The Dark Mistriss

 

Why does the night evoke feelings of fear and dread? They say we fear that which we do not know.  Is the night the unknown?  Why do we associate the night with ghosts and goblins and the superstitious?

Nighttime is a magical time. It transforms the world we know into something difrferent. The sounds, the smell, the night air as it caresses your skin.

The night awakens your spirit. In the day we live by our sight. During the night all of our senses come alive.

As we acclimate to our new world we marvel at the silence, but as your attention begins to sharpen, your hear the twilight chorus swell. The silence gives way to all the sounds of the night. Our sense of touch goes on alert. The light breeze tightens your skin. Your hair softly tickles your neck as you move your head.  You can taste the air. It feels clean and crisp.  There is a distinct smell of the night, like a spice that awakens your soul.

You move differently in the night. You step slow and deliberate in time with the night. Your mind struggles to take it all in. Nothing is familiar, what you see or don’t see, what you hear, feel, taste and smell.  Or maybe they are not new but things you ignored in the daylight.  You’re alive, You search for the familiar but it’s just out of your reach.

As you grow accustom to this new world you grow comfortable as if you are part of this reality. Nothing is familiar but you feel like you belong.  The darkness has enveloped you in her arms and welcomed you into her realm

It’s as you can hear each blade of grass giving way to your foot as you take a step. You feel as if you are not in this new world but a part of it.  Your mind reals seeking what your role is in this new world.  You are part of a secret that no one else is in on.

Your mind starts out trying to identify and catalogue the sounds and shadows of the night.  As time wears on you welcome them as an old friend. You are part of your new world. The sound of your breath and the crunch of your steps merge with all of the other sounds in a never-ending concert.

As soon as you assimilate into the darkness you notice the sky lightning. The morning sun is trying to fight back the darkness. You feel a touch of sadness knowing this new world is folding back upon itself.  As the sun continues to push over the horizon you bid adieu to your new love. Your secret will be held tightly until you are able to join your new dark mistress again tonight.

Yet We Forget

Outside the low hanging clouds create the illusion of dusk.  A steady rain hypnotically urges slumber. The air is crisp, just above freezing. I gaze out on this un-forbidding scene with a crackling fire in the comfort of my living room.

As my sleepy thoughts ramble I picture a brave young man, not yet 20. He shivers in his wet clothes as the piercing wind howls around him. He tries to burrow ever deeper in the wet ground to remain unseen by the shadowy figures passing above him. His very survival relies on his invisibility.  He holds a silent vigil here, reporting on these shadowy figures lurking about. They have all vowed to kill us all, “Death to the Satan, America. Praise Allah.”  In this inhospitable land, with bone chilling cold, he lies still and waits.

Yet We Forget.

These brave men and women deploy across the globe without hesitation. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Korea. Anywhere they are told to go. They wear the uniform of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines. They hail from three-letter agencies and are sent to the remotes parts of the world. They are called and they answer without hesitation.

Yet We Forget.

They have always been there for us,, standing sentinel and answering the call. From the farmers and shop keepers of the revolution under General Washington to Europe in WWI and WWII.  From the frigid mountains of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam. From the island of Granada to the tip of Panama.  From the tropics of Central America to the sands of the Middle east. They were called and they deployed. They answered with their sacrifice and with their lives.

Yet We Forget.

They are kids or should I say they were just kids before they dawned the uniform.  From the reserves come fathers and husbands from every state. They answer the call and put their lives on hold.  They serve night and day, weekends and holidays. Their constant vigil never offering a break.  They have many enemies that would see them dead, yet they go.

Yet We Forget.

They are following a calling.  There is something bigger than themselves in their lives. The Stars and Stripes, the word America have meaning to them. They are from every race and every religion and together they go so we may enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice.

Yet We Forget.

I just finished reading the book Lone Survivor, by Navy Seal Marcus Lutrtrell.  His story of the pain and sacrifice of him and his team and the families of the ones who did not return is unimaginable.  Yet there are thousands out there right now prepared to lay down the same sacrifice.  They ask nothing special.  They do not do it for glory.  They do out of a deep love and commitment to everything we hold sacred as Americans.

Yet We Forget.

So as we find ourselves slightly chilled or wet from the winter weather and begin to complain, Remember. When we work a couple of extra hours and complain about our jobs, Remember.  When our kids are out of control and challenging our patience, Remember. When the car breaks down and we are late for an appointment, Remember.  When life is great and everything is perfect, Remember the ones responsible for allowing it to be.

