Random Thoughts From A Bouncy Mind

Just a few thoughts from the bouncing mind inside my head …

I had to laugh when I read in a news aggregator that with both Senate and House back in chambers, we should prepare for what “… could be a frantic couple weeks of legislative action.”  Legislative action???  In today’s inert Senate???  Who do they think they’re kidding?  The most action we are likely to see from the United States Senate in the coming weeks are them posturing on various news shows and faux news shows to trash talk the other side.  If any meaningful legislation comes out of the Senate anytime soon, I will be in shock.

The Senate has been discussing the infrastructure bill for months now.  It is allegedly now a bi-partisan bill that the Republicans insisted be pared down from its original status, but even then, it doesn’t have enough Republican support to overcome the damn filibuster.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is trying to move things along and asking for a cloture vote on Wednesday, and the Republicans want to know what his big hurry is!  As I said, they’ve been playing tiddly winks with it for months … meanwhile, roadways, bridges, water and sewage facilities and more continue to deteriorate.  WHAT THE SAM HELL do the Republicans think they’re doing?  Nothing … that’s what they’re doing.  Not one damn thing.  Oh wait … they ARE still collecting their paychecks, so I suppose that qualifies as doing something.  That amounts to a minimum, by the way, of $6,692 twice monthly.  Do any of you make that kind of money for sitting on your patooties all day?  No, I didn’t think so, but you ARE paying these jerks!

Meanwhile, the For the People Act seems to have been all but forgotten … I haven’t heard mention of it from any member of Congress recently.  FOR THE PEOPLE!  Even its name should stir some tiny shred of conscience among our elected officials, but what are they doing?  Playing games … with our lives!  How many of them have appeared on Fox News in the past month?  They have time to go preen their ugly mugs, but not time to give serious consideration to a bill that would protect this nation from autocratic bigots!

I read last night about some of the arguments that lawyers are using to attempt to keep their clients who infiltrated the Capitol on January 6th out of prison.  Leave it to high-paid lawyers to twist words and infer motives.  One guy’s lawyer says he shouldn’t be found guilty because his mother says he has “an amazing work ethic” and that he bought clothes and shoes for the residents of a nursing home where he worked as a nurse’s aide.  Never mind, I guess, that he is a member of the radical militia group the Three Percenters, and never mind that he entered the Capitol on January 6th wielding a baseball bat and a noxious chemical spray.

Overall, the lawyers are blaming everyone except their clients, the people who perpetrated the crimes.  Among those they blame are the media, naivete, trauma, unemployment, the pandemic, Washington elites, and their clients’ childhoods.  Sorry, fellas, it doesn’t pass the smell test.  These were people old enough to know better, so forget all the excuses.  They did what they did despite knowing that it was illegal, that it was likely to result in injuries or death … as in fact it did.  In my book, every single person who entered the Capitol without just cause that day should serve a minimum of five years in prison, no exceptions.  Those whose violence ended in property destruction or injury to others should serve 20 years in prison, no quarter given.  End of story.  Make an example of them so that next time, people will think long and hard before participating in an insurrection.

Nicholas Kristof is one of my favourite New York Times columnists, and I have shared his work more than once here on Filosofa’s Word.  A Pulitzer Prize winner, Kristof has written an op-ed column about international human rights and the disenfranchised for the New York Times for two decades.  Rumour has it that Kristof is now considering running for governor of Oregon, his home state, to replace the current governor, Kate Brown, who will reach her term limit in 2022.  So far, it’s just a rumour, but rumours have a way of becoming reality.  Kristof has the right sentiments, but I’m not sure he has the right temperament for the job.  Politics is dirty business, but … hey, it would be good to see a man of conscience, a man with an actual functioning brain and heart, in a position of power.

Thumbs up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rejecting two of the five Republicans chosen by Kevin McCarthy to participate on the committee that will be investigating the events of, and those leading up to, the January 6th attack on Congress and the Capitol.  The two she rejected are Jim (aka Gym) Jordan from Ohio and Jim Banks from Indiana.  Both voted against certifying the election on January 6th, which in my mind is reason enough to keep them off of this committee.  I know more about Jordan than I do Banks, but Jordan is a real piece of work that I wouldn’t trust to clean up the dog poop from my yard, let alone trust with something this important.  There is no doubt in my mind that McCarthy’s purpose in selecting these two Jims was obstruction.  Personally, I’d like to see him choose Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney … republicans that have shown they have a conscience, that they put country before party.

