Friday, February 4, 2011

Democracy for Egypt- NOW!

Freedom, the right to choose for one’s self, we take as a fundamental right of life.  Not all enjoy this right and watching the struggles of Egyptian people I am again reminded why this right should never be taken for granted.  At first I feared that the revolution taking place was going to be crushed by the Autocratic leader, President Mubarak with the force of the Egyptian military.  As protesters gathered, a few at first and gradually thousands, the police of Cairo, where the larger protests were taking place, just disappeared, offering no resistance.  The protesters grew emboldened by this lack of resistance.  Then the protesters called on America to help in their efforts to form a true democracy and remove the martial law that has been in place since 1981.

            Does America want democracy for the Egyptian people?  Absolutely!  Should the revolution fail, can America risk alienating one of its few allies in the Arab World? Absolutely not! At first America’s response was hesitant and really only asked that the protesters be allowed to demonstrate peacefully.  The main thought at this point was how is the Egyptian military going to respond; did they have President Mubarak’s back or did they realize they were themselves part of the people?  The military shortly thereafter said that it would not shoot at protesters.  A government minus military muscle and without popular support from the people has no power.  America steps up the pressure some by suggesting that maybe President Mubarak should step down immediately.  The Egyptian president’s true colors begin to show.

            In the first days, some 3000 inmates were released, I mean, escaped from jails.  There may not be proof of this, but I suspect they were released with the President’s approval.  Hoping that by adding a criminal element to the protesters, he would have mass looting, forcing the police and possibly military to respond and squash the revolution, before it started.  The Egyptian people banded together and protected their neighborhoods and the police disappeared, likely dispersing into the protesters.  At this point the military stood pat; did nothing other than the announcement that they would not shoot at protesters.  Again, this is only speculation, but I think Mubarak gathered together all his cronies, those that had thrived under his autocratic rule for nearly three decades.  Once together, they bought as many loyal thugs as they could find and sent them out into the protesters with the intention of them being aggressive supporters of President Mubarak’s.

            The aggressive support for the President came in the form of men on horses, carrying whips and swords and attacking the peaceful protesters.  Again, I believe the intention is to whip the crowds into a frenzy, forcing the military to respond.  Through yesterday, the Egyptian military had stayed on the fence, so to speak, trying to set a barricade between the President’s loyalist and the protesters.  The president feels wounded, in his mind he made Egypt, he is responsible to all the Egyptian people.  That is the inflated egotism of a dictator, not in line with the thoughts of a sitting president in a flourishing democracy.  At this point all the problems being started during the protest are coming from one place, the president and the military also sees this.  If President Mubarak does succeed in turning the peaceful protester into angry rioters, I believe the military will be more likely to cut off the head of the problem.  Remove the president and martial law, allow for free election and the people will be content and the land again peaceful. 

            To the Egyptian people, stay the course, freedom and democracy are within your grasp.  When necessary, defend yourself, but stay in control.  The military has already shown that it will support your peaceful protest and not just blindly act in the interest of the president.  You will succeed!  I hope by this time next week that President Mubarak is no longer in power.  America wants you to win and when your fledgling democracy stumbles, we will be there to help in any way we can.  Freedom should not be guaranteed to an individual country’s citizens, it should be guaranteed to the citizens of the world.  THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE WILL BE DONE!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Blog site

I have set up a newe blog site at

Stop by and check it out!  Its a much better site.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sneak Peak- Destination Dayton

This is a rough copy of the first 1500+ words from Destination Dayton.  The final copy might not look anything like this, but for now this is the beginning.
Destination Dayton

September 1990

There was one thing John knew, how to live in the moment, there was no past or future, only the infinite moment; now! He had been living on the edge for the past several months, partying to the point of no return and somehow returning to do it all over. After dropping out of school his senior year, he had landed a decent job at a decorating shop. He made the coffee, moved the large remnant rugs, fixed screens and windows, trimmed branches, basically a jack-of-all trades, yet knowing he was master of none. The job did pay very well though, supplying him with an ample amount of partying cash and he was undeniably a master of partying. Too many late nights/not getting home until the sun was coming up, led to him missing some days of work. Waking up, still drunk, meant he was calling in. This was something his alcoholic, no longer drinking father could not tolerate.

