Saturday, October 3, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up – October 3, 2015

Happy rainy Saturday if you're anywhere in the east. To my friends and readers in the west and southwest, if I could pipe this rain out to you, I would. I know you need it worse than we do here in the east right now.

I trust your week was good and you had some bright spots in a week that left quite a number of people in grief. Of course, the grief I speak of is that which made the current sensationalism news headlines in Roseburg, Oregon. My heart goes out to all those families and friends who lost loved ones. One reality we have to keep in mind is that grief and such terrible events are not exclusive to those that make the national media. There are negative and even horrific things happening somewhere, both here in the U.S. and all around the world, everyday.

We have to do our best to look for the bright lights, the sparkles the positive events that are also happening all around us and around the world. The reality is the world is a pretty negative place. The human experience is definitely one of challenge. However, it's where we keep our minds and thinking that keeps us from either going insane or joining in the chaos. The mainstream, national and international media, whether in print, broadcast or Internet, do not get paid as well for promulgating good and positive news.

I have personally been “down” a little this week. No! Nothing in particular is bothering me. I have always been effected by dismal and rainy or inclement weather. So, I deal with it and remember that as Jimmy Buffett's song goes, “It's 5:00 o'clock somewhere,” I know the sun is shining somewhere and I know it's just behind the gray dismal clouds and will peek out pretty soon.

I had to adjust my posting a bit this week because I was on the road from early in the morning until the early evening on Wednesday doing a favor for a friend. It always makes me feel better when I can do something for a friend (often friends I don't even know from in-person connection).

What makes me feel bad is when I know a friend is in need of someone to just come and say 'hi,' maybe share some old “war stories” from something in our past history or just bring the gift of human contact. That happened not too long ago when a long time friend, though we were never close friends, died. We shared a lot of mutual friends, we both had careers in the recording profession and belonged to the same organization for about 25 years. But, the big thing is that we both faced dealing with prostate cancer. I am a 13 year survivor and have been told, by my surgeon, I'll never have to worry about it for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, that was not my friend's fate. He passed away some months ago. We spoke on the phone periodically. He was able to relate things to me he couldn't relate to most others because, being a survivor of the same dreaded disease, I related and understood, was compassionate and encouraging. I kept telling him I would drive the two or three hours to where he lived in another remote part of West Virginia and visit. I never fulfilled that initiative. No! I'm not filled with guilt. There is nothing I could have done to change his fate. I do regret that I didn't get there to make him laugh and smile and forget his plight a bit.

I wish I could say that was the only time I felt that same kind of regret, but I can't. Another long time friend passed away at age 97 recently. I kept promising his wife, who was actually my connection to Bill, I would get to Newtown, Pennsylvania to visit the two of them. I never made it before Bill died. I still have to get there to see his widow, my friend, Suzy, who is now 91.

I did have the opportunity to visit another long time friend in Florida last year a little more than a year before he passed away. It was very sad visiting Art. He suffered from advanced stage dementia and didn't have a clue who I was or recall any of the things I brought up in conversation. It shook me up a lot to see this intelligent, accomplished, fun, vibrant man in this condition. But, even if I brought him moments of some kind of joy in his condition, every second was worth it. His brother is a regular reader and contributor to this blog. He and I have a connection that Art formed for us. That connection, that I appreciate just by knowing Richard, also keeps Art's memory alive for me.

As I'm wrapping up this week, I'm not trying to depress you. I'm simply saying the sun is always just behind that cloud on an overcast, rainy day. We can't be everywhere for everyone. We are mere mortals. All we can expect of ourselves is to be the best people we can be, based on our own evaluation and value system. We touch people's lives everyday. It may be an employee in the local supermarket or Walmart. It may be a long distance friend, like my buddy, Brian, in New Zealand. It may be someone you know is going through some life trial and you send them a brief note or uplifting card either by snail mail or email. It may be a positive post you share on one of the social media.

Never allow yourself to be bogged down by guilt and don't allow people to lay guilt trips on you. Believe me, lots of people will do that if you allow them to. But, it is alright to have some regrets when, for whatever reason, you didn't fulfill some initiative (never make promises you can't keep or are unrealistic) you wanted to take care of. Don't get yourself in the trap of a “messiah” complex. No one, not you, not me, not the leader of a country or the pope can save the world. Just do the best you can to be the best person you can based on your own value and belief system. Nothing more can or should be expected of anyone.

