Saturday, August 20, 2005

Try to Scratch Past the Surface

I am a Libertarian.

Winston Chruchill once said, "If you're not a Liberal when you're 18, then you've got no heart; if you're not a Conservative by the time you're 30, then you've got no brain." I find myself constantly amazed at the grown (and by all indications, intelligent) people who subscribe to the fantasies of the modern liberals. They wonder why we can't all just get along. They wring their hands at global warming. They curse the evils of Capitalism. They spit on the Western Culture of the Enlightenment that allows them to freely spout their ignorant drivel and continue to be allowed in our society.

I'm sure I sound extreme here...please understand that I am equally distainful of the far right and their moral aggrandizement. This post, however, is about the naivete of the far left.

I just read an interesting article regarding conservation of endangered species and the possibility that some of the mega-fauna of Africa might be relocated to the United States as a way of saving endangered species. Odd that the same culture that is being blamed with destroying the earth is seen as a last hope for many of the great creatures of our world.

Let me say this to those who would believe we might go back to living in a ain't gonna happen...if you believe we can turn back time, forget it. We all need to find another way. The world will not support 4 Billion people burning wood for heat and living as hunter gatherers. It is very romantic to think we can fix our problems by going back. Unfortunately, the path we must take is the path of the unknown. We need to answer the problems before us with our intellect...there are too many people to support the way we once lived.

One more thing... I pray every day that we could get along. I believe that won't happen in this world. There is evil out there and there are evil people out there. You can try to get along all you want...they will KILL you. When I see evil, I will fight it with all my might. I can admire pacifism. I just hope the Pacifists admire the soldiers that are protecting them from those who would slit their throats as they turn the other cheek.

Love! Norm.

A Face in the Crowd

I wander this world, surrounded by the vague outlines of my fellow souls...

The loneliness only sets in when I find myself in a crowd. At peace with myself, why do I find so many of those around me distant and cold? Why do we close ourselves from each other? Why are we so reluctant to extend the hand? What is it that we fear?

The more closely people live with each other, the less they care for one another and the easier they find it to hurt each other. I'm not sure why this is. It's not just the overt hate and selfishness...I am more distressed by the general apathy. The ability to watch our brothers and sisters in pain and to be unaffected by it. More people don't bring more love...I have been blessed with good friends, but I don't hold out too much hope to the mass of humanity. We are anything but humane to each other. I'll try not to be part of the problem, to always give my fellows a break and a hand when I can, but I look at the eyes of so many that I pass on the street and I see humanity.

I have found that this is even more true of the religious people that I know. It seems that they become colder and less loving. They feel that they know what God wants and are perfectly content to abuse and ignore any who disagree with their special understanding... God is that spark of truth and love that lives deep within you. If you don't share this spark with others then it will die. It is the death of this spark that I see in so many faces. The spark dies long before we do and we walk this earth with nothing to share.

This may sound trite, but do yourself a somethig nice for someone you don't know... extra credit if you do it for someone you don't really like much.

Best! Norm.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Children of the Corn

I've talked many times in this blog about the things that are important to me. More and more, I focus on permanent things...on things that are of the heart and of truth...on things that are not of this world.

Still, I live here too and while I hope to graduate one day from this exam...there are a few things in this material world tht make my time in this school enjoyable. Of course there's sex (and women, generally); there's the times spent with good friends; Oh Yeah...and there's FOOD. I have often been accused of having a "hollow leg". People use this as way of joking about the way I can attack a good meal. I'm fairly thin and I guess they figure it must be going somewhere.

Some of my best memories of the places that I've lived revolve around the local foods. I can still taste the Cuban Sandwiches and black beans from my boyhood home in Florida...The grilled pork marinated in Spiedie sauce from my time in Upstate New York...and here in my home in Pennsylvania, I wait every year for the coming of late summer and the arrival of the Sweet Corn.

Pennsylvania is thick with rich cornfields that produce the most wonderful sweet corn in the world. The first of the corn arrives in late July and it lasts through early September. Late summer means watermelon and dogs, hamburgers, and steak...but more than anything (in this part of America), it means the incredible sweet corn that grows all summer in the fields that surround the towns and mountains of this state. Some may find this post silly, but sometimes it's the small things that make this life enjoyable...bearable.

