Thursday, September 28, 2006

Patrick's Sunday Seven (on a Thursday)

Better late, they say.  So:  Name UP TO SEVEN magazines you once subscribed to, presently subscribe to, or would like to subscribe to if money were no object:

l.  American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology

2. "SOLME"Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics

3.  Weird New Jersey

4.  National Geographic

5.  1001 Impossible Crosswords

6.  NJ Law Journal

7.  Smithsonian

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Priorities ?

Click on this and watch the counter: Cost of War - National Priorities Project

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Forgive Them, Father, They're Just Babes

Once again, my good pal Jerry sends me into gales of laughter with these funnies he finds.  These are things children said overheard by adults - mostly in school or church.  Only kids, eh?  Have a laugh: 


A woman was teaching her 3-year old The Lord's Prayer, and one night she came in to see her daughter kneeling at the bed, saying, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some e-mail, Amen."


Here's one 4-year old's version:  "And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash into our baskets."


A little boy was overheard praying, "And Lord, if You can't make me a better boy, don't worry cause I'm having a real good time like I am."


Little girl explaining a commandment to the nun in school:  "Thou shall not take the covers off your neighbor's wife."


It was kindergarten class, a little boy suddenly starting running around the room shouting, "I have a pain in my side, I think I'm going to have a wife o no!" 


A nun overheard this one:  "Our Father who does art in heaven, Howard is his name ..."


"And why are we supposed to be quiet in church?" asked the nun.  A bright little girl answered, "Because people are trying to sleep." 


Thanks again, Jerry! 





Friday, September 22, 2006

Evil Meter c/o Pharmolo


"What is this music of which you speak?"  LMAO!! 

How evil are you?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gramma's Driving Again, Watch out!

A much-needed laugh courtesy of my pal Winky:


So here's this trooper sitting on the side of the road to catch speeders.  A cars sputters by at only 22 mph and he thinks, hey this is as dangerous as speeding.  So he stops the car.  The driver is a sweet, smiling old lady.  Her passengers, however, are white-faced wide-eyed old ladies who appear very frightened.  The trooper feels bad and explains to the driver that 22 is the Route, not the speed limit.

"O thank you, Officer!"  says the driver.

Officer Nice can't help himself, he asks if everyone in back is alright.

"O they'll be alright in a minute.  We just got off Route 127."



Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Shining Light"

In my May Archives I have something called "A Walk With God In The Rain" which I hope you read.  In it I inserted a poem I wrote about a side of pain that concerns God.  So many here live so bravely with such burdens, I thought it was worth another post:

                                   " SHINING LIGHT "

If you do live in constant pain and fear you'll never smile again,

If every move is full of woe, you feel there's no safe place to go,

Seek out your God, your closest Friend, and do not break when you can bend.

You've always been within His sight, so make of pain a Shining Light -

Dwell upon this very hard, for life can be so tough and scarred,

In every plan or scheme or race, give your thought to Saving Grace.

For it's not the hurt that makes us brave, it's not the fear of coming grave

But rather it's the way that we, turn on our Light - with Dignity.









The J-Land Convention

And why NOT get together?  This is a wonderful idea put forth by Gina (Motoxmom72) and named by Pharmolo, after our wonderful chat today.  If you're interested, and I know you must be, please go visit J-Land Convention and put your name in the ring.  We're really doing this, folks, so let's start thinking up ideas of events, plan things to do, hey I'll be happy just to meet everyone and gab!  We're thinking of New York City, give us some ideas, and go sign up!!

Things Said In Court

These are actual exchanges made in Courts of Law, taken directly from the transcripts, courtesy of a good friend:

ATTORNEY:  Are you sexually active?

WITNESS:  No, I just lie there.


ATTORNEY:  What is your date of birth?

WITNESS:  July 8th.

ATTORNEY:  What year?

WITNESS:  Every year.


ATTORNEY:  What gear were you in at the moment of impact?

WITNESS:  Gucci sweats and Reeboks.


ATTORNEY:  This condition, does it affect your memory at all?


ATTORNEY:  And in what ways does it affect your memory?

WITNESS:  I forget.

ATTORNEY:  Can you give us an example of something you forgot?


ATTORNEY:  How old is your son, the one living with you?

WITNESS:  38 or 35, I can't remember which.

ATTORNEY:  How long has he lived with you?

WITNESS:  45 years.


ATTORNEY:  What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?

