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Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Beginnings....Texas..... 11/30/2010


Since that time, we've come a long way!!!



The Reluctant Hero Trilogy, Three Tall Tales, and A Yule Anthology published ! All the books are available on Amazon.  BUt, you can order them on my blog - direct links to Amazon !

The Eyes of a Dog



For those who have a dog, you quickly discovered that your doggie is not a pet, but a real family member.  And this family member is usually the first to greet you when you get home.  It does not matter what kind of jerk or saint you were that day; you get 100% positive attention from your furry pal.  When you are feeling poorly, your dog knows and comforts you.  And, when your dog looks at you and smiles, you are getting unconditional love.  In your dog's eyes, you are his or her only rock star.  It is unfortunate that these wonderful creatures are only with us for a short span of our lives.  

So, when a priest from a religion that has rejected divine immanence in all life (among other things) tells you that your dog has no "soul," walk away.  When said priest or priests tell you that your dog had a "special animation" that expired at death, run.  That religion and its' source has had it wrong about many things for at least two millennium.  Things like, when they still insist that women are a big source of evil, your body and sex are dirty and should be avoided, and that this life is bad; your suffering and denials in this life will earn you a seat of righteous in the life after death.  Rubbish.  Those who know understand the phrase, "we are our deeds."  And, denying life and all its goodness is not part of this worldview.  

The next time that your dog looks at you with unconditional love, consider this:  maybe the gods are looking at you through your dog's eyes, "seeing" how other creatures "see" you.  After all, when the letters are reversed, dog does spell god.  


                                                 Copyright @2013 Terry Unger 


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stories I Tell My Grandchildren - #2...... Thor and His Goats



Stories I Tell My Grandchildren - #2

Thor and His Goats

An Adaptation of Northern Lore For The Young



“Pop,” Mason asked, “Will you tell me another story about Thor?”  It was a rainy Sunday in Texas, and Northern Winds put a chill into the air. 
 
“Sure,” I said with a bit of caution.  The new Thor movie had just been released amid much fanfare and I was positive that the little guy had some questions.  I attempted to head off the questions with what I knew. 

“First things should always be first, Mason.  The real Thor has red hair and a bushy red beard, not blonde.  He is ruggedly handsome; Thor does not look like a clean-shaven, male fashion model.  Daddy Odin never kicked him out of Asgard and Sif is his loving wife, not a movie character who looks like a cross between Wonder Woman and Zina, Warrior Princess.  Plus, Sif is blonde!” 

“But Pop,” Mason strained, with a question stuck in this throat, “Why is the movie wrong?”   

“Well Mason, it’s not as much as the movie being wrong as it is about money.  The people who made the movie know what sells at the box-office.  They know that a blonde, clean-shaven guy appeals to more people than a big, red headed dude with a beard.  So, they put on the movie screen what people want to see.” 

“And they make more money?” 

“Yes Mason, a lot of money.”  

“So they make a lot of money by telling the wrong story?” 

“Well, they really make a lot of money by showing people what they want to see – the truth doesn’t matter.”    

The little guy had a puzzled look on his face; he’s only five years old.  When I told him that he would understand better when he was older, his puzzled look changed to a blank stare.  That did not last long. 

He laughed with delight as he said, “Thor really flies good with his hammer!” 

Again, I had to burst a movie-made bubble.  “Mason, Thor does not use his hammer to fly.  He uses his hammer to smash trolls and giants.  When he throws his hammer so it can do its’ work, it always comes back to him.” 

“But Pop, how does Thor fly?  Does he use an airplane?”  You just have to love five year olds. 

When I stopped smiling, I casually said, “When our friend Thor needs to fly, he uses his cart, pulled by his two goats.” 

“A cart and two goats?  Like the goats we saw at the neighbor’s farm?” 

“Thor’s goats are very special, Mason.  They are much bigger and stronger than what we saw the other day at the farm.  Well, they have to be if they lug Thor around the Multiverse in his cart!  And, they look more like mountain rams, with big, curled horns.” 

“Do Thor’s goats have names?”  
“Yes they do!  Thor calls them Toothnasher and Toothgrinder.  And, he is very protective of his magical goats.” 

“The goats are magical Pop?” 

“Absolutely Mason!  As I said before, they have to be magically strong so they can pull Thor around in his cart and take him where he needs to go.  And when he gets hungry, his goats help him.” 

“The goats go to Kroger and get stuff for Thor to eat?” 

“No Mason, but that would be a neat trick!  Let me tell you a story and you will understand.  Long ago, Thor was out and about within the Multiverse on Asgard business.  And of course, Toothgrinder and Toothnasher were with him, pulling his cart.  He stopped in Midgard for the night and was very hungry.  So, he ate one of his goats, and carefully laid out the bones, so he could bring it back to life in the morning; this was another way his goats help him.  Thor did this many times and always was successful bringing the goat back to life; they were perfect.  He just put his hammer over the bones, said a word or two, and there was his goat, healthy and sturdy as before.  But on that particular morning, things did not happen in the usual way.”  I paused to take a sip of my adult beverage. 

“What happened Pop?” 

When I put down my glass, I continued.  “As soon as his goat came back to life, Thor noticed that the goat was lame; the poor guy could hardly walk and running was out of the question.  Our big red-bearded guy was very angry; he knew that somebody messed around with the bones when he was sleeping.  Soon, Thor discovered that a little boy and girl had played with the bones – they were about your age!  So, he ate the goat again, laid out the bones in the proper manner, and brought the goat back to life.  His goat was perfect, as it was supposed to be.  Then, he scooped up the boy and girl, put them into his cart, and went to his home in Asgard.”  Again, another pause for a sip of my beverage; I knew what was coming. 

“Pop,” Mason asked, “Did Thor hurt the little boy and girl?” 

“No, but he wanted to teach them a lesson.  Thankfully for those two kids, Thor talked over his plan with his wife, Sif.  Sif thought that Thor’s plan was too harsh and convinced him to let her deal with the kids.  She put the boy and girl to work, doing some minor chores around their home in Asgard.  So tell me Mason, did you learn anything from this story?” 

“Ah…….not to play with stuff that’s not yours ‘cause you will get into trouble?”   

“Yes, that’s it.” 

“Pop, can you tell me a story about Sif, Thor’s wife?” 

“I have the perfect story for you but that will have to wait for another time.  Now, it’s nap time.”
 
“Awh Pop!”


Copyright @2013 Terry Unger













                     




       



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kindle "Yule" Published !!!



My wife and I are pleased to announce that our book, A Yuletide Anthology - A Collection of Selected Works and a Few Tasty Recipes is now available as a Kindle book. Within the covers of this small book, the authors tell of a time before the Christian conversion when the northern European peoples celebrated their most sacred of holidays, Yule. The reader will also find a few comments on holiday behavior and holiday gifting. Tucked between the pages are some recipes that will tempt your taste buds. And, for the holiday romantics, a short story of how a heart of stone is transformed is included.  

                                          Copyright @2013 Terry and Sandra Unger

Monday, November 4, 2013

Yuletide Anthology Published !