The Tree

It looked lonely, almost sad standing in the corner.  Yesterday it was proud and magnificent, the center of everyone’s attention.  Nothing had changed other than a number on the calendar page.

For thee past weeks people stared almost mesmerized by it. Gazing at the dancing and flickering lights could transport you to an earlier time and place with a warm smile. Now everyone avoided it.  They would look away almost to avoid its notice.

As the page on the calendar flipped to 26 it had lost it’s purpose.  It had stood tall as a magnificent symbol. It’s very presence created anticipation.  It was a work of art and we were the artist. Something unique and special. This magnificent work of art was custom framed by colorfully wrapped packages with fancy bows and ribbons.

Today the frame has been removed.  The lights seem to have lost their twinkle.  It no longer sparks anticipation but almost dread.  Dread of the work that follows.  removing and packing the decor, putting away the boxes and removing it from the room.

I feel sorry for the tree. Do you think it has feelings?  Does it feel like it has been used?  Is it silently screaming “LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT ME I STILL SPARKLE.  Why can’t I stay?  Are you going to put me back in the attic?

And so after a few days of ignoring it, we move it back to its place in the attic, only to wait for the calendar page to read November again and return to its place of honor.

 

 

 

THAT’S WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT

Linus Van Pelt: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Written by Charles Shultz in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

No comment needed!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

TODD

Democracy at Work

We are a couple of weeks from the mid-term elections and it is politics at its best.

Several packages have been found at leading Democratic Party leaders and outspoken liberals homes.  They were sent in the US Mail.  They are crude devices, many probably not functional but all are capable of hurting and even killing.  I have heard several “conservatives” suggest the democrats set them to fire up the voting base.  WHAT?  SERIOUSLY?  They are mailing leaders in their own party bombs to drum up support???  Really?  Of course the Dems are finger-pointing and using the episode to drum up votes in their party.

CONCLUSION:  “They are all crazy!”

Supposedly the Russians are meddling in the process to either influence the outcome or more likely undermine voter confidence in the system.  And now they claim the Chinese have jumped on the band wagon also.  As far as influencing the outcome, I feel certain that both sides are equally as unqualified for the job as the other.  I really couldn’t see any benefit for Russia to elect either one over the other.  Regarding undermining voter confidence, the best and easiest strategy for that is to stand back and allow both parties to speak.  That’s all Russia and China needs to undermine voter confidence.

We, as a Country have become so polarized that it is impossible to achieve anything.  I sometimes wonder if our elected officials have created this great divide so that none of them are ever held accountable for finding  solutions to anything. The more the divide widens the less we are able to hold any of them accountable. They make long-winded speeches on the floor to no one other than the CSPAN cameras. With such polarity they can claim to support anything, knowing that nothing will pass.  They stand up and claim nothing is getting done due to the other guy, never taking responsibility for their own actions.

Maybe if the Russians and Chinese meddle enough they can end up fixing things. Even our supreme court is mired in the conservative / liberal mindset.  The supreme court, supposed to be beyond reproach. They are supposed to be the last defense against politics making decisions on the facts alone as they relate to the case, not ideologies. Nothing is further from the truth.

We as the Bosses. The system is designed for us to run it.  We chose our representatives.  The problem is we are confronted with two choices, liberal or conservative.  Either choice will prolong our current situation.  It is important to maintain your values, but it is equally important to acknowledge that others have values also.  Accepting and attempting to understand others values is the key to start closing the gap.  We need to start listening and understand what others values are. We may find that others actual care as much as we do and that they have some great ideas to move America forward.  Even at its worst, democracy is still the best program in the world.

 

JUST SAYING……

Todd

 

The Road to Nowhere

 

As I write this Blog I feel a need to explain who I am and why I write of the topics I do.  I am a 57-year-old, white, over-weight, married, self-proclaimed “Conservative” and “civil rights advocate”.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you would probably question the tag “conservative”.  I know I do.  Over the past few years, as the “conservative movement” has moved farther and farther to the right and become intolerant of any ideas that do not match theirs, I find myself at an ever-expanding divided between their ideals and my personal beliefs.  Instead of following my marching orders and getting in line with the views of a few ideologues in leadership I have actually began to listen, question and attempt to learn the truth.  What has become ever more clear to me is the amount of injustice in the world and the ability of society as a whole to ignore it and claim everything is good.  It’s NOT!  There are fundamental beliefs in the world that are born of ignorance, unquestioning loyalties and hate that have proliferated to drive many of  societies problems today. Until we as human beings, can understand that all men (and women) are created equal and have certain unalienable rights, then we will forever fall short of the potential of our race, the human race.