     Trouble had been brewing between John and his father for the past several years. The trouble went from bad to worse one weekend afternoon; John was fourteen at the time. He and his father were driving and John popped in his favorite new cassette tape. It was The Doors first album, things were going alright until The End came on and the got to the line “Father? Yes son. I want kill you.” His father ripped the tape from the player and threw it at John yelling, “I never want to hear this shit again!” After the initial shock, John smiled and thought, ah ha, I finally have something that will piss him off and get so far under his skin, and he chuckles. Since then their relationship had only worsened. His father hated Johns partying and John hated his father; blaming him for his already being an alcoholic. After a particular late night of drinking John hears a knock on the door, “John, it’s time to get up,” his mother’s sweet but persistent voice continued, “it’s time to get up, you have to go to work.”

     “I’m not going today, I’m sick,” John mumbles, with eyes still closed.

     “You still have to get up and call in,” insists his mother.

     “Get the FUCK out of that GOD DAMN bed now,” his father bellows, in a voice that had stopped John dead in his tracks as a child. That voice had long ago ceased affecting him, but it did cause him to open his eyes.

     Since it appeared they were not going to stop, John decided to get out of bed, standing up, he almost pukes as the world spins for a moment. A big stretch, yawns, sits back on the bed and rubs his bloodshot eyes. Scans the room and finds some tolerably clean clothes, throws them on, prepares to exit his room. John opens the door; the harsh bright lights of reality slam his already pounding head. His parents are leaving the house, but they stop at the door. His father looks him up and down with a look of disgust, tired of his antics, sick of all John’s bullshit. “If you don’t go to work today, pack your shit and get the fuck out of MY house,” and his father turns and walks out the door. His mother stares at him sympathetically for a moment, her eyes beg him, “please just go to work,” John quickly looks away, he had already made his decision, living in the moment and much too drunk/hung over to go to work.

     As he heard their car back out of the driveway and drive down the street John was relieved to be alone. He makes the call so he could just leave a message and not have to talk to the boss. As soon as he hung up the phone he knew, in his heart, he was going to need a place to live. Since his parents were going to be gone for the next several hours he decides to go back to bed. Lying in bed, trying to sleep, but the uncertainty of the immediate future focused his thoughts on one thing; where will I sleep tonight? and says to himself, “Maybe Rich’s, but I couldn’t stay there long. There’s that thing Derick was talking about doing, but that would take awhile to set up.”

     Derick is his best friend, his partying equal; people would say to them “I honestly don’t think that I have ever seen you two without a beer.” They blacked out together, smoked more pot, dropped more acid, did more lines then any 18 and 19 year olds should have been able to do and survive. Yet they always managed to look out for one another. Derick had left Tonawanda and moved out to Randolf, NY near Jamestown, to live with his aunt. They have a friend, Joe that had just moved to Texas and was living with his mother. He told Derick that if they got down there they had a place to stay. Getting down there was the problem, John didn’t drive and Derick had no vehicle. Derick had suggested that they hitchhike, John was pretty sure that Derick was kidding about that; surly they could take a bus. It had only been discussed once, but John felt now was the time to do something big; this would be the ultimate moment. With happy thoughts of travel racing through his mind he drifted into a sound slumber.

     Waking a couple hours later, sober, but hung-over, John wasted no time putting into effect the consequence of his actions. He finds his sisters old bright yellow duffel bag, which she had used for travel softball. Packs all his clean clothes, a few books (despite all his less than intelligent decisions, he was devoted to reading.) John takes one last, slow look around the room, the memories of a wild youth linger. Sadness wells up within him, turning away he grabs his carton of Marlboro red’s and stuffs it in the bag. Stopping in the bathroom he brushes teeth, cleans the brush and reaches for his deodorant and tosses them both in the bag. A quick look in the mirror, “I’m ready for this,” the reflection betrays that sediment. Not knowing where he was going or where this would all end, John calls his dog, Tara, a boxer over to him. Petting her and getting slobbered on by her, the tears start welling up; before they can fall freely he pulls himself away.