Well, I think I’ve shared enough of the thoughts from my bouncy mind for now.  Have a great afternoon!

Saturday Surprise — Bubble Wrap Art!

Bradley Hart is an artist.  All his life, he has been intensely interested in art.  Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he was only 11 years old when he first enrolled into Thornton Hall, a private art school where he took classical art training including the replication of Renaissance masters works.  In 2002, Hart received his B.A. from the University of Toronto, Canada, with a double major in Visual Art and Semiotic Communication Theory (whatever the heck that is!) and a minor in Cinema Studies.  Soon thereafter, Hart moved to New York where he still lives today.

Bradley is an artist, but his canvas is unique … bubble wrap!  Yep, you heard right … bubble wrap.  He injects paint into bubble wrap, using each blob as a pixel to create his large-scale photorealistic images.  Says Hart …

“I load thousands of syringes with paint in preparation to begin the injection. I’ve done portraits of the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain Michael Jackson, David Bowie, John Lennon.”

Invented in 1957, bubble wrap was originally intended to be marketed as textured wallpaper. What turned out to be an epic failure from the decorator point of view turned out to be a boon to the shipping industry—and to Bradley Hart.

“Researching the history of bubble wrap and realizing that it was meant to be wallpaper brought me around to this great idea. What is a painting—short of the cultural significance and historical value it may obtain over time? It’s ostensibly a wall covering.”

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But there’s a flip side to Hart’s paintings … literally!  He injects paint into bubble wrap, using each blob as a pixel to create his large-scale photorealistic images.  After the injection the drops are removed from the backside of the plastic to reveal an imprint of the work, becoming yet another piece of art through the impressions from the injected paint.

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Says Hart …

“The injections are a metaphor for the ways we punctuate our lives with Google searches, selfies and Facebook posts. The antithetical idea of protection vs. fragility of the substance itself is also endemic to the work. On a personal level, the process of injecting ironically references the need to inject myself with disease-modifying medication for my own MS over the past decade.”

Watch him tell a bit about his work

When he started out, Hart was only able to inject a few cells at a time before having to step back to review his progress. He’s since invented a computer algorithm that gives him a working bird’s eye view. While it makes the process faster, it’s still time-consuming.

Now, I’m not saying these paintings are something I necessarily want hanging on my living room walls, but they are definitely unique, as is the artist’s method.  Bradley Hart has infinitely more patience than I have, taking days to fill all those syringes, then injecting the paint into the bubble wrap, one bubble at a time!  Talk about tedious!  Still, I thought you might enjoy seeing Mr. Hart’s work and technique!  Now, go forth and have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Coincidentally

I am one of those people who doesn’t much believe in coincidences … I am a pragmatist who largely believes in cause and effect … when something happens, somewhere along the line, other things transpired that caused the end result.  That said, even I admit that sometimes there’s just no logical path, no data-driven explanation for things.  I found some very cool coincidences over at one of my favourite go-to sites, Bored Panda, and I hope you’ll enjoy them!


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In 1990, A Panel Of The Windscreen On British Airways Flight 5390 Fell Out At 17k Feet, Causing The Cockpit To Decompress & Its Captain To Be Sucked Halfway Out Of The Aircraft. The Crew Held Onto Him For More Than 20 Minutes As The Copilot Made An Emergency Landing. The Pilot Made A Full Recovery

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Lightning Striking Simultaneously On Chicago’s Three Tallest Buildings

 


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Twins Married Twins To Give Birth To Another Twins

 


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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and that it’s not too cold where you are!

Hello 2016 … er, um … 2021

I started to write a New Year’s post last night … it began like this …

Well, my friends, we made it through this year of sheer hell.  Most of us have survived not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also the pandemics of hatred and stupidity that have taken over our newsfeeds and the headlines in every major news source.  Sadly, I must remind you that a ‘new year’ is but a manmade contrivance to help us keep up with our lives, not an actual reset of events.  That said, I think 2021 will start just as 2020 ended … with a raging pandemic and political chaos; with people dying by the hundreds or thousands, with a megalomaniac and his bootlickers attempting to turn this republic into an autocracy by overturning our votes.  Nothing changes just because when the clock strikes midnight you pop the cork on a champagne bottle, kiss your loved ones, and turn the calendar to January 2021.  You won’t wake up in the morning to find that Donald Trump is in prison and that we actually have an intelligent, concerned president.  You won’t wake up to find that you can now go out for dinner, take in a movie, or pop over to the mall for a bit of shopping without wearing a mask.  You still won’t find toilet tissue, Lysol, or Clorox disinfectant wipes on your grocery shelves.  You will still be limited to two packages of meat at your local grocery store.  You will still be worried sick about sending your child back to school.  And more than 1,813,000 people will still be dead worldwide of a virus that is nowhere near being controlled. 