As of this date, 11/4/2013, A Yuletide Anthology - A Collection of Selected Works and a Few Tasty Recipes is available as a 6 x 9 soft cover on Amazon.  The Kindle version should be ready by Friday, 11/8/2013.  Within the covers of this small book, the authors tell of a time before the Christian conversion when the northern European peoples celebrated their most sacred of holidays, Yule. The reader will also find a few comments on holiday behavior and holiday gifting. Tucked between the pages are some recipes that will tempt your taste buds. And, for the holiday romantics, a short story of how a heart of stone is transformed is included.

Product Details


                                 
                                        Copyright @2013 Terry and Sandra Unger
                                       
                                                               

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A New Book Is In The Works !!!!



Sandra and I are happy to announce that our first collaboration, A Yuletide Anthology - A Collection of Selected Works and a Few Tasty Recipes is with the publisher for final edit.  This short book concentrates on Yule, the most holy of northern European holidays that was celebrated before the Christian conversion.  The reader will discover the origins of things like Santa Claus, the Yule log, holiday greenery, and much more.  We did not forget that the holiday has a need for tempting food; thus the recipes.  While not ancient, the recipes do recall a simpler time.  There are a few articles about holiday behavior and holiday gifting.  While not written in stone, they offer common sense solutions to the madness of the modern Christmas holiday.  And for the holiday romantics, a short story about a change of heart is there; grab your tissues.  

                                                 Copyright @2013 Terry and Sandra Unger   

Monday, October 28, 2013

Stories I Tell My Grandchildren #1




Stories I Tell My Grandchildren    #1

Thor and the Walls of Asgard

An Adaptation for the Young from the Northern Lore

Thor is a great guy and not a comic book character!  He has red, shaggy hair and beard and is one of our oldest ancestors.  That makes him a member of our family.  He has a mighty hammer and a belt of power that he wears around his waist.  Thor lives in a place called Asgard with his father Odin and more of our older ancestors or, relatives.  Just think of them as older brothers and sisters, or aunts and uncles!  Asgard is a large and very bright city surrounded by high walls.  These walls protect Asgard from its enemies, the mountain and frost giants.  And, Thor’s main job is to protect Asgard and our home Earth or, Midgard from these nasty giant’s violent forces. 

Unfortunately, like all families, a quarrel between our older family members happened very long ago.  Some of our older family members who lived in Asgard and some other family members, who lived just a little ways from Asgard in Vanaheim, quarreled, argued, and got into a big fight.  It was nasty.  Finally, father Odin realized that it was dumb for the family to fight and they all made up, and promised to never fight among themselves again!  But, there was much damage to Asgard. 

Most of Asgard’s walls were knocked down; that left Asgard almost unguarded from the giants.  As our relatives were discussing how to repair the walls, a stone mason, his cart, and his big black stallion arrived.  The mason offered to repair the walls in a short time but the price for his work was expensive.  If he finished on or before the agreed time, he would have beautiful Freya as his wife, and the Sun and Moon as his possessions!  If he did not complete the job, he received no pay!  Our family huddled together and thought that the mason’s offer was silly; no way could he finish the job.  One man, they thought, could not do all that work!  So, they took the mason up on his offer; Freya, the Sun, and the Moon were safe.  Or so they thought.  You see, the mason was a crafty mountain giant in disguise and he had a magical plan.  Thor was not at home.  He was off somewhere bashing ugly trolls.  The disguised giant began his work the very next morning. 

This giant was very tricky.  His big, black stallion was magical, and carried and pulled many more large stones than a normal horse; together, the giant and the horse moved and put into place the large stones with ease.  Soon, it was obvious to our relatives that the mason had tricked them and he would finish long before the deadline.  What should we do, they said to themselves?  Freya is lost to marriage and we really need our Sun and Moon!  But our relatives were not without their own magic! 

Loki, a tricky magician and a sometimes friend of our relatives, just happened to be visiting Asgard that day and had a plan.  He changed himself into a beautiful mare, a female horse, and ran out to play with the stallion.  The two horses ran and played together for days.  This prevented the giant mason from finishing his task on time.  The giant then knew that he had been tricked and became very angry.  In his anger, he changed into his true self – a mountain giant!  When our old relatives saw that the stone mason was really a mountain giant, they shouted out to Thor to come home. 

When Thor heard his family calling out to him, he stopped bashing trolls and quickly returned to Asgard.  Then Thor saw that the giant was about to fight with his family.  He threw his mighty hammer at the giant; it found its mark and returned to his hand.  The giant broke into smaller pieces of rock; that giant never bothered our relatives again!  Thanks to Thor, Freya, the Sun, and the Moon were saved! 

The next time that you see a pile of rocks in the forest, fields, or by the roadside, maybe that’s where Thor bashed a giant! 

                                     
                                           Copyright @2013 Terry Unger                  


Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Word For All Seasons


This four letter word, in my very humble opinion, is the most versatile in the English language.  It can be used as a verb, adjective, noun, pronoun, or adverb.  Also, when in non-English speaking country's, should you add words to it like go, you, or yourself, everybody understands exactly what you are saying.  This English word is universally understood, especially when accompanied by certain hand gestures.

If you drop this word, like a bomb, within ear-shot of a Church Lady, he/she may go out of his or her way to tell you that you have a future career opportunity in hell.  These same misguided souls will tell you the same if you are sporting tattoos.  Why are these people so upset?  Why are they concerned about you?  The answer is simple.  They are People of the Book.

This book in known as the bible and contains all of their answers.  It is a compilation of oddities and absurdities written by various humans over the course of many centuries.  But the People of the Book give all glory and credit to their god, who at the very least we are told, "inspired" the people who wrote the stuff.  Well, the various authors must have been tripping out on LSD; their god comes off as a spoiled 13 year old brat or an absolute lunatic.

The radical fringe of the People of the Book are happy to tell you all that you are doing wrong - they can quote it chapter and verse.  Also, do not be surprised if  one of them tells you that Gandhi is going to hell.  And, if you question their reasoning, you will promptly be told that you are an insolent sod and do  not have the  right to doubt their god's "love" for you even though it smacks of sadism.  Their god is, after all, all  merciful.

Fortunately, there is a solution.  Using the Word For All Seasons, tell them to go fuck themselves.  That they will understand.  However, if you say it with a smile on your face, they may take it as a term of endearment.  If you have read this and are offended, you really need to lighten up.

                                                 Copyright @2013 Terry Unger      

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Few Thoughts From An Older Man Who Still Has The Fire....



The king does sit on his throne, but his queen is the one who makes it comfortable.

There have been times when I thought.....why did that happen, why was that person chosen....or.... why did that event happen?  Then I remember that humans are what they are and the Infinite has a different agenda.  Maybe we humans are nothing but pawns in the greater scheme of things.

In a real game, there can only be one winner.  The winner gets the trophy and goes out for ice creme.  The loser just goes home.  In our politically correct society, everyone gets a trophy and goes out for ice creme.  In the latter scenario, there are no winners, just losers.

When, after watching the evening news, I think that bringing back public hangings back into vogue may make an impression on the young who think that being a gangsta is cool.