     Outside it is a cool cloudy September afternoon, gray like his mood, taking in the day John decides to go to the abandoned tracks by the memorial highway. This spot has been the site of many of his quiet contemplations, a place of comfort, at the very least a place where he could hide his bag. Finding a spot in the brush alongside the tracks, he sets his bag down and pops a squat on a nearby rock. Sitting there, he lights up a smoke and considers what his next move should be. There is only one option available, so he covers his bag with some branches and heads to Rich’s house.

     It’s a short walk to Rich’s and John is there in about two minutes. He knocks on the front door, and stands there looking over the yard/driveway, always amazed at how much junk is strewn about. Rich answers, “Dude, what’s up?” Rich is a big kid, dirty blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a bit like baby Huey, physically and intellectually slow, but a loyal friend. John looks at him seriously, but says nothing.”What wrong, man? I can tell, by your look, something is wrong,” Rich’s concern for and faith in John were unshakable.

     “Dude, I got kicked out of my house, because I called into work this morning. I got no place to live; I threw all my clothes in a bag and stashed it on the tracks.” With the hang-over making his appearance even more pathetic then he was trying to look, John knows what to expect to hear next.

     “Oh man, you can sleep here! You know my mom loves you, hell I’d bet she likes you more than she likes me,” says Rich, glad to be able help John.

     Smiling a little now, John asks, “Do you think it will be ok?” Knowing he got what he wanted without having to ask, a skill he had nearly perfected.

     “You know it! At least for a few days,” then the fear of the unknown, that sets some people to instant worry kicked in in Rich, “What are you going to do dude? I mean you can stay here for a couple days, until things cool down. I’m sure your mother will get you back in the house, you know you’re a mama’s boy.” Rich punches him playfully in the shoulder, “Mama’s boy, mama’s boy,” and he points at John.

     “Dude I’m not going back,” John says, with a look of conviction, “I am so damn sick of living by their rules, don’t know where I’m going or how I’m getting there, but I am getting the fuck out of here! What did that shirt your mother use to make you wear say? ‘Where else but Tonawanda?’ my answer is fucking anywhere else!”

I would really love to hear some comments, I have set up a Facebook fan page Click Here to leave a comment on the fan page.  You can also leave comments on the blog site.  If you do go to the fan page, would you also "like" the page?  That would be great.  As always, thank you for reading.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Well Behaved Children? Blame the Parents

My mother must not have put the curse on me; you know the dreaded curse, “I hope when you have children they give you as much grief as you have given me!” I mean if any child ever deserved to hear that it was me, but even in that regard my mother would more likely have spoiled me before she would have cursed me. In comparison my children are an absolute blessing. While my parents did the best they could do with me, I mean ultimately I end up a good person and I have always been respectful of those people that have respected me. There are things that I would have done differently. These are the things my wife and I do different from both our upbringings and I believe they are the reason my children are nothing like either one of us were growing up.

Growing up I never felt my parents put any expectations on me or if they did I probably rebelled against them. For me it became good enough that I had potential and I never worked hard enough to fulfill that potential. With my children, my wife and I have expectations. The best example of this would be my middle child, he had a difficult delivery- wide shoulders, petite mother- he was stuck. He did eventually come out and he had a conehead a pointy conehead (after a couple days it looked like a normal head, but we were worried at first.) He was a very late talker and needed speech therapy, which with the help of a wonderful Head Start program he got. When it came time for regular school it was up to us if he was labeled as “special needs” because he was not that bad, but he would likely benefit from the extra help.

We chose to let him receive the extra help, so for kindergarten and first grade he went to a blended program that was offered at a school different from the one he would have gone to. This involved taking a different bus, a little bus and he didn’t like that. He wanted to be taking the same bus and going to the same school as his big brother. Sometime between kindergarten and first grade something clicked and he got it. When we went to the teacher conference at the beginning of his first grade year the teacher was already talking about if he continued improving that by next year he would not need to be in a blended program. Once we told him how close he was to being able to return to a regular class and motivated him with being able to go to school with his brother, he took off. By the end of the year he was getting no extra help from the teachers and was one of the top students. This year, his first marking period in middle school, he was on the merit roll, now he’s shooting for the honor roll, his motivation? Being able to stay up a half-hour later, hey whatever works, right?