Um … not quite the tone I was shooting for, but very much an honest assessment.  Then, I began to wonder what my New Year’s post five years ago, the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 was like, so I went digging around in the archives.  I think you will find my words kinder and more hopeful back then, plus I think that, knowing what we know now, you will find some humour in it! 


I do not quite understand why it is, but most of us welcome in the new year with great hope for the next 365 days, almost as if we believe that the slate we were using for the past 365 days was wiped clean at the exact moment the ball hit bottom in Times Square, and we are now starting afresh with new hopes, new dreams, a clean slate on which to write a new story, a better one.  Okay, okay … I am not going to be a the one to dash those dreams, those ethereal images that you are seeing with such joy.  Life will see to that soon enough, probably when you awaken in the morning and turn on the news, pick up the morning newspaper, or boot up the computer.

Do you make resolutions at New Year’s?  I do not, so I am always curious about people who do.  Oh sure, I hope that I can do better at certain things than I have in the past, but that is pretty much a daily hope of mine.  Do people who do make resolutions start thinking about their resolutions a week in advance?  A month?  I once had a friend who made his resolution on the morning of January 1st … same resolution every year … when he awakened with a massive hangover and resolved then and there to quit drinking, effective immediately.  His resolution usually lasted for about 12 hours.  Have you ever made a resolution and actually kept it throughout the year?  I don’t think I personally know anybody whose resolution was anything other than a dim memory by January 31st, so I am curious if some people who do make resolutions actually do manage to keep to them.

I do not make resolutions, but I think about, based on the past year, what the year 2016 might bring.  It would be lovely, and I am sure some say this is their hope for the new year, to think that within the next twelve months we will see peace and prosperity around the world, an end to wars in the Middle East, an end to racism and bigotry in our own nation, more love and tolerance, less hatred toward our fellow man, and an end to the highly annoying facebook memes that attempt to compress complex socio-political issues into a single sentence.  Who wouldn’t love to see an end to ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations?  These are dreams we could all share, even if we are divided on who should be the next president of the U.S.  But sadly, just like the person who buys a lottery ticket and goes to bed dreaming of a new home, a new car, and telling his boss “I quit”, when we look back a year from now, I am pretty sure those problems will still exist, others will have joined them, and people will still be … well, human.

Filosofa is not a cynic, contrary to what you may think.  I am actually known in my circle of friends as quite the optimist … annoyingly to some.  But I am a pragmatist, a realist, and as such I do not live in a world of dreams.  One of the readers of this blog commented yesterday that we need to say to ourselves, “okay, the world is a mess … now how do we fix it?”  I like that attitude. So, while I do not make resolutions, I do have hopes.  Unlike hopes for world peace, an end to all war, etc., my hopes are that people will start asking themselves “what can I do to make the world a little bit better?”  And then start looking for answers.  The answers are all around you, if you just realize what the question is.  Many years ago, my answer to this question was, and still is, to treat everybody as human beings.  These days, I try to make a difference by writing, in hopes that I might be able to make just one person think about things that matter.  Most of us, realistically, are not in a position to bring about world peace.  We cannot all be Mother Teresa or Gandhi.  We cannot all be leaders of nations.  But we can make small differences within our own small spheres of influence, in our community, in our neighborhood.  We can volunteer one day a month at a homeless shelter or food pantry, we can help a neighbor who is struggling, we can donate unwanted clothing or food items to the poor.  We can find ways to fight violence without resorting to more violence.  We can talk a little bit nicer to people, say “good morning” and “thank you so much” to the young person who bags our groceries.  Think that doesn’t make a difference?  Think again.

