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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    

Our Visit to Sutton Hoo

When walking the grounds, you can feel the specialness of this place.  It is quiet, save the wind rustling through the trees.  The ages...