Two things that fall into a similar category, that we do differently are; we do not let the children divide us (I had mastered this with my parents) and discipline is handled jointly (most often, sometimes you just have to make the call yourself.) The first is by far the more important of the two. Growing up, to get myself out of trouble I would get my parents to fight each other, I don’t even really know how and eventually they picked up on it, though it did still work once in awhile. Just because we try to not let it happen, does not mean the children don’t sometimes try to divide us and sometimes almost succeed. We always realize it in the end and whatever discipline they were going to get ends up worse. The discipline part we are pretty good at; each child is different and reacts to different forms of discipline. For one of them it might be taking away an iPod for another going to bed early, whatever works best on the child being disciplined. Once the sentence is passed on the guilt party and then seconded by the other parent there is never an appeal, for whom can they appeal to?

Another thing we have tried to avoid is the spoiled youngest child syndrome. My daughter is the youngest and the only girl and much the same way I was a mama’s boy she is a daddy’s girl. I do spend more time with her, in my defense she wants to spend more time me with then her older brothers do and I know this won’t last so I am enjoying it while I can. When it comes to discipline though, there is no being spoiled, you get what you deserve. All three of our children are aware of this and as long as we remain consistent with this we generally have very few problems. If we slack in discipline it shows in their behavior as they will push the limit and try getting away with more, we just tighten the reins and order is restored.

My oldest son will be sixteen next month. He is not my biological son, but I have been his father for almost thirteen years and he has had no contact with the person that my wife refers to as the “sperm-donor” during that time. Well for some reason he looks up to me, almost to the point of idolizing me. I started taking my writing seriously and began working on a novel, so he started working on a story (a very awesome story it is) and there are many other things; the way he speaks and acts mirror me big time. While I am flattered and much honored, it also scares the living shit out of me. I am far, far from perfect and I spend a lot my time deflating his inflated version of me. I point out the worst of my flaws and how he can improve on the things that I was not so successful at. I encourage him to speak his own mind not to echo the sediments of myself or anyone else for that matter.

For our part, my wife and I are willing to spend the time with our children. We eat meals together, help with homework and we talk openly with one another and keep the lines of communications open at all times. They are not perfect children and we would be bored if they were. Each one offers their own challenges and it is up to us as their parents to rise up to the challenge.

Parenting is never easy, but for me it is always a joy and I feel it is the roll I was born to play. My parents had a good blueprint, I just happened to find every single loophole and exploit them, one and all. Ultimately their blueprint did produce a good adult and an excellent husband and father. We took our parents blueprints and built from them, closed the loopholes and the result has been well behaved children. We are constantly being complimented on their behavior so we must be doing something right. The mother’s curse could not have been directed at either, my wife or I, because our children really have been a blessing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Family Matters

Dead To Me
So every person that is not an only child has likely experienced sibling rivalries. These can be harmless fights that don’t really amount to much more than a quick argument. You know the stupid stuff like that’s mine and even though I am not using it you can’t either. Sometimes these disagreements can become more serious and one of the siblings holds a grudge, but inevitably gets over it and things return to their normal state. Not always though. These rivalries can become long term problems that never heal and only fester over time. I have one of those siblings in my life. My eldest sister and I have never been close and at this point I could happily go through life never having to speak to her again.

I am the youngest of three children and the only boy. I may have been a spoiled mama’s boy (no I definitely was) and to be totally honest I don’t know if my sister ever liked me. L is seven years older than me; M my other sister is six years older. Whenever L would babysit she would always try getting me in trouble with my parents, and believe me I had likely done something bad. When I was six years old I pulled a knife on her because I didn’t want to take a bath, it was only a butter knife, but the point was made. So by the age of six we really did not like each. Over time it only got worse. She was a goody two shoes jock and I was, well to put it plainly I was a spoiled rotten brat who hid behind his mother to avoid punishment from his father. This further increased her dislike for me and she never tried to hide it while I flaunted my complete disrespect for her all through my childhood.

