Thursday, March 21, 2013

BVO, Beer, and Me

I have had the reputation since I was a kid, for possessing a cast-iron stomach.  But, a thing or two has gotten to me and caused some sort of distress.  One of those things is BVO.  The letters B,V, and O stand for Brominated Vegetable Oil and is used in citrus flavored sodas to help the flavored oils mix well with the other ingredients in the soft drink.  A few months ago, I developed a taste for a certain citrus flavored drink made by the number two cola manufacturer.  These guys also make the original and still very popular sports drink.

About 10 days ago, I became tired and my muscles and joints felt, well, strange.  And then there was a certain amount of rather strange lower intestinal cramping.  My wife Sandra picked up the soda bottle and read the label.  She said, " Amor, maybe it's the BVO.  You should check it out."  Up to that point, I had no idea what the hell BVO was.  This heathen soul has been around long enough to know that it's a good thing to listen to his wife.  She is, after all, smarter than me.  What I discovered I wish I had known before I started drinking that stuff.

BVO is not found in nature; it is a synthetic food additive that was developed in a lab to help market various things that we drink an eat.  In large doses and consumed over a period of time, it can become toxic.  Maybe that's why BVO is banned in Europe.  But, here in the States, the FDA believes that under the currently allowed soft drink formulas, it is an acceptable additive.  Did I mention that when the basic BVO formula is slightly altered, it is used to make stuff flame retardant?  My thoughts at the time were - oh shit, am I gonna glow in the dark?  Am I radio-active?  Strange thoughts run through your head when you can pin-point the source of your distress.  Of course, my skin does not glow in the dark or  look like a yellow safety vest.  And, I am not radio-active.  But, along with the aches and pains, it was enough to get me to stop drinking the stuff; why take the chance.  From here on, nothing but beer and water for me.  Never had a problem with either.

                                                Copyright @2013 Terry Unger  

Author's Note:  Since the above was posted, Pepsi has discontinued using BVO in its sports product, Gatorade.  And recently, Coca Cola announced that it would stop using BVO in its sports drink, Powerade.  I am at a loss.  If you take it out of sports drinks, why stop there.  Take it out of all soft drink products.   

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Old Red Pen

A few people have told me that I am a relic of the past; they do not quite understand my position on modern technology.  Those folks believe that I despise it.  That is patently false.  The truth - I do not like that a major portion of our society is addicted to it.  I think that it has made us lazy, and not just physically lazy but also brain lazy.

A student of not to long ago had to do his research for a school project in a library; the bigger the library, the better.  Yesterday, my 12 year old granddaughter was told by her teacher to "google it" to find the information needed to complete her homework.  To me, that's just way to easy, for student and teacher.  So you can imagine that there was no word about a trip to the library.  Why not have the student "google it" and then verify that information with a visit to the library?  I guess that would be too hard on student and teacher.  The assumption that all information can be found on the internet is a false assumption.  A similar assumption was made by crazy robed monks so many centuries ago - all we need to know can be found in Jesus - when they burned the Library of Alexandria to the ground.  Maybe that's why some people have the misconception that I dislike technology.  That, and my old red pen.

My old red pen has been with me for as long as I can remember.  Two years ago, the pocket clip broke off; I super glued it.  Every book, short story, and blogpost of mine is first written by me pushing that red pen over paper.  And, I always have 2 black, medium point ink refills ready to be used when needed.  When I am completely satisfied with the hand written work, then and only then will it be typed into my computer for publication.

Some folks have told me that my method is too much work, too much effort, and too time consuming. Terry, they said, go right to the computer and save yourself time and aggravation.  That's not my way.  It does not work for me; I lose creativity.  So why try and fix what's not broken?  Over the years, 3 computers have shit the bed and left me hanging.  But my red pen works just as well as the day I bought it.  And I bought it before I purchased my first computer.  Now, if only my old red pen and I could get my granddaughter and her classmates to the library.

                                               Copyright @ 2013 Terry Unger            

Monday, March 18, 2013


Our ancestors were a forward looking bunch.  They moved when they had to and pushed on when they wanted to.  Along the way, they developed the technology that just not made the journey easier but also possible.  Now, we are our ancestors; those words should not surprise you and, the verbiage is not misplaced or misused.  In our modern world, we are doing what our ancestors had done but, maybe we have slowed down.

