The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: January 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Obama and the military

If there was ever any question about where our new President stands on the military, consider it answered as of 21 Jan (I am writing this on the morning of 22 Jan.)

Opting to make appearances at all the balls that had the big names in attendance, where the stars and celebs were going to be, he made it perfectly clear that his best intentions where not to the true Heroes of America, but to the Heroes of his pocket book and the people that he has prostituted himself to for the last two years.

Citizen Obama chose to not attend a ceremony that has been part of the presidential inaugural tour since Dwight Eisenhower.  A Ball that honored the recipients of the Medal of Honor.  This is not just a medal, this is given to those that have done something extraordinary in the service of the country and, in some cases, gave all for the country.  This is a ceremony, by which attending, the president pays his respect and honors all those who have earned the right to wear it.

Citizen Obama chose, instead, to shun all those Heroes and visit those that HE probably considers heroes.  Those would be the people that added the most to his campaign fund and helped him get to where he is.  He does not seem to have any respect to those who have given as much as their lives in the name of his right to become President.

Maybe I am expecting too much.  But if this is any sign of what we can expect from Obama, then this presidency is off to a poor start.  It will be interesting to see exactly how many other traditions that he scorns, shuns or otherwise ignores.

My rage at a father’s betrayal

Rarely will you see me write a piece out of anger, but there is something in the news that has kinda pushed me over the top.

If you have recently been watching, reading or listening to the news, then you may have heard something about the recent rash of deaths that have envolved a father killing their child or children.  I know that this is nothing new, and that fathers are not the only ones that are guilty of crimes like that that have happened through history.  There have been many cases where Mothers, children and various other members of the family have killed one another.

What drive a father to kill his children and family as in the case of the Ervin Lupoe, who ( allegedly ) came home after losing his job, killed his children and his wife.  Then there is the story of Miguel Ruiz, who beat his 6-month old baby and mortally wounded it, whilst the mother stood there and did nothing. What about Sharome Frazier, who shot his son then himself.  Lastly there is the, now famous, case of the man dressed as Santa who raided a party and killed six people.

If I had to say that there is anything that I would truly classify as a sin… the ultimate sin, it would be the mortal betrayal of your children in a matter that would leave them dead and many many others hurting from the loss.

I understand pain.  We all have experienced pain in some way or another.  Unfortunately, that is just part of life, being human and you have to learn to live with it.  Pain is a force that should teach us to try harder and keep trying.  Pain is not something that you use as a cheap excuse to go out and kill the ones that you, supposidly, love and cherish.

Many of these people, these cowards, commit suicide after they have completed their task.  Do they think that this is making something right?  That in some last minute moment of self imposed justice they are setting the scales right and balancing their errors?  No… they are taking the easy way out because they are too weak to face the facts of what they have done.

I would really like to know something, though.  If the final intent was for them to kill themselves the entire time, as I am sure is the case in some of these crimes; why kill all the other people?  Why not just take their own lives and let their family and children live on?

In closing, I do hope, for the sake of these idiots, that there is a hell…  because I would have to think that there is a special place in it for people who would do this to the ones that they profess to love.

If there are people out there reading this… people who are even entertaining the slightest thought about doing something along these lines and have somehow come across my site and are reading this.  Do the world a favor.  If you are thinking along these lines, get your ass to a doctor and have yourself commited.  But if you feel that you have gone beyond that, then leave your family alone and just wax yourself.  They might still want to live their lives, even if you do not.

Are we hostages to our parents dreams?

As we are growing, we are taught by out parents that we need to succeed.  That we can be whatever we set our minds and hearts to.  That there is nothing that we cannot accomplish if we set our minds to.  In fact, at least in my time, parents even told us that we could be president… I am not sure that is something that many people see as a noble career these days, though.

I wonder, though.  How much of what they are telling us is to try to make up for what they were never able to accomplish in their lives.  Things that they wanted to achieve, but were unable or unwilling to try for.  Thusly holding us captive to their dreams, albeit most of the time this entirely unintentional.