So, I sold and shipped more things on eBay and listed more things on Craig's List and eBay. I met up with a guy on Wednesday who bought an item from me when I had to take my friend somewhere and transferred the item to him. Despite the weather this week, it's been a pretty good week. Oh yeah, and it appears I may have left behind another pound or two in my quest to leave a smaller “footprint” on this Earth. All's good for me and I hope for you.

The Week That Was!

Generally, this week is pretty much a rehash of the week before and the week before that and so on. The doctor “not from Kentucky” continues to rise in the polls and challenge “The Donald.” The lady from California also seems to be garnering more support. Meanwhile, some of the other candidates (two have already dropped out from the elephant's side of the race) seem to be facing challenges. Personally, I don't think any of the current non-politico front runners will make the final cut. I won't go into my reasons, the public will make that determination. Perhaps one of them might fill the seat of the person who is one “heartbeat” away from the presidency.

Meanwhile, on the jackass, oops, is it more politically correct to say donkey, mule, burro or just plain ass? I'm never sure. Anyway, on that side of the race, we have more interesting things happening. The front leader, due to her history, it seems, is sliding down the polls. Is there a credibility and/or a trust issue here? Maybe people are wondering what really makes her qualified to occupy the oval office. But, then again, I had that same question about the current occupant of that office and, after seven years, I still have that same question.

The lady's opponent professes being a democratic socialist. What exactly does that mean? I recall one individual in history who supposedly was a conservative socialist, but used the democratic government and process to take over his country and disband the democratic government. I would hope our government isn't that weak, yet. And, again, I look at the ages of some of the candidates and wonder. Wonder what? I'm not sure, I just wonder.

Then, of course, we had the terrible tragedy in Oregon. The immediate reaction is to ban guns. Now, I will not get into a gun ban/control debate. Again, from the reports from the media and, supposedly, reliable sources, the places where there are very strict gun control laws seem to be the places where there is more gun violence than other parts of the country.

This country has a pandemic situation with mental illness. According to studies, more than 10% of the population are taking some form of psychotropic drugs and more than 14% are on prescription anti-depressants. Both statistics are increasing every year. And, this begs the question, how many more need to be on these drugs who aren't? And, that brings up another question. Are we over drugged?

It seems the question about guns should also bring up the bigger question which is what are we doing about the mental illness problem gone wild? Once again, the perpetrator of this heinous crime appears to have been having mental issues. Are we actually helping people with various forms of mental illness and depression or are we simply putting band-aids on the “boo-boo?” It's my thinking that the guns aren't the bigger part of this issue. 

The bigger part is the failure of our society and to address this rapidly growing mental illness issue. That failure is what led the perpetrator to his actions and to the deaths and injuries of the people in Roseburg. It seems we're blaming the messenger of death, the guns (or knives, poison, bombs, blunt objects, etc.), and not the author of the message, mental illness.

Many of the prescription drugs are so expensive the patients can't afford to buy them. In other cases, the reactions to these drugs may be worse than the condition they're supposedly treating. I recently witnessed such a situation myself in my circle of friends. I don't see the mainstream media or the government addressing this mental health issue.

I have another question. I'm just full of them. WHY? Why are we seeing this ever growing pandemic of mental health issues? Is there a problem with our gene pool? Are more people really experiencing what is being diagnosed as mental illnesses or are they just not being taught how to cope with life issues?

I've taken this news soundbite a little further than I intended, but it keeps raising these questions? My father suffered from clinical depression and it resulted in his suicide. There was no Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc. in those days. Obviously, the Veterans Health system didn't know how to best treat the situation. That's where he chose to be treated, in a special VA facility that supposedly specialized in mental health issues.

But, that was then and this is now. Why the continual increase and why so many (expensive) drugs? It's like the proliferation of pain killing drugs, both opioid based and non-opioid based drugs. A new medical specialty has emerged over the past couple decades, pain management. No one should have to endure aches or pains is the mantra. Are the pharmaceutical, medical and psychological professions complicit in all this? Are we actually creating a weaker society with drugs?

