Saturday, April 21, 2012

Making Sense of Ill-fated Influences

A friend recently made me aware of this troubling interview with a prominent, Protestant, Southern Baptist, Minister:
While it is very difficult to understand such contradictory motivations and confusing direction from a "Christian" leader; it is necessary to use such examples bad "preaching" (and opinions) as catalyst for reviewing the sources of influence we each often allow to guide our own personal, moral and ethical compasses.

Simply depressing to envision folks viewing a pulpit, any pulpit, occupied by such staff members; whom are potentially yielding, unquestioned, "spiritually inspired", influence over their trusting congregations.

But I do know it happens everyday! Incidentally, this occurs while each of us, "bible belt audience members", have a front row seat.  It is more than a bit unnerving to be so close to; and quite frankly, not a show I like having season tickets to.

Such bizarre rhetoric, from folks thought of as "spiritual leaders"; is almost as depressing as witnessing whole News networks (a.k.a. Rupert Murdock owned media outlets) devoted to simular, unfounded, false inspirations; while effectively and embarrassingly, influencing droves of naive viewers, day after day, for years at a time.

All in the name of commanding repeat, titillated, viewership; so Gillett can sale some more razors! We are nothing in this country if not exceptional consumers!  Moreover, such shallow influences are evidence that our principles can truly be compromised for the oddest of reasons.

Hatred, fear and misdirected anger are powerful, yet shameful, emotions. Pride and insecurities are evidently the sneaky resources we each depend on to make sense of such ill-fated influences.

... It's embarrassing. ... humbling. Cause for concern.
"Concern", which we can't afford to also convert to fear and insecurity.
We must just continue to keep our grace in check, along with any growing wisdom we can muster.

Thank you friends, for your continued exceptional stewardship, influence and steadfast encouragement. :-)


Friday, April 20, 2012

A Shame The Cold Realities of Contempt Towards A Marital Partner, Can't Just Be Left To The Toiling Of Hollywood Screenplays

Pride and the difficulty of swallowing it, long before it cost us huge losses, is often one of the most trying challenges in all of our lives!  Whereas humility, and the strength and liberation which comes from it's embrace, is an opportune gift for those whom discover it.

I can almost instantly remember and group any of those individuals whom I've been close to in my life, which were either raised to believe "apologizing is a strength"; versus those who evidently thought of such expressions or direct apologetic statements "as a weakness"; given the fact, you never once heard a repentent thought EVER leave the latter's lips.

Life is unfortunately far to short to spend prolonged time involved, and/or partnered, with those who find apologies as acts of inferiority and weakness.  We all should know to avoid such deranged people, since we have all (admittedly or not,) seen ourselves as being and doing wrong, countless times in each of our own lives.

Rob Reiner's 1999 movie, "The Story of Us", is always a personal gut wrencher for me, where related to "crow swallowing", or lack there of depicted by the staring couple within the movie; and the burdens of their perpetual build-ups of contempt, while voluntary tong-bitting and/or lashings abound.  The resulting, unrepentant walls of resentment and discontent, ultimately appear to overwhelm the film's, comprehensive, depiction of courtship and marriage; just as such abuses and neglect will (and do,) any of our own relationships.

Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer, under Mr. Reiner's direction, end up doing the most unexpected job of condensing the age old process of recklessly deteriorating one's entire marriage; however, their story (without giving the endgin away,) crescendos with a rather rare, absolutely compelling, heart-felt speech.  It is befittingly given towards the end of this movie's journey; and it probably deserved an Academy Award nomination for it's emotional and gut wrenching humility.

Humility after all, is the only liberator for pride full, resentful, contemptuous, painful living.  Oh, and the healing properties of those who found strength in apologizing and those who loved generously enough to truly forgive.

(Side note: Not everyone, (nor many critics) like the movie The Story of Us; however, even if you don't like it, most everyone will take something from it.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Musket Armed Private Militia, Versus A 21st Century Drone! Fact or Fiction?

I see this same image and quote floating around the political circles and social networks from time to time, and I just can't seem to relate to or understand the attraction?? Honestly, it seems sort of a moot, dated, point (or quote) to me, given todays modern version of armament and multi-billion dollar, anual, military budgets.
"A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should also have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." - George Washington
I'm just not sure (or motivated by the idea that,) any single individual or privatized militia could really compete with a modern day Super Power.

