Cigar That Cost A Bullet

downloadWhat price a cigar? It seems the cost is just unimaginable. No matter who is wrong and who is right, how can it be possible that a young man gets gunned down in cold blood over a simple theft, if indeed he did steal the items in question?

How can this death lead to so much gratuitous violence and why can’t people just get on?

When I grew up in Scotland we never had situations that resembled those taking place in Ferguson. Well, maybe we did, but I was never made aware of them and the media was certainly a silent partner in reporting them if they happened. We had no guns, the police had no guns and the only racial tension could be found on Saturday afternoons at football matches where Protestants and Catholics could be found singing their way into a frenzy of hatred and dislike. It rarely spilled over onto the streets, and when it did, it was over in an hour and that was the end of the matter.

I am blown away by the ferocity of the hatred and the angst that is to be found in Ferguson and no matter who is wrong and who is right, a mistake was made, a life was taken, and now it should be the responsibility of those who began these unfortunate events to sort it out and return this town to the peace and calm its residents deserve. To continue with more senseless violence and looting is just fueling the fire of those who live for this unrest. Yes, there are professional inciters, they can be seen all over this country when the ‘race’ card is played in any of the 50 States that make up our country, and it’s shameful that this small minority can be given so much power to disrupt the lives of those who just want to live peacefully. The time has come to stop all this nonsense. It matters not if the death is white or black, yellow or brown. A death is a death. Guns kill people. People are all human beings. Guns do not discriminate. Yes, I was never a party to the human rights and race violations that plagued the United States in the past, but I am the future as much as any of you are. Stop all this violence. Sit down, take heed and reflect on another life lost to a bullet. It’s just not worth the trouble to make everyone’s life miserable when that misery affects all the goodwill built up over decades. I sympathize greatly with those who are suffering, those who have lost and those who feel neglected. I have no time however for those who steal, those who incite and those who choose to ignore the calls for peace.

Interesting Stats

Iraq is imploding once again. Here are some interesting facts from the ‘war’ we raged in that particular country.

Amount spent fighting the war $742 billion.

Number of US service men and women killed 4,489.

Number of US soldiers injured/ wounded 32,021

Number of Iraqi civilians killed 500,000 plus, and that’s only an estimate.

Simple facts, and simply put, what was it all for? Now that bloodshed is running rampant again, Sunni’s killing Kurds, killing Shia’s, who are then killing each other, in a vicious circle of violence without one US soldier to be seen, one has to ask, what the fuck?

$742 billion goes a long way. We could have re-built aging infrastructure here in the US, replacing roads, rail and schools, underground pipelines, upgrading airports, bringing employment to those who don’t have, to name but a few handy items that would have been crossed off our government’s ‘to do’ list. That’s A SHIT LOAD OF CASH, cash that should have been used for the improvement of the United States, and not squandered on a meaningless war, a war that we were often told, had to be fought.

38,000 killed or wounded. At what cost?? Ask their families, their loved one’s. Ask those who cannot walk, cannot see, cannot speak. Why were they there? To improve the safety of those who live here? I don’t think so. Though they fought hard, they are dead now and wouldn’t they have been better left to live in peace? And now, as soon as they have come home to rehab or even be buried, look what’s happened! The inevitable, more war! An internal combustion that we, as an invading force, were never going to stop in the first place. They all hate each other, yes, those in the very same country, those of ethnic decent, those of Sunni blood, those in that self-proclaimed state of Kurdistan, they hate one another with savage intensity. We were destined to lose our pants in Iraq and no one saw it coming other than those of us who see only common sense.

I don’t think my borders are any more secure now that my country fought a war that was supposedly to make them so. I don’t see any difference in my day-to-day life, but I see a huge difference in the lives of the families of the killed and wounded. How would you like to be in their shoes, and again, I repeat the obvious, for what??

I take my hat off to those in our government and in our media who can spin this disaster into a positive. There are no positives, just a whole line of negatives and an even larger line of dead.