So my hope for the new year is that we all try very hard to find the small things that we can do to help people we come into contact with every day.  No, it will not end the conflict in Syria, it will not eradicate Iran’s enriched uranium supply, and it will not remove Donald Trump from the presidential race, but a lot of little deeds add up to making the world just a little bit better.  You can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution … your choice.

In closing, I wish each and every one of you a year of peace within your own family and circle of friends, good health and that you be able to meet all of your needs.  Happy New Year!

Jolly Monday — Cliff Notes Version

Good Monday morning, my friends.  Jolly, Joyful and I are … a) recuperating from Hallowe’en, and b) preparing for tomorrow night.  I was in favour of skipping Jolly Monday this week, but I was outnumbered by the other two, so agreed to a compromise … no humorous stories, only a few treats, but plenty of ‘toons, memes, funny signs, and a cute animal video!  We hope to be back in full swing next week … depending, I suppose, on what happens between now and then.  So, grab a cookie or something and come see the cartoons!



Lots o’ TOONS!!!

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A few funny signs …

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Some humorous memes …

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The other day, I was looking out the front window wondering why there were sunflower seeds all over our tiny front yard, when Miss Goose noticed a squirrel sitting atop the tallest sunflower (now drooping) eating the seeds and spitting out the shells on the ground!  It was just the cutest thing … we stood at the window watching for a good half-hour … most fun I had all week!  Here are a few of the pictures …

So, when I started looking for a cute animal video for Jolly Monday, of course I thought of squirrels.  I think this one fit the bill perfectly!


Well, folks, I hope you found something to smile about, and we apologize for the rather abbreviated version of Jolly Monday.  My wish for my U.S. friends is that you are able to hang on to some of your sanity in the week ahead.  And please, whatever you do, remember to share those smiles with all you encounter.  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa, Jolly, and Joyful!

World Laughter Day

Laughter.  If you’re like me, you’ve had very little of that in your life lately.  Frankly, when a laugh unexpectedly pops out, it rather surprises me … an unrecognized, rather rusty sound … and I find myself looking around … wha-whazzat?

Well, despite all the news, today is World Laughter Day, so you might as well pack up those scowls and frowns for a day, for we are gonna laugh!  The news will still be there tomorrow.

Laughing is one the cheapest and by far the most pleasant form of therapy in the world. It has the power to heal not only your soul but also your body. It relaxes your whole body, relieves physical tension and boosts your immune. It works as an antidote for pain, stress, and conflict. Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh.

Laughter is a universal language. It inspires hope, connects you to others. It keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.  Just a simple smile or slight giggle can completely alter the atmosphere and mood of the surroundings. Laughter has the power to heal and renew.  According to one study, laughter improves the function of blood vessels. It increases the blood flow, protects you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Hence, to mark the importance of laughter, World Laughter Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of May every year.  The World Laughter Day was first celebrated on May 10, 1998, in Mumbai, India. The day was arranged by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement.  Dr. Kataria is a family doctor in India who was inspired to start the Laughter Yoga movement in part by the facial feedback hypothesis, which postulates that a person’s facial expressions can have an effect on their emotions.

And now, rather than talking about laughing … Let Us Laugh!!!


I was waiting at a small train station when a man put up a sign regarding my train: “30-Minute Delay.” “What happened?” I asked. “The train went off the rails,” he said. “How long will that take to fix?” “Quite a few hours.” “So why put up a sign saying it would take 30 minutes?” “It’s the only sign we have.”


Our booking office had three phones. One day during lunch, I was responsible for answering all of them. It was a constant repeat of “May I help you?” or “Will you hold?” I guess I got confused because I surprised one man on the other end of the line when I answered his call with, “May I hold you?”


Man: CAN I HAVE A BURGER AND CHIPS?

Librarian: This is a library!

Man: (whispers) Can I have a burger and chips?


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Well, friends, I hope you at least smiled, or maybe even chuckled … without Jolly to help, I don’t always do humour well, and Jolly, as it happens, is off on a picnic with his girlfriend Joyful!

Jollys girlfriend Joyful    picnic    jolly

Jolly Is AWOL … Again!

Friends … Jolly has gone AWOL again and … I simply cannot find him anywhere.  I’ve looked everywhere, but … there isn’t a sign of him.  He didn’t even leave a note.crying

I simply cannot do this without my Jolly!  I’ll try, but … well … let’s see what I can rustle up in the kitchen …

spilt coffee Oops

burnt-toast rotten-bananas

I’m really sorry, guys … I just don’t have it in me today.  Tell you what … how about I run over to Phil’s Phun and pick up some cartoons and such to at least bring you a bit of a smile today?