For those of you out there that are parents, I think you know what I am talking about.  I also know that it is no bad reflection on parents for wishing this on your children.  My mother wanted these things for me, and I am sure still does… I am not, however, sure about my dad, but I have to think that both of them wished the best for me and hoped that my achievements in life would surpass theirs.  I would like to think that I have done a pretty good job of raising me or instilling in me a sense of purpose, discipline and right & wrong.

There is also the things we learn from our parents by watching them.  Through our lives we will watch out parents, as well as other adults around us, do both good and bad things.  We learn through that as well.

To return to the original question… Are you and I being held hostage to our parents dreams and aspirations?

My answer is Yes… to a point we are.  I think that throughout our years, from youth to old age, we continuously ask ourselves what our parents might think of what we are doing and where we have ended up in life.  Was it at least close to where they were hoping that we would be? Would they be proud of us?

I think that there is actually something magical about this, in a way.  Whether by design or by coincidence, we or they are creating a set of internal checks and balances that keep us heading in what we hope to be the right direction.  In a way they, our parents, our guiding us through our lives, even when, in the fullness of time, they are no longer with us.

As for the “hostage” portion of the question…  I think that is what I would call a “self imposed hostage crisis” for which we have no one to blame but our own sense of guilt and honor.  We all tend to be more critical of ourselves than are others and think that we are much more so than our parents are or were… even in our old age, we hope that they would be proud of what we have become.  So in that sense, we are holding ourselves hostage to their hopes and dreams.

I was inspired to write this piece after listing to a song by Mike and the Mechanics called The Living Years.  There is just some music that prompts me to deep thought, and they are one of those groups.  I encourage you to buy the CD and listen to the songs.  There is a lot there to motivate and to help you reflect.

More new features…

I have started a page called “Open Letters”.  You will see the new option on the top of the page right now.

This is going to be a place where I will post Open Letters to people that I know would not otherwise read a letter I sent them directly.  More or less it is just a place for me to vent, even if there is no one out there to listen.

What makes beauty?

What is beauty?  What does it mean to be beautiful? What do you consider beauty to be?

More or less I think that too many people attribute beauty to be solely that which is on the outside, beauty of the flesh not of the spirit or the mind, when in reality, regardless of how a person looks, THAT is where the TRUE beauty lies.

Media, today, does nothing to help the matter in that most of what you see on television, movies and magazines are designed, either by intention or happenstance, to shame people who do not appear a certain way, dress a certain way or otherwise fit a certain category.  This is, in turn leading to people hating themselves because they do not like the way they look.

Popular culture is brainwashing us into thinking we all need to look like people like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tyra Banks and George Clooney, when in reality there is nothing wrong with looking like who we were to begin with.

People as young as in their early teens and as old as their eighties are going in for surgeries to augment themselves, make themselves look younger, make themselves prettier.  Except in rare cases, there was nothing wrong with them to begin with and they looked just fine.  But because they did not look like a super model or a certain actor or actress, they do it any way.

To be fair and honest, yes… I considered cosmetic surgery for a while.  My reason was because of some discolorations I have under my eyes as a result of some malnutrition issues when I was very young.  But that is it.  I am not looking to liposuction my waist, tighten my butt, make my skin more taught… you see, that is what exercising and diet is all about.  It’s called NOT BEING LAZY.

One last thing I think people need to remember is this.  If you are not happy with the way you look, then all the surgery in the world is not going to correct the issues you may have.  If you were not happy being who you are before, what makes you think a little nip and tuck here and there is going to help you?  Doctors should offer FREE extensive counseling to anyone who comes in for cosmetic surgery, that does not have a need for it other than to look prettier.  Be they would never do that because of the potential lost revenue.

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Observations: In line at the Grocery Store

Have you ever really paid attention to the things people buy, and in what combination, when you are at a grocery store?

My first realization that this could have any entertainment value was several years ago when I suddenly realized that I was in line with a bag of water balloons, strawberry jello, whip cream and panty hose.  Wait… it gets worse… I was sixteen and when I got to the counter, the clerk made the comment, “Fun time planned for tonight?”  I laughed, having pretty much no clue what the meaning of his comment was until I got home that night and explained to my mother what was said.