The only thing worse than a crusader with a cause is a crusader in cyber-space.  Jim Jones would have loved cyber-space.  Pass the cool-aid please.

Being a tough guy today does not necessarily mean how many punches you can take or how many you can dole out.  Rather, it means how tall you can stand against adversity to finish your job.

Social media offers us many options.  Of these, libel and slander are on the rise.  Hopefully, those of crooked tongue and warped mind will one day meet a good, old-fashioned country judge who goes by many names.

If it rains so hard in your life that you believe the gods are ringing out a well soaked bar towel from the heavens, grab a bucket.  It's not often that you get to share a drink with divinity.

Some things are worth dying for but others are not.  When principled belief wears down and becomes wanton want, your grave barrow gets deeper.

Many of us take freedom of speech and freedom of religion for granted - because we were born into it.  That is a mistake; do not ever be complacent about these freedoms.  There are those in our world who are ready and willing to rob you of this wealth.

Any system, habit, product, or belief that asks, requests, or demands a person to give up personal freedom and put trust in it, is not looking out for an individual's self-interest.  It is looking out for its very own.  The individual person becomes the refuse in the greater collective.

                                               Copyright @2013 Terry Unger

      

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sweet Memories From My Childhood





I really hated those Saturday nights.  I knew what was coming after dinner when my dad opened the record cabinet; there would not be any television tonight.  Soon, I was entertained by Misters Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and more.  The great tenor, Mario Lanza, usually made a guest appearance and sang his famous operetta, The Student Prince.  I made any excuse that I could to go early to bed.  That didn't help; dad always cranked up the volume.  Funny thing about this kind of stuff.  As I got older, I actually liked some of that music, especially Lanza's Student Prince.  As a teenager, mom and dad yelled at me to turn down the volume as I listened to Lanza singing Drink! Drink! Drink!  I used to make the walls vibrate with that one.

I remember well being dragged out of the house on early Saturday spring mornings by my parents so we could join the rest of the family to pick dandelions.  Yes, you read it correctly, dandelions.  We used the bright, yellow flowers and stems to make our spring wine, and ate the leaves covered with a hot, semi-sweet bacon dressing.  How I used to hate the whole thing!  It seemed to me that somebody always was correcting me on the art and science of using a hand-held weed puller.  And eating the leaves used to make me gag.  But by the time I reached my mid-teens, I could pick'em with the best of them and looked for seconds of the dandelion salad.  The men of my family made sure I got a little more salad but were special in other ways.

As a kid in short pants I truly believed that my father, grandfathers, and uncles could do anything.  And when needed, they did.  At one family gathering it was decided that the family needed a truck; the men  made one.  My uncles found an old but very serviceable Oldsmobile four door sedan.  The back half of the Oldsmobile was cut off with an acetylene torch leaving the rear of the frame exposed.  A truck bed was welded together out of stainless steel and oak planks were bolted to the stainless steel floor.  I remember those planks.  My cousins and I were tasked with sanding them.  And this family truck was used for a few things.

In late August the family gathered to harvest cherries to make the fall wine.  Here, think a working picnic complete with a barrel of beer; having an uncle as a brew master at a local brewery was a big help!  It was amazing that nobody fell off of a ladder.  The family purchased what would be today's equivalent of 30 gallon stainless steel trash cans.  Enough of those cans were bought to fill the back of the truck; every one of those cans was filled with cherries.  As a youngster, the women would not let me climb the ladders to pick.  The men yielded to the good sense of the women, but I did not feel that way.  I was a man, I insisted, just shorter.  This usually got a good belly laugh from my grandmother.  So, I was relegated to pick what I could from the ground.  It did not take long for me to get bored.  I needed to do something constructive and made myself 'the retriever.'  I retrieved beer and sandwiches for the folks on the ladders.  It was one way for me to climb the ladders.  When the family figured out what I was doing, they met me half-way.  I guess they thought that falling off of two ladder rungs was not going to kill me.  A word about that wine.  To my knowledge, we never used sulfides and never had a bottle go bad; I don't know why.  If it did turn to vinegar, I never knew about it.  In 1949 or 1950, my grandfather made something that was a bit like a fine Sherry.  I discovered a three gallon bottle of this stuff hidden away in my father's garage in the late '80s.  My dad and I finished it off  sometime in 1991.  It was incredibly smooth, tasty, and packed a punch.  Nothing on any liquor store shelf today can equal what my family made in first my grandfather's, then my uncle's basement.  Then there was the meat.

Mid-October was butchering time and again the truck came in handy.  We did not butcher, kill the animals, but went to a slaughterhouse and bought the steers and pigs already dressed and awaiting our saws and knives.  The dressed meat was thrown into the back of the truck and covered with a canvas tarp.  Obviously, this was long before today's cry-o-vac packaging.  I am sure that many modern health codes would be broken if we did this today.  The meat was taken to my one uncle's house who had a huge detached garage.  There it was cut, packaged, and frozen.  However, a great deal of the pork was smoked; the same uncle had a collapsible smokehouse.  And the smoking process took a few weeks.  We ate this meat throughout the year but it tasted its best during the holidays.  

Those days were always festive and bright, with enough food, beer, and wine to feed a small army.  Small fir trees were carefully selected, dug up, balled and immediately used to add to the sights and odors of the season (these trees were planted in the spring).  Larger fir trees were cut to "deck our halls" and decorated with tinsel and brightly colored lights.  In all of the families homes, evergreens were everywhere the eye could see.  And at this time of year, baking was a major priority.

The women of my family were amazing.  Always, they made sure that their homes were a welcoming place.  And like the queens of old, who efficiently took care of their castles, so did the women of my family care for their homes.  And when needed, they worked side by side with the men of the family.  But do not get caught in their kitchens during the holidays!

All of my aunts, both grandmothers, and my mother baked year long.  However, the holidays were a different time.  This was the only time of year that you got to eat some very special cookies, pastries (like strudels and kiffles), breads, cakes, and pies.  If you missed it, you had to wait until the following year - because it was that special.  That was just one reason you were thrown out of the kitchen when they were baking; no sneaking a taste was allowed.  Sadly, nothing today comes close to matching that special goodness; when warm, my grandmother's apple strudel dripped butter down my wrist.  I believe today that my grandmother's strudel would be declared a health hazard.

So much has changed - those days are long gone, but small efforts are made to try and duplicate some of the high times.  Sadly, you cannot duplicate the past.  But the memories are sweet, and they live on.

                                                 Copyright @2013/2014 Terry Unger    






   

          

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 11th



On September 11th, 2001, the United States of America was cowardly attacked by enemies sworn to bring our way of life to an end.  All of us watched in spell-bound horror as the mighty Twin Towers, the symbol of the United States economic might, crumbled.  We gasped and cried out loud as we watched in real time, people, as they jumped out of the Towers to avoid perishing by the heat and flame.  Folks in the States and for that matter world-wide, were astounded to see people covered with white ash as they ran to escape this unholy terror.  Those ash covered people did not number in the tens or twenties but in the thousands.  But those cowards were not satisfied with just the Towers attack.