WITNESS:  He said, "Where am I, Diane?"

ATTORNEY:  And why did that upset you?

WITNESS:  My name is Susan.


ATTORNEY:  Now Doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in their sleep, they don't know about it till the next morning?

WITNESS:  Did you actually pass the bar?


ATTORNEY:  The youngest son, the 20-year old, how old is he?

WITNESS:  Duh, what?


ATTORNEY:  Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS:  Can you repeat the question?


ATTORNEY:  So the date of conception was August 8th?


ATTORNEY:  And what were you doing at the time?


ATTORNEY:  She had 3 children, right?


ATTORNEY:  How many were boys?


ATTORNEY:  And how many were girls?


ATTORNEY:  How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS:  By death.

ATTORNEY:  And by whose death was it terminated?


ATTORNEY:  Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS:  He was about medium height and had a beard.

ATTORNEY:  And was this a male or female?


ATTORNEY:  Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?

WITNESS:  No, this is how I dress when I go to work.


ATTORNEY:  Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?

WITNESS:  (Stunned silence, then laughter)


ATTORNEY:  All your responses must be oral, okay?  Good.  Now, what school did you go to?



ATTORNEY:  Are you qualified to give a urine sample?



ATTORNEY:  Do you recall the time you examined the body?

WITNESS:  Yes, the autopsy started at 8:30 a.m.

ATTORNEY:  And was Mr. Denton dead at the time?


                                The best for last:

ATTORNEY:  Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?


ATTORNEY:  Did you check for blood pressure?


ATTORNEY:  Check for breathing?


ATTORNEY:  So it was entirely possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?


ATTORNEY:  How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS:  Because his brain was sitting in a jar on my desk.

ATTORNEY:  But the patient could still have been alive, nevertheless?

WITNESS:  Yes, alive and practicing law!


Thanks Jerry! 



Saturday, September 16, 2006

Death As Penalty (Weekend Assgnmt #129)

An Assignment from blogger John Scalzi Weekend Assignment #129: It Just Doesn't Make Sense!by way of Paul Little's place Aurora Walking Vacation seems to be to write about that which GETS YOUR GOAT, which makes NO SENSE but exists anyway, which is covered in IRONY and you can't wrap your head around.  This one's too easy for me: 

                                  "CAPITAL PUNISHMENT"

                                   "THE DEATH PENALTY"

If I were being punished or penalized, it would mean I'd be taken to task in hopes my deed won't be re-committed by me.  If you kill me, you're assured I'll never do it again, but I'd be DEAD so that's no good.  If I killed your friend or relative or someone you don't know or ANYONE AT ALL, please explain the logic in killing me?  I can put it in scientific terms, even visceral ways, any old way but the simplest seems the best:  Why is killing the answer to stopping killers?  Some say, "Well at least HE won't kill again."  Right, and how many times have we said that, and how many MORE?  Every time someone is murdered by the State?  "At least those 50,000 won't kill again!"  He's DEAD and the reason he's dead is because he made someone ELSE dead and it CONFOUNDS me, am I simple?  Whatdid I miss??  Isn't killing wrong, morally, ethically, though some say it's instinctual well, yes perhaps in war that instinct is necessary to survive, but isn't the idea of plotting and stalking for the sake of eventually capturing and killing just wrong?  Other animals stalk, capture and kill so they can survive.  We don't need to, we have supermarkets to acquire our needs, we're evolved (ha).    

Our presently sitting Supreme Court says capital "punishment" is legal, but leaves it to each State's discretion whether or not to kill.  Texas, Florida and California lead the way in what I call State-sanctioned murder.  It's clean, but it's not quick.  It's orderly, but it's not painless.  I'll explain that further on.  I know the thinking is "Why shouldn't these vermin be tortured before dying anyway?"  I leave it to you to answer that.  As I say, this boggles my thinking.

In the forensic/legal world, we have a saying: "L-WOPPED" and if a Judge L-wopps you, kiss the world goodbye.  It means "Life without the possibility of parole" and is there any reason we can't keep our own laws and USE this sentence, making SURE these killers are never freed?  For true killers I say use it more often, stop this 25 to life nonsense - that amounts to approximately 8 years, less with good behavior.  If you take a life, you should forfeit your freedom.  But no one has a right to forfeit your life.  That's why you're in prison, that's what YOU did, you took life, which is wrong, and it's either wrong ALWAYS or it doesn't work.  Some things are just wrong and they'll ALWAYS be wrong and I believe taking another's life is one.  That includes the State.       