Give me my money back. I would like to spend it in a more efficient manner. I would like to give to those who need, not those who need me to give.

Tomorrow there will be hundreds more innocent dead in Iraq, and millions more spent trying to stop it. You can’t stop it, you can only sit and watch as hatred runs riot, as it has done for thousands of years and will continue to do so for thousands more.

 

A Momentous Day

downloadI was involved in a freak accident earlier this week. Knocked me out cold, if only for a few minutes, but when I woke up I made one hell of a momentous decision. It didn’t take me long to decide, in fact I’d been mulling it over for several months before this week’s unfortunate incident. Trigger happy, though unable to fire that one single bullet. A game of Russian Roulette, played out with 5 empty chambers, never having the courage to fire the 6th because I knew it contained the bullet that would mean the end of days. Now, today, that gun has finally gone off. When I woke this morning I made my mind up. All my social media accounts were going. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, deleted, terminated, ejected, vanished from view for hopefully the rest of time, my time.

I was sick and tired of tweets, instant messages, likes and dislikes, referrals, endorsements et al. At the end of the day, if someone wants to talk to me, pick up the damn phone, don’t email me, text me, like me or whatever else you can do with your smart phone. Just call me. Let’s have a proper conversation not a conversation filled with acronyms and crazy EMOJI symbols.I know that a heart-shaped icon means you love me and I realize that there are many faces to choose from, depending on your moods, but come on folks, if you really care, and you really want to show emotion, pick up the phone and talk. There is nothing better than a proper, well versed conversation! Nothing is more meaningful to me than vocal expression, tonal intonation or just plain outright screaming and shouting. It helps to converse the way it was meant to be. You can achieve more speaking 5 words on a phone than you can texting 500 words on an email. It just comes across in the correct manner without the insinuation that text sometimes provides.

No, I am done. All my Facebook buddies, should they care, will find me. All those who followed my tweets will go follow someone else, and all of those who are looking for jobs on Linkedin, well, I’m not the one who’s going to employ or endorse you, so go and bother someone else. Enough is enough. This era of so-called advance communication might be great during an uprising, but in my life, it’s a complete and utter distraction and therefore a waste of time. God forbid I ever get famous, I will make a conscious decision to remain free from these ball and chain Apps where people seem to spend hours and hours of their short lives entwined in useless and meaningless crap. Who cares about any of this garbage, not me. I really don’t care that my friend Suzanne is on her way to Glasgow from London. I can’t imagine what my sister thinks when she posts endless videos of her and her new dog on Facebook? Does she expect the whole world to watch? The simple answer is, yes, she does! To me, that’s sad.

There is a way to erase yourself off the internet in one foul swoop. It’s called Internet Suicide. You can read all about it here ,http://lifehacker.com/5958801/how-to-commit-internet-suicide-and-disappear-from-the-web-forever[/embed]

Although I’ve not decided to go that far just yet, today I made a giant leap in that direction. I know now that I will never have to even consider checking on my ‘status’ or my Klout score, because frankly, I don’t care. Anyone who wants to read me, will do so and as I said before, if you would like to contact me, you know how to do so, PICK UP THE PHONE!

The way things are going, in 2 years from now, no one will ever talk to anyone else ever again. Maybe that’s a good thing? I truly doubt it!

Driving Miss Daisy

IMG_0341I used to drive to Santa Rosa once a week, a journey of about three hours from my home, to look after my Great Aunt Ella. I only met Ella in 1998, and even though she was my grandfather’s sister, I didn’t know she existed let alone lived only three hours from my home. I was attending her sisters funeral in Scotland when her niece told me of her whereabouts and asked if I’d ever met her. “No” was the extent of my curt response. I made a point of contacting her immediately upon my return to the US in the summer of ’98 and we became great friends and lunch buddies. She was an amazing person, with some incredible friends, some of whom I had the pleasure of getting to know rather well. One of her closest pals was Esther, a petit 80-year-old, at the time, and someone I grew not only to respect, but to love and admire.