They flew a plane into the Pentagon, the seat of the United States military operations, killing more.  On another plane, the brave passengers of  Flight 93, upon discovering their fate, decided to make their sacrifice meaningful and made sure that their plane never got pasted Shanksville, Pennsylvania.   The target of Flight 93 was Washington, D.C.  It does not take genius to know that Flight 93's target was either the White House or Congress.  Almost 3,000 men, women, and children of all ages and religious persuasions died that day; more were physically injured and some have night-mares that will haunt them until they die.  And then there were quite a few who, after discovering their loved one's fate, committed suicide.  This was a well planned, financed, and coordinated attack on the United States Homeland; never, ever forget this fact.

To add more pain to the suffering American public, the media ran news reels of our enemy's rabid supporters dancing in the streets upon receiving the "news of the death of the Great Satan."  To paraphrase the great American, Mark Twain, the news of our dearth was greatly exaggerated.  When you pull the bull's tale, when you flick the eagle's beak, and when you piss on enough Americans, you will get what you deserve, and more.

Twelve years have passed since that fateful day.  It is not over; our enemies still want to destroy us.  For all of us who lived through that horrible time and remember what we were doing when we heard what happened, we must never forget.  How can we?  Why should we?  Since 9/11/2001, another generation has been born and more will follow.  We must teach these new generations what happened; 9/11/2001 must never be relegated to the dust-bins of history.  We must be awake; we must never forget.

                                                    Copyright @2013 Terry Unger


 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Few Thoughts From An Active Mind

A few lines from my FB Page.............

I have lived long, and I have lived short.....I've seen three types of people. Those who sit and watch from the sidelines. Those who wanted to do something but did not for lack of intestinal fortitude. And those who did.....win, lose, or draw, they did something that made a difference. 

So many people have the personality of canned of peas; soggy and off-color.  

Telling a hungry man that you will pray for him does not fill his stomach.  

We are born and we all die. In between is this thing called life. Our birth and death are not important. How well we live our lives is.

When you stop feeling sorry for yourself and take charge of your life, "miracles" happen.

Those who have, when they take from what is intended for the have nots, are nothing more than thieves in a different dress. They have no honor.  

Living life without hope is like drinking your morning coffee without a cup.  

It is better to live life as who you REALLY are and not try to impress others by attempting to be something that you are not.  


                                                                Copyright @2013 Terry Unger





Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Old Neighborhood and the Cost of Dying


Once upon a time in America, every neighborhood had its very own butcher shop, barber and beauty parlor (as my grandmother used to call it), at least one saloon, a mom and pop grocery store, and an undertaker.  When you wanted a chicken, turkey, or pot roast, you went to Joe's Butcher Shop.  You went to Joe's Store to get the veggies to go along with what you bought at the butcher shop.  When you needed a haircut, or mom wanted a perm to look good for that special occasion, you visited Joe's barbershop/Josephine's beauty parlor.  And Joe's Place, the local watering hole, was the place to stop after a hard day's work, or when you and mom wanted to go out on a Saturday night.  When you needed to bury your dearly departed with dignity and respect, Joe the Undertaker was there for you.  So much has changed.

In our march of progress, much of the above has been either radically changed or eliminated.  Mega-stores have replaced neighborhood shopping.  Unisex salons have replaced the barbershop and beauty parlor.  Hell, most of the neighborhood watering holes have been replaced by chain-style bar and grills located in the 'burbs (how much easier it was to stagger home on a Saturday night when "home" was very close, and driving an automobile was not even a considered option - you had two feet and home was just down the street).  And then we had Joe the Undertaker.

The Undertaker was as much a part of the neighborhood as the bar and grill; he too, has been replaced.  Bending to "political correctness" or maybe "progress," the label undertaker is no longer used.  Today, the preferred term is "Funeral Director."  And along with the label change came the "care change."  The very personal care given by the local undertaker gave way to the very impersonal care corporations dole out.  Corporations you say?  Yes dear heart, corporations.

In North America, there are four corporations that have eaten up a large portion of private funeral homes and cemeteries.  And, they all have plans for expansion; death is big business and business is booming.

Two of these corporations are based in Houston Texas; the third in New Orleans, and the fourth in Tampa Florida.  Do not be confused.  These corporate entities move with all the stealth of a deployed Navy Seal Team.  When they buy, there is little or no public public notice of the sale.  The old, local and in many cases, "family name on the door" does not change.  The original family/owner/operators stay on for a few years to assure a smooth transition within the community.  And know this:  the new owners, the corporation's managers, are well schooled schmoozers when it comes to public relations.  After they have brow-beaten you for every dollar they can get and you sign on the dotted line, do not expect a lot of "service after the sale."  But, hell, don't take it personally.  After all, it's just business here in the USA.  It's almost like buying a new car from a national dealership.  But, as of this post, not all is lost.

These four after-death merchants have yet to suck up all the privately owned funeral homes and cemeteries.  However, it's really hard to figure out their total holdings without a look at their balance sheets; they are stealthy and not very forth coming.  Remember, they do retain on their acquired properties, the names of the previous owners.  So, if in need, just ask; they have to tell you.  And, as gruesome and as heartless as it may sound, shop around.  There still are many privately owned funeral homes and cemeteries remaining that can give you top-notch, personal care and service.  You may find a private funeral director that is sharp enough to show you the "corporate price" and their price.  Do not be shocked when you see that the little, private guy's fees are way less than the corporate's.

That said, it's obvious that yesteryear is long gone; that's why it's referred to as yesterday.  Progress had brought changes; now death is a growth industry.  But you and your deceased loved ones do not have to be robbed of your dignity and cash.  Keep your eyes and ears open open.

                             
                                               Copyright @2013 Terry Unger   














            

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Case For Evolution



There are times when a writer has a spot of trouble beginning an article.  In this instance, it has nothing to do with writer's block.  Rather, it has to do with the silliness of a subject that needs serious rebuttal.  And, a rebuttal far weightier than I can muster.  But to sooth my fevered brow, into the breach I go!  The subject that is in need of serious rebuttal is known as creationism.  Take note of my lack of capitalization; that's how silly I believe the subject to be.  But then, this is coming from an  infidel.

The short story as told by the creationists:  evolution is a scam perpetrated by modern science.  According to creationist doctrine, god (their version of god) created the Earth and all in it just a mere 6,000 years ago.  Dinosaurs were Adam and Eve's pets and the huge teeth on those beasts were used to crack open melons.  Creationists, while having no use for modern science and its practitioners, have their very own "scientists" who claim that all fossils are forged.  Fossils, according to them, have been forged to dupe the general public into believing that evolution is a fact.  This is all a part of Satan's plan to take people away from god (again, their god) and the bible.  And, if you should visit one of their creation parks (think an extreme, biblical oriented Disney-type land for the mentally challenged) that have popped up, they will be more than happy to show you how modern science has forged fossils in a strenuous effort to make you a "true believer."  Also, they have published several books on this subject (the creationist viewpoint) and a few of these books, unfortunately, found their way into schools.  This happens when creationists are elected to your local school board.  Also, creationism seems to get a lot of media attention and not all of it is negative.  Given all this, one might think that creationism has a large following; some elected officials, more than just elected school board members, are creationists. And, does a question about politicians pushing personal agendas need to be asked?  I digress.  When compared to the Roman Catholic Church, the creationist population is small.  And, the Catholic Church's position on evolution is damned near opposite that of creationism.