As for amenities, no amount of cable or basketball or air-conditioning can detract from the reality of losing your freedom for the rest of your life, and not always naturally.  (Besides, death row inmates don't get any of that).  You WILL die in prison either by violence or old age.  If you hurt a child, you're put into protective custody because every con wants a piece of you.  Every condemned prisoner spends 23 HOURS A DAY in a 6 by 8 foot cell, they're allowed exactly ONE HOUR a day for shower, and walking in a circle on the roof with several armed guards watching.  It's during those times someone can slit your throat, as the guards either watch or turn their backs.  Everyone hates a killer, especially when it involves children and mothers.  But if we decide to kill the killers, we are .... what?  Carrying out justice?  Or vengeance.  Why are WE not then killers?  Yes, the State is carrying out the Death Warrant signed by the Governor which is law, so you might decide "Well, we're obeying the law".  But these are man's laws, they change, morality shouldn't.  We have to PROgress not REgress in our evolution.  We need to better understand what we now can't control.  In the meantime, lock them down for good.  A LIFE SENTENCE SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN UNLESS YOU'RE PREPARED TO CARRY IT OUT AND KEEP THAT PERSON LOCKED AWAY FROM SOCIETY FOR THEIR NATURAL LIFE.  You don't have to do what they did:  kill.  Segregate and study them, for heavens sake.  As Freud said, "A man with no conscience is hardly human and may be a separate species altogether.  Our conscience is what makes us human." 

The same man who built Florida's present "Old Sparky" also concocted the so-called "painless" lethal injection.  There is no such thing, and forensic evidence bears this out.  As for electrocution: 

This is basically cooking someone from the inside out.  Like microwave.  The total amount of electricy used is 5,000 volts in 2 separate shocks.  The first shock of 2500 volts is meant to paralyze.  It does not.  Although semi-comatose, the condemned can feel.  How do we know this?  Read on.  The second 2500 volts is meant to stop the heart, which it usually does, otherwise a third shock is administered.  Smoke is seen from the cross copper plating surrounding the man's head and right leg (used for grounding, in order to complete the cycle of electric flow).  How many times this procedure has gone wrong is so numerous it would definitely startle.  The sponge used under the cap is meant to help the conduction of electricity but it must be natural sea-sponge.  A guard was sent to purchase another when they ran low, and unknowingly bought synthetic ones.  The first man to endure this was Jesse Cordero in Florida, and his head caught fire.  Flames emanated from his skull.  I know, you may be thinking, well so what he deserves it.  How do you justify torture?  If you plan to kill someone, just do it.  Here is some forensic evidence of how we've come to understand that one is still very much aware after the first shock:  EVERY person who is killed by this method has an autopsy done, and in many cases the Medical Examiner finds that the bladder still contains urine, which can only happen if the prisoner had use of his muscles and contracted them so as to prevent loss of control.  Eventually he does.  But the urine in his bladder shows he was conscious and aware enough to "hold back" these liters of urine.  So he felt it.  I know, you're thinking "So what, the bastard deserved it".  Again I leave you to ponder your reason for wanting torturour death over justice.   

Lethal injection, once again forensics bear out the serious pain endured.  Have you ever closely looked at the gurney?  Most times they're hidden in pictures, but each one has several heavy straps, meant for the sternum, chest, torso, pelvic area, arms, legs, feet and even neck area.  Why would they need straps like that, if he's being "peacefully put to sleep"?  Have you never considered this?  I have, I researched this in the 1990s, and courtesy of "The Execution Protocol" this is what happens:

Three drugs are used to kill the condemned.  After a line is opened with saline, the first drug is Sodium thiopental, which is meant to render the killer unconscious.  He can still, of course, experience feeling.