Esther lived in the same complex as Ella, but in a house situated at the top of a hill about half a mile from the golf course that split this retirement paradise in two. I say paradise because all along Highway 12, where the complex lies, there are some amazing wineries, fabulous hotels, and tremendous restaurants, some of which I have had the pleasure of frequenting over the years, and most of which were above average in all their ‘Napa/Sonoma’ decorative splendor. The thing I loved most about going to see Ella and Esther was the lack of noise whenever we ventured outside. No planes, hardly any car noise and certainly no screaming kids. This was retirement at it’s best. You had to be 55 or over to live there, and most of the residents had been there since that tender age and were now pushing into their late 80’s and early 90’s. Some of the sights were just too funny to describe, such as the two ladies in the golf cart, who I saw every week, driving along with a dog leash dangling from the passenger side of the cart, and a brown lab, tethered to the end of said leash, enjoying his walk while they drove and chatted. Exercise for the !

As I got to know Esther, and some of the other ladies, such as Rosemary, Joan and Joe, I found it fascinating just to sit and listen to their stories, tales of times gone by, a different era altogether, and one that sort of made me yearn for the opportunity to have experienced the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Esther related countless memories of her times living in Seattle, Los Angeles and parts in between. How she’s met her husband whilst on a business trip with her father to Seattle. How she’d grown up in LA when traffic jams were just something in one’s imagination. How Santa Barbara was a fishing village with one or two large homes and a never-ending stream of billionaires trying hard to make their dreams come true.

Sometimes when I was headed back to Los Gatos, Esther would ask me to take her to San Francisco, where her daughter lived. Esther stayed with her daughter at least once a month, and unable to drive herself there, I substituted regularly for this drive who she hired to shuttle her down to the city whenever I was unable to oblige. We had some super conversations on these journeys into town, when Esther would relate her safari experiences, (she was 80 when she went to Africa), her fitness tips, (she was a yoga maestro) and her recipes to make the perfect Coke float, (one which I enjoyed every time I went to see her at her home). Yes, a true lady. She spoke so eloquently, she was a really lady and she never thought bad of anyone, other than my Gt Aunt Ella, whom she scolded constantly for becoming a hermit as the years rolled by.

Esther always reminded me of the movie Driving Miss Daisy. Me as the driver of course and her as Miss Daisy. Her character was just straight out of that particular era. And so, as time went on, my aunt died and Esther grew too old to live in her house all alone, she moved to San Francisco into a retirement home, where, instead of driving her up and down Highway 101, I continued to visit her for lunches and dinners. I used to say to her, “Esther, you are 95 and are the only hope I have of knowing someone who can live to be 100!” Her health was in great shape, her mind even greater. She hated growing old and still feeling like she had a mental age in her late 30’s. She attended regular lectures, traveled to Palm Springs once or twice a year and worked out in her gym every day. Miss Daisy was super it! Nothing was going to stop her. I brought her chocolate, and she reciprocated by buying me the same. We told jokes, she reminisced, I sat and listened.

I had lunch with her two weeks ago, and I took this picture, the one above. I’d never taken a picture of her before. Something inside told me I should. I mad a dinner date to see her on May 16, and then on May 13, I canceled because I had another commitment. She died on the morning of the 16th May, age 96 and a half. A stroke, sudden, quick, painless, and now she’s gone.

I lost a friend, a hero of sorts. RIP Esther, you were special. I shall remember you fondly for the rest of my days on this planet and no doubt we will one day meet again in a better place.