 Decades after Darwin published his On the Origins of Species in 1859, the Church played "footsy" with the idea of evolution; various members of the Church clergy penned articles for and against the subject.  But in 1950, the fate of evolution as part of Church doctrine, dogma, and instruction was sealed.

Pope Pius XII issued his papal encyclical, Humani generis.  This encyclical stated that there is no conflict between the Church and evolution provided the person believes that the human soul comes from and is/was created by god and not the material Earth.  Over the next few decades, the Church refined its position on evolution into what is now known as Theistic Evolution:  god kicked off creation, evolution happened, it is ongoing, and god made the human soul.  Pope John Paul II hammered home this point in 1996.  This is all good stuff, but in the tapestry of time, the Church's teaching/revelations about evolution are fairly recent.  There are texts far more ancient than the Church's recent pronouncements that speak of creation and evolution.  These texts are known as the Voluspa and the Rigspula.  

The Voluspa is the Germanic/Norse story of a seeress's prophecy that was requested by the Aesir high god Odin/Wodan.  It deals, in part, with the creation and destruction of the world and a few things in between.  At one point, the story focus's on Odin/Wodan and his two brothers (the three creator gods) as they walk through Midgard (Earth).  They come upon two beings, known as Ask and Embla, who are often referred to as trees.  The pair are described as having not much more than a vegetative existence.  Obviously, Ask and Embla did not look like anything remotely human.  Then, according to the Voluspa, something remarkable happened.  The three gods blessed the duo with soul, the breath of life, and more.  These gifts put this particular species on an evolutionary path to become human.  The gods, for whatever their reason, tweaked evolution.

The Rigspula is, in my opinion, often misunderstood; Dumezil and his caste system of thralls, farmers, and rulers is wrong.  I think this opinion about caste comes up when the story is read and it is assumed that the visits of the god Rig (probably Odin/Wodan) happened one right after the other.

As the story goes, the god visits the first couple, who according to the text, are really ugly.  And, their situation is very primitive.  When night falls, the good is invited to sleep between the man and woman.  The god impregnates the woman and a child is born (the thralls).

Later, the god visits the second couple.  They are much better looking and their situation is much improved over that of the first couple.  The nighttime bed sharing happens again and another child is born (farmers, freemen).

Finally, the god visits the third couple who just happen to be downright handsome and their situation is the best of the three.  Once more, nighttime activity produces a child (rulers, warriors).  Now is a good time to pause and mention a few things.

For folks not familiar with mythology in general, the storyteller uses simple and rather folksy ways to get his message across to his listeners (or readers).  The couples mentioned in the Voluspa and the Rigspula represent the existing humanoid/human population of the particular time.  The god sleeping with the couples and the resulting children are folksy ways of telling us that the god spent time among  people and gave them significant gifts.  Those two god-gifted beings in the Voluspa started the human evolutionary ball rolling.  In my opinion, the Rigspula tells us more of the same.

In the Rigspula, when the god visits the first couple, they are more evolved (but still in a primitive condition of appearance and way of life) then the couple Ask and Embla in the Voluspa.  The visiting god gifts them with an evolutionary booster shot and they (the population) evolve and become the couple of the second visit.

When the god appears for his second visit, he sees that the "couple" is more evolved than the first.  They are more attractive to the eye and their means of providing for themselves is far better than couple number one.  Another booster shot is administered, and couple number two become couple number three.

The god is obviously pleased with human evolution on his third visit.  The people are very handsome and their lives are superior to those "couples" of the past multi-millennia.  The god is so pleased that a third evolutionary shot is given.  That third couple evolved into.....us, modern man.  At this point it is tempting, after considering that humans may have received various evolutionary tweaks from some sort of divinity, to make certain assumptions; I will not.

In my opinion, for a caste system to be the message of the Rigspula, the story would have started with the rulers/warriors first, the farmers/freemen second, and the thralls last, and not as it is written.  In that method, the couples would have devolved, not evolved.  I am convinced that the Rigspula is a mythical story describing human evolution from the beginning up to at least the pre-viking age, with the possibility of some divine intervention.  Also, I am convinced that the Voluspa holds many truths, yet to be discovered.  But this is an opinion, mine.  Sadly, the Voluspa and the Rigspula are incomplete; both are missing whole sections.  Hopefully one day, the missing will be found.  For those who have reached this point, do not be to quick to draw similarities between the Roman Catholic Theistic Evolution and the Voluspa/Rigspula.  The latter are very old, while the ink on the Church document is still wet.  And, it is doubtful that the Church would consider ancient heathen works to form its opinion.  Or maybe not.  But, what about the creationists?

It should be obvious that if the creationists reject rock solid science, they also reject the Roman Catholic Theistic Evolution doctrine.  There are two reasons for this:  the creationists despise anything Roman Catholic (a tool of Satan).  And, the doctrine, in its own way, validates evolution, something they swear is a complete falsehood.  Of course, anything written by a heathen, an infidel, now or two thousand years ago would be rejected without any due consideration with the exception, possibly, for toilet paper.  But really, what is sillier; the possibility that divinity tweaked evolution or that Adam and Eve had dinosaurs as house pets?


                                                   Copyright @2013 Terry Unger     

          

      






            


Saturday, August 10, 2013

False Friends



Our modern world has a few pitfalls.  One of them is the addiction to being "connected and on-line."  Another, I believe, is friendship, or what we think real friendship is.  People "like" us, on-line and in real life, and want to be with us.  Why is that?  There are many people who want our attention.  If they want our attention, then probably, they are interested in other things.  Words from my innocent youth still ring true in my ears.

When I was a mere boy of 9 or 10 years, a neighborhood chum's mother told me something that, at the time, I thought to be rather strange.  She told me that I would be very lucky if I had one or two real friends during my lifetime.  She was right; now I understand that wisdom.

A true friend, a real friend, stands by you through thick and thin, joy and adversity, and only wants the same from you.  It would be nice if that was a universally recognized axiom.  However, modern human behavior, the hurrah for me and the hell with you, tells a different story.

Many people but not all (thank the gods) are out for themselves and are not shy about using the concept of friendship to achieve their goals.  Then there are others who sleepwalk through their life and are not aware of their actions.  However, consciously or unconsciously, sleepwalking or not, using friendship to further your own goals is unconscionable.  And then some do not have any goals.

Many people want to live their lives vicariously through others and friendship is the way that they suck the life and more out of people.  When the parties have stopped, the BBQ's end, and you stop sending gifts to their kids on their birthdays, these people forget that you exist.  Oh, and how they are offended!  And yet, there is another reason for these false friends to throttle you.