The second is the worst, most painful:  Pancuronium bromide. This will paralyze the muscular system, making speech and movement impossible.  The killer is now being suffocated, asphyxiated, and cannot utter a word nor move a muscle.  The normal reaction of any of us is to fight against being suffocated, that's where the heavy straps come into play.  Another reason is so the audience is lead to believe the condemned feels no pain since they don't see a fight for life, our instinctual reaction.  The truth is there is a very high level of pain, which of course makes many all the happier, and I understand that.  If some monster killed my little granddaughter, my grief would turn to anger and I'd want to make him eat his own intestines.  Since I can't, I'd surely want revenge, vengeancebut eventually I'd need justice.  This may not go over well, but as many families have done I'd plead against sentencing DEATH as punishment during my "VIS" (victim impact statement) because no matter how much I'd want to skin this creep alive, I know I'm the last person to assign what his punishment should be, since that was my grandchild.  Leave me alone with him for 2 minutes, I'd say, because my instinct would be to rip his throat out.  I'd feel better after, but only for an hour.  It doesn't last, there's no such thing as closure, there's NEVER closure when you lose a loved one to a predator.  The answer, I believe it to L-WOPP him and MEAN it, LIFE IN PRISON.  If it's law, enforce it please!  Besides now that we know sociopathy exists, why regress back to torture and death as "punishments".         

The third is Potassium chloride, which induces cardiac arrest and the man dies from the combination of suffocation and heart attack.  No one goes "to sleep".  That's what we save for our pets, when we euthanize them.  We use another drug, phenobarbitol, so they fall asleep without pain.  One injection, one easy death.  Why can't we use our vast collective minds in the forensic sciences and medicine to find a more humane way to kill the killers, if we must?  Again, I know, you may be thinking why bother.    

None of this is about the prisoners, not about what they did.  We all know what we find reprehensible and indefensible.  A defense attorney is NOT there to defend a killer but to FORCE the prosecution into doing its job.  They failed in the OJ Simpson case.  This is why people should understand defense attorneys better - if they don't bring up all the cracks and questions in a case before the Court, the prosecution doesn't have to either.  Case dismissed.

No, what this is about is public policy.  Someday we may evolve a tendency to include ethical values and morally intuitive issues, but until then our prisons are left overcrowded with simple pot growers, and our death rows are crammed with killers some States can't execute fast enough.  Oh I could list all the innocent men who died at the hands of the State, but we all know that happens.  We all know the innocent who were killed and those who came so close before DNA and genome sequencing became so specialized and individual.  But it will always confound me that - if I tell a child who's written a bad word on the blackboard, "Now go and write that word on every blackboard in the school" how would I explain this helps him learn anything?  I couldn't because it doesn't.

Someone might proffer: "Well Cathy, isn't shutting someone up for life immoral and unethical?"  I can only say it's preferable to a "nice clean murder".  It costs taxpayers a million dollars for every year they keep one man on death row.  The State of Florida had to cough up $8 million to execute Theodore Cowell (Bundy).  It costs under $30,000 to keep a man imprisoned for life.  Some would rather die than watch their lives drip away, little by little, see themselves age in the reflection of other prisoners, knowing they'll never leave that place, never walk down a street or into a diner.  And I picture an island I do, a place so far out in the mid-ocean that one gets there only by helicopter.  The waters are shark-infested, some Pacific area I think.  Walled in completely, a literal colony of the damned.  This was worked to success in history several times before, and many good decent Australians can trace their ancestry back to Botany Bay prisoners.  I mean an Island of Doom, that's it.  You kill someone, you forfeit your right to live amongst people who prefer to stay alive.  You're separated from any society and when you arrive, there are no amenities waitingIf you want to eat, you grow your food.  Want shelter, build it.  Who knows what could come of such an experiment now, but something has to be found to replace death for death, I believe.        

Note:  No extra credit for me I have absolutely no tunes floating around in my head, & I took this WAY too seriously.  Chill out, Cathy! 





Sunday's Chat

Just a quick reminder about tomorrow (Sunday) hopefully you'll visit the Special Interests - Journals Cafe at these times:

For USA:  12 noon Pacific Standard

                  3 PM Eastern Standard

For UK:     8 PM British Standard

Look forward to spotting many friends, relaxing a bit.  

Thursday, September 14, 2006


This bit of prose was inspired by something pointed out by our dear Guido, our Pharmolo, when he wrote about choices.  The person who is speaking in this is conflicted about Good and Evil, as if they were visible entities.  The person is confronting them, looking for a reason to choose the one or the other, I call it "Conflict".

I beseech and implore you

to toss me a key

which wouldst open a door

that I may worship one of thee.

To whom I belong

has n'er been clear

but I've my own choice

in my heart, very near.

'Tis one or the other,

I believe in no further designs,

yet in my belief

I am looking for signs,

and both have shown me none

show me but one! and all would be forfeit

as regards one of thee

whilst the other

would enjoy my true loyalty.

