Wednesday, April 27, 2005

In My Defense

Let's talk religion. I can hear the moans and groans now, but let's face it, I have been good not getting too crazy for a while now. It's just that this morning while I was ensconced in my think-tank, also known as my shower, I came to a realization about the correlation between religious beliefs and national defense.

In a perfect world I'd love to see everyone in a religion that believes in peace with others. Unfortunately, the concept of peace and harmony doesn't work when you have part of humanity that believes in domination, violence and control. The meek will not inherit the Earth, they will be taken over and slaughtered if they roll over and expose their tender bellies instead of defending themselves.

Although I tend lean toward accepting religions such as Buddhism or Wiccan, where they exercise the practice of basically just being peaceful and harming nobody, this is unfortunately not a practical position to take when it comes to self-preservation of a nation.

The world is a nasty place. Each country has their own idea on how its population should be governed. This gives rise to friction between the various countries and therefore we have conflict and violence. As long as countries exist that feel they must conquer others no matter the cost, then a strong defensive position must be maintained.

In this light, there is a welcome place in our country for the Christian soldier mentality. Do I agree with organized religion? Not really, but it is the moral banner that is our current strength in the United States and as such I support the cause. I'm not sure that a Buddhist soldier or a Wiccan soldier will reflect a strong enough position to defend this country.

My wish would be that in the future all countries will eventually get along and there will no longer be a need for a strong Christian presence. Of course, this is just a fantasy I have where the entire planet will get along as one big happy family of humanity. A reality check will demonstrate that this will not be possible in my lifetime anyway.

The problem with this type of scenario is that some slim-ball would see the serene communities as weak and ripe for control. As long as there are people, there will be the need for strength as well as spirituality. The trick will be to have the strong spiritual groups come to an agreement amongst themselves so that they can live together on this planet peacefully.

It's easy for a pacifist to say that we should not be fighting in Iraq, or that we should not go into other countries and fight at all. Heck, a true pacifist theoretically will just stand there and take it if you punch them in the face. They won't lift a finger to defend themselves at all. This philosophy would never sustain a country in the “real world”.

There is volumes of evidence that if your plan in life is to be non-confrontational you will eventually be dominated by someone. Sure you can be a pacifist in a country such as the United States, but then you are being protected by the very thing you are speaking out against. Realistically, your pacifist ways are not defending you, the country you are in is performing that role for you.

There is nothing wrong with this type of arrangement, as long as you don't start slamming the country that is your protection. To sit within the womb of the country that is defending your non-aggressive lifestyle and begin ridiculing them for their military strength is counter-productive.

I am not a fan of warfare & violence, but I served over 20 years in the Air Force because I also realize that we must defend our country and the freedom that our citizens enjoy in the safety of our umbrella. Sometimes this defense means that we must be proactive and take the fight to the enemy, rather then to fight them on our own land. This is a common strategy employed by armies throughout history. Never allow the enemy to make it into your territory if you can help it.

Some folks watch television and are understandably upset by what it means to defend our freedom. If we had instant visuals when we were landing on the beach at Normandy what would people have done if they literally watched thousands of men die before even making it onto the beach? Thus the term, war is hell.

Nobody wants to die, or wants anyone else to die for that matter, but the sad fact is that the defense of our freedom comes at a price. In May there are two days to honor our military here in the United States. Armed Forces Day on the 21st, and Memorial Day on the 30th. Why not do something this year that shows the military community how much we appreciate their sacrifice and commitment to keep us safe?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Answer Me, These Questions...5?

Apparently there is a blog-tag (would that be the correct term for this time-waster?) going around that asks the question, “Name five things that people with whom you generally associate think are really cool, but that leave you cold."

Seems like a funky way to bring back the annoying chain letter to me, but since this is the first time I have been “tagged” I'll play your silly games.

1) Of course many of you know that first and foremost I must say that religious zealots drive me nutty. It's God this, and Jesus that, and did you hear what Buddha says about life and death? Don't get me started about the Wiccans who are on the rise because it seems it is no longer fashionable to burn them at the stake (kidding all you Earth-loving people you).

2) Linux will save the world! No really, just install these drivers, modify these libraries, make sure your equipment is compatible, use Firefox as your browser 'cause we all know Microsoft sucks and then make your screen resolution as high as it will go since this is the Linux way. What do you mean I have to manually install Java before I can read this website? Why did my sound stop working after the last upgrade? What is so dang cute about a penguin with a briefcase? Of course, I'm writing this on my Ubuntu Linux machine, so it can't be all bad.

