, just be in the moment. It is those times that will give you peace and happy thoughts when there are moments that aren’t going so well. You can look back on them, and get that feeling you have when you are with someone, that knows you well enough, that you don’t feel the need to filter thought or feelings. Someone who when you are with them the silence is comfortable, pleasing and calming, when just being around that person makes you at ease. Often times, just being with them, provides a calming influence, you don’t even need to be in the same room with them, you can be on the phone, doing completely different things and it is just a comfort knowing they are there. And often when you are not with that person, you still get the sense that they need you to call them, to provide that comforting influence, or call you and do the same. Cherish those moments so when you need them, you can recall them for the times when you can’t talk to or be near that person, and you will find that they are just as comforting as when you are near.

The power of pets.

For those of you out there that have pets and for those that do not, I wonder if any of us truly understand the power that they have over us and for us.

As I have spoken of in the past, my wife and I have three dogs and two cats. They play a very important part in our lives, being as it is that we do not have children, they play the part of surrogate children for us. But I think that over time, we grow to need them as much as they need us.

I think the main example I have to support this is the process of just coming home each night from work. No matter how my day at work has gone, be it great or be it terrible, there is just something that lifts my heart when I walk in and there are these three creatures, four if you count my wife, that are happy to see me. All three of them run around and want my attention, again excepting my wife, who usually demands her own form of attention. Oskar will usually be the first to bring me a toy that he wants me to throw, Eliza is always wanting her belly rubbed or to be picked up, when I walk in and Timmay, the more timid of the three, cautiously comes over to be pet, but has been known to run up and steal the toy that Oskar has brought me.

The cats are another story all together. Anyone who has kept cats, notice that I do not say “owned”, knows that they work on their own set of rules. Even if your cat is happy to see you, pride does not allow it to approach you unless it is on the terms that the cat deems appropriate. Let’s face it, cats are happy to see you too, but they are smug and they need to keep the air of disinterest in order to make you think they could live with or without you.

While there is an emotional bond created with most pets and their people, I think this is more so with dogs than cats. Maybe dogs just NEED more than a cat does.

Something that I like though is simply the power my dogs have to make me smile. They sense a lot more than we give them credit. There have been times that I have been upset about something, or mad for some reason or another, and Oskar will usually bring me a toy or just come sit next to me and this makes me feel good. If I am not feeling better right away, then he will do this thing where he flips his head back and looks at me and makes this funny “sigh” sound… and if nothing else has made me smile up to the point, that will.

Neither my wife or I have figured out Timmay 100% yet. As I have explained, he is a rescue, but there must have been something pretty bad that happened to him early on, because he is still skittish about things, even after almost two years in our house. But he does shine through most of the time, and like playing with the other two dogs. His therapy for me and the wife is the fact that he is proof that no matter what you live through, there is always hope.

Eliza… what can I say about Eliza? I would be lying if I said that she was not my personal favorite and I think that between Naty and I, I am her favorite as well. One of the funny things about her, is that any time I give Naty a kiss, Eliza runs up and tries to get in between us for her kisses too.  I think it might be because of all her medical problems, but Eliza is the neediest of the dogs.  She always has to be reassured about things and she always has to be with one of us.  Oskar and Timmay are usually OK with being by themselves, but Eliza will sit next to us in whatever room we are in and if we are in different rooms, she will go back and forth and spent time in each room.

Our dogs have a power to make us feel better about ourselves and better in general.  Sometimes there is nothing more therapeutic than going in the back yard and throwing a ball around and watching the dogs go nuts trying to get to it first and bring it back to me.

Racism or Social Imprinting?

Today (5 July 2008) I saw something that made me decide to write this piece. I saw a Black man walking two pit bulls. He was wearing a pair of jeans that were low in the back so that you could see the underwear and a white t-shirt. What struck me about this sight is that I felt myself immediately think of this person as a “gang-banger” type who probably kept the dogs for fighting.

The problem is that I as I got closer to this person, I realized that I knew him and there is no way that he would do that with his dogs. Add to this that he is the furthest thing from a “gang-banger” that I know a person to be.

So it makes me wonder, is what I experienced actually true racism, even in a small form, or is it a case of social imprinting, where we see something and based on news, past experiences or stereotyping, we assume something that is not always the case.