I cannot cope with such a power,

not on this earthly level -

so I shall await the hour

when one of thy servants

be it angel or devil,

shall visit my questions

and bless me with knowing

the name of the ancient vanity

to whom my homage I'd be showing.

Now is the time -

let it not be wasted

in not granting a sign,

hence, I do beg this favor:

Show me a presence

that I can define -

have you the look of a swine

or that of a savior?

And do I worship the one

because it has beauty?

Alas I would rather worship none,

were that the case,

for whatever beauty lies upon a face

lies not always within

so with that I'd be done

feeling not your chagrin.

Yet evil does not always show ugly

on the face of a man -

so I must be sure

of all that I am seeing

if it bewithin your plan

to visit me in the guise of a human being. 






Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Cold Wave Linked To Temperature"

No kidding, that's an actual headline from 2005.  My friend sent me these, here's more - have a giggle:

"Panda Mating Fails: Vet Takes Over" (what a champ!) 

"Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant"

"War Dims Hope for Peace" (yea, could happen) 

"Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says"

"If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile"

"Is there a Ring of Debris Around Uranus?" (so sorry lol)

"Crack Found on Governor's Daughter" (got glue? lol)

"Police Campaign To Rundown Jaywalkers"

"Miners Refuse To Work After Death" (I would too!) 

"Couple Found Slain - Police Believe Foul-Play"

"Red Tape Holding Up New Bridge" (duct tape?) 

"Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge"

"New Study on Obesity Seeking Larger Group"

"Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft"

"Kids Make Nutritious Snacks"

"Local Dropouts Cut in Half" (yeouch!)

"Hospital Sued by Seven Foot Doctors" (tall, aren't they)

                                      and the final idiocy:

"Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery: Hundreds Dead"

Okay, that's enough lunacy - off to read the papers.   







Tuesday, September 12, 2006

For John Scalzi's Photo Shoot: Profiles

John Scalzi John Scalzi's - Your Monday Photo Shoot: Profiles has asked for entries in profile only.  I have alot of those - here's one. 

The man in the photo is my dear Father, around 1984.  His name was John Frances.  From the earliest times I can remember he taught me about music, art, history  and how to be a decent human being.  My Father was my closest, dearest friend, my ideal man, and once my raison de vive (reason to live) during a deep dark depression I once suffered with.  Without a doubt, he was my true hero.

Everyone loved "Uncle John", they were helpless not to.  He was overly generous with everything, and in his wholesale business not far from where I now live, other than his regular customers he helped people who knew where to go when hungry.  He'd walk a half block from his two large warehouses and separate office, go into the butcher's and make huge sandwiches for the homeless men who'd walk in, plus a bit of money.  My Father knew it would be spent on wine most likely, and I always wondered about that so once, while doing his taxes, I asked why he did it. He explained since he was no social worker, all he could do was feed them and give them money and it was their business, not his, what they did with it.  He was a realist and a romantic, never judging anyone.  My Father truly believed in helping others any way possible, and this is how he lived.   

When this picture was taken, neither he nor any of us knew our beloved "Captain" would be diagnosed with prostate cancer in two years, 1986.  He lived with all the operations, the radiation and chemo, the loss of all privacy, the tremendous loss of weight, and his basic wasting away.  It was not his plan to die like that in 1988 at the painfully young age of 67.  He insisted I not visit him as he preferred to "wait until I'm better so we can take that cruise to Italy".  It was our lifelong promise to each other, that European cruise.  Cancer took him on 9/9/88.  It took my mother on her birthday, 7/24/05 when she turned 82.  It took my Aunt Suzie, my cousin Lou-Lou, my SIL Jody, her brother, and to go on would be useless there're so many I loved who lost the good fight.  And like so many I've met here, they were brave, courageous and decent people who endured their lot without complaint.  I thought my hero would live into his 80's easily, but it was my Mother who did.  My hero was cheated out of so many good years.   

Dad loved to cook, and did it well, inventing many signature dishes.  Since my Mother wasn't much of a cook, she simply left it to him and that was fine.  Nor was she a very good house-keeper, but since the Army taught him neatness he preferred doing it himself, joking about our lack of "order".  My Mother always had a house keeper, but he'd clean even if something sparkled - we'd joke right back.  He was very house-proud, having had our huge home custom-built where eventually 8 children grew up without material want.

When my parents would play and sing their duets, I would quietly sit to the side where they couldn't really see me, relaxing deep into a big chair and watching them, smiling, just soaking up this unusual pairing, where the only time they could be civil was during these musical moments.  I made requests, always loved to applaud and whistle, call out "Encore! Encore!" and laughed seeing them so affected by someone being there, listening, appreciating, involved.