As I become a teen my behavior grew increasingly worse. By twelve I started smoking and drinking. Not many years later I was smoking pot, etc… and was generally an out of control train wreck of a teen. By the age of sixteen my parents asked that I at least have the decency to call on the weekends so they knew I was alive, because I would leave on Friday night and not return until sometime on Sunday. My sister had a legitimate reason for not liking me during those years; I put my parents (especially my mother) through countless sleepless nights and was in trouble at school on a regular basis. Occasionally I would be brought home by the police, if they found me passed out in the middle of the street or in driveway or some other place. I gave my parents a lot of grief and I can understand her not liking me during this period, looking back I wouldn’t have liked me either.

When I was seventeen, L was in the army and while stationed in Germany she got pregnant. She chose to be medically discharged and opted for moving back home. I decided to take the initiative, she called one day from Germany and I told her I wanted to forget the past and that I was looking forward to her moving home. I was also looking forward to being an uncle for the first time. When she moved back in though, pretty much nothing changed. I was still a punk ass teen; a rebel without a clue and she was still cold toward me. Honestly, I was starting to feel that she just flat out hated me. If anything we drifted further apart, while also developing a tolerance to each, we had to for my parent’s sake.

M and I have always been close and to this day we still have a great relationship. The first time I closed the book on L as a sister was in 1990. A friend and I were hitchhiking from Jamestown, NY to Dayton, TX (the novel I am currently writing) we were on day four and in need of food and a shower. By this time L had married the father of my nephew, he was still a soldier, stationed in Saudi Arabia. L was living on the barracks in Louisiana. My friend and I were in Louisiana, so I called her to see if we could drop by to eat, shower and sleep, promising to leave the next day. Without the least bit hesitation she said no. I don’t blame her, she was probably afraid of me (thinking maybe I was crazy person for hitching) or something, but that did not stop it from hurting.

Through my late teens into early adult, even when L and I were next door neighbors, the gap between us grew further. Even after I quit drinking and become a mostly responsible person L and I just could not become close siblings. Years pass, we now both have families of our own, we have moved around some and seldom, if ever talk to one another. L is living in Texas and I am living in Pennsylvania. I am a regular ole responsible adult and parent now with a great job and family. I hear through my mother that she is having problems finding work in Texas. I am in a position at my job that I could easily get her a decent paying job, but she would have to move in with me. Oh the fucking irony! I tell my mother I could get my sister a job but she would have to come up to PA. To my surprise she agreed and within a couple weeks she was working with my wife and I and living with our family. She paid us two hundred dollars a month for staying with us.

We had a great place in Pottstown, PA. A nice Cape on an acre of land with a huge hill in the background, it was beautiful, quite rural. L lived with us for eight months or so. She wouldn’t eat meals with us, instead eating in her room. She did not interact with us often and seldom bothered with my two young boys, her nephews. She did for a short period get somewhat close to my younger son, but that did not last. I was starting to think that nothing I would ever do or be would make the least difference to her; L would always disapprove of me. If I wasn’t the problem, maybe she was.

As I have written about in past blogs, I am a highly emotional charged person, I feel things strongly. It is how I make my best connection with people through the ability to empathize with them, if I can’t make that connection I am unable to get close to them or feel for them in a significant way. You get about the same emotional response from a wall as you do from L when you talk to her about, well, anything. Recently I made another attempt to reach out to her, as mentioned in my Thanksgiving Day Miracle post. Well that part in the post about next year’s miracle being that sister L and I end up being like best friends, yeah that is not going to happen.