I'm not where I want to be. I feel if I had passed this test...if I had found the truth in some earlier time, then I would not have to suffer the cruelty and hatred of this world...but I'm a happy man. There is much here that is beautiful...that feeds the soul. The taste of the corn, still steaming from the pot, smothered in butter and Old Bay seasoning...well, that's one of those pleasures that make me look forward to next summer. These are the memories that bring a smile to my face. I hope you can find the things that make you smile and hold them in your heart to sustain you when the injustice of this world weighs on you.

Love! Norm.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Go Ahead...Make My Day!

I took my daughter to the shooting range this weekend. She wants to become an FBI Profiler and I thought she should become familiar with maintenance and operation of a firearm. I have two handguns on loan from my brother and we took them to the range to get her started.

I’ve done some range work with rifles, but haven’t shot a pistol since I was about 15 years old. There was some minor adjustment for me, but the shock to my daughter was profound. We all watch the Cop shows on TV and get the idea that a gun is not much more than a fashion accessory and that shooting one would be as natural as walking.

We were on the firing line just a few minutes when a shooter down range opened fire and my daughter jumped about three feet off the ground. I guess she was expecting a muffled “pop” through the sound-reduction headphones, but the explosion was a lot more than she bargained for. She was very nervous when the Range Master put one of our pistols in her hand and talked her through what to expect when she fired the weapon. Seeing the explosion leaving the end of the barrel and feeling the recoil of the gun was her second big surprise of the day.

After a few sets of rounds, she calmed down and began to get comfortable with the weapon. She shot both a 380 Automatic and a 38 Revolver. I saved her first target for her and we had a generally good day together.

I think about weapons/handguns…what wonderful works of technology…what horrible and frightening destructive force. We have survived as a race because of our ability to overcome the weakness of our design with our intellect; yet we harbor a cancer of hate and malice that results in so much pain and suffering caused by the very tools that have insured our survival?!

I know most think of Americans as arrogant “cowboys” that are always at the ready with gun in hand. I don’t know how I could convince of just how far off that caricature is…maybe those who feel this way should read some of our press and see how we agonize over every thing we do…how we constantly second guess and accuse our leaders of being rash or wrong headed.

My guns don’t scare me. Seeing them in the hands of myself or my daughter don’t cause me any alarm…but there are many that should never touch a gun…I keep them locked when we aren’t going to the range to shoot them.

Love! Norm.

Link to Great Guitar Lesson Site


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Real Live Bleeding Fingers

I find myself in an interesting place. Music has always been very important to me. I listen for the nuances and I lose myself in the space filled with the magic that the song carries. And yet, I am a scientist…and engineer; I followed a life in technology because I was far too logical to follow my heart…to pursue music and writing, which were always my loves.

I suspect that I am suffering some mid-life crisis, but I find myself… very late…chasing my dreams. I have begun this blog to stretch my legs a little as a writer and I’ve done something else. I bought an acoustic guitar.

When I was growing up, I played the drums. I’ve always felt that decision as one of those stupid things we do when we’re young and regret ever after. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed playing the drums. The problem is, the drums are rhythmic, not musical…I never learned to read music and couldn’t really do too much without another instrument there. It has been sort of frustrating for me to watch my family pluck around on their various instruments (saxophone, piano, trumpet) and to have no way to express myself musically.

Anyway, I find my guitar to be great company and am spending every spare minute with it. In a very short time, I’ve learned to play my cords competently and am looking forward to beginning to put together songs very soon.

I went to see Lucinda Williams play on Thursday night. She’s a haunting writer and singer and her show was a wonderful inspiration to me right at this time. In one of her more hard edge-tunes, she describes a guitar player with the line, “real live bleeding fingers and broken guitar strings.” I can relate…I haven’t felt the finger tips on my left hand for the past week.

Is this a fad…a mid-life crisis? I’m sure my family thinks so, but I haven’t felt this good about something that I’ve done for a very long time. Any of you who know me know that I’m no quitter. Don’t be too surprised to find me someday plucking out a tune during open-mike night in some little coffee shop. I’ll be as happy as a pig in sh*t, hope you enjoy the show!

Love! Norm.