OK… everything except the pantyhose were for my little brother’s birthday… the panty hose were because my mom tore the only pair that she had left and needed me to get her another pair for work.  I was the one that had to go to the store for her and buy them.  Not something that is fun for a teenager that is already having problems getting in with the girls at school.

Since that time, the process of watching what other purchase has been a hobby of mine.  Not something that I dedicate a lot of time to, but I do make it a point to pay attention to others in line when I am at the checkout counter.

There are varying classes of these buying mistakes that people make.  I am sure that 90% of them are purely coincidentally, but I am sure that there are those last 10% that are as the result of some sinister plan.  Some act of creative fetishism that springs beyond the scope of the normal.

I will cover some of the things that I recall seeing here.  I will also try to give one or two possible reasons for the purchases to be made in that combination.

  • The Nervous Vegan -   I recall a time when I was in line behind a woman who had a shopping cart full of fruits and vegetables.  She also had some other minor kitchen items as well, but towards the end of her unloading her cart and the only reason that I even took note of her in the first place was the event that raised my eyebrows.  She lifted a bag of cucumbers out of the cart and placed in on the belt.  A moment or two later, she placed a tube of KY Jelly on the belt and immediately covered it with a magazine.

OK… So maybe that one was a little too obvious.  Who knows, maybe there was a logical reason for the two items that had nothing to do with what I, and maybe you, were thinking.  Maybe she was going to make cucumber salad that night and also had plans with her beau.

  • The Heavy Metal romantic -  Sometimes what I see is a little less clandestine.  The person buying the items is pretty much telling the world what he or she has planned right of the mark.  Like the person I saw in a Super WalMart in Gilroy, once.  When I got to the counter, there was a gentlemen who was, based on the clothes and the piercings, obviously a little bit into the punk/rock/etc scene.  His selection for that days purchase was a pair of silk boxers, an AC/DC DC, bottle of cheap wine and a box of condoms.  There is little doubt was this guy had in mind.  Let’s just be glad he was playing safely.

I tend to find the most amusing things I see like this are in the mega stores.  The places like the Super WalMarts, Heartland Target Stores and the like.  You have so much selection in these places that it is just a matter of time before you see something that makes you laugh or just really wonder.

  • The Would Be Babysitter – Of the ones I have seen, this is my favorite, unfortunately while I can recall most of what this person bought, I cannot recall what store it was at.  The person in front of me had what looked like all the makings for a fun day at a children’s day care.  Lots of coloring books and crayolas.  A few toys and some balls.  Even a couple “whiffle balls and bats” so that we could tell that there was a “Whiffle Ball” game in the near future for someone.  Then, when I saw toward the bottom of the flatbed he was pushing, I noticed about 100 feet of nylon rope and at least two sets of the electronic dog collars.  You know, the ones that shock the dog if it gets too far from the house or to stop them from barking.  If you were to ask me… they are perfect items for a Daycare.
  • The Evil Bartender – Saw this in a Von’s grocery store a couple if years ago shortly before New Years Day.  A young lady had a cart full of liquor and mixers for what looked like it was going to be a great party.  Rum, Vodka, Tequila, then there was the fruits and other items.  At the end, when the cart was almost empty, she placed two bottles of Drano on the belt, some cat food and a bottle of bleach.   I am not sure that this is a party I would want to attend after all.
  • Dangerous Lonely Housewife – Again, at a Von’s.  Lady in front of me buys a Ladies Home Journal, Us, People and another rag, then puts a bottle of Vodka, lemons and beer on the belt.  Why is it that I had mental pictures of this lady sitting on toilet, doing shots and reading her magazines, all while crying about something that happened to her.
  • From the “Honorable Mention in Love” category – Saw a guy once with a frozen pizza, six pack of beer and a “I’m Sorry” card.
  • From the “How not to say I Love You” Category – Again in the grocery store… guy buys a butcher knife, box of plastic garbage bags and a dozen roses.  I read the news papers for about a week after that one, looking for something that might have fit the image I had in my head.