As a result, I find it odd so many Americans seem to be attracted to these fantasies, or find themselves so motivated by the 2nd amendment, as if their patriotism depends on it?? What am I missing??

I guess the idea that we could each grab up a musket and head out the door and accomplish something or form a movement or rebellion is a fun idea for some; I just don't know that it is very realistic, and certainly not very current or modern.

Seems to me their passion and the real original points made by past leaders on this topic, 200 years ago; while trying to prevent taxation without representation, or renegade militias; are all kind of lost ideals in this day and age. How after all, would such ideals still have any real relevance??

None of us after all could do much about a laser guided, full armed, drone, 30,000 feet above our home or compound; or torch lit, nighttime, musket march. That drone after all, also has an infrared, live, night vision, feed, back to the base. A simple phone call would blow out any mob's lit torches.

Interesting article on some of the legal specifics surrounding the courts current position on the 2nd amendment:


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Striving for last! The U.S. Educational System Is Confidently Living In The Past!

A complete shame telecommuting for education (minus the telepresence robots) isn't taken more seriously in all areas of education. Would / could serve countless students wonderfully, who live far away from any respectable education opportunities.

Texas's curriculum and its' results now rank 40 out of 50! In a country which ranks 25th overall!!  Simple HORRIBLE and shameful!!

So why shouldn't a student who lives down in Mc Allen, Texas, be able to telecommute to a classroom in HPS (Highland Park), Dallas, Texas?  The simple answer, bureaucracy, misappropriations and pathetic leadership!

At the very least, any 21st century, private school should eagerly offer live broadcast and access to it's classrooms, for those enrollees wishing to attend from anywhere they might live. It is certainly an non-issue technologically to hold each student accountable for their attendance and participation.

The first company I started in the mid 90's, couldn't have existed without the connectivity the Internet provided to our California based software developers and hardware support. That was 18 YEARS AGO! How in the world do we expect our students to understand how small this world has become and how to productively utilize it's connectivity and resulting opportunities if our classrooms still function within a 1950's method of operation?!?

Our curriculum and methodologies as irrelevant and dated as our methods of delivery and dissemination. All this talk of "restoring America" is hog wash, as long as continued, failed, misappropriated and mismanaged methods continue to be the norm insofar as to the way we educate our students.

There is no future in an environment ranking at the BOTTOM of what counts!!  We now live in a world were consumerism is more defining as to the state-of-the-art than are our teachers.

This is why folks actually think items like the iPhone are the greatest innovation they have seen or been exposed to.  Such ignorance and naivety is embarrassing! It is pathetic, and it is fast (exponentially) defining our countries future and potential failure!

Avoiding such poor decision making is all any competing countries need do! The games and methods have changed! If we don't, we loose!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Best Italian Itineraries, are ANY Italian Itinerary

I wrote these entries as an addendum to a web page I prepared for family and friends accompanying us on our destination wedding in the fall of 2011, to help prepare certain travel expectations, in hopes everyone arrives relaxed and anxious in a "good way". 

I think you'll find your trip planning a breeze, even if this is their first European adventure. :-) ...I promise, it will be a GREAT one!

Once your done reading these bits and pieces of trivia & information, head over to our "Itinerary Suggestions"; to learn more about our own plans for the week; and view more specific details, pertaining to other popular regional attractions. - M.H.

:: The Best Italian Itineraries, are ANY Italian itinerary ::
Keep your plans simple... This is a very small country, compared to the U.S.; this country is no bigger than one of our own medium sized states. So don't fret a complicated "game plan".

The Big Picture:
An hour and a half (1-1/2) train ride will take you clear across one region of the country; from one major city to the next. (And no, these are not "Bullet Trains".) A three (3) hours train ride will take you from Northern Italy to central Italy; and another, from Central Italy to Southern. Therefor, you will never likely travel further in one day than it would take you to drive from Dallas to Austin; and those occasion will be rare.

In most cases your day will simply consist of you and your fellow travelers enjoying which ever wonderful and historic city, you have chosen to spend several days in. And during those stays you will likely just be walking the beautiful sidewalks, intentionally visiting a historic site or two, enjoying a wonderful meal, and from time to time visiting a lovely little local store.