Canonized Courtesy Of Cannon!

downloadTwo billion people are expected to watch the new Pope Francis canonize two former Popes this weekend. They will become saints, though for just what reason, I still fail to understand. As one American lady put it when being interviewed on the local news station last night, “I was abused by our priest, (well join the club lady), and Pope JP 2 had every opportunity to acknowledge the extent of abuse that was rife within the Catholic church for many years, perhaps hundreds of years, and chose not to do anything about it.” So true madam, so true! And the other Pope, John the 23rd, didn’t actually become a Pope until he was 76, but he’s credited with revolutionizing the Catholic church, though quite how, I fail to understand. In any event, the two Popes, popular to say the least, are, so I’m told, worthy beyond doubt and very deserved of this sainthood, something that’s never happened in the history of the church where 2 living Popes will ordain 2 dead ones. Tit for tat I’m sure.

With politics and religious bias put to one side, the thing that caught my eye when I was reading through the timing of events and what this event really entails is that it’s actually sponsored by more than 10 major corporations! Sponsored!! Yes, you read that right. The corrupt Catholic nation, with over 1 billion of its followers living below the poverty line, and with the Pope living in the richest city/country on earth, had gone beneath what I would call dignity and sold its soul to corporate sponsors! It’s beyond doubt that from the direction the church has decided to take, they are pandering not only to a world driven by advertising and (Pop)e Culture, they are demeaning the good name of the church by taking on board corporations run by people who have no interest in religion, no interest on the canonization process and no interest in anything other than how to get more bang for their buck. Spreading their gospel through TV advertising, billboards and the like, how do you think Jesus would have felt about this? How would the two dead Popes feel? They gave their lives, so to speak, for the good of their faith, and now their faith is repaying them by canonizing them for the price of a bar of soap? I could go on and on here, having a field day out of their complete disregard for the Catholic faith. Whoever decided to go down this road knew exactly what they were doing and exactly where the cash from all the sponsorship will be placed. Can we expect Sunday mass without donation boxes? Can we hope that holy water will be given to all who wish to partake, free of charge? Will confession come with a rebate coupon? Who knows.

The main sponsors of this gigantic event are, Nestle, closely followed by Italian oil and gas giants ENI and Enel. There are 12 more, to boot and some, including Nestle who are Swiss, are from other countries outside of Italy. We all know Nestle is Swiss and we all know the Pope is guarded by a regiment of Swiss guards. I am asking this with a straight face, so don’t laugh, will Nestle be providing their chocolate bars to every recipient of that very same Swiss guard who willingly gives a blow job to some horny priest? Two blow jobs for a box of Maltesers! A good deal for a billion dollar sponsorship scheme. Nestle can only win!

With all that in mind and the fact that tomorrow, Sunday April 27th is the big day, I came up with other companies who might want to jump on the “Sponsor a Pope” bandwagon.

Orville Redenbacher would run commercials for Pope-Corn

Ben and Jerry would be Popesicles

Johnson and Johnson, a family company could do Pope-purri

The local Indian restaurant would be selling Pope-adoms

And finally, before you switch me off, everyone in attendance should receive a free giveaway of a Pope on a rope to cleanse themselves of all their sins!

Yes the world has changed since Mother Theresa was required to show that she was a saint by all the miracles she performed. Now it seems the only miracle required is that of financial capitulation. Why don’t they just name all the ex-Pope’s saints? There could be a canonization every Sunday, broadcast live during football, ice hockey or Basketball games, guaranteeing at least double the revenue. We could anticipate a 30 second spot on one of the major networks to run at more than just a wing and a quick prayer. It could be great fun too. The announcer stating clearly that so and so is now ordained a saint and they break to a commercial for Halo, the X box game!

Anyway, good luck with your service tomorrow and to all you believers out there, how on earth can you do anything else but laugh? I rarely mock anyone with sincere beliefs, but the sincerity for me left this show the moment this new Pope, pope-d up and declared it common practice to sell his soul for rock and roll, oh, and a Twinkie too!