Using the black person I spoke about at the start of this as an example, how many people that saw exactly the same thing I did, would think the same way?  Granted, I am sure not all would, but I would wager that a majority of people would. I would even go so far as to say that it would not only be Caucasians that would think this way, I think that you would see similar reactions in various other races as well, including other Black folks.

Who’s fault is it for people thinking this was? Is it the fault of the person who is looked at and assumed to be what he or she is, in fact, not simply because of how they look or choose to dress? Is it the fault of me, or anyone else, for being so quick to judge a person because of certain things they do that fit in with a social group? Where DOES fault lie?

Here is my take on the answer and I am betting that many of you will not like it. The fault lies with us all and it is all about understanding and education. When I looked at that person today, for that briefest of moments, I did not see a fellow human who is almost 100% anatomically similar to me, I did not see human whose only difference from me was the color of his skin. For that moment I saw what he media wanted me to see based on the minority of the black people that appear on various shows in the negative light.

The fact that I reacted the way I did shows a certain level of failure on my part to, in that one moment, not differentiate fiction from fact and assume that because this guy was dressed the way he was and had pit bulls, I made the cardinal sin of thinking that he was a gang-banger.  This does bother me, because anyone who REALLY knows me, knows that this is not who I am.

The moral to my little rant here?  Be aware.  Be very mindful of your thoughts and actions.  Our thoughts and ideas about how we see things lead to actions, either obvious or hidden.  This is what creates hate in the world.  There is already enough of that, we do not need more.

Happy Independence Day!!!

Or as it seems to be known nowadays as: Happy “another-obscure-holiday-that-lets-us-mark-everything-down-and-draw-in-people-looking-for-deals” Day.

I wonder how many people remember what today is all about… the real meaning of the holiday.

To all the men and women out there serving all of us in either the capasity of the military or in keeping the peace.  Sempre Fi and Ooorah!

For everyone else…  thank a soldier, policeman or fireman today.  They all deserve it.

Who’s party are you going to?

So… what party are you a party to?

At one time I was a Republican, but in January of this year, I left them.  Well, I should not say that I left them, I will just say that they stopped being who I believed it.  That is not to say that I have become a Democrat… no, that would be even worse, in my opinion.  At this point that would be like saying it is easier to drive a nail through my head with a ball ping hammer than with a carpenters hammer.

I am part of the American Independent party these days.  I am not doing this to make anyone mad, as I doubt too many people will notice in the first place.  I am doing it because I see it as my own way to show how I feel about how my, formerly, party is not the same party I joined so many years ago.  I am doing it on principle alone.

I do not think it is just the parties, but I think that politics as a whole is different now.  People do not seem interested in getting things done, just trying to figure out what will get them the most for themselves in the shortest period of time.

It is unfortunate that politicians are not held to the same requirements that you and I are, when it comes to work.  Think about it… if you show up and accomplish nothing, then you get warned a couple times and if there is no improvement, you get fired.  When a politico gets in office, they really do not have to show that they are accomplishing anything.  They only have to worry about not getting elected the next go-around.

Since you really cannot “fire” most politicians (Gray Davis being one of the few RARE examples of when people get together and DO something like that.) Why not hit them in the pocket book?  Fine them a percentage of their income (not salary) for every year that goes by that they do not fulfill at least three quarters of their stated goals and they would have to have a set of goals to accomplish for their term.

I am ot talking about simple goals either.  Nothing like, “Do not accidently bomb Chinese embassy”, “Do not call French President a pansy… to his face.” or “Do not get caught getting a hummer in the oval office.”  I am talking real, tangible goals.  Things like “Make real effort to get the budget on track.” would be a nice start.

And if a president completes his term and accomplishes nothing?  Why not a nice “Breach of Contract” suit?

I know that what I am saying is considered humor and that is part of my goal, but I think that there is something there that might not be a bad idea.  If you get a job, certain things are expected of you.  If you do not live up to the expectations of the people that hired you, then you will probably lose your job.  Granted, you will be given ample time to try and change, in most cases, but you will be given a chance and it is yours to lose.

Why cannot the higher offices of this country be held to the same standard as we are?  I mean this is suppose to be a government “… of the people, by the people and for the people…” so doesn’t that mean that the politicos have their jobs at our will and convenience?  If they are not  fulfilling the goals they promised us, Isn’t it time we started exercising that right of ours?

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