Speaking the Language:
Knowing Italian is never a necessity when visiting this fine country. All major attractions and cities abound with staffs and folks which also speak English. This is a country which earns over 48 billion dollars in tourism revenue a year. It is the fifth most visited country in the world, and yet it is no bigger than the state of Arizona! The locals are very, VERY use to guest. Don't ever concern yourself with knowing their language, unless you plan on becoming an Expatriate. In which case, please ask me to visit often! ;-)

Lay of the land:
Like most Medium sized States in the U.S., there are only a hand full of major cities in Italy. To the North West there is Milan. To the North East there is Venice. In the North Central Region there is Florence; the South Central Region has Rome. Further to the South is Naples. And even further South still is the Island of Capri and the beautiful cliff-side city of Sorrento; not to mention the amazing, frozen in time, ancient, excavated city of Pompeii.

Northern Italy is the wealthiest most prosperous Italian region. The people are educated and cultured. They are use to millions of visitors a year, enjoying their beautiful geography and exceptional attractions, restaurants and shopping.

Perfect Timing:
We have purposely chosen to visit and enjoy this country at a time which is not considered a "peak travel season". Traveling to Italy during the Fall, not only reduces many of the flight and lodging expenses, but also allows us to avoid heavy crowds and better enjoy our guest and the many attractions we hope to visit with them.

This time of the year is a better use of all of our time and money; and yet the weather will be at the country's most pleasant throughout our entire stay. Italy has VERY hot summers; whereas we will be enjoying it's absolutely beautiful fall weather; which will be in the mid 70's during the day and lower 60's at night. (Bring a good jacket, or light layers for your evenings out.)

Getting Around:
As far as transportation is concerned once you have arrived; I have personally driven over 30 days in total across the Italian country side and throughout all of it's major cities during my various visits. I don't know what I was thinking the first several times I toured the country using my own, personal, rent car? But NO MORE! :-) I have learned the hard way! So from now on, I depend almost solely on the trains; which are by far, the best, most cost effective, safest and virtually stress free way to vacation throughout Europe.

Texans like to drive cars everywhere they go. Italians like to run over any visiting Texan's, who thought they needed to rent a car while vacationing there. Unless "aggressive, freestyle driving" is your middle name; stick to using the incredible, European Train System, as your mode of transportation during your entire visit to any and all regions of Italy and Europe. (The only exceptions being a few ferry rides across Lake Como, or out to the Island of Capri if you head that far South.)

General Touring Info:
- Serious crime is rare, however pickpockets and purse-snatchers are common in large cities. Just keep things hidden and locked; and by hidden, I don't mean in a fanny pack.
- Not all places allow picture taking. Museums, especially, often retain sole rights to photograph their works. Flash photography is especially frowned upon as being disruptive.
- Public toilets are available only in a few small towns. You can always use the toilet in a public bar however ( they have to give you access by law ).
- Banks are open weekdays 8:30 am to 1:30 pm and sometimes for an hour in the afternoon. (However, with prevalent ATMs, it is doubtful you will ever need a bank.)
- Most churches are open from early morning until noon, when they close for three to four hours before reopening again, and close at 6 pm. A few major churches, such as St. Peter's in Rome, are open all day.
- Many museums are closed one day a week, often on Monday.

Dress Codes:
- Italy may be very tourist-friendly and known for fashion, but it is generally considered rude to walk around town in beach attire, short shorts, and/or skimpy outfits. Many historic and certainly religious attractions, will not allow visitors in shorts, or lady's in tank tops.

- Italian tap water is sometimes heavily chlorinated, so it is best to drink bottled water. Also mineral water is available in all flavors: gassata (bubbly or "with gas"), naturale (non-bubbly), and semi-gassata like Ferrarelle (somewhere in the between).
- Italians usually take their food as it is listed, seldom making special requests, such as "hold the mayo."
- Spaghetti, virtually the national food of Italy, should be eaten with a fork rolled against the dish. Use a spoon if you must, but cutting your food up into little pieces is considered tacky.
- Cappuccino and 'cornetto' is the standard breakfast in Italy - forget sausages and eggs, and etc .
- Don't wait for the check, you must ask for it.
- Tipping is usually done with cash; usually 'servizio' is included but a small tip is always appreciated.
- Nice sit-down restaurants usually expect one to order two courses, not counting dessert.
- If you want a quick bite, stop at a pizzeria.
- Breakfast is usually served from 7-10:30 am, lunch from 12:30-2:30 pm, and dinner from 7:30-10 pm. Peak lunch and dinner hours are 1 and 9 pm, respectively.
- If you get traveler's diarrhea, don't necessarily blame it on unsanitary conditions. Olive oil and wine are heavily used in Italian cuisine, and as natural laxatives, can cause problems for those with sensitive stomachs.

