The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 7)

Guest Writer program

I am thinking about bringing back the guest blogger/writer program.

If you are interested in being considered, please send me an email or tweet and I will add you to the list.   Decisions will be made on July 1st for whom I will accept.  There may be more than one, depending on the response and quality of the contributions.

Thanks.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

From the SamuraiMarine team…

Our thoughts and prayers to all the family members of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and especially with the passengers and crew.

Belated Happy New year to my readers

I have a lot going on this year and I am finishing up a few stories that I hope to get up on Amazon here in the next couple weeks. Please keep a lookout for them

Also, I have been working hard on my Squidoo site, so please take a moment to visit that by clicking here:

http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/samuraimarine

See you out there, folks!

Westboro Bapist Church…

It has been said that nothing does more to bring people together, than a common enemy.   And while I think it would be going a to a bit of an extreme to call someone like the Westboro Baptist Church an “Enemy”, I would say that they are enough of a foe to the people in general that they almost qualify.

So if you have been reading my work for any length of time, you know my opinion of homosexuality.  For those of you just tuning in, that is to say that I am really rather apathetic to it.  I pay about as much attention to it as I do any heterosexual couple’s relationship.

With that being said, Westboro seems to place all the wrongs in the world squarely on the shoulders of the Homosexuals, or “Fags”, as expressed in their own words.  If there is some wrong in the world, anything from Soldiers dying in the middle-east, to a kid shooting up a school to an educator going on a murderous rampage.

Through their unique class of extremism, this is a group that seems to have done something that others could not, and that is that they have brought people together that would normally not have joined forces.  Think about this, when the Klu Klux Klan comes out and counter-protests a group like the Westboros, then you have to stop and consider that their brand of hate actually outweighs the ideals of the KKK.   THAT is, in itself, impressive.

The Westboros and their zealots have found a formula to single handedly annoy, anger and generally piss off (pardon the french), almost every group out there.  Even some people that I know to be pleasant and menial, get there hackles up when I mention this group to them.

So what does this group gain by their actions?   It is said that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and yet if you do a Google search for this group, you will certainly not be disappointed in the plethora of articles you find.   There are so many out there that the mind swims.  They are not all bad either… there does actually seem to be some that agree with them and what they are doing, but the percentage, thankfully, is low.

I personally have no grudge against this group as an entity… they have the right to exist just like all other quasi-religious groups in the United States have the right to exist.  I see them in the same light that I see the Moonies, Scientology, Church of Satan, etc…  They all have the right to practice what they want, as long as it does not hurt others.

And THAT is where my problem DOES start with these people.  

Through their actions, they ARE causing harm to others.  No, not physical injury, but emotional.   By protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers, police and others with their “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” banners, they are not sending anything BUT a message of hatred and anger.  There really is no good in what they do, and it is beyond me how they can, in any way shape or form, see a positive message in their actions.

What seems interesting here is that the rights that they have to do what they do are protected, even though a majority of people out there agree that what they do is considered, hate speech, they are, as the Supreme Court has upheld, protected to do so.  Thankfully, that right does not include trespassing on private property, which most cemeteries are,  and does not preclude others from COUNTER protesting them when they do show up.

Some of the best examples of these counter-protests have been from groups like the Teamsters, The KKK, The Patriot Guard Riders (Bikers), Anonymous, and students, among others, have found some common ground in the need to stand up against this group.

One can look at the diverse groups that are rising to curtail the WBC and say that maybe there IS some good in what the WBC is doing, as a byproduct.   That good would be that providing us all with a common evil that we can agree on, we find a way to work together.

I recently posted on my Facebook page a request for people to tell me what they thought about the WBC, and though the response was weak, and briefly overshadowed by someone diverting the subject, I saw responses like this:

J.E.C writes:

“After a major earth change, these people will burn you as a heretic if you disagree with them. Every civilization has thugs like this, unfortunately.”

S.V. writes:

“Most of us seem to feel that they are bigoted idiots and lunatics who preach hate & violence (which they proudly do), and that doesn’t mean people aren’t for equal rights. If WBC is in their church, preaching whatever brand of venom they want, that is their business. When they spew it onto the rest of us, especially those grieving the loss of a loved one, then it becomes the business of the rest of us. By forcing their way into our view, aren’t they violating our rights to not have to put up with their crap?”