Your opinions about a thing or two have changed.  This upsets the bloodsuckers because within their vicarious selves, you are connected to something else, something greater than you, in their estimation, that they admire; you are their personal conduit.  Your change offends them; in many ways, you have cut them off from that something else.  When this happens, these false friends, these bloodsuckers, waste no time in publicly and privately condemning you.  These people are and certainly never were your friends.  They should be classified as parasites along for the ride (or barnacles to be scraped off a ship) and when the ride abruptly ends, they are pissed at you, like it's all your fault.  Baloney.  Again, people of this nature are not your friends.  People or this type want to live vicariously off of others because they lack the courage to live their lives on their own merit and  admit who they truly are.    

When people mask their intentions, sleepwalking or not, they certainly do not have your best interests at heart; it's all about them and what they want, consciously or unconsciously.  Here is a litmus test.  When a real life boogeyman  beats down your door, who is there to stand by your side, tuck you in at night, tell you that all things will work out, and that you are a good person?  Guaranteed, you can count them on one hand, minus the thumb and the pinkey finger.   

                                                 Copyright @2013 Terry Unger      
   

 

          

Friday, August 9, 2013

Judgement Day



For those folks of the Judeo-Christian persuasion, judgement day conjurers up thoughts of their eternal fate, the moment when their god will condemn them to hell or eternal bliss.  This is pretty much like a human court system with no hope of appeal.  And the judge in this scenario is more like a 13 year kid on crack.  Now that I have your attention, let's consider how people judge people.

Every argument and failure between two people or two million is judged by those who have chosen what side they want to be on.  This is normal human behavior; anyone who has passed through a withering divorce can tell you the same.  However, they will only see one side of the argument, the story.  Moreover, they do not want to look at the other side.  Not only do these folks want to consider that their side is wrong, they do not want to believe that they have chosen the wrong side of the argument.  When it comes to being confronted by the cheerleaders from the other side, there is, I believe, a simple way of handling yourself and having a good laugh.   

Carry some loose change in your pocket.  Pull out the largest coin and give it to the person who is confronting you and insulting your intelligence.  Ask the buffoon about the total number of the coin's sides.  Then point out that the sides are different but make up the whole coin.  Let your would-be judge keep the coin and walk away.  It will be the best 25 cents you've ever spent.

                                                     Copyright @2013 Terry Unger     

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Discovering a New World



Men used to clamber into their ships and set off to discover new worlds.  Once upon a time we sent  men to check out the Moon; a place we knew existed but had not visited, until July 1969.  Now, we just talk about manned expeditions, preferring the unmanned versions.  Whatever happen to a colony, an outpost on the Moon?  But there are other areas of discovery that are just as exciting as they are full of frightening possibilities.

Recently, it was announced that scientists made a hamburger from stem cells.  To make it more palatable, a few ingredients had to be added.  This new achievement was hailed as a possibility to feed millions in the future; in and by itself, maybe not a bad idea.  That said, something stuck in my craw.  Here it is:  science fiction becomes reality.

How far away can we be from manufacturing human beings on an assembly line, like an automobile with all the bells and whistles desired?  I say manufacturing, and not making babies the old fashioned way, through sex.  Maybe the day of a perfectly flawless, manufactured human population, is closer than we think or, want to believe.  Personally, I shudder to think of the consequences of this happening.  We humans are unique in many ways including our flaws.  Repairing a damaged organ with stem cells is one thing but leave the baby making to the old fashion methods.  But for people and groups who still insist that the body is evil, sex is a sin (heaven forbid that people really enjoy it!) and  making babies is dirty, they can take heart in the "manufactured process."  Heavens forbid that happens.

                                               Copyright @2013 Terry Unger    

  


Saturday, July 20, 2013

When Your Accuser Is Right



A few days ago a posted to my blog something titled, When Your Accuser Is Wrong.  I poked fun, with good reason, at cyber-friends and how when on-line, many of them grow the cyber equivalent of "beer muscles."  And all so true.  But, we are neither invincible nor infallible; we are human, prone to errors, and one day, surprise surprise, we will die.  We make mistakes, errors in judgement, and flat out screw up.

Often, we make decisions based on all the available information that we can lay our hands on.  But here is the rub:  we ignore all that stuff that contradicts what we want to believe as true, that stuff that we use to base our decisions.  I am guilty of the same.  And to boot, we feel very smug and good about this platitude that we have created and hold dear.  Then, some guy comes out of left field and points out the errors in our decision/truth/platitude.

Of course, we do not like that when it happens; who the hell is this guy, we ask ourselves with righteous indignation.  It can be worse when it comes out of left field cyber-space.  At this point two things, in varying degrees, happen.  We politely ignore the intrusion into our personal bubble and/or we tell the interloper to piss off.  The second, we admit that we may have made a mistake and begin to look for the error; this move takes some humility.  In the ongoing discovery process, we may be faced with accepting some kind of failure:  the failure on our part of ignoring or completely disregarding all that stood in original opposition to our decision/truth.  Now, we stand face to face with our half-baked reasoning.  We can either correct our error and move on, or stick our heads in the sand, insisting that the righteousness  of our decision/truth is more than enough to know; righteousness is, ah, so smug.  In my opinion, this falls within the arena of faith and belief; having the faith to believe in something that cannot be proven.  No matter how many times we play dress-up with this stuff, the decision/truth is incomplete or flat out wrong.  We live in the 21st century, not the 7th or the 8th.  A courageous man will fix his errors.  Unfortunately, many people have a mainspring so tight that not even electric shock therapy can help them.  

                                                      Copyright @2013 Terry Unger                

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Love of a Dog



Everybody loves puppies.  They are soft, cuddly and lots of fun.  But, you cannot put a diaper on a puppy.  Puppies grow into adult dogs and they need our help.

When we take a canine into our home, they became a part of the family; only idiots chain them up outside.  Our dogs are not just pets, but members of our family.  Doggies cannot feed or water themselves without our help (unless or course, we leave something on table's edge).  In many ways, our dogs are like dependent children.  But, what they give us in return is huge.

Let's start off with unconditional love; dogs are great teachers.  That certain wagging of the tail that just says, "I'm so happy to see you !"  The touch of that wet nose and small lick that tells us our canine pal is here for us, and being close by when we are sick.  The barking to let us know danger can be present. And then there is that certain smile from our doggies that says, "Dude, you are so cool!"  We need to remember that even though a dog will not be with you all of your life, he will be with you for all of his. Make it a good life.  

No other animal can give humans this kind of unconditional support.  Hell, some dogs even act like they are human.  That is why Sandra and I are adopting Jack.

Jack is just two years young and was fostered by our daughter and her family for most of those two years. He is a Llewellyn Setter who was born blind in one eye (Jack is not just blind, but is missing his entire right eye).  Now, Jack is a part of the Ungerlands. He will be one spoiled pooch.

                                                   Copyright @2013 Terry Unger  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When Your Accuser Is Wrong





We humans have strange ways of communicating.  And in cyber-space, it appears that these ways have not only increased, but have morphed into the seemingly incredulous.  Some folks, who are silent in the real world, when on-line, gain the cyber equivalent of "beer muscles."  That said, there is one thing that doesn't change; when a person accuses you of something based on hearsay, another's opinion, and half-truths.