Our ancestors would be damned proud of us, especially proud about our journeys to the moon and back.  In the field of communication, they would be envious.  However, I believe they would be shocked that we have not, even in a small way, colonized the moon.  Also, they might wonder why we have no real presence in space.  If we pointed to the International Space Station, they might think that that effort is puny, based on our technological achievements.  Our ancestors would be concerned that our forward progress has slowed down.  Given a further view of us in our modern age, they would see  a major chunk of our society addicted to technology.

But, they would not tell us to throw away the technology and live in ways that they had lived; far from it.  That would be like, for them, going back to copper implements after knowing the value of iron and steel.  Our ancestors would point out to us the reasons for the addiction.  One of them, I am sure, would be how we have become socially inept because of the our insatiable need to be so "connected."  Then, we could expect a healthy lecture about us being the master and the technology being the slave.  And, I can imagine only one scenario where our ancestors would destroy a piece of technology:  during a family meal or any other special gathering when someone's smart phone goes off and that person is foolish enough to answer it.  Wham!

Seriously, in a real sense, we need to put down the phone and drive on.

                                                Copyright @2013 Terry Unger      

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Refrigerator and Land Wights

My wife and I have a 20 cubic foot frig.  I guess for a family of four that would be small but it's just the two of us and we have no problem filling the damned thing every week.  We love our beef, pork, and chicken, fresh veggies and fruits.  Add to that our juices, milk, bottled water, and of course beer.  All of that is great but two days before we go to market, the frig looks naked.  Where did all the stuff go?  When full, was it an optical illusion, or do we eat to much?  Or could there be strange spirits afoot?

I have to go with the latter.  I've been sober enough to know that it is not an optical illusion.  I also know that we do not over eat.  No kidding.  So it must be the land spirits that are around us helping themselves to our bounty.  Should we try to appease them by giving them some sort of offering?  Judging by the open frig space that we have before market, a few morsels in a bowl just might insult them.  These guys are not the Jul Lads that come to visit us every December.  When the holiday is over, the Lads go home, wherever that is.  At least they have some kind of social decorum.

We thought about buying less, but these guy will still eat their fill.  Which means we get to eat less.  Just to appease these land wights?  Well, maybe eating less is not a bad thing.  Hey!  What a great diet idea!  Less food in the frig, eat less, and maybe put the land wights on a diet!  Outstanding!  Maybe I will get the Nobel Prize in Economics.

                                              Copyright @2013/2015 Terry Unger  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Since You Asked...

Currently, I am writing a short story and a novel; both contain a degree of history within them.  Since they are works of fiction, I do not have to include a bibliography.  My interpretations are what they are - mine.  However, when it comes to the basic history, I do try to color within the lines.  When I venture outside of those lines, my interpretations , just chalk it up as artistic licence.  It is my intent that my new characters, just like the ones found throughout my Reluctant Hero Trilogy, will not just entertain the reader, but engage him in various mental comparisons of himself  and others.  The short story, probably, will find its way to Amazon's creatspace.  The novel is much more involved and is a collaboration between my wife Sandra and I.  The novel's history is local, and needs a lot of personal investigation into various people, places, and things.  Since many of you have asked, this is what I/we are doing.  Among other things like planting a garden, trees, flowers, etc for our new home.  And there always is the two of us Sandra and I, watching the beautiful Texas sky while sipping a beer.  

                                                  Copyright @2013 Terry Unger  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Supermarket Chatter

Yesterday I had to make a beer run and went to the closest outlet - the local supermarket.  While standing in line with my liquid gold, two middle-aged men were knee deep in conversation.  In a very concerned manner, they talked about their hope for heaven and fear of hell.  It's amazing what I learned about those two strangers.

They spoke about their abuses and neglects of the past and hoped that their now more acceptable behavior would earn them a seat in heaven.  But acceptable to whom or what, I thought.  Those two bragged about their charitable contributions to their various religious favorites and tried to out do each other with their weekly church attendance stats.  I found it almost annoying when they both agreed that it was best to sit in the first pew so the pastor could see them.  What can I say; it was a long line.  Also, they managed to fit into their chatter a good tongue lashing of those who did not match up to their personal "level of achievement."  Fortunately, I was glad that I did not have one or two beers under my belt; I do not like getting into verbal jousting with these types.  