Finally, T.D. wrote:

“WBC and those like them are, or should be, the bane of Christians everywhere. They have set Christianity back at least 500 years. If you ask me, about the only difference between them and al-Qaeda and groups like them is that they have not yet taken up arms. I fear that if left to their own devices, they one day will. It is the duty of Christians everywhere to stand up against them. To let the world know that the vile poison they spew is in no way Christianity. That they in no way represent Christians or the God of the Muslims, Jews and Christians.”

There are more on my FB site and you are welcome to visit it… for the sake of time and space, I only put a few here.

In closing… I wish no ill will to the members of the WBC… They are, still, humans like you and me.  They have hopes, dreams, wishes, ideals, just like you and I do.  I just wish that they could see that what they are doing is hurting more than helping people.  Their actions are selfish and hurtful to the people that the protest.   No matter what your religion, I cannot see that as how G-d would want us to act towards others.

Thanks for your attention and time.

Same-Sex Marriage

OK… so I have been told that my view on this subject is everything from dismissive to discriminatory.   I have had people criticize me names for this view and even had a couple people “unfriend” me on Facebook.

Do you know what this earth-shattering opinion of mine is, on the topic of same-sex marriage?

I DON’T CARE.

Yes…  you read that right.   I could care less about the whole topic anymore.  I think that were you to really look into the minds of many of the politicians that spoke on the issue, one way or the other, they might not really care either, but since the issue makes great political fodder for distraction from real issues, they use it.

Right now, at this moment, what is going to affect you, the general populace, more? weather the two guys next door can get legally married or if the state cannot manage it’s budget and pay the Highway Patrol?  If Mary and Jane can get on one or the others insurance as a same-sex couple, or if there will be another tax increase voted in that will take a little more of your money and give it to a group of people that have a history of mismanaging money to a spectacular level?

I am not saying that the issue is not important to some.  I am sure that it is, and to those people, I tell you to keep working for what you believe in.  Personally, I do not support it but that is not the point of this piece.  I am not talking about my personal views on the topic here as to whether it is right or wrong, I am talking about what is more important.

When you look at all that is happening politically, there are some things that are so much more important than this right now.  We have budget issues on a national level, we have border security issues, problems with the people that we put in office abusing that power with which we have trusted them, we have a nation that is, piece by piece getting itself into hock with China and it is only a matter of time before they start calling in some of those debts.  Considering all this, and the many things that I have not touched on, is the issue of same-sex marriage really THAT important that we all have to fight about it, keep resurrecting it in the courts, etc???

I am fairly certain that my writing here will cause some of you reading this to think that I am attacking homosexuals, but I am not.   I am simply saying that the fact that you like someone of the same sex is not important enough to me to warrant setting it above the more important issues of state.  Issues like making sure that the country is not going to drown itself in debt to foreign powers, surrendering the sovereignty of our borders to anyone that wants to cross without going through the proper processes because asking them to do so might offend someone, especially if we have to tell them no.

Not getting it your way!

 

I have been noticing, lately, that when I use the drive-up window at some places, I am almost playing a game of chance when it comes to my order being right.

Take, for example, my most recent foray to KFC.  My wife and I were going through the drive through because neither of us wanted to sit in the place, and also because I had just gotten over a flu and was not wanting to be sociable or in a place with people that would, potentially, be sociable to us.   I am not a friendly person when I am getting over a cold or flu.

The first problem started with the order placement itself.  The gal on the other end of the microphone sounded like she had a half dozen Ritz crackers in her mouth when she askes us to place our order at any time.  Then, when we did place our order and she read it back to us, she got it wrong.  So we corrected that and moved on.  When we got to the window, my wife paid with a hundred dollar bill and our total was about $19 and change, when the change came back, she only gave us $60 and some change.   So we had to ask her to rethink it, and she did and then gave us our $20 that she shorted us.

For one evening, that would normally have been enough and you would probably, and rightfully, think that this was a one-off.   Something that just happened because we were in the right place at the right time.  But you would be wrong.

On the way home, we decided that we wanted a couple iced teas.  So we opted to drive through McDonalds by our house for two iced teas.   Now… we are already on alert with this particular McD’s because of their never ending habit of giving you exactly the wrong drink.  This is a chronic thing with them and instead of going to another location, we just accept it and check our order before leaving the window.   Think of it like that irritating cousen that everyone seems to have, that instead of getting into a family brawl because of them, you just accept that they are an idiot and deal with it.   That is the case here.

So Anyway, tonight we ordered our two large iced teas and when we get to the window, they confirm that the order was for one large iced tea.   We corrected him and paid the money and moved on.

The point being that it just strikes me funny how you have this method to order your food that is supposed to be such a time saver, turns out to really not be that much of one at all, when you factor in the process of correcting the order and then checking everything in the bag before you drive away.