There's so much more I could say about my Father but suffice to say I never met anyone else who came close to his brilliant light, his keen mind, clever wit and great loving heart.  Lord, do I miss him.       


Monday, September 11, 2006

Tribute . . .

On September 11th, 2001, the planet earth was blessed with the birth of over 10,000 new lives.   

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Small Wisdom

I just want a moment to share something with anyone out there who's having it rough, who thinks there's no one listening, who doesn't understand why things happen as they do, who works hard and gets no return, or just doesn't feel in the right place:


And no matter where that is, God definitely wants you where you find yourself.

My extraordinary brother Christopher told me this. And so much more.

The Darker Side Of Religion

Yes, we know who they were and we know how they did it.  But why?  Why, we continue to ask.  The truth is so hard to realize but put very simply, the horrors of 9/11/01 were done in the name of religion.  The religion of hatred.  Organized.  But at the cruel center, still a religion.  I don't believe God has anything to do with religion, but we do look to God when things are done with religious fanatasim.  This is the truth we find so utterly unreal, so unacceptable, so confusing.  How many have asked over and over, is God uncaring?  Is God so indifferent that He would allow this incredible tragedy, this unbearable loss, to just happen??  We all know exactly where we were that morning, but many have taken to ask WHERE WAS GOD THAT DAY?  Well the Judeo-Christian God was exactly where believers know He is:  in their hearts.  I have no idea where Allah dwells.

This is the darker side of religion that America has finally been forced to face.  So many other countries have lived with terrorism in some form or another for centuries, and with broken hearts now welcome us into their numbers.  What happened that day was the worst tragedy in American history.  Was is because of the number of people who died?  No, for in just one day during the Civil War Americans killed 20,000 other Americans at Shiloh.  Was it the way they died?  Certainly horrific and impossible to imagine, that's still not quite it.  I believe it was our worst tragedy ever because of the reason it was done:  Religion.  These Muslim men, young men, truly believed with all their hearts and in their faith - their own jihad - that they were serving God, and in so doing, would become martyrs.  The religion of Islam does not teach such things as mass murder nor even suicide, which certainly is what these men performed.  But to sacrafice one's life for the "community" is thought to be a genuinely good and holy act.  How foreign this is to our minds!  How incredibly cruel this feels to our torn souls!  As it should, as italways will.  This is partly why we will never find true closure, never truly "forget" what happened on 9/11/01, because deep in our being we know this massacre was commited in the name of Allah, God by any other name. 

To live in a world where many people believe in many gods can be difficult, but not impossible.  What's impossible is acceptance of a religion which says only the god of their belief is the true one, and only they know want he wants and what he feels.  To state that you are an "infidel" if you don't believe in this one true god is anathema to our ears.  We've become accustomed to worship in our way and allow others to worship in theirs, giving due respect and validation.  But who can accept such arrogance as to say only their beliefs are the true ones?  It's impossible, most especially in this free land. 

Islam worships Allah.  So in that name were these murders commited - but not for Islam, rather for hate's sake.  Islam turns its face in utter shame at what was done, and rightly so, for in teaching the tenets of a religion one must take responsibility for the fringe, the literalists, the "true believers", the fanatics, the self-sacraficial mind-set of those who seek the higher moral ground.  Never think this is something confined only to Islam.  You find people who think this way in all religions. 

As I try to make peace in my heart with the God of my fathers, I know this has changed me, has hardened my heart and closed off a small part of my mind.  This is made all the more difficult because I watched as that second plane sliced into its target.  My eyes followed the trail of smoke as I stood in shock at my window.  Yes, it IS the way it happened!  Think on all the religious wars fought over the ages of man - each side had their banner and proclamation.  But these people had nothing!  They were innocent, blameless, they did not know their existence was part of someone's religious war, someone's jihad.  They did not know how fiecely they were hated.  All those people knew was their right to life, and that right was being stolen.  They were not soldiers of war - but became heroes to us all, heroes of the human condition, for as that one image reminds us - when all seemed hopelessly lost, two strangers standing on a ledge, with the fires of hate burning at their backs, reached out to each other, and made a leap of human dignity - and faith.             