Just in Case:
- If there is an emergency, dial 113 or 112. They are the Italian equivalent of America's 911 or UK's 999. (But don't live in or travel with fear; nor with persistent thoughts of requiring such info, life is way to short!)

:: That's Amore ::
You have nothing to fear about taking a trip to Europe, but fear itself. :-)
Enjoy yourself, and do your best to soak it all in! Italy is an absolutely wonderful place to stop and smell the coffee, or cappuccino!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Don't Miss The Boat - Understand Why, Rather Than Misunderstanding How

That carton will make you chuckle, no matter how you view Earth's natural history!
Not a good thing when Genesis is thought as a solution or used to define natural history. Thank goodness, for those who choose to do so, the author made no mention of medicine!

Such thoughts have often made me wonder (;especially with gas prices making the proposition so unappealing anyway,) if there are "young earth Christians" who refuse to use fossil fuels, for fear it is some sort of trickery, scam or "bad science"?  I guess not, after all the only folks you typically see pedaling or walking down the roads in the U.S., in the name of their faith, are pairs of Mormans on a mission.

If there is one thing history has shamefully taught us time and time again; you should never use religion, nor the interpretation or exegesis of scripture, to define the limits, progression or opportunities of science; nor as a basis for understanding the wonders, nature or relative position of our world and the universe it occupies.

It should not remain a position of convenience for one's faith, that they have no paleontologist, anthropologist, geologist, physicist, astronomers or other scientist within their family. It is simply not fair to their children's education; nor is it a practical or survivable theology within a world which has entered the information age; where, appropriate, proven, knowledge and science is at our fingertips and within any portable piece of mobile computing we own.

Scripture should never be used to explain "how" it happened; rather it should offer a guide and inspiration to those whom's faith can grow through additional examples of "why".  The bible is a love story, with an explanation as to the desired relationship between you and your Creator as well as the lessons and love He parentally and spiritually wishes for you to know, share and feel.

When the Bible is interpreted directly or literally as a basis for "how", you create a limited, dated, inaccurate understanding of this planet, it's science and it's opportunities. One, which is no more imaginative than a Steven Spielberg film, or that of ancient science and maritime knowledge.  (A flat Earth, convieniently centered at the middle of it all.)

Such strong holds on inaccurate assessments, beliefs and judgments, inspired by one's faith, are often fostered through the desire to feel one is surviving the persecution of others in the name of the love they have for their creator.  Furthermore, many of these desires to feel one has survived persecution are exasperated within a free society and culture such as our's here in the U.S.; where no such persecution's against one's (Christian) faith exist.  

It is as if these same "young earth", U.S. based Christians, read the scriptures, and hear on the News, of distant cultures who were subjected to extreme cases of persecution, and almost feel guilty they to are not subject to such challenges or demonstrations of faith. In turn they feel as if persecution is the "works" by which God will better understand their love and faithfulness.

Whatever the motivation or rational is, or who convinced them that modern science and understanding, is evil and must be thwarted off; unfortunately, such views only serve to create small, limited examples of their Lord, having the opposite result desired where related to inspiring any new believers, by only serving to send knowledgeable folks; unaware the purpose, actions or attitudes attributed to false persecutions; running away from any related faith or testimonies witnessed.

Keeping in mind, an attraction to persecution, may also be founded in the knowledge that one is all alone in their faith or their beliefs. So in many cases there is simply no desire to attract others towards their faith or explain themselves.  Since such isolation also serves towards a perceived piety, which further limits any need to explain to anyone how or why they feel or think the way they do.  Such rationals can be a very contrived version or aspect of one's faith and subsequent behavior.

Given such limited social results, the only assurance those apposing such stubborn, false beliefs may take away from any resulting confrontation is the fact that any number of such beliefs (or believers) will continue to dwindle and have less and less negative impacts on the faith.  Given the fact such naively stubborn positions are so unattractive and intentionally offer no valid rationale; since in their own mind and given the inspiration, there is no, or limited need to do so.