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My humblest apologies, friends, but that’s as much as I can come up with on my own.  Let’s hope that Jolly returns soon … maybe we’ll have a make-up day … a Jolly Thursday!  Please remember to share your smiles, and please forgive me and Jolly … I promise we’ll do better next week!  Perhaps this little clip will bring a smile …

Just Another Tequila … er, Jolly … Monday!

I don’t know about you guys, but Jolly and I are just about holiday-ed out … so don’t expect a bunch of New Year’s humour here … I gave you that on Saturday’s Surprise.  The only thing I really like about New Year’s Eve is that the girls and I all contribute to making a smorgasbord of appetizers, which is always both fun and tasty.  The tradition, for us, hails back to the day when the kids were little, and we had a variety of friends and family dropping by at various times throughout the evening to share a cup o’ cheer.  Today, we rarely have people visiting, but we maintain the tradition … if nothing else, it gives us plenty of leftovers to munch on for the following couple of days.  Anyway, Jolly and I have put out a few things, though given that we are both tired, not as much as usual, so grab a cuppa and a cookie and let’s see what we can find to start this week out with a smile or two, shall we?

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You guys are gonna have to share this week!


It’s not unusual to hear about firefighters rescuing a cat from a tree, but it isn’t everyday that you hear about firefighters rescuing both a cat and its human from a tree!  The South Burlington (Vermont) Fire Department said the cat’s human called on Christmas Eve to report their cat was struck up a tree, but the department’s only ladder truck was assisting another fire department with a fire at the time.

The human decided to take matters into their own hands and climbed the tree until they also became stranded on a branch.  When the fire department arrived with the ladder truck, they were able to rescue both feline and human, and I’m sure they probably had a good laugh at the human’s expense.  They even posted about it on the department’s Facebook page …Cat-human-rescuecat-human-rescue-2


So, that one was embarrassing enough for the human, but wait ‘til you hear this next one …

In the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Day, a North Carolina couple thought they heard a burglar downstairs, and promptly called 911.  They then hid in the bedroom closet until the deputies arrived.  Well, it didn’t take the deputies too long to find the burglar …robo-vacYep, the couple had recently acquired a robotic vacuum cleaner, and it had decided that the middle of the night was a good time to clean up and was apparently none too quiet about it!  The couple was interviewed for the local news and said the deputies asked him how long he had the robo-vac, and when he said just a couple of days, they all cracked up with laughter! Ah well, it probably gave them something to tell their family and friends over Christmas dinner later.


Oh!  I almost forgot … for Larry, Emily and rawgod … today is the official Bacon Day!  According to the National Day Calendar Company …

Danya “D” Goodman and Meff “Human Cannonball” Leonard founded Bacon Day in 1997 as the one great day to bond everyone together.

BACON-DAY-–-December-30.pngIn the United States and Canada, bacon is made from the pork belly. Elsewhere in the world, the side and back cuts of pork are used. The meat is cured in either a salt brine or in a salt pack. It is then either dried, boiled, or smoked.

Bacon is a very popular food in the USA.  You can find many items also flavored or scented with bacon, including popcorn, soap, candles, air fresheners, and much more. While these uses are options, we suggest cooking with bacon.

It’s not just for breakfast anymore, either. Bacon improves everything from beverages to dessert. Some cocktails such as the Bloody Mary and Caesar add bacon to the olives, pickles, and other assorted ingredients. Bacon improves the flavor of many appetizers, sandwiches, and soups. Incorporate bacon into salads as a topping or mix it into the dressing. When it comes to dessert, bacon pairs well with maple frosting or maple ice cream. Thanks to the salty, smoky flavor of bacon, it compliments sweet quite well. The possibilities are endless.

According to the founders of Bacon Day, we are encouraged to eat a variety of bacon while watching Kevin Bacon movies, or movies with bacon in the title. Since Bacon Day was created before the Discovery Channel show How It’s Made debuted, it’s safe to say, we can eat our bacon and watch those, too. Giving and receiving gifts of bacon is also recommended. Other suggested traditions such as bacon toasts and kissing under pork fat mistletoe are mentioned as well.