This happens to all of us.  In the real world, instead of coming to you and asking, "Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot (WTF), the offended chooses to sever all ties with you.  You are not given the chance to defend yourself, unless you decide to pursue the issue against whatever accusation was laid upon you by a third party (who just may have a personal agenda).  Personally, those who do not come to me and ask what the hell is going on I do not bother to pursue them, let alone the issue.  Eventually, they will discover the truth.  This in the real world.  Plus, what kind of "real friend" can these people be?  Cyber-space has similar characteristics but they are over the top, and almost down-right hilarious; I  do not pursue them.

So, how many of your "friends" on Facebook, Twitter, etc. do you know, in the personal sense.  How many of them have you touched, hugged, or kissed, physically?  With how many of them have you shared a pot of coffee?  And more importantly, how many of them have your shared fears, tears, and beers?  In the case of plain-Jane cyber-friends, the answer is zero.  Your cyber-friends are not much more than images created by the binary number system.  So, what if these people decide to flush you as a "friend?"  Not a problem - they hell with them.  Maybe, just maybe, they do not exist in the real world of flesh, bones, and blood; this is where it counts.

People need to develop real person to person relationships.  The cyber world exists for as long as electricity lasts.  I am not implying that one day the power will end, just that real friendship does not need electricity.  

                                               Copyright @ 2013/2015 Terry Unger




Friday, July 12, 2013

Respect




As human beings who sit at the top of the food and evolutionary chain of life, we should have respect for all things.  I love a good steak, but I am aware of the sacrifice made for me to enjoy it while nourishing my body.  That steer did not voluntarily give up its' life so I could enjoy it.  It just did not.  The steer did not think or say, "Terry needs meat, therefore I will sacrifice myself for him."  On the contrary, it hated its' death - because no living thing wants to die. This awareness of mine, though it may seem gross to some, makes me appreciate what I have to eat.  I had the same awareness when I hunted deer, rabbit, and pheasants for food.  Having respect for all things in this world is a good thing, but I take umbrage to so many young people who demand of their elders that we earn their respect before they give it to us.  What rubbish.  Here I go again on waxing on the past.

When, as a young sprout who sat on his father's, grandfather's, and uncle's knee, I never questioned their words.  These guys were my elders, and through experience, they knew much more than I did.  They have my respect, and always will.  Unfortunately, many of the young folks today demand that the older folks prove to them their worthiness, to be judged by the young, to garner their respect.  This is out and out bullshit.  It stems from the young believing that the older generations, starting with their parents, are the source of their collective heart-ache.  This is nothing more than trying to put the blame for your own failed expectations on someone else.  You are the masters of your fate.  Nobody else.  To those who espouse to this belief (blaming another, whether you believe it or not), I tell you now that it's time to put on your big boy pants and grow up.  Unless your elder is a convicted pedophile or mass killer, what is the problem?  If this was the case, it's him/her, not you.  And heed this - the young who ignore the past by turning a deaf ear to their elders are condemned to repeat it, in all its modern forms.  Suck on that lollipop.

                                                 Copyright @2013/2016 Terry Unger

  


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Connected, Tuned In, and Tuned Out



Don't get me wrong, I think that modern technology is awesome.  To have the ability to video chat and more with friends and relatives thousands of miles away in real time is something that Alexander Graham Bell could only dream about.  For a man like Bell, it would be the extreme in science fiction.  And let's not forget about Facebook.  It gives a pre-geezer like me the opportunity to keep tabs on the grand-kids.  It's amazing how much I can find out about them that they will not tell me; please do not tell them - they just might "unfriend" me!  Well, all this modern technology is really swell, but can its' use be excessive at times?  Are there times when we should "put it down" and take a breather from it?  I think so.

At least five times a week I pound out my 5K routine on a tread mill at a local gym.*  It never fails that I am usually flanked on both sides by people using their smart phones.  Although these folks start out listening to music, the inevitable happens:  they receive at least one phone call.  Personally, I don't give a hoot about the problems that they are trying to solve with the person at the other end; it's none of my business.  Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that exercise also is meant to help a person decompress and relax from life's stress.  Getting lost in one's heart rate and respiration becomes a moot point when you bring the office to the gym.  

A vacation is supposed to be a time to get away from it all.  Taking your smart phone with you to stay "connected" to work and various social media, in my opinion, is not just silly but contrary to what a vacation is supposed to be.  A vacation, whether it be an hour at the gym or a month at the beach cannot be a break from your routine if you are still tied to it with a smart phone.  You need to relax and unwind, so leave the phone at home where it can ring its' ass off in a desk drawer.  It will be there when you return, after you have discovered that it's a good thing to get away from it all.  But what the hell, I am a hopeless romantic who likes to lose himself in his own heart rate and respiration.  

                                                     Copyright @2013 Terry Unger   

* Since this post was published, I blew out my knee.  I am a candidate for knee replacement.  Running is out of the question, but I can bike, and do about 10 miles a day.  Now the only people I see using a smart phone are driving automobiles.     

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Is Here

As I write these words, it is the 19th of June, 2013.  In two days, June 21st, it is Summer Solstice and the official beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere.  For the folks in the southern hemisphere, it is their Winter Solstice.  Here in the USA, many people feel that Memorial Day Weekend (end of May) if the unofficial beginning of Summer.  I believe that that feeling may be unconsciously justified or arrived at as many folks drag out their grills from a shelter and BBQ for the first time in the current year.  Well, here in Gulf Coast Texas, we have just two seasons:  February and Summer - we BBQ throughout the year.  But Summer Solstice is not without its ancient celebrations.

The ancient heathen/pagan cultures of Europe and for that matter, other ancient cultures celebrated the Solstices.  Summer Solstice marked the longest day of the year (it still is) from which point onward the days grew shorter and then the sun "dies," only to be reborn during the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year).  And Summer Solstice celebrations were known to run from at least 6/20 - 6/26.  The holiday, which it truly was, was marked by feasting, excessive drinking, dancing, and singing.  But that just the beginning.

Bonfires were set ablaze to scare away dragons (early Christian period).  It was believed that during Summer Solstice dragons poisoned fresh drinking water.  Also, a wheel shaped object made of combustible materials was set on fire and rolled DOWNHILL.  The fire wheel and its downhill trajectory symbolized the dying sun.  And Summer Solstice - Midsummer, was thought to be a time when magic was at its peak.

People believed that the picking of certain herbs at this time of year brought not only good luck but also good health.  Also, it was believed that if a young girl placed certain flowers and herbs beneath her pillow, through dreams, she would she her future husband.  And of course, fertility was involved.  People thought that babies conceived during Midsummer would be very healthy and lucky.  But what is really in a calendar date?  Does the date of something matter?  Well, that depends on who you are.

Ancient cultures, especially the old European cultures, celebrated Midsummer on the date based on the old Roman calendar, June 24th.  Remember, as humanity evolved, so did our calendar and the way we mark time.  Christianity, with its overreaching conversion/subjugation found another heathen/pagan holiday to use to its advantage.