3) Everyone must go to college and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to get a little piece of paper that said you went to school and spent your share of the money so someone will hire you. Apparently there is a secret society that is trying to only hire people dumb enough to part with a huge chunk of their earnings before they are actually able to earn huge chunks of money. What ever happened to the apprentice program? Hey, it's good enough for Donald Trump!

4) Desperate Housewives. I started watching this show because I still have a crush on Terri Hatcher from the old “Lois & Clark” days. Quickly I discovered that this seems like a soap opera for a nighttime audience. This show has taken off like gangbusters probably because the “Sex in the City” crowd were wandering around looking for something else to watch. I'm glad they have found an audience, it just doesn't do anything for me. I watch too many shows as it is, I didn't need to add another one to my lineup.

5) Junk food. There are so many fast food restaurants that it makes me sick just driving down the road and thinking about all the grease pouring into the meals that are spewing forth from the counters and drive-through windows. What pisses me off even more, is that I eat at these same poison shacks almost daily! I took a survey the other day so I could win a large sum of money, and one of the questions it asked was how many 8oz glasses of soda do you drink a week. Remembering my mathematical word-problem solving skills from elementary school, I divided my various 44oz cups into 8oz sizes and realized to my horror that I consume about 30 8oz servings of soda a week! Holy crap! Couple this with the information that Pepsi is close to drinking pure battery acid, among other health problems with drinking soda, and something has to stop. Hopefully it won't be my heart.

So there you have it, five things for you all to learn about how I view life in general.

Let's see, I think I'll tag these three folks and see what they come up with. Heather Digital Cowgirl Jesster

Update: Jesster's 5
Update: Digital Cowgirl's 5

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Same As It Ever Was

Over the past few days I spent some time watching historical programs. Although I tend to do this frequently, for some reason this weekend started some different thought processes flowing. The shows I watched were not shows covering near history like our recent wars, but real ancient history covering things such as the Roman Empire and Biblical history.

One thought I had, which is really a “duh” moment when you stop to think about it, is that history is basically recorded by whoever is in power at the time. A great example of this is a religious group that destroys any documents that don’t agree with their philosophy.

Historically this has been done by destroying all documents that don’t follow something like the Bible, or by burning books that have objectionable material, or by going so far as to rewriting history to change events into a favorable position of the rulers of the time. We have seen ruling governments control all information within their reach, or religious groups who demand the devotion of their followers to memorize religious stories created by the leaders until the belief is ingrained within their faith.

It’s interesting that some think that by merely repeating a tale over an over again throughout history that this is somehow proof in the truth of the story. After all, once we get too far back in history all we have to go on is word of mouth. In fact, there are tons of documents that are simply retelling ancient stories that have been handed down verbally around campfires through generations. Why will some folks embrace these stories as fact, yet throw out other stories relayed in the same manner as folktales or silly beliefs?

It seems there are many reasons people study the past. I know my reason is to try and make sense of how we arrived at our various traditions. There is also some pleasure to be derived from learning more about a religion then its modern day followers, then quizzing them on why they believe how they do. You’ll find this same pattern throughout my writings.

Historians strive to find the truth that has been buried long ago, but often times the path leads to misdirection and only to a distorted version of the truth of the time. Trying to discern reality from historical fantasy gets more difficult as time passes. Even major historical events of our modern era have been argued and twisted so that we don’t know what happened even when we have actual photographic footage of an event.

Studying the history that we have uncovered is fun, and interesting, but I feel time is better spent in forward momentum. Yes the tools man used centuries ago are fascinating, but how will this solve the hunger problem of today? The pyramids are incredible, but will knowing the exact number of slaves it took to build them prevent the outrageous religious disputes of our time?

There is the old adage that we study history so that we learn to not recreate the mistakes of our past. As wise a statement as this is, we seem to repeat historical problems again and again. Are we wasting too much time trying to unlock our past, when we should really be concentrating on the direction humanity is traveling?

More time needs to be focused on how we are going to survive long enough to create the next amazing feats that future historians will study.

We need to come up with plans that will stop the religious conflicts around the world. We need to create a way that will put an end to hunger around the world once and for all. And will someone please figure out a way to understand women and children!

I applaud the work historians have done, and I am not suggesting in any way that their science should be aborted. Some of you may already be aware that I too enjoy researching my family history to try and discover where exactly we came from, and what my ancestors where doing throughout various points in the evolution of the human race.