The results of such believers strongholds will end up as fruitful as those whom  historically, in the name of faith, denounced sex.  You simply don't hear of those believers any more, since they had no way to procreate the growth of their congregations.  In the same way, a faith denouncing knowledge, reason, explanation, modern science and the dissemination of factual information will continually attract and find less and less followers.  They are simply denying something fundamental to their growth in the face of now readily available facts and necessities.

Such issues were rarely challenged 80 years ago, when 80% of the world's population were illiterate, and virtually NONE of the population was capable of easily sharing information.  In a world such as that, the pulpit or, a top a soap box, served as some of the most effective, and in many cases the only way, people shared much of anything.

But again, such shrinking numbers of fellow believers whom share such narrow views in denial of modern science, are often merely dismissed by such congregations as a sign of the growing sin in this world, and the likelihood of the end times nearing; or God's return and rapture where he will deal with the wicked ways of those who do not also follow such thinking.

Persecution and piety can be very powerful motivation for remaining ignorant and fervent.  Hence the numerous moments in history when such progressions in teaching and science were time and time again considered blasphemous and heresy.

Many folks were even killed for their progressive views. Talk about a reversal of faith! Who really suffered at the hands of persecution in those societies?  But make no mistake about it, society still suffered at the hands of such cultural and religious limitations!  As I often say, "pride is a very sneaky sin."

While such limits and concise definitions as to what is the "truth" or is false (or "bad science"), may be comforting for some; I personally find it much more assuring that our history, opportunities and purpose; not to mention our relationship with our creator and our obligations of love and respect for others; are all far more imaginative than the limits I have seen far to many Christians and/or biblical scholars attempt to place on us or Him.

Dream big, study hard, learn much, never stop...  You weren't given that big brain to simply find small minded limitations or comforts where related to your heart, your goals, our God, your life or your learning.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Vying, Equals Lying For Your Vote

You have to be impressed with what our dependency on foreign (specifically, Middle Eastern) oil can buy!  Has created the most impressive landscape ever imagine, out of a completely desolate desert!
The oil we get from the Persian Gulf, is enough to yield 32 million gallons of gasoline, fueling roughly 2 million cars with 16-gallon gas tanks, PER DAY!!!  Since we don't each fill up, "once a day", it's fair to say this region's imports alone, cover a sizable amount of our current thirst.

Understanding we get even more oil from Canada and Mexico; which makes you wonder what they are spending it all on??  Surprisingly, we actually import almost the exact same amount of oil from Venezuela as we do from Saudi Arabia; whereas, we get twice as much from Canada.

To read more details about our Foreign Oil dependency, you may want to visit this link:

Nice to at least research a bit about how this current economic quagmire and technological impotence on our part, continues to burden our economy as well as our ecology; rather than be one of those bizarrely, naive voters whom actually believe any U.S. presidential administration, directly effects our gas prices by even the most marginal percentage points.

Worked out great for us, having a Texas oil man in office for 8 years! Remember the record setting prices of Summer, 2008?? They still hold the all time record for the U.S., historic highs! If he couldn't control OPEC and the production management schemes by other corporate and foreign forces, what makes anyone think any other Presidential administration ever will?? Simply not a power, force, influence or a capacity the President EVER wields, despite the lies you are told by those vying (a.k.a. lying) for your vote.

F.Y.I. - OPEC's founding members are: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Later members include Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Libya, Qatar, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.  We invaded the one we could, while the getting was good. It has done nothing for us, to control 1 out of 12 of these countries.

Don't kid yourself into believing our President can do ANYTHING more drastic than Bush's action in the years that followed 9/11. Certainly, no current of future administration could call up the U.S. based Exxon execs either and ask them to cut us a break, and say, fork over some of the record setting profits in the history of man kind, they have repeatedly garnered (45.2 BILLION, in a single year!) to help offset the results of OPECs, world wide, inflated value and indisputable influences.

When candidates are vying for your vote, they are lying for your vote.  Keep your own honest research and education at the helm of your opinions and beliefs.  Don't depend on hype and/or "News Networks" simply tying to "hook" you into repeated viewership.  Your vote, and the truth of the matters, are simply not worth a belief in false, oddly naive, titillation.