The United States of America is home to only 5% of the world’s population yet houses 25% of all  inmates in prison.  There are several things that may be responsible for this figure which I am not going to discuss today.  What I am going to discuss is the inequities within this population of inmates within the United States.

According to the National Bureau of Prison Statistics, in US prisons, African-Americans are incarcerated at a rate 5.1 times greater than whites.  In Federal prisons 37.6% of the population is African-American and 33.8% Latino while the two groups make up only 21.3% of the total US population. Native Americans make up 2% of the prison inmates while they represent only 1.1% of the population.  Inversely, whites make up 25% of the prison population while representing 63.7% of Americas population.  In 11 states 1 in every 20 African-American adult males are imprisoned.  In the worst state, Oklahoma the incarceration rate is 1 in 15 for adult African-American males.  A national story reported that African-American males received 20% to 50% longer sentences, for the same crimes as their white counterparts.

The easy answer for this, the conservative answer is African-Americans and Latinos commit more crimes.  I do not dispute this although that still doesn’t explain the longer sentences.  As I stated above, ignoring the truth is one of our fundamental faults.  It would be easy to accept the fact that African-Americans and Latinos commit more crimes, therefore are incarcerated more and be done with it. IF that is true, the real question is “Why do African-Americans and Latinos commit more crimes?”  African-Americans and Latinos are not genetically predisposed to commit crime.

Several things drive these statistics. A few are:

  • Racial Prejudice
  • Economics
  • Un or Under Employment
  • Education

Racial prejudice accounts for the different treatment after a crime is committed.  The Huffington Post reported that although drug use is reported as the same in white, African-American and Latino populations, African-Americans and Latinos are 12 times more likely to be imprisoned for the same crimes.  Some of this disparity might be due to economic reasons and a greater percent of whites able to afford legal council. SOME of it, not all.  Racial Prejudice plays a major role.  Preconceived notions of minorities sway juries and judges to make different determinations in these cases. The fact that African-Americans serve 20% to 50% longer for comparable crimes directly points toward prejudice.  Society has preconceived beliefs of minorities and acts on those notions.

Economics is also a root cause.  Desperation, by definition leads people to desperate acts, including crime. The latest US Census reported that while 8.7% of Caucasians lived in poverty, 21.2% of African-Americans and 18.3% of Latinos are impoverished.  The hopelessness of life when impoverished will often lead to crime.  What is their to lose when you have nothing.  Prison at least means a warm bed and three meals a day.  A father, unable to feed his children will go to any length to provide for them. Crime can offer a way out.  The ongoing, day-to-day desperation of poverty is only understood by those that experience it.  To know each day that tomorrow only offers more of the pain and suffering of today offers no hope for tomorrow. Stealing, dealing drugs and crime offer a way out.   Something that would never be contemplated in normal situations but in the desperation of poverty appears the only way to survive.

Employment opportunities is another factor.  For third quarter of 2018 unemployment rates for all males were; Caucasians 3.2%,  African Americans 6.5%,  Hispanic and Latino 3.8% .  While these are some of the lowest rates in several years it still illustrates the disparate distribution for minorities. This also does not take into account underemployment, or jobs with low pay and no benefits which compounds the issue. With no job there is no income.  People are forced to look to hand outs and programs for their very survival.  For some, a life of crime and independence of hand outs is preferred. During economic downturns the disparity increases.  During recessions African-American unemployment increases by 6.4% while Caucasians increase at a rate of 4.3%. This is called the “First Hired, Last Hired” phenomenon.

In 2015 the unemployment rate of African-Americans with no high school diploma was 26% while that of Caucasians was 12%.  The lack of a basic high school education directly impact the availability and quality of jobs.  It is hard for many minorities to see any value of an education.  They see graduates still struggling to find jobs and earn a reasonable living.  At the same time they see the financial windfalls offered by crime.  College is often seen as the impossible dream for many minority youths and not a path to follow.  For many, the role models representing the benefits of a good education are too few.  The situation perpetuates itself.

The underlying obstacles to the problem seem insurmountable.  The government has made feeble attempts over the years to address this problem.  The true solutions lie with the acceptance of the very causes to the problem.  Until society as a whole will take responsibility for these underlying causes there will be no solution.  It will continue to be a vicious circle, forever perpetuating itself.  Until we admit the root causes of disparate incarceration of minorities, no prison reform will ever influence the outcome.  When we all admit to the problems faced by minorities in the world and take responsibilities for our own actions, we will start making our world a better place for everyone.