The old Midsummer holiday celebrated June 24th, became the birthday of John the Baptist.  Christian doctrinists declared that based on scripture, the Baptist's birth date was June 24th because he was born six month before the supposed birth of Jesus.  However, the Bible does not give a date for the supposed birth of Jesus.  And it provides absolutely no linkage to Jesus and all the finery to be had during Yuletide.  With little effort, a person can discover that it was the Christian doctrinists who made December 25th as the birth date of Jesus.  We really need to thank those old heathen/pagans for all of our good times.  Have an awesome Midsummer!  

                                                      Copyright @2013 Terry Unger    



      

Friday, June 7, 2013

Truth, Honor, and Fiduciary Responsibility



When I was younger, I worked in the financial services racket for almost ten years.  With all the licenses that I had, I was in constant contact with the mega-bucks of other people's money.  I had a fiduciary responsibility to do the best that I could for my clients; it was their money, not mine.  But back in the day, a colleague of mine fell into the temptation of all that cash.

At first, he took a few bucks here and there, all easily replaced; he had needs, you know.  But gradually, the replacing was overtaken by the taking.  And taking, he most certainly did.  Multiples of thousands he took, as if it were a disease.  Finally, this bastard was caught and prosecuted.  His punishment included the loss of all professional licenses and a permanent ban on any employment in the financial services arena.  Also, he had to make financial restitution to all the people that he had screwed.  But no jail time.  Oh yeah, he had to do some community service.  At the time, I felt that this prick should have been put in a cell with a really big sweaty guy who went by the name of Bubbalove.  Last I heard, he was making big bucks in real estate.  The wheel of time turns.

In the last five years, I was the Power of Attorney for my father and his sister, my aunt.  My responsibility went well past being their POV; I also was their medical power of attorney.  I held the heavy responsibility of determining what medical treatment they would receive and when and how they would get it.  This is heady stuff and not to be taken lightly or ignored; getting phone calls past midnight was the norm, at least for me.  Part of all of this is watching your loved ones rapidly decay; you'd best have your shoes laced tight.  And, paying their monthly nursing home/assisted living home fees was a part of that norm.  As was the face time spent with the various administrators and time spent with my father and aunt.  BTW, anyone who knows me knows that when I pay out a nickel, I expect that nickel to shit a penny.  I expect the best for dollar spent, especially for loved ones.

When in that honored position of caring for my father and aunt, I was surrounded by their cash.  In comparison to my fiduciary responsibility while in financial services, the tempting amount was small.  However, access was at least 100 times easier - I was the guy who wrote the checks.  But at no time did I ever think to line my pockets at my father's and aunt's expense.  I am not a hero; I just did what was right.  And I am not alone in that behavior.  The majority, the lions share of folks in the same position, act in the same way.  It is just the right thing to do.

When I heard that an individual who purports to hold the same mindset as mine defiled his fiduciary responsibility to his mother, I withheld comment and waited for the verdict.  The trial is over and the verdict is in.  The penalty is probation and financial restitution within a proscribed period.  If restitution is completed within that proscribed time, the guy's record is erased.  Why so easy?  Because he just screwed over his mommy?  Maybe.  If a person does not honor his family, does not hold them in fidelity, can that person be trusted?  Personally, I cannot.  Hmmmmm..... maybe Bubbalove and his pals should pay this guy a visit.

                                            Copyright @2013 Terry Unger

  

  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Did You Study For The Test?



I am a curious man, and I love to read and study many things.  But every now and again there is something that either disturbs me or I just do not understand.  One of these things is standardized testing.

The people who have put these tests together throw in a bunch of stuff.  It is assumed that all who are taking or who have taken these tests know the material.  But it appears that many do not.  So, if they do not, why is it that they do not know the test material?   This, I believe, is a reasonable question that must be asked by others more proficient than I to the testers.

If, just if we were to take a variety of species, and then asked them, as a test, to climb to the top of a 100 ft. tree in so many seconds, a man would fail this test.  Monkeys and squirrels would be quick, while a man and lion would suffer in the ascent.  The common house cat might succeed, but would require a rescue from the local fire department.  Yes, I know that this example is silly but it proves a point.  Here is a more reasonable, down to earth example with a solution.

An old acquaintance of mine, a master chief in the United States Navy, had a teaching assignment.  He had to teach electronics theory and repair of various equipment to those who had displayed interest or some kind of aptitude in that arena on their navel entrance exams.  It was not an easy task.  He discovered that he had two types of students:  one kind was book smart but did not know the difference between a screw driver and a pliers, while the others had all the mechanical aptitude but were lost when it came down to math and electronic theory.  His solution was to pair them off and let them teach each other.  The result - all of his students graduated and served their country well.  There is a reason why I used this example.

I believe that all of us possess genius in at least one area of life:  like the guy who can diagnose what's wrong with your car with little effort to the doctor who can figure out that you have a diseased gall bladder without any fancy tests.  And of course there are more.  These points of individual genius need to be discovered and cultivated like a unique rose.  If a man cannot climb that tree for what ever the reason, so be it.  That is not his talent; it lies elsewhere.  That man, no, all of us, needs to discover and cultivate our personal rose.  Do not expect others to do it for you.  And, maybe we need to learn from that old master chief.

                                                        Copyright @2013 Terry Unger    

Monday, May 27, 2013

Insubordination



I am not a big fan of Christianity, particularly the Roman Catholic Church; anyone who knows me will tell you that.  But a few days ago when Pope Francis announced that "God" loves everybody, including atheists and that all of us are "redeemed," I felt like a breath of fresh air had come out of the Church.  Good for you Francis, I thought.  You're moving the Church in the right direction - finally.  Well, that was until today.

Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, boldly announced that the Pope was WRONG; atheists still are going to hell.  Awh shucks.  To digress for just a moment, Church doctrine and dogma considers all pagans, heathens, and other forms of non-believing humanity atheists.  It does not matter is you believe in a pantheon of gods or none; you're an atheist and therefore not worthy of "salvation."  Especially if you know about the Church and reject its "message."  Now, let's get back on  track.

In the real world, the private sector and even in government, a subordinate who tells the world that his boss is wrong, finds himself swimming in a deep pool of fecal matter.  Such not so cool moves result in dismissal, or worse.  The Pope, according to the Church's doctrine and dogma, is its leader and the mouthpiece of its god on earth.  A rational mind would think that Rosica should be dismissed, canned, drummed out of his job, and defrocked.  Don't expect that to happen.  Remember, this is the Roman Catholic Church; many of its pedophiles still run free.  But even if it did, the poisoned doctrine and dogma would still live on.

Rabid clerics and greedy politicians took a simple message about love and created a straight-jacket  religion with a "us versus them" ideology.  If God truly is all powerful and all love, he/she is not going to give two farts against the wind if a person believes or not.  But people do, and that is where the problem lies.  So, leave deity out of it.  When you do that, you will see how silly all that man-made doctrine and dogma really is.  Here is a radical idea to chew on.

Maybe "God" should whisper into Francis' ear that it's time for a new Crusade to rid Christianity of the real non-believers like Rev. Thomas Rosica.  He and his ilk are still protecting an institution whose time has come to pass on.  But what the hell do I know.  I'm just a crazy heathen, a non-believer.

                                                    Copyright @2013 Terry Unger

Personal Musings about ALU - ULA

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