Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Home Improvements" Moment

Tim Allen wasn't the first to come up with the concept, but did do a great job of giving it "life" to others.

When I was a kid, I got a Six-Million Dollar Man action figure. It stood about eight inches tall with movable arms and legs (action figures when I was a kid were ACTION figures - not immobile figurines.) You could look through a hole in the back of his head to look through his "bionic eye" (in the show, he could zoom in on things far away - with the action figure it was looking through the wrong end of binoculars), and by pushing a button in his back his right arm (also "bionic") would go up. My parents went all out. Included was a rocket that Steve Austin (same dude) would ride inside. And when you simulated the crash (check out the intro titles to the show below) you could open it up into an operating table to "build" the bionic man. Really cool.

Another cool item was a backpack he would wear that was actually a crystal-set radio. These are radios that came with an alligator clip that you would connect to a ground (like a metal fence/post) for "power", and with the earphone (one-half of a set of ear buds for you "whipper snappers") you could listen to AM radio.

I remember the first day my parents left me with my older brother as my "baby sitter". He was in the one end of the house and I was in the other - the TV room. I was playing with the crystal-set radio and was fussing with the lack of quality signal I was getting when listening to it. So I thought, "What I need is MORE POWER." I took the power cord from my brother's cassette player (it had no power adapter/converter, also known as a "wall wart"; just a straight cord with an end with two holes [female end] that plugged into the two pronged [male end] of the cassette player), plugged the one end into the wall socket, put the earphone in my ear, and took the alligator clip and plugged it into the two-holes at the other end of the cord.

There was a spark. There was smoke coming up from the carpet where I was sitting. The alligator clip had MELTED. I looked at the palm side of my hand and it was BLACK! I screamed.

My brother came running down the hall yelling, "I'm dead! I'm dead! I'm dead!" He took me in the bathroom and scrubbed the black off of my hand (burnt skin??)

Nothing like a little "more power" to hurt oneself.

Oh, and we didn't tell the folks until we were adults - like, thirty-some years later!

© Emittravel 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

O Come All Ye ???

One of the great things about old hymns is the theology that intertwines them. Many of them can be considered creeds set to music. But not all are "accurate". I want to talk about one such hymn; a beloved Christmas carol sung every year. It is a great song, overall, but I think it is a little misguided. The original lyric, credited to John Francis Wade (1711-1786) is as follows:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Come All Ye Faithful. Why the call to the faithful? Christ came to those who were sick and in need of a physician, not necessarily to those who were considered "righteous". He came for all of us, and all of us should come.

Joyful and triumphant. The first to hear of the news were shepherds in the field - and they were not joyful. They were scared out of their wits. He calls us all, in the joys and sorrows, to come to Him.

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem. This line sets the state of our Lord - the child in the manger - this side of the cross.

Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels. Angels have been on the outside, awestruck by the concept of grace - unmerited, unearned favor - upon mankind. Born the King of us all.

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord. Nothing I can say there. Just adore Him.

O Come All Ye Faithful, hurting, in sorrow, doubting, seeking, etc.
Joyful, scared, longing, and triumphant, lost, broken,
He's come, ye, He's come, ye, to right where you are.
Come and behold Him, Born our King and Savior;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas!

© Emittravel 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dear Sigmund

With the recent tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut, the conversation has seemed to focus on gun control for the most part. Events such as these make us want to do SOMETHING - even if it has very little effect. Politicians trumpet stricter gun laws - banning so-called "assault weapons", to make it look as if they are doing SOMETHING of value. Understand, that is what politicians do: they legislate away problems. In Connecticut, however, they already have strict gun laws; a ban on "assault weapons" and elementary schools are already what are called "gun-free zones". Yet, this still happened. Are more gun laws really going to fix it? I think we have the focus on the wrong issue.

We sit and wonder, "what kind of mentally deranged individual would do such a heinous thing as this?" And that is the heart of it: people who do these things ARE mentally deranged. But what can we do about that?