I have a hard time imagining a god, or any other for that matter, who much of humanity has given credit to for creating our Universe, wanting to micro-manage my life and the lives of others.  With that kind of ability, I believe that he/she/it is way to busy to be bothered.  We humans have created divinity in our own image and believe that that divinity will behave like us, if it exists at all.  Some humans have gone far enough to presume what that divinity thinks and believes; they created a laundry list of "sins against god."  If divinity was responsible for the creation of our Universe, offending it with what we consider our poor behavior or mistakes in judgement is ridiculous; that divinity is so far above and ahead of us that we cannot count the steps, so why presume what it thinks.  That being the case, reason should tell us that that divinity does not care whether we believe in it or not; if it exists, it is and we are, period.  The bottom line - we are responsible for our lives; past, present, and future.

What we do and say, our words and deeds, determines our life's path.  We create our fate, whether it be good or ill.  When we exit this life, and we all will, we will be judged, not by some far off god sitting on a throne, but by our words and actions.  Chose your words and deeds well; it is the path of honor and respect, in this life and the next.

                                                     Copyright @2013 Terry Unger  



Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Guns

The founders of the United States knew a thing or two; they  lived it.  They saw what happened when Church and State were one; people died.  In their minds, the wall between Church and State had to be impenetrable, so they gave us the First Amendment.  They also knew that the best deterrent against tyranny was a well armed civilian population.  Those thoughts gave us the Second Amendment; our founders were a smart bunch.  However, even after a landmark Supreme Court decision of just a few years ago, we still have people that think the Second Amendment needs further interpretation.

That Supreme Court case and its definitive decision is known as The District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), or simply the Heller Case.  The court stated that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual, law abiding person the right to keep and bear arms.  In other words, in the USA, people who do not break the law, who are not convicted felons, can have guns, many guns.  And the court's decision made it clear that a well regulated militia has nothing to do with the National Guard.  It's all about the individual person's right to have firearms.  As a law abiding citizen, taxpayer, and life member of the NRA, that Supreme Court ruling suits me just fine.  Unfortunately, when a tragedy hits our country that involves one or two wackos with a gun, the anti-gun folks and their media allies start their engines.

The anti-gun groups want people to believe that all firearms are evil, so they should be banned.  That is fuzzy logic with a big dose of fear thrown in for extra leverage.  Evil is something that resides in the mind of an individual, not an inanimate object.  A hammer, screwdriver, ball point pen, knife, and a gun are all inanimate objects.  When in the right hands and properly used, these things help produce constructive results.  In the wrong hands, all of them can be used for deadly purposes.  When a man wants to be a carpenter, but keeps hitting his hands in stead of the nail, you take the hammer away from him and then tell him to find other employment; you do not take away the hammers from the other carpenters because that guy kept hurting himself.  And people have been killed by hammers, screwdrivers, knives, ball point pens, and guns.  But the fear mongers only want to ban guns.

The anti-gun crowd talks about other countries that have banned guns; maybe those people should move to those countries.  After doing so, they will discover that only when the government, police, and criminals have guns, they become easy targets of opportunity.  Thinking that we do not need firearms because we have the police to protect us is just as silly as thinking that because we have firemen, we have no need for smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in our homes.  Every law enforcement officer that I have talked to told me straight up:  We cannot protect you, there are not enough of us.  Get a gun, know how to use it, and know your rights.  It would be a rare indeed to hear or see that reported in our media.

The media seems to enjoy taking the tragedy of innocents and spinning it out of control.  It bombards the public, day after day, with these tragedies, reporting on the most gut-wrenching details.  But it is a rare thing for the media to report on an incident where a person successfully defended himself, his family, and his property with a gun against a malevolent interloper.  And these actions happen daily across the USA.  When was the last time the media did news piece on gang violence in our major cities?  Criminals killing other criminals with illegal firearms?

It is almost impossible for a criminal to legally purchase a firearm.  So, criminals sell illegal firearms (think black market here) to other criminals.  And if guns were banned, that is where anybody would buy one; the illegal black market.  Now, the sales of illegal firearms between criminals is just as rampant as the sale of illegal drugs is to junkies.  The point - criminals always will have access to firearms; they have no use for the order of law that governs a civil society.  Obviously, more gun control aimed at law abiding citizens is futile.  What must be done is a re-write of our current gun laws; we have so much duplicity.  And, have law enforcement go after the illegal gun traffic that thrives among criminals.    

                                                    Copyright @2013 Terry Unger      

Unity of a Forgotten Kind

The world and all it contains, both seen and unseen stands with mankind in a state of consubstantiation.  Our ancestors understood this as...