JUST SAYING……

TODD

 

 

 

Trick of Treat

jack o lantern

Something has been happening in my neighborhood.  As I drive the narrow, tree-lined streets at twilight I am greeted by tombstones, with the hands of the un-dead breaking through the soil, giant spider webs draped across the trees, ghost and ghouls hovering around doors and trees, as witches streak across the amber sky and glowing jack-o-lanterns that seem to come alive.   Something so familiar to me is becoming strange and eerie. It must be Halloween.

Halloween descended from an ancient Celtic pagan ritual.  After the harvest, as summer gave way to fall, the Celts believed on this night, the spirits, disguised as humans set out-door to door looking for a new soul.  The Celts would wear masks to disguise that they were humans and scare away the evil spirits.  They left food on their door steps to attract the good spirits into their homes as protection.  Eventually this night was named HALLOWEEN.  Hallow is translated to Saints and EEN is translated to night.  Halloween was the eve of All Saints Day which is November 1.

Many, many, many years ago, when I was a kid, Halloween was a night of running door to door, “Trick or Treat”. You filled your bag with goodies of all kinds.  Our costumes were the cheap plastic type with a rubber band, stapled in place holding your mask on until the band broke in the middle of the night. Sometimes the costumes were hand-made by our Moms, using old sheets, clothes and sometimes a touch of make up.  We didn’t care, we just wanted the candy.

Halloween is celebrated in many countries across the globe including; Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Latin America, Spain and Sweden. But nowhere is it celebrated like the United States.

In the United States;

YEAR    Americans Celebrating        Spent

2015                157 million               $6.9 Billion

2016                171 million               $8.4 Billion

2017                179 million               $9.1 Billion

2018 (est)        175 million              $9.0 Billion

 

90% of Americans purchased candy for $2.6 billion

75% of Americans purchased décor for $2.7 billion

70% of Americans purchased costumes for $3.2 billion

and 20% of Americans even dressed their pets up.

In September, specialized Halloween only stores pop up across the town, taking over old abandoned locations.  Spirit Halloween, a large national chain starts real estate searches in January opening over 1,100 stores across the country.  We line up for hours at “haunts” waiting to be scared beyond our imaginations.  In 2017 Haunts generated $1.9 billion in sales with over 3,500 locations in America.

Halloween has come a long ways since the days of my youth.

What drives us to celebrate this night with such intensity.  334 days a year Americans avoid spiders and spider webs, yet for the month of October they drape them across their trees and living rooms.  Cemeteries are always to be avoided at night but for the month of October are recreated our front yards.  Ghosts fly through our trees as witches stir pots of potions in our entries.  We scour the web’s specialty costume shops for just the right costume.  It has to be authentic, a far cry from the cut up bed sheets of my past. We dress just as the beings that wake us in a cold sweat from our slumber.  We dress up as that fighter pilot we secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) fantasize of being.  We become that gun slinger we have romanticized of.  For one night we become someone else.

What is it about this one night that we celebrate our fears and act out our fantasies?  What drives us to find the scariest spook house to be scared out of our minds?  What draws us to decorate our homes with the very things we avoid the rest of the year?   I’m sure there are psychologist and psychiatrists that have studied Halloween and have found deep-seated psychological needs that drive us to that we avoid for this one night.  I don’t know the psychology that drives us and really don’t care.  Just sneak up behind me and say “BOO” .  It’s Halloween.

There is no one that embodies the Halloween feeling like the actor, Vincent Price.  His name alone can cause goose bumps.  I am going to let his words close the blog this week.

Darkness falls across the land

The midnight hour is lose at hand

Creatures crawl in search of blood

To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood

And whoever shall be found 

Without the soul of getting down

Must stand and face the hounds of hell

And rot inside a corpse’s shell

The foulest stench is in the air

The funk of forty thousand years

And grizzly ghouls from every tomb

Are closing in to share your doom

And though you fight to stay alive

Your body starts to shiver

For no mere mortal can resist

The evil of the Thriller.

HAHAHA HAHA

Vincent Price from Michael Jackson’s Thriller

Happy Halloween

Just Saying…..

TODD

todd

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween

Lady Liberty Sheds a Tear.

You have driven this same road, everyday for 10 years.  The posted speed limit is 35 mph but everyone has always driven 45.  Today you were pulled over for driving 45.  They decided to start enforcing the limit.  How do you feel?  You were speeding but it had been accepted for 10 years.