I’m sure you enjoy history as well as I do, and as you will no doubt see in my future writings, I will be delving into the past as frequently as I enjoy a quick gaze into my crystal ball at the future.

As you read dusty books, and a historians scribbling on what they think happened thousands of years ago just remember that these are just tales, stories written down by people trying to capture a moment in time. Some parts may be true, and others created to fill in the gaps between what is known and what is unknown.

Enjoy the writings when you need a nice tale to take you from the worries of your daily life. When you are done on your side trip, flip your thoughts 180 degrees and let’s get to work on fixing the direction we are now heading. After all, our history is a nice place to visit, but don’t get too hooked on living there.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fun With Digits

Here's a quick number puzzle for ya!

Staying Home

The dry spell is over, and I’m back at the keyboard.

For the first few days I was a tad sore and it hurt too much to sit in front of a keyboard for any length of time and I had to limit my computer time for important things like keeping tabs on work so it did not become over-whelming on my return. During my time AFK my attention was drawn more to the non-participatory form of information, from the infamous “boob tube”.

The thought of jumping up and down to swap out DVD’s wasn’t very appealing, so I lay on the recliner seat of the couch, held the Dish remote, and channel surfed during my drug-induced stupor for a few days.

I remember staying home from school when I was sick and about the only thing there was on television were reruns of shows like “The Brady Bunch”, “Bewitched”, “The Beverly Hillbilly’s” and “I Love Lucy”.

During my recent recovery it was nice to have Dish Network and a bunch of channels to choose from. Sure the Brady’s and all the classics are still around, thanks to “TV Land”, but now there is something for everybody.

Unfortunately, the Sci Fi channel has gone out of their season, so there were no longer fresh SG-1, Stargate Atlantis or Battlestar Galactica episodes to fill in the blanks. I found some classic movies to watch that I had not seen in years, but I tend to crave new material more-so then regurgitating the old stuff.

After watching some of what I had been saving on the digital video recorder from places like the History Channel, I let my fingers do the walking to channels I do not normally haunt.

There are some amazing channels on Dish these days such as the “Food Network” and the “Do It Yourself Network” in addition to the ones I like such as the “Discovery Channel", “History Channel”, and many others. I love watching the competition shows such as the "Warehouse Warriors" and "Junkyard Wars" and "Robot Wars" where people come up with some pretty cool ideas in a short amount of time.

I got in touch with my feminine side one morning and watched “The View” and realized fairly quickly that this gaggle of women would drive me bonkers in short order.

Then there was “Chasing Farrah”, which is apparently a new reality show that just follows Farrah Fawcett around all day. Like that would fall into anyone’s definition of reality. Still, it was entertaining, and as dizzy as she seems to be, it brought back memories of that poster I had in my room for a long time.

Once I started feeling up to it, the time had come to breakout the DVD’s I had purchased but have not had the time to watch. The first of these treasures was the complete series of “Firefly”.

“Firefly” was a television series that apparently fell victim to retarded corporate weenies. It is a Sci Fi series created by Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Angel fame) about a group of people dealing with life in the future aboard a merchant type starship named, “Serenity”. These are not the sterile ships like you see in Star Trek, but a more realistic version of what a ship might look like having been purchased second-hand and then used to haul cargo around.

I say the “suits” ruined the launch of this show because not only did they fail to give such a show enough time to develop, they also didn’t do much to advertise the thing. Since I enjoy Sci Fi I think that I would have picked up on the arrival of this new show had it been even remotely advertised. It’s another example of companies that seem to try and kill their own projects. Fortunately the fan base is huge, and won’t let go that easily.

A friend of mine tells me they are working on a movie titled after the ship, Serenity, so there might be hope for the concept yet. As long as the ownership of rights do not get in the way, perhaps the Sci Fi channel can pick them up to replace the hole left behind by “Farscape”. While researching the links for this article I found that the movie will be in theaters on September 30th. Mark your calendars, and I’ll bet you won’t be disappointed.

Another DVD I dug into was “Skulls”, a flick about the secret society called, Skull & Bones”. This movie brought out some interesting moral views on friendship, honor and loyalty. Just how far should these things permeate our total moral makeup? While looking for links I discovered there are a Skulls II and a Skulls III. Looks like another trip to Best Buy when I can drive again. BTW, the official movie site has a cool opening.