Okay! All of that was spurred by this week's latest shootings. Yes, shootings, plural. There were other shootings this week. Once more, it appears all the perpetrators had mental issues. But, that wasn't the POTUS's target for his latest rant. To paraphrase one bard, William Shakespeare, “Me thinks the POTUS protests too much.”

This morning, one person, who I hold in high esteem as a professional and friend, made a suggestion I can agree with, on a certain level, about owning guns and concealed carry permits. The process should not ban a mentally healthy, responsible, productive member of society from owning guns or gaining a permit to carry such weapons.

However, just like the police, FBI, military and other people authorized to carry weapons, concealed or otherwise, for their jobs, there should be an extensive education, training and qualification process. The permit applicant may also incur some financial commitment to pay for this process. And, just as the police, FBI, military and other similar individuals are required to requalify each year, so should the individual who simply wants to own and carry a weapon.

That's a simplistic idea and would need some serious thought to implement. Of course, it immediately brings up federal intrusion into states rights issues. I'm not going there. Just saying this suggestion offers some sane consideration. Oh yeah, and the bad guys will still get guns without a permit. They always have and always will.

The last story I'll comment on, of the too numerous to bring up, that kept so much of America out of breath was . . . ready for it? The visit of Pope Francis to Cuba and the U.S. How about that guy? He was like the “Energizer Bunny.” He was here! He was there! He was everywhere, at least mainly in the eastern U.S. Quite a guy, huh? You may be Catholic and think this guy really is the cat's pajamas (oops, did I just date myself, again).

Personally, I think he should stick to his job, being a spiritual leader of a helluva lot of people around the world including the U.S. But, no, he had to start pontificating on immigration, science and diplomacy (U.S. and Cuban relations). He hasn't resolved some of the major problems in his own “empire” like pedophilia, molestation and abuse by the operatives in the trenches. I speak of the priests and nuns.

For all the good the Catholic Church has done and continues to do, in my mind, as a non-Catholic, he is head of one of the largest “mind control” and oppressive organizations in the world. Just like so many huge organizational structures, the use of fear and intimidation to control hundreds of millions of people's minds and lives, is S.O.P. In addition, his organization extracts unimaginable sums of money from his “constituency” and, it's tax exempt at least in the U.S.

There is little that differentiates his organization from most major governments in the world, including and most notably, the U.S. government. The major differentiation is the U.S. government uses fear and intimidation with the consequences of garnishing wages, seizing property and threats of incarceration to extract revenues from the population. The Catholic Church uses fear and intimidation and possibly a form of mental extortion to control compliance and obedience. The consequences are excommunication (damning) and loss of (the unproven existence of) eternal life in some heavenly paradise and condemnation to some place (also unproven to exist) called Hell or some in between place or state called Purgatory.

Okay, you can all start throwing your fire balls at me. I'm sure I've upset a lot of people with my views. Hey, they are my views and opinions. You are entitled to yours and I won't try to persuade you that you're wrong. In the end, it might turn out that I may be wrong. I accept that possibility and the consequences thereof.

By the way, I am not an avowed atheist. I'm just getting tired of this “rock star,” “idol” mentality that very well may be part of the mental illness issue I spoke of earlier. I am not impressed nor inspired by the pope, the POTUS, the Kardashians, Bruce, aka Caitlyn, Jenner, any of the current idols of industry, sports, entertainment, etc. They are men and women, period.

I guess that's always been an issue for me, I have never felt I owed anyone of these kinds of people anything and I especially won't “worship” them. Someone once told me about a person being asked if they had the opportunity of spending an uninterrupted hour with anyone, living or dead, who would it be. The person answered, Jesus of Nazareth. I would say Jesus would be high on my list, too. But, there are a few others I might have on my list, as well, just in case Jesus is already committed. I suspect what I might learn from Jesus might be quite different from the translation and interpretation of his existence, life and philosophies as we currently understand them and are conditioned to believe. But, who knows.

There is lots out there to read this week. I have gone through a lot of things and listened to some interesting podcasts, but I've run this week's wrap-up a lot longer than I planned. So, next week I'll have some weekend reads and listens for you. Enjoy the rest of the weekend . . . and stay dry if you're in the east. We haven't seen the last of the rain, yet, but the sun is just behind those clouds.    

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