That’s what is happening at our southern border today.  Yes, there have always been laws regarding entering our country illegally, but they were not aggressively enforced.  Now we have a zero tolerance policy and things have changed.  Good?  I’m not here to debate our immigration policies.  I see points on both sides.  The bottom line is we have laws and we are enforcing them.  If we want change, the answer is not ignoring laws, as in the pass.  The answer is to change the laws to reflect our intentions.

What I do want to talk about is the “collateral damage” to our current policies.  The “collateral damage” is the children.  As of September 13, 2018 there were 12,800 unaccompanied immigrant children held by the United States Government, which is five times higher than in May of 2017.  2,500 of those children crossed the border with their parents and were separated from them into special facilities.  In June of 2018 a Federal Judge issued an injunction requiring that all of these children be united with their families.  2,000 were either united or placed into special foster homes due to situations.

Of the 500 children remaining in custody, 22 are under the age 5!  Under the age of 5, separated from their parents and held in custody?  Seriously?  300 of the remaining children’s parents have already been returned to their home country without their children.  The system failed to match them up when they were deported.  One 8-year-old being held has been separated from his father for 4 months.  His father has already been deported back to Guatemala.

Of the 12,800 minors being held, over 10,000 were children attempting to enter America illegally without their parents.  They were NOT separated from their families.  That does not make their situation unimportant but is different than those separated from their parents.  These children did not make the choice to come here.  Their parents did. Their parents broke the law.  Does that mean they should be punished, incarcerated and separated from their parents?

If you are a parent, imagine the government showing up, pulling your child out of your hugging arms, crying and screaming for mommy or daddy.  What would you do?  I KNOW, you didn’t break the law but would that change your desperation and rage.  Would that make the event any less traumatic for your child.  They are taken away to a large gated facility with armed guards (“for their protection”).  They are placed in large dormitory facilities with many other children.  Many of them do not understand what is happening.  They do not understand immigration laws.  All they know is that they want their mommy.  Imagine it is your child!  Would you tolerate it?

Illegal immigration is a difficult subject with great passion on both sides. I want to protect our borers but I have several friends that have arrived here in many different manners and they are some of the best citizens our country could hope for.  They have sacrificed much to get here and believe in the American Dream. They love this country and do not take what they have for granted. The immigration issue will be debated for many years, possibly never-ending.

The issue of these children can not be debated.  These children are being traumatized and in some cases abused.  They are learning to hate America and everything our country stands for.  We say “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” JUST NOT THE CHILDREN?  Is that what we want the inscription on the Statue of Liberty to read? This is not how we want to be seen by the world.  I think Lady Liberty is shedding a tear for these kids.  America is better than that.

JUST SAYING……

TODD

 

I DO

If you are not married you get a pass from this weeks Blog.  This one is for the married readers.

Believe it or not, I am a licensed reverend.  Hard to believe, I know.  I was ordained on-line to do a wedding ceremony for a friend.  I have performed a few ceremonies since being registered.  I do not do it for money.  I only perform ceremonies for friends.  I feel it a great honor to play a role in such an important day.

I am completing my preparations for a ceremony this afternoon.  A little nervous and a lot excited.  As officiator of the ceremony, you are expected to say a few words to the bride and groom.  I take this serious and try to give them some advice they can use.  I wanted to share my words for today’s ceremony with everyone.  I believe they can help other married couples as well.

Life can be difficult and our marriage can’t be isolated from life.  Everything impacts our relationship, the good and the bad.  Sometimes these difficult times even challenge our relationship.  We get angry at our partners.  If we would take a breath and think back to the time we were standing at the altar ready to take our vows.  Think of how your love for them consumed you.  Think of how excited you were for the future you were starting.  You were overwhelmed with emotions.  If you can think back and let those feeling back in, the anger you feel will wash away.  The issue you were upset over will seem much less important.  You will have your priorities back in-line.  What ever small issue that drove you to anger will fade away replaced by those feeling on that special day.

Life is serious and should be taken so.  Take life seriously, never take yourself seriously.  Do not get consumed by everything as it floods in on you.  Your time on this earth is limited and you don’t want it spent worrying about things, most of which you can’t influence.  HAVE FUN!  What is life worth without FUN.  Laugh and smile with your significant other, poke fun (carefully) at each other.  Let yourselves be kids again and blow off the distractions.  having fun is an important key to your marriage, your job, your kids and your life.  Peter Pan learned this lesson.  On returning to Never Never Land he found the child that he had buried inside himself.  Don’t bury that child.

My two cents for what they are worth.  I hope they have some meaning for others in addition to the bride and groom today.

Just Saying………

Wish me Luck today

TODD…