 

 

 

 

How Long Do You Have?

downloadWhat must it be like to sit in front of a man in a white coat, kind of comfortable in the knowledge that he’s the best in his field, knows what he’s doing, and hopeful that today will be just another of many to come? Expecting the worst, yet quietly confident that only good news will come your way. Hesitant, shaking, heart pounding, nail-biting moments that pass in a flash, all seemingly in a blur, forever gone as he spouts out those words that will haunt you day in, day out. “I’m sorry, but you only have three months maximum, perhaps six if your lucky.” How do you respond to that? Do you cry, laugh, shout to the heavens? Do you walk out? Do you stay cool and question his competence? Do you ask questions? Do you just accept this diagnosis and move on, knowing he’s right and you’ll never feel more alone than you do right now? What do you do? How do you react? Well, I hope none of you ever have the opportunity to find out, but sadly, many people go through this each day, some beat the odds, most don’t but they all have to go through this process where a stranger, perhaps not completely strange, but someone they hardly know, someone who’s alien to their world, sits in front of them and looks them straight in the face and says, ‘sorry son, this is it, you’re done for” Can you imagine?

What must it be like to be driving home from a meeting, any meeting, but let’s say a social gathering, one you were looking forward to, one at which you spoke your mind, one where you had fun and lastly, one that would signal the last time you would ever see any of your friends again. To pick up your things, to get into your car, to start that engine, to drive onto roads you have known for years, to arrive at a stop light only to be hit head on by another car, driven by another man who you’ve never met and will never know. To never breathe another breath after that fateful moment. Can you imagine?

What must it be like to get ready to go to bed, shower, brush your teeth, open up the covers, snuggle under those same sheets, decide to read a book, then turn on the TV, watch your favorite show, feel dizzy, then earth shattering pain, and then nothing? Nothing ever again. Gone, just like the other two, only in the briefest of moments. Taken by nature, God, or whoever else you believe in. Taken away to a better place, a worse place, a great place? Or just taken and placed as another stone in a wall that will never stop getting higher.

Imagination holds no bounds, until it comes to the inevitable, and even then, it seems to most of us that the inevitable is almost impossible. So far-fetched, so unbelievably far away, that we become blaze (read blazay) in the hope that we are invincible. Something that, of course, we also know is so far from the truth it’s just frightening. The fact is that no matter what, we will all join our God at some point in our lives and then demise. The point is that while we are on this planet, we are so consumed by the rigmarole of what we do on a daily basis that most of us ignore completely that absolute certainty that one day no one will even remember who we were or why we were even born. The fact is, we are all nothing, we are all just a microcosm in an entity we do not understand and that we will never get to know. We are but a vehicle to continue pushing the theory that life means something, anything, anything at all, in order that belief remains in the headlights of those who think they know better than we do, until it really matters, and it only matters at the very end, when it’s too later to try to change.

Perhaps while we, as human beings are on this very small and fragile planet, should behave differently? Perhaps if we realized that not one single person, not even an astronaut has ever died anywhere other than on this planet, then perhaps, just maybe, we might wake up and realize that our lives are meant for sharing, our time for giving and our demise for celebrating the fact that we made someone else’s life happier because we were part of it? Perhaps with a little less time spent on materialistic belief and a lot more on love and comfort for those who have less than us, whether that be food, possessions or just plain time, it would benefit them to the point of having meaningful relationships with a planet that they feel has sold them short and delivered them unto evil instead of exaltation. Perhaps all of this is nigh on impossible, simplistic, naive and immature, but then again, perhaps it’s not and just perhaps some of you out there will wake up and take action before the man in the white coat, that reckless driver or a sudden fatal last breath make it too late to achieve what is, in my own humble opinion, very real and very possible, the only reason we can possible be alive today, to help one another through the worst and into very best of all possible situations. To love, to hold to cherish and to care. To share good fortune with misfortune. To understand, we are nothing more than a last breath. To be human, when humanity really needs us and never ever to turn a blind eye to those who deserve better.

Peace out!