These are just a few items.  I am sure that, when you think about it, you will see these.  If you never did before, hopefully this article will fire up that funny little section of your brain that will now start making these associations when you see the person in front of you in line at the store.  Now you might take note and realize that there might be something more to THAT story!

If you happen to run into a situation like this or something that you would like to share, please do so.

Gone but…………

Not forgotten……………………..

When is the moment you realize that you will never forget those who have gone from your life. You can’t really pinpoint it or plan for it, it just happens. Whether it’s sitting watching a movie, seeing an old t.v. show, reading a book, a news clip, a blog. What brings those memories flooding back….. Is it something that happened recently, something you saw or heard, a moment replicated to almost the exact way it happened when you lost someone. And when you react, is your initial reaction, to what you just read or saw, to the story or a moment in your own past, or both, one coming right after the other. Which also begs the question, which memories are the most important ones, the milestones or major events, or the little ones, or funny ones, or frustrating ones, or ones you should have laughed at, at the time, but instead felt anger or frustration.

For me, it was something I hadn’t really prepared for, to understand you will have to see the movie Marley and Me. If there is book written I usually read the book before I go see the movie, in this case though, I didn’t, so other than seeing the previews and having read the cover of the book several years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. And I have to admit during the movie I was starting to become disappointed, as the movie seemed to shift more and more from the main character Marley, a rather rowdy, but lovable Labrador retriever. While not having read the book I am sure something was lost in translation to the big screen, from the lesson’s learned by the writer, as Marley and Me was a true story, not a fictional account. You can’t really blame the producers of the movie either, after all they need to appeal to wide audience, and based on the packed theatre on a Saturday with kids and parents and grandparents I would say they did what they needed to do. Some of you at this point maybe wondering what the point of this thing is, don’t worry I haven’t lost my mind completely yet, it is coming, but like some things you have to wait for it.

I don’t know if words can describe it adequately, but here goes……. As the movie progresses, it dawns on you that the movie is leading up to what some would consider an inevitable conclusion. Marley’s heart wrenching passing, as the family that loved him looks on helpless. Not wanting to be caught of guard, I could see what was happening and prepared myself, even though it did bring up thoughts of several of my own Marley’s passing. So when, it happened I was prepared for it and steeled myself for it, while at the same time, wanting to make what was happening easier for the family, knowing that besides the family on screen, this scene had played itself out in real life with Marley’s family. So, it was not that scene, that got me…..In the beginning of the movie something happens that for those of us looking on, is funny, but to those actually experiencing was I am sure frustrating. Without giving it away, they remind us of that incident at the end of the movie, while the family is saying goodbye to Marley, and that is what got me. It was an involuntary reaction and caught me completely of guard. One of those rare moments at least for me, when emotions come out, without being stopped or self managed. A grown man, sitting in the theatre with tears in his eyes, wondering why he was reacting this way, when moments before, the scene that should have had most people crying there eyes out, had not brought up anything other than memories of having been lucky to have known, my own Marley’s. Sandy(and no, not that one), Ming, Scotch and Smudge, Dudley, Irish, Jake and Saunchin. Each unique in their own way, each teaching you something, each touching you in ways you never imagined, each with their own personality, each so much a part of your life, and each leaving it way too soon, But leaving you better for having known and loved them. Each moment whether it’s a fond memory, a funny, although sometimes not at the moment occurrence, is important and can and will come back to you at unexpected times and in unexpected places……….

The Little things we keep

I recently, a few weeks ago, decided to go through and really clean house a for a couple weeks.  You will notice the use of  “a couple of weeks.”  That was not a typo, nor was it any form of exaggeration, we have lived in our house for ten years now and still have boxes that we have not oped since we moved in.

Yes… My wife and I are pack rats… that is my admission, so where is our twelve step program?

To be fair, I do not think my Wife was until she met me, save for a very large box she had of posters that she had on he walls as a teenager.  I think that my inability to throw things away rubbed off onto her, and now, between the two of us, we have an ungainly amount of trash that we have collected.

So, as I am going through all this stuff, there are things I am finding that I recall storing away and at the time I am sure I thought there was a very good reason for it.  Now, looking at them, I find myself asking;  “WTF was I thinking?”  Most of THAT stuff is things like notes that had no important information on them, receipts from items we bought ten years ago.  Pay stubs from more than ten years ago.  Candy wrappers that had entry forms on them from some obscure contest that we never entered.