Um … I like a bit of bacon every now and then, but you can keep the “pork fat mistletoe”, and I don’t think I care for the idea of showering with bacon-scented soap.  Blech.


Now, here’s the dream job for one of you coffee lovers out there!  Only trouble is, it lasts only one week, but still …Gevalia-coffee-queen.pngGevalia, the coffee company, is offering $5,000 and a free trip for an unusual one-week dream job: serving as the “Coffee Queen.”  The Coffee Queen will spend one week living in Scotland’s Carlowrie Castle with a full compliment of servants including a chef and a butler. The company said the winning applicant will receive free travel to and from Scotland and will be paid $5,000, plus $2,000 in spending money for the week.  Not a bad gig, eh?

“Gevalia believes a queen is anyone who transforms into the most confident version of themselves after that first cup of coffee — they speak their minds, are self-aware, and aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves.”

Interested prospective monarchs are being asked to submit 250-character mini essays on why they would be ideal for the position.  I would apply myself, but …


Jolly came across a few memes he wanted to share with you … Jolly?

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And so, we come to the end of another Jolly Monday … but, not before we have a cute animal video!  I recently found out that our youngest reader, young Benjamin, has a  favourite animal — a Moose!  And so …


jollyHave a safe and happy week, my dear friends, and remember to share those smiles … I see far too few of them when I am out and about, so I think it’s our duty to share some, don’t you?  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

Filosofa Reflects …

snap-crackle-popYou all remember Snap, Crackle and Pop of Rice Krispies fame?  Last night, after working for a few hours on emails, posts, comments, etc., I stood to refill my coffee cup, and I distinctly heard those three characters … in my knees.  And hips.  And feet.  What the …???  It’s likely not the first time I had heard this cacophony of sounds, but … perhaps the first time it penetrated the fog that surround my brain and allowed me to realize that sound was coming, not from a box of cereal, but from ME!  Yes, those were my body parts crackling, snapping, and popping!  What can this possibly mean???  OH NO!!! 

I’m OLD!!!old-shocked

Seriously, though … there comes a point in our lives where we look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “who is that?”  Or, “how did I get to this point, and where have the years gone?”

At this point, once we accept that we are no longer 30 years old, and no longer have the world on a string, we reflect.  We look back on the years and ask ourselves some tough questions.  Was I a good person?  If there is a scorecard, did I give more than I took?  Did my life have purpose, in the grand scheme of things?  What was my single greatest achievement in life?  What was my worst mistake, and did I atone for it in some way?  And the real kicker … if I had it to do over again, what would I do differently?

Thing is, though, that the answers on Tuesday might be entirely different from the answers on Friday.  Take that first question, for example.  “Was I a good person?”  Well, first of all, define “good”.  There was the time that I threatened to beat a lady with a shovel for taking too long checking out at a local market.  I wasn’t very good that day.  But then, there was the time that I gave a family $1,000 that was most of my own bank account at Christmas to buy gifts for their children.  Does one outweigh or offset the other?

And, about that “single greatest achievement in life” … is it my children?  Well, one child now.  That one child is making a difference in the world every day.  She is a nurse, and one who entered the field because she wanted to help people, to dedicate her life to others.  I gave birth to her, taught her all of life’s important lessons, taught her to think for herself.  Do I get a brownie point for that?  No, I think that point belongs on her scorecard.

I spent some 30 years as an accountant … more than once, I compared the field of accounting to a career in prostitution, reckoning that the most successful accountants sold their souls upriver.  Twice during my career, I quit jobs rather than break the law or sacrifice my integrity.  Does that make me a good person?  Doubtful, as somebody else simply stepped in to do the dirty work.

On to another question, then.  Did I give more than I took?  This one is easy … or is it?  I think that yes, I did, but then … did I really?  I first thought the answer was a resounding “yes”, but then … I look around.  I have given small amounts from time to time to a variety of humanitarian organizations, but … I have also lived a life of convenience.  It is snowing outside, and my heat is set at a comfortable 72°.  I have a refrigerator and freezer full of food, a chicken is simmering in the crock pot, and quite literally, I want for nothing.  Or at least nothing that money can buy.  I am not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but neither am I suffering.  I spent $89 at the grocery today, $10 of which was for a bottle of wine to help me relax enough to sleep at night, and $5 of which was to purchase the aforementioned chicken.  Some people are living on $25 or less for a week.  More to the point, perhaps, some people would not see a chicken killed for their own pleasure, so here again, I fail.