This year for Christmas L got my family a gift and my mother asked me if I could at least text her and say thank you. This Monday I finally remembered (yes I know it’s late but I kept forgetting.) I sent her a text- Thank you very much for the gift. Love your favorite (only) brother, John. Please try to come up for Thanksgiving next year, it would mean a lot to all of us. Waited a couple hours, and got no response. So I texted my mother (since she had harassed me into texting L) telling her that I had texted L. I forwarded my mother the text I had Sent L and said that I had yet to hear from L. So my mother texted my sister and also told me what I wrote to L was very nice. About a half an hour later L replied- I got ur text. That’s it? That’s all she frigging says, are you fucking kidding? It was the straw that broke my ability to restrain myself and the emotions boil over and within thirty seconds I was texting her back- Oh that’s cool. Ya know what I am uninviting you from my thanksgiving. You are a cold hearted bitch and if I ever have to talk to you again it will be too fucking soon.

I will not say what my parents and other sister have said and not because they have said anything negative about my response. I will say that L is not like anyone else in our family, we are all close and see and talk to each regularly, and we have a strong emotional connection to one another. L has a strong emotional connection to nobody and I think she prefers it that way. For now, she is dead to me and like I told my father today the next time I see her will probably be at a funeral. I know it seems harsh, I am just tired of trying and I believe her and I will be much happier being dead to each other than we ever were pretending that we liked each other.

Sunday, January 9, 2011



Thoughts, prayers and condolences for the family and friends of the victims

The shooting on January 8th 2011, of congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, that left her with a gunshot wound that went through her head, six others dead, including a 9 year old girl and fourteen others wounded is a heartbreaking tragedy. I first learned of it minutes after it happened via Twitter. Shortly after hearing about it, it was tweeted that she was dead. This was likely based on an eyewitness saying she had been shot pointblank in the back of the head. People are not supposed to survive pointblank head shots, but this was just the beginning of the overreacting that took place throughout the day.

I am not going to pretend that I was exempt. My initial reactions were strongly influenced by a strong dislike for an individual that would put up a graphic map on their Facebook page depicting targets placed on twenty congressional districts throughout the country. At around the same time this map went up (March 2010) Sarah Palin also tweeted her followers, urging them to not retreat but reload. Political views aside, I really dislike stupid people who seemingly only exist to incite violence and then plead ignorance when that violence occurs. The fact that this map disappeared shortly after the shooting happened displays at least a measure of guilt, also the tweet I mentioned earlier has vanished. The rhetoric and hate spewing from some on the more extreme right of the political spectrum is chilling in both its tone and ability to polarize. Then I asked myself, is this even about politics?

Tweets were coming in about the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner with links to a YouTube account associated with him. I found this one Introduction to be the most telling of a person struggling to comprehend his reality. As the day went on I learned he had a wide range in his reading interest, from Mein Kampf to Alice in Wonderland. He also had a MySpace account (since the shooting it has been shut down.) Shortly before the shooting occurred he had posted what would seem to be a good bye message asking friends not to be mad at him. He had obviously already decided to go out in a blaze of ugliness and to take out as many innocent people as he could before ending his own life. Why though? What was his motivation? Was he a polarized radical or just a person with mental problems who randomly chose this particular time and place to act? As of my writing this we still don’t know and we may not for quite some time, if at all.

Yet the blaming and finger pointing continues, especially from the extreme liberals. Instead of blowing this up and overreacting we should slow down and examine Jared Lee Loughner, the individual, a bit more closely. The question might become more about the current state of our mental health system than about his political views. Another question that will need to be looked in to is: how was a person that appeared (based on his online presence) so obviously mentally ill able to legally purchase a gun? Political rhetoric may have put thoughts into his head, but they did not put the gun in his hand, the gun by all accounts he bought legally from a willing seller. The mental health system and the gun control law are the two issues we should be questioning, not who to blame for this catastrophe.

Unfortunately tragedies like this are impossible to predict and almost just as impossible to prevent. When a crazed individual has his warped mind set on something and has the necessary weapon to carry out his plan, no person in his path is safe. The blame and the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle need to stop. We should take a look at what enabled Jared Lee Loughner to become a coldhearted killer; a mental health system that relies too heavily on medication instead of on individual care and gun control laws that made it too easy for a madman on a mission to purchase a gun. As always, it is a combination of things that take place in tragedies like these and instead of overreacting and placing blame we should be asking what we can do to prevent the next one from happening.