"Memories Of A Loving Soul"

This is a testament to my late Great Aunt Jenny, who died four years ago c. 87 years, she never gave her true age to anyone.  My Aunt Jen was a well-known Puppeteer in her area of New Jersey, making her own puppets and organizing her shows by herself.  She lived her whole life alone, quite happily, devoted to puppets and marionettes, and gave her gift to everyone.  Going to nursing homes, hospitals, childrens' gatherings, schools, just everywhere people were, she was there with her incredible puppets, making everyone laugh for an hour of their lives.

Her house was always a mess.  Crazy, mixed up, things everywhere, hanging from pictures, doorknobs, bits of cloth, buttons, weird things I laughed at as a child, she kept bags of candies and cookies in her stove and when we'd visit she'd pile them on us, she never bothered to cook of course.  I have no idea how she ate.  She had first-edition books that I begged her for, I loved the books.  Old porcelan, lace, china, treasures from around the world where she traveled, she never stayed still more than a second.  She was educated, clever, knew things about the world from first-hand experiences, and truly loved people.  Her own neice, my father's sister Nan, is a clean freak, a fanatic for neatness and order.  When Nan and I would visit Jenny, poor neat Nan would get flustered and jittery, uncomfortable around disorder.  But she loved her aunt Jen, and I loved them both.   

I remember from my childhood, we'd gather at my grandparents home, us kids sitting on the floor in a circle, while Aunt Jenny would regale us with these amazing puppets, putting on her show with music and a black light, they looked so real to me.  One of them always scared me silly - the skeleton man "Mr. Bones" I used to cry and run away when I'd see him LOL.  My Dad would laughingly run after me, scoop me up and sit me on his lap while we'd watch his mother's sister put on these wonderful shows.  I used to always say under my breath "Please don't let that skeleton get near me" and what's so oddly wonderful is that my sister-in-law Penny (rhymes with Jenny!) took up the business after Aunt Jen died, to this day continuing the thread of a family tradition.  Penny took the puppets to new heights, making them into detailed characters and her home-run business thrives.  She even has a website if you want to get an idea of the size of these puppets FUN ON A STRING PUPPETS & MARIONETTES but the thought is, I can still see that "Mr. Bones" even in the picture - it gives me a shiver!  This poem is very simple because she was, so here's what I wanted to tell her:

                         My dear Great Aunt Jen:

Your talent and your skillful gift

gave all who saw it such a lift !

Your time was spent by fully living,

always happy, always giving.

     You loved to show us every book,

     we'd dust it off and take a look -

     Sometimes we'd find some older treasures,

     how you loved your simple pleasures.

It made me smile to see that clutter,

and poor Aunt Nan would always shudder !

All those trinkets, buttons, bows,

went into making puppet shows.

     Look upon us from your home

     and give a listen to this poem -

    I'm grateful that we've had these years

     to share the laughter and the tears. 

So many people you did touch,

your family loves you very much -

a kinder soul did not exist,

and Dear Aunt Jen, you will be missed.





Where Are You When You're Nowhere?

No doubt it's difficult to see why I'd feel "Ecstatic" with such an enigmatic title, but I haven't been able to access the net since Thursday and today, with the sun streaming into my room, I somehow was able to.  Once again, a simple machine makes a not-so-simple difference in a life.  How odd that I felt I was somehow "not there" only because I couldn't get "here"?  I've spent the last few days with family - then recuperating from that - and came online expecting nothing and getting everything.  This chaotically ordered Universe, whatever shall I do with you! 

Thursday, September 7, 2006

The Great Cosmic Collision

I'm thinking of the sun.  It's only one tiny star among billions of other stars in one tiny galaxy, among billions of other galaxies.  Thinking outward into time, I know that in perhaps three billion years (give or take) our own Milky Way Galaxy will collide with its nearest neighbor, the Andromedia Galaxy.  Think about it!  Scientists have a very accurate picture of what it will look like, you want a peek?  I dare anyone to watch this and not be moved.  If you have dial-up it'll be slow but don't give up.  And if the movie stops midway, click play again.  Just look at this.  Science Bulletins | Astro |

Skywatcher Alert - LUNA!

Tonight is a very full moon, in fact Luna will be the largest, brightest, closest moon we'll see all year.  Even a partial lunar eclipse for Europe, Africa and Asia, for anyone in those environs.  Isn't it amazing?  It's not usual to think of when moon-watching, but we're actually looking at the past, we're experiencing time in another form.  You won't miss this one, it'll block out all stars even remotely near. 