We need, not just easier access to even better mental health provisions but, the PERMISSION to suggest it. When Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army Major opened fire in the Fort Hood military base in 2009, nobody thought to question his behavior prior to the incident. After all, he was a psychiatrist. Surely he of all people was mentally healthy.  Rumors floated around about his state of mind AFTER the incident. Really?

Terms like "dark", "loner", and "quiet" describe the last few school "terrorists". Such are ascribed AFTER the tragedies. People come forward AFTER the tragedies to make these statements. Why not before?

(Here is where I may upset my readers.)

The enemy, as Pogo once said, is us. The fault? Is ours. We are too afraid to say something BEFORE. Maybe it's "politically incorrect" to point out that someone may need care or observation. Maybe we are afraid of being sued. Maybe we have pushed our moral code so far down within us that we won't take the risk of being accused of being "judgmental". Who are we? The whacko religious-right? Absolutely not.

Do we need better healthcare laws that promote mental health services? Maybe. But what we need more is the loss of the stigma that the need for mental care has attached to it. Look at Alcoholics Anonymous. There is nothing shameful about admitting you are an alcoholic and need help. We have gotten over, for the most part, that stigma. What about in the areas of depression? There has to be more than prescription-medicine-commercials-for-depression to reach people. And not just for those needing the help, but for us - those having to live with the aftermath of ignoring it.

It's time for us to realize that our society is full of hurting people. Reach out to them. Help them. If you are in a church it is your duty to reach out to them. Don't wait for the government to handle this. We all know how beneficial another law can be . . .

Note: the title of this blog comes from an episode of the television show "M*A*S*H". In it, Dr. Sidney Freedman is coping with his own depression; writing a letter to Sigmund Freud.

© Emittravel 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stuff My Brain Says #57

Liberal social programs are genuinely sought with the betterment of people in mind. Sure, there are those in leadership who just want to rule over others, so making them the arbiter of all that is "good" helps keep the reigns in their hands. But for the most part, social programs are designed to help. The only problem is that for a country to truly be socially liberal, it must first be fiscally conservative. You have to be able to afford the programs, or the very programs that were designed to help people will become dependencies that will inevitably go away.

Basic economics: when your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall. It is not a matter of compassion. It is a matter of mathematics. And mathematics doesn't lie.

Just ask those in Greece.

© Emittravel 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stuff My Brain Says #56

That's the thing about getting older: you reach the point where you start to wonder, "Which half of the hour glass has the most sand?"

Nothing like a new calendar to emphasize one's mortality.

© Emittravel 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Little Christmas Cheer

We just finished performing our third annual dinner theater at the church I attend. One of the "bits" was a parody of a classic Christmas song. We performed it at one of our recent church services for the congregation (so you KNOW it is family-friendly) and it was captured on video. The parody lyrics were written by my dear friend, Jim Toncar. Also filling in vocals with Jim are Ruben Roman, Scott Mintz, and Dave Hasse. I'm the hairless guy doing the lead.

Being that I've only written two Christmas poems over the years, I thought I would share this instead:

Merry Christmas!


© Emittravel 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stuff My Brain Says #55

As we draw closer to the last days of the calendar, I find that the topic of the Mayan calendar's end-date of December 21 has been on the lips of quite a few folks. I wanted to write something that deals with the topic of end times, especially in light of this, but I realized that I already had a rather healthy article written. So, as a little bit of a "flash back", here is the link to that article: Why Muslims Should Be America's Biggest Supporters. Enjoy! -j.p.

©Emittravel 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stuff My Brain Says #54

I just read that Congress has proposed the addition of an online sales tax as a rider to the defense authorization bill. It's not that I'm for or against an online sales tax, I'm just mad that these bozos put the two together. What does an online sales tax have to do with defense?? Answer: not a damn thing.

For more on this, see my blog article on the concept of one bill, one vote.

© Emittravel 2012