I do not think that there is anything really wrong with collecting this stuff, I just think that there must be a limit to it that My wife and I must find.  Some stopping point that we need to learn so that we do not find ourselves saving ten-year-old turkey sandwiches some day because we saw something cute in the toaster pattern on the bread.

I am sure that her and I are not the only ones with this defect.  There must be many more people out there with this same problem, perhaps even worse than us.  So in that, I take some solace, some little bit of calmness from that thought helps me justify my problem by saying… “Yeah… but look at him, he collects bottle caps!”

Oh well… I will bid you farewell and go check on my chronologically sorted, named and alphabetized belly-button lint collection.

Reflections on another Christmas past…

Alright… did someone get the license plate number from that truck that hit me?

Oh…  Wait, that was just Christmas and New Years day…  Never mind.

This last Christmas was interesting.  While people everywhere were touting that this was going to be a bad season because of the economy, that did not seem to stop too many people from shopping their hearts out.

Since Naty and I decided to spend our holiday money on joining in to buy yarn for her mother, Lydia Ayers, so that she could crochet hats and scarves for the local American Cancer Society, we did not get to truly experience the holiday cheer of others.  That glorious feeling of going to a store with a couple thousand other people all with that feverish, almost maniacal, quest for the perfect gift, that just happens to be the same thing that everyone else wants.  You know the one… the Miley Cyrus/Hanna Montana gift set with the complementary self esteem killer for girls of all ages.  The racially neutral GI Joe with non-lethal weapons and his United Nations K-Y Jelly.  The politically correct Trivial Pursuit where every answer is the right one, simply because you tried.

Anyway…  Our only experience with the holiday shopping was our forays into the grocery stores.  You see, I like to bake… yes, me… not my wife.  I am a guy that likes to cook…  get over it.  In the stores, there was nothing but people… wall to wall people… looking for everything.

I am not a pleasant shopper.  I can only deal with large groups of people for so long before I start turning into an a$$hole.  There is no other way to say it, so there it is…  That is me.  When you combine two of the things I hate the most, shopping and large clusters of people, then you are looking at me changing into a person that no one, not even my loving wife, wants to be around.

I made no trips to the malls or the department stores this last season, not even for the great post-holiday holocaust that is called a After Christmas sale.  There was just no way that I could deal with the crowds without looking at some mandatory jail time.

Maybe it is my age, but it seems as though this time of year is losing it’s appeal to me.  It is hard for me to find anything truly enjoyable in it anymore that has not been exploited by commercial entities to the point where there is almost no fun in it anymore.  Even Hanukkah is being commercialized more and more, though not nearly as bad as Christmas.

In short, and finally, this is why when people ask me, I tell them that my favorite holiday of the year is Halloween.  I truly think that Halloween is the most fun day of the year… there are no gifts, there is little fanfare, and we get to see into the heart of what people see themselves as.

Victims of the economic storm…

There are many people out there feeling the pinch from the current economic woes that are abound… but it takes on a different feel and favor (pun intended) when it strikes particularly close to home.

On 31 Dec, 2007, Central California Steak and Hogie, here in Bakersfield, closed it’s doors citing a poor summer due to the rise in fuel prices that trickled down to them in the purchase of their food and the fact that they refused to raise their prices to the point that it would drive away their customers.

They had a very good following, including yours truly. I went to this place almost every day for lunch since the day that they opened their doors and considered everyone that worked there to be a good friend.

Alex and Paul, the owners and their employees; Kaylee and Chad, were all great people to be around and the chemistry between them and Alex and Paul, was a working relationship that I truly envied.

When Paul and Alex told me that they were closing, it was like a punch in the gut… I genuinely felt pain for them. I have seen enough of my own dreams fade before they have gotten off the ground, I can only guess how much it hurt them to watch a dream fail, through no fault of their own that I can tell, when it has already bloomed.

I wish all of them the very best of luck in what ever their next efforts are.

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