This was just a little thought I wanted to share with all you readers out there.  Please feel free to share your personal drive through disasters with me.

 

Playing well with others

 

Playing well with others is not something that I have ever done well.  I mean, I do get along with most people, usually.   And I try to fit into the usual social norms that are expected of me, and will be polite to people… most of the time.

But I have learned, mostly through the sometime gentle, sometimes not so much (ask Nick), chiding of others, that I tend to be abrasive, condescending and sometimes rude in my interaction with others.  But I just do not see it, myself.  I really, honestly, do not.  But I think I understand the WHY behind the reason that I do not notice it.

If you ever read any of Carl Sagan’s work, I would like to think that I have developed somewhat of a BDK… The polite name for this acronym is “Baloney Detection Kit”, but I like to use the less polite name of “BullS**T Detection Kit”.   This is something that I have constructed in myself over the years, and learned that if you listen to enough people, read enough books and meet a large enough cross-section of humanity, you begin to see patterns in human nature and in the way people talk, interact and spin yarns.

Through this, I have gotten to a point where when someone is telling a story of that is supposed to have been something that they personally experienced, yet I have heard the same story at least ten times before, it becomes increasingly hard to stand there and act like you are riveted to the tale.

For example… I used to work with a person, years ago, that one day told me this story of how they were in Las Vegas with their girlfriend and the girlfriend had to go back up to their room.  When she got on the elevator there was a black man with a dog…  blah… blah… blah… if you are over the age of ten and have an email account, then you know the rest of the story.  He yelled “Get down lady”, she hit the floor, it was Lionel Richie, yada yada, yada.

It could have been a very believable story, had I not already heard it two or three times before and read about it on the internet and on Snopes.  The story does vary some from time to time, mostly because people realize, at some point, that they are idiots perpetuating a mostly racial anecdote for the sake of humor.  Not that I am against racial humor, face it, some of it is pretty darned funny.  But unless Lionel Richie made it a habit to frequent Las Vegas elevators with his dog, for lack of any better entertainment, or unless there happened to be a whole heck of a lot of people in the elevator with him and they all “Hit the floor” at the same time, the story is rubbish.

As I stated earlier in the post, there is something in me that, with age, as prevented me from being able to just let people talk about things that really make them look or sound silly, and not say something about it or point out their faux pas.

OK… So that you, the reader, do not think that I am not the victim of my own social arrogance, I will be the first to tell you that there have been times that I have failed my own tests.   I have had several times where I will be talking to a person and suddenly I will stop, think about what I just said and then say something like, “That was a pretty dumb comment, wasn’t it?”

People who know and are comfortable with me are more than willing to agree with me if I am right and they know that I had a momentary episode of verbal or mental diarrhea.  But there have been a few that try to save face themselves by telling me that they agree with what I have said.

In any case, I think that we should all learn to develop our BSDK (Bulls**t Detection Kit) and keep it handy and ready to use.   There is a lot of BS going around out there and the quicker we are to understand where to see is and how to respond to it, the better life is going to be for all of us.

Think about this too.  If one quarter of the population of the United States would start using a little BSDK on a regular basis, then we would not end up with so many idiots in politics.  I present that comment with no political bias… I direct it at BOTH sides equally.  The BS quotient for the current elected body is astronomical.

As always… thanks for reading…  all five of you.

Happy Thanksgiving…

Happy Thanksgiving to you all… and especially to all the men and women, brothers and sisters all, serving in harms way, throughout the world, in America’s Armed forces.

Know your job!

A couple weeks ago I went to the hardware store to pick up a couple new blades for my table saw.  Specifically I went to the Lowes on Rosedale Hwy here in Bakersfield.

Since I plan on doing several projects with my woodshop, I decided to go ahead and pick up three blades, Coarse cut, Fine cut and a Dado blade.  Not something that I would think would require much work or effort on my or anyone else’s part.

I was wrong.

Upon entering the store, I noticed that there were not that many people who looked like they worked there, let alone that they were WORKING there.  So I ventured into the power tools section and found a good price for a combo pack with a coarse and fine tooth blade in it.  I could not, however, find any dado blades.  So I started my search for someone that was familiar with this department.

After giving up on the search and asking a young lady at the counter if she could call someone to help me in that department, and her reacting like this was the most monumental thing she had been asked to do in her short, yet unproductive, life, I was greeted by a gentleman of whose name I will not mention here… but if he happens to read this, he and his fellow associates might know who he is.