I also watched the new version of “Dawn of the Dead”, which was done well, but I still like the original. It’s not that this new version was bad, in fact it was done well, but I still enjoy the campy feel of the original and the humor of the slow stupid zombies. I suppose it’s the feeling that, even though they are slow, they will eventually get to you. If you watch the new version make sure you watch the credits all the way through. It’s like watching an extension of the story in blipvert fashion.

You won’t believe this one, but I also watched a silly movie called, “Orgazmo” in which a Mormon young man finds himself stuck having to work as the superhero in a porn film. The acting was sad, the plot was sad, but it did have a few funny moments that had me in pain as I chuckled.

Finally, I watched “10” with Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews and Bo Derek. OK, I’ll admit it; I have not finished this one yet since I came down to my office to start writing this article it got too late. I would say I’m about half-way through the movie (he just made it to Mexico) and it brought back memories of how funny Dudley Moore is. The scene with him on painkillers and falling down the hill at his house is hilarious! Now I need to go out and get “Arthur”, another classic Dudley Moore film. Do you remember when Arthur is in a fancy restaurant with the hooker and yells, “You’re a hooker? I thought I was just doing great with you!”

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Before I Wake

Tomorrow I go under the knife for the third time in exactly as many years to repair an umbilical hernia. This time, instead of going in through small holes on either side of my belly they are slicing me up the middle. Doesn't sound like it will be much fun from my perspective, but what can I do?

The whole Terri Schiavo thing has got me thinking, as I'm sure it has done for just about everyone around the world. So I thought I'd explain what my wishes are here in writing if I should die before I wake from the operation. I know it's not a huge operation, but you hear stories of complications and problems for even smaller operations then I am about to undergo, so it's better safe then sorry.

If you've been following my writings on the Terri Shiavo case, you know that I was in favor of allowing her parents to care for her. Mainly this was based on the fact that Terri had not made her wishes known in a matter that could not be contested. In addition, to us common folk it seemed she did have the ability to recognize folks in the room with her, and all that other stuff I don't wish to rehash here in this article.

So you may now be puzzled to know that I give complete control over whether the proverbial “plug” is pulled on me to my wife. There, I said it so there should be no argument from anyone. I give my wife further guidance to pull said plug if I am truly a vegetable and being kept alive by artificial means. Notice this is not just being kept alive artificially, but the two points together (vegetative state, and artificial support). After all, people with a pacemaker are being kept alive by artificial means as well. Just felt I should clarify that should my wife get a little too eager.

I have no desire for my wife and kids to visit me in the hospital for years on end to watch me drool on myself. In addition, it makes no sense to pay good money to keep a body alive when the mind has already checked out.

Those who know me, or read my articles here frequently, know that I am not a religious man. Don't feel bad for me, I'm perfectly fine with that decision, just as I am fine with you believing how you wish. The point is, I feel that when you're dead, you're dead. Although after I'm gone it would be nice to make an appearance on “Crossing Over with John Edward” or “Ghost Hunters”.

When I am finally gone I prefer to be cremated much to the frustration of my mother. I think cremation is the best way for us to dispose of our physical bodies. Why have tons of land devoted to the storage of dead people? Where do I want my ashes? I originally wanted them sent into space since that has always been a dream of mine. Now I think putting them into space as more space junk is a bad idea. Why pollute space even more?

My ashes should not be stored in an urn so that they become some strange thing that people aren't too sure what to do with, but they should be sprinkled in the ocean to return me to the beginning of all life on this planet. In this way I can add to the nutrition of this planet and hopefully do good as my final act.

Should people wear black and mourn me in some sullen fashion? Heck no! I want everyone to get together, wear bright colors, and play some upbeat music while having a good time. I enjoy life and like to have fun. I'm at my happiest when others are having fun with me. This tradition of gathering in a tiny room and crying over the loss of our loved ones is depressing. If I die today I have lived a great life, and I will die happy. Remember me for the happy out-going person I am, don't ruin my death with depression and crying.

One of the reasons I write these articles on my website is to leave behind a part of who I am and to share what is going through my mind. As scary as that sounds, it's a way to make my mark on the world regardless if anyone cares to read them or not. I'm not writing these articles for you, I'm writing them for me. If along the way you find some words that move you to think on your own about the subjects I choose, then all the better.

So in the words of the main character in the movie “The Truman Show”, “If I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.”