Maybe it's my Cancerian blood being moved about by the pull of the moon, but there's something very visceral that happens when I gaze at Luna Maria.  I feel almost paralyzed with a primative, perhaps ancestoral memory, one that haunts yet fascinates.  I know I'm looking at what my ancestors did, hiding in caves lighting fires to stay warm.  The moon is magic, can anyone doubt it? 

Information from "Skywatcher Alert" Sky & Telescope

"Autumn Occurs To Me"

How can you but chose the explosion of color

at the beginning of the end of summer?

Nothing could be duller that a season with no change,

and as the Good God does arrange,

all aglow and seeming without reason,

is this verge we are on of the merging of

brown and red and gold, yellow from green,

mellowing from the unseen cold.

Mountains are dressed in bursts of shimmering trees,

all ablaze in their best, meant for you,

meant to please - which they do - as they glimmer.

I have come to believe that too much Autumn

might put one in a craze - for you cannot leave -

Who, from the sight, would turn from it?

In a daze, you listen to silent thunder,

you stand in wonder as you gaze -

This is what God, for us, did commit.

Stand and offer your highest praise!



Sunday, September 3, 2006

Ready To Boil Over ....

Does this HAVE to happen, don't we pay for a service here?  No Alerts being repaired, how many times has this happened and when will it stop?  Better yet, why are we letting a MACHINE make us crazy?  O no, we're addicted.  Holey canoli ! Where'd I put those sleeping pills ......


Okay AOL THIS MEANS WAR!  You return all my Alerts immediately or I'll write more poetry, you hear?  This is maddening, just absolutely ... what's that word ... oh yeah, maddening - THIS IS MADDENING!!!!  It's 2 a.m. and I can't sleep, I shall TRY then see what the morrow brings, but if they don't work, if they don't, if they ... why have a service that doesn't serve I ask you?  I'm fit to be tied.  What does that mean, anyway, "fit to be tied" I think I'll vent some of this anger and write about some of our everyday sayings and their origins, now THERE'S something of interest lol.

"Don't let the cat out of the bag" that comes from the days of old when Knights were bold and England kept it's prisoners well-beaten.  The cat-o-nine tails was a commonly used torture device and was kept in a bag by the warder's seat.  When inmates would talk to each other and conspire for food and other non-essentials, they'd say, "Be careful ye don't let the cat out of the bag!"  There.

"Shiver me timbers!" once again brings us to the mother country, where the ships were made from treated wood, and each time a cannon ball would hit, the wooden timbers would shake and rattle on the ship.  We use it like, if we're startled or amazed, like I am now at this computer.  There.

"The short end of the stick" I spent a little time as a kid trying to find it, no kidding.  Obviously originated in the "drawing straws" thing, but feels like what AOL is giving me right now.  There!

"Never look a gift-horse in the mouth" comes from AOL's generous-sounding offer to lower our costs to almost nil but they "disappear" your Alerts in exchange.  ARGH!!!!

Saturday, September 2, 2006

"Something Is On Its Way..."

                  Yonder shafts of light

                set lower now in the sky

              with the onset of the night,

              I sense Autumn's in the eye.

                      Nearer to the first

                 is when I prepare to see

         the last of summer's greening burst

              swaying from each golden tree.


Friday, September 1, 2006

911 is not 9-11 is not 9-1-1 is not ...

I recently witnessed something that caused me a bit of worry.  A friend was playing with her grandchild, I was visiting, and I noticed Diane (my friend) trying to show her granddaughter how to get help should it ever be needed.  Diane said, "Here, now all you need is to press the 9, then press 11.  That's it, nine eleven."  I wonder how many other little kids had the trouble this poor girl did trying to find the "11" on the keypad.  9-1-1.  When Diane told her, "Just hit the #1 twice" she proceeded to hit #2, explaining proudly to Diane that 1+1=2, so why not just hit #2?  Okay so there's no set rule, every kid is different.  I'm just thinking of all those scared but brave kids who somehow got through to 9-1-1. 

Another Skywatcher Alert

During September we expect to be entertained by some deep-sky events, beginning in the constellation Sagitarius in the south.  Rather than muddle through my ramblings, you can click on this link and enter your zip code, hit GO and see just what the sky will look like tonight, and each night.  Here's a nice addition:  You can CLICK & DRAG the smaller image on your left, to pan the sky in all directions, it's fascinating.  Try this:

 Stargazing: Sky Chart - AOL Research & Learn