So, at the end of the day, I could compare myself to some and be seen as a good person, or to others and be seen as a total dud, a failure.  So, the question really is, I think, whether we, each and every one of us, believe we did our best, gave our all.  For me, I am not proud of all the times I have put self ahead of the greater good, but neither will I kick myself for the times I have failed, for through failure I have learned.

As we get older, as we come to realized that our lives are on the downhill side, we ask ourselves the questions, we contemplate whether we might have done more … and I think that we will, if we are honest with ourselves, come up lacking.  But you know what?  I think that just the fact we take the time to ask the questions, to look back, to assess and analyze, says something about our character.  I hope that at the end of the day, more people will remember me with a smile than with a scowl.

Ghosts, Goblins & Witches ‘Round the Globe … Redux

This was my Hallowe’en post back in 2016 … little did I know then just how scary things were about to get!  I’ve added a few pictures since the original version, and I hope you’ll enjoy seeing some traditions from other countries and cultures!   

 

halloween-3Here in the U.S., our Hallowe’en traditions hail back to Ireland, which is widely considered to be where Hallowe’en originated.  The Irish celebrate much as we do here, with children dressing up to go trick-or-treating for candy, parties with games such as bobbing for apples, bonfires, etc.  A traditional food eaten on Hallowe’en is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way.halloween-2

So, let us take a look at what they do in some other countries around the globe:


Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead):

dia-1In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, All Souls’ Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Hallowe’en. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.

dia-2Día de los Muertos festivities often feature breads, candies and other foods in the shape of skulls and skeletons. Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find their way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting. The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band.mariachi


Guy Fawkes Day

guy-1On the evening of November 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off. Although it falls around the same time and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Hallowe’en or the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The English, for the most part, stopped celebrating Hallowe’en as Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. As followers of the new religion did not believe in saints, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints’ Day. However, a new autumn ritual did emerge. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes.

guy-2On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed after being convicted of attempting to blow up England’s parliament building. Fawkes was a member of a Catholic group who wanted to remove the Protestant King James from power. The original Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated right after his execution. The first bonfires, which were called “bone fires,” were set up to burn effigies and symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. It was not until two centuries later that effigies of the pope were replaced with those of Guy Fawkes. In addition to making effigies to be burned in the fires, children in some parts of England also walk the streets carrying an effigy or “guy” and ask for “a penny for the guy,” although they keep the money for themselves. This is as close to the American practice of “trick-or-treating” as can be found in England today. Guy Fawkes Day was even celebrated by the pilgrims at the first settlement at Plymouth. However, as the young nation began to develop its own history, Guy Fawkes was celebrated less frequently and eventually died out.


Teng Chieh

teng-1In China, the Hallowe’en festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshipers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the “pretas” in order that they might ascend to heaven. “Pretas” are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of “pretas” among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the “pretas,” which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.


Yue Lan

yueThe Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts. Fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.


austriaAustria: Austria has a Pumpkin Festival in Retzer Land called Kürbisfest im Retzer Land. On November 11, Austria celebrates Martini which includes costumes and a lantern procession. Some people in Austria believe that if they leave bread, water, and a lighted lamp out, dead souls will be welcomed back to earth for that night.


Belgium: In Belgium some villages celebrate Hallowe’en while other villages focus on celebrating All Saints’ Day. On Hallowe’en night, a Belgian may be found lighting a candle in memory of a dead relative.

germany


Germany: Hallowe’en auf Deutsch became popular in the 1990s. People start to decorate around mid-October and use Hallowe’en as a party theme. On November 11, Germans celebrate Matinstag which includes costumes and a lantern procession.

sweden


Sweden: In Sweden, Hallowe’en is known as “Alla Helgons Dag” and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, “Alla Helgons Dag” has an eve which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint’s Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.


HalloweenWell, that is all I could come up with for today.  I will likely do another Hallowe’en post sometime between now and Hallowe’en.  Those readers who live outside the U.S., please feel free to share traditions and celebrations in your country by leaving a comment.  Thanks to all for giving me this opportunity to take a brief break from you-know-who!  I can breathe again!  Have a safe and fun Hallowe’en!

Maxine-halloween