Upon meeting the person, I asked if he knew anything about the power tools and more specifically, the blades for the table saws.  He advised me that he was and this was the area he worked in.

So… I asked him for a 10 inch dado blade for my table saw.

Judging by the look on his face, one would have though that I had asked him to carry Pi out the the 1500th integer…  in shorthand… with his foot.  He advised me that he was not aware of such a thing and asked me what it was used for.

I explained the many wonderful uses for dado blades and that they were something that was very common among people that work with wood.

He still had this confused look and I was seriously considering offering him a pen and paper to start working on PI, as it might have been an easier undertaking for him, when he got an “AHA” look on his face, let me know he would be right back.

FOr the next ten or fifteen minutes I contemplated the joys of solar electricity, ceiling fans and listened to the gals behind the counter talk about their previous evening’s escapades.

Then our hero rounds the corner with a look of satisfaction.  He had an answer.

according to our hero, dado blades are no longer made… them falling to the wayside at routers and their bits are capable of so much more, these days.

So…  Dado blades are no longer made.  This coming from a person that works in a hardware store.  A hardware store that deals, among other things, in home improvement.

Taking my newly gained knowledge and knowing better myself, I went to the Home Depot next to my house, where I found…  a dado blade.  Yes… it was rather high up and I did need to have some help getting to it, since these stores tend to take issue with you using their ladders yourself.

The moral of this story is that if you are going to take a job and if you do not want to look like an idiot yourself or make the entire company look like idiots, then for the love of GOD, learn what the heck you are talking about.  Do not wing it, make it up as you go or just guess.  Job knowledge is key to certain things and a lack of said knowledge is why I spent my money at Home Depot instead of Lowes this time around.

Thank you for your time.

XTC

I first heard of XTC when I heard the song “Senses working overtime” on the radio.  Because of the way my hearing has always been, however, “Senses” is not what I heard.  So when I walked into Sam Goody Music, I had the misfortune of hearing several people laugh at me when I asked for “SISTER’s  working over time”.

Needless to say, they corrected me and set me up with two tapes.  Again, when this happened, CDs were a luxury that I could not afford as was a CD player.  The Tapes were English Settlement and Skylarking.

English Settlement really did not do much for me.  The music seemed to all be the typical kind you might hear on the radio any particular Thursday afternoon, but I will admit that it was OK.  The one that really moved me, though, was Skylarking.  The songs, sound, rythym and story were great…  but as you might have already guessed about me… it was the story that was told through the lyrics and the track placement that hooked me.

If you listen to all of Skylarking, you will hear a story of meeting, courting, life, birth, death, questioning our existence and love.  You may not catch it the first time around, but listening to it enough, you will see it all there.  While I could find no confirmation of it, I have to think that the album was inspired by something that happened to one or more of the writers.  Who knows.

XTC themselves have been around since the late 1970s and the members performing for longer than that.  Unfortunately I have no personal experience with their music dating before 1982, so it would be unfair for me to comment on what they were before that.  I do see a lot of information out there about them on sites like Wikipedia and the like, but I would like these articles to be as much in my own words as it possible.

One of the lead names attached to XTC during their rise to fame was that of Todd Rundgren.  Yes… THAT Todd Rundgren.  While I will admit that his leadership did guide XTC to greater success, I think it also drove them apart.  Again… this is my own opinion and not based on anything other that what I see in the music and read in the trades.

Based on what I have read, one gets the feeling that Todd’s brief direction of the group caused them to burn brightly and use up quite a bit of their success.  But what was created in this period of time, while he was pushing them and going forward, was… in my humble opinion… some of their best work to date.  This culminated in the release of their last two CDs… Apple Venus volumes 1 and 2 in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

The Apple Venus CDs appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, however… shortly there after there was nothing else to be heard from the group.

One could say that the bloom had fallen off the rose by this time and there appears to be no effort to get the group back together again.  Though if someone out there reading this hears different… I would like to know.  XTC is actually on the short-list of groups that I would be willing to go stand in line to see… preceded only by Pink Floyd and Jimmy Buffett.

If by some chance any reader thinks that I am bashing Todd Rundgren with this or blaming him for the breakup of XTC, that could not be further from the truth.  I think that he simply exposed flaws in the band that were already there.  They were destined to break up at some point.  He caused them to refine their talents and work harder for a period of time so that the production house would be happy.  They might have made it a few more years without him, but I suspect that the sound would not have been the same quality.

Please… go out and pick up a copy of Skylarking, then let it help you decide if you think the others will be good for you.  Personally, I think that if you like Skylarking, then you will like all their work, including the early stuff.

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