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pigging Out In San Diego

I just returned from a business trip in San Diego, California. In addition to hours of boring meetings we had some pretty good food at some nice restaurants. I’ll share some of these with you just in case you find yourself in San Diego, near the Gaslamp Quarter, and are in search of a nice place to eat. The locations mentioned will get you close, and I’ll try to include websites if there is one and I can find it.

Monday night when I got in to town we all went to “Hooters” (4th Ave & Market Street). I guess I don’t need to go into detail about that place, since I’m certain many of you know what it’s like, or have at least heard of the place. The hostess, “Anna”, was nice and was pleasant. A friend of mine just had to take a picture with our waitress and me (I’ll post it here when he sends it to me).

He said he was going to use it as blackmail material, but I tell Anita everything anyway so that was no big threat. The reason I like Hooters, is not for what you all think, but I truly like their burgers, and the atmosphere is always friendly and inviting. To tell you the truth, the gimmick of the waitresses dressed in tight t-shirts and short shorts, is not that big of a deal for me. Once you get past the provincial shock, it’s an enjoyable establishment.

Tuesday for lunch we went to a place called the “Joe’s Crab Shack” (behind the convention center) near where we were staying at the “San Diego Marriot Hotel & Marina”. I had fish & chips and it was a great place with a friendly staff. The atmosphere was very well done and our rather large group seemed to enjoy the restaurant and the good food.

Tuesday night was dinner at an Irish pub called, "Hennessey’s" (4th Ave & G Street). I’m pretty much a burger and fries sort of individual, so once again it was burgers for dinner. Luckily, Tuesday nights was, “buy one burger get one burger free”, so between the six of us we only had to pay for three burgers. Not a bad deal and our waitress, “Danny” did a great job taking care of us.

Wednesday lunch we decided to check out the “Kansas City BBQ” (Market Street). This is where they filmed the “sleazy bar scene” for the movie “Top Gun” according to the sign out front. Apparently the ONLY thing this place has going for it was this 2 minutes of movie fame since both the waitress and the food were horrible. The location was nice, and we sat outside and enjoyed the sun, but let’s face it, we came to eat, not sunbathe.

Wednesday night we jumped into a cab and headed to “Little Italy” where we were told by a local that “Filippi’s Pizza Grotto” (India Street & Fir Street) was a great place to go for Italian food. When we arrived, the surrounding Italian restaurants were fairly empty but Filippi’s had a line out the door and down the sidewalk. We walked around looking for another place to eat because we did not want to wait in line, but eventually we ended up back at Filippi’s and took our place in line. Luckily, the line moved rather quickly and we were inside before we knew it. The waitress was pleasant, and at one point when she said she would rather not do separate tickets for us because they were so busy I told her that was find and she looked at me and said, “I love you”. The folks with me were teasing me so I told them that I think the waitress and I just had a moment. :)

The food arrived quickly and was excellent. I had Lasagna and Ravioli’s with a Meatball. Let’s just say that was way too much food. Some of us left with “to-go” bags but when we got back to the hotel we realized that was silly since we had no place to keep them.

For lunch on Thursday we ate in the “Seaport Village” near the hotel at a place who’s name escapes me at the moment., but it was some “San Diego Burger Company”. It had a nice mix of turkey, ostrich buffalo and of course, beef burgers. They served us quickly and it had a nice lattice-covered eating area, but after one of the guys got pooped on from a sparrow we decided we were done and headed back to the conference.

My final meal in San Diego was Thursday night at a little place known as, “Fred’s Cantina” (5th Ave & Island Street). Unfortunately I could not find a link to this one. This was one of the only nearby Mexican food restaurants that we knew about, so in we went. As with every place we went to, with the exception of the BBQ place, the food was great, and the serving staff was awesome too. Let’s just say that in order to be hired as a waitress for Fred’s you had to look the part of the stereotypical “California Girl”.

So there you have it, San Diego cuisine as seen from the small little area around the San Diego Marriot Hotel & Marina and within a three and a half day time frame. I’m certain that many of the other restaurants around there are excellent as well, there just wasn’t enough time to sample them all. Perhaps another time, and another conference I will have more to report on the hunt for food in San Diego.

I think I will make reviewing restaurants a regular thing here on the site. It’s nice to cruise around and sample different places, and when traveling we try not to do the typical chain fast food places. It seems every business trip we eat in at least one Irish pub, so stay-tuned for more reviews and who knows, one day I may show up in your part of the world.

If you have recommendations for nearby where you live let me know, and if I get there I’ll check them out. In the meantime, maybe someone else can benefit from your review.