Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eating Mutant Chicken Eggs

I tried to find a picture at Google images of eggs with multiple yolks, but this is all I could get.
People are always asking me what makes me think the way I do, and I really can't tell them, because I don't know. I would ask all the people in my head, but every time I try they go on conference call and ignore me.
   But the recent recall of a half a billion eggs has me wondering. I eat pretty many eggs, as the Dutchies' around here would say. I don't know what my cholesterol is and I really don't care, But I buy my eggs at Redners, and I usually buy a dozen of the jumbo size about every ten days.
   I have noticed recently that just about every time I make eggs over easy at least one of my eggs has multiple yolks. I'm no expert on genetics, but doesn't that mean it would have been a two headed chicken?
    So am I eating what would have been two headed chickens regularly? I am really curious about that. There's something for the FDA to study, the long term effects of eating eggs from two headed chickens.
    I hereby volunteer, call me, I'm ready. So are the rest of the people in my head. Now if I could just get the IRS to allow me to claim all the voices as dependents.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Funeral for a Friend

  Last Wednesday I attended a burial service for a friend, a guy barely over fifty. While we were standing at the grave around 11:00AM, I thought back to all the funerals I had attended as a kid. My Dad was heavily involved in Catholic church activities, and I was an altar boy. I only lived a block from the church, so I naturally got the call to serve mass and carry the incense at graveside services during the summer months when school was out. You might think that sucked, going to funerals for people you don't really know, but I got paid by funeral directors, and I didn't complain after the fact. (Yeah, I got my first tips as an altar boy, serving weddings and funerals, go figure.)

      The funeral last week was not a Catholic one, but it was a nice service, nonetheless. While we prayed my mind wandered back to an observation my Dad had shared with me many times, and has stuck with me.
     Jim Casey told me that you could tell much about a person's life by how many people attended the funeral.
    He believed that the more people that attended, the more debts of gratitude the deceased was owed, the fewer that attended, the more debts the deceased owed.
     I have to say, if those are the parameters to judge, then my friend last week had a lot of people who owed him debts of gratitude. The Church was close to SRO, and the graveside had everybody bunched around in a hot sweltering sun. Yet they came and stayed to show their gratitude.

    At both funerals for my elderly parents, I was heartened by the sheer number of people who came forward to share the positive impact my parents had made in their lives. It says much about a person by how those who survive them reflect on the contribution the deceased made to their own well being.

   I have been to sparsely attended services, and it always bothers me. In my opinion Funerals are not so much for the dead, but for the living. We need them to help us transition, and they fulfill that purpose.
    If only a handful show up for a burial, what does that say to you?
 It is a failure of the living, or a failure on the part of the deceased? I think it is both. I feel fortunate to have had the acquaintance of my friend in my life. I guess I should hope that someday  people will feel the same about me. But I live with the knowledge that 100  or even 10 years from now no one will remember who I was or where I lived, and the only thing that I can hope to pass on are that my actions are emulated, and they are for the good.of my community as a whole. That is Life and Death, in Trexlertown.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Let the Penguin Dance"

When I was twelve years old, we had a 8 year old boy come to stay with us for about three months. This was in addition to the regular daily collection of ragamuffins that hung out in our home. The best way to describe this kid was to say that he had behavioral issues. In 2010 he would see a counselor and get prescribed Ritalin, after being diagnosed as being ADD. In 1973, My mom would tell him to stop acting like a brat and take a paddle to his backside.

You have to wonder which treatment would be more effective today. There's a few people in local government I would like to try that theory on.

But to get to the story, this kid had issues. He always wore white shirts and black pants. That is what he came with, and he wouldn't change even though my Mom gave him other clothes to wear that would have made him look normal. He also had a black bow tie. He wore this outfit to school every day he could. You remember what it is like to be twelve, prepubescent kids can have a mean streak a mile wide. And the Batman show was on syndicated TV. So no one should be surprised that we started calling the chubby brat “Penguin.’

The Penguin was the biggest tattletale on the planet. He was always ratting us out if we even thought about mischief. He also threw stomping, screaming tantrums when he didn’t get his way. When no one picked him for a team when we played baseball, he would storm off for home and tell my Mom we were picking on him

Eventually. My Mom started doubting his word, and punished him for making stuff up. And yes, we laughed at him standing in the corner and made fun of him when she wasn’t looking. What can I say? We were average kids.

One afternoon before Youth Services came and took him to the State Hospital for commitment, he got really upset because my Mom said he couldn’t have ice cream. The rules were that you had to make your bed and do your chores, and he refused. This was about a week after he stole a pack of matches and set the cats’ tail on fire. My Mom had given up any hope of trying to correct his behavior, she was concentrating on keeping him from hurting himself or one of us.

So the Penguin threw the greatest tantrum in the history of tantrums He was throwing himself around on the floor screaming and crying in a language that made no sense, kind of like Linda Blair on the bed in the Movie "The Exorcist", but without his head spinning around. (Well, maybe it did and we didn't see it.) It was really annoying because he was throwing it in front of the TV and we were trying to watch a Cleveland Indians game, one of the few on during the day in the Summer.

        We complained to Mom, and she came in and just stared at him, with her hands on her hips. Finally she shook her head and walked away, but not without giving us some stern instruction.

“Don’t touch him, just let the Penguin Dance.”

        We don't realize it when we are kids, but our parents are a source of great wisdom. They know that the best way to deal with obnoxious people is to ignore them. They also teach us that what we say about others speaks more about the kind of person we are than anything someone else says. If you go around spouting rumors and innuendo, hurting other people, Others will see you for the jerk you are. But if you go around paying sincere compliments and treating others with respect, that is what you get back.

      So don't let the Penguins in life who are throwing tantrums and blaming all their problems on you get you down. Don't get up and try to dance with them, because nobody wants to be known as having a fool for a dance partner.
      Just. "Let the Penguin Dance" and let them dance by themselves.

Monday, August 2, 2010

25 Years later, an Anniversary I would rather forget.

          For most people, a 25 year anniversary is a reason to celebrate, but for me, the memory of August 8 1985 is one I wish I could forget. I was an enlisted man in the United States Army, stationed at Kelly Barracks in Darmstadt FRG. That was about an hour south of Frankfurt by train. My MOS (military Operating Specialty) was 12B,Combat Engineer, and I was assigned to Charlie Company of the 547th Combat Engineer Battalion.

          One of the duties that our unit rotated doing was checking vehicles as they came on our post for bombs. In the 1980s there were several attacks by terrorist against NATO military installations, and we regularly heard about incidents at other bases. In the years I was there, we had three incidents where buildings had to be evacuated because of devices that were discovered.

          On Wednesday morning August 8 a couple of my buddies and I convinced our Motor Sergeant to let us go to Rhein Mein airbase outside Frankfurt to purchase tickets for a rock concert. We took an early train, and after several station switches, we showed our military ID’s and passed through the main entrance We were walking across the parade grounds near the HQ of the Rhein Mein base commander when a VW minibus exploded about a hundred yards away. We were trained Army Demolitions men, and we ran towards the carnage.

          There is a smell to an explosion, and that of burned flesh, that intermingled you never forget. According to what we later read in the military newspaper, The Stars and Stripes, two people were killed, and more than twenty injured. I was there, and I was sure there were more than that, but I wasn’t one to question the reports at that time, I have never forgotten what I saw that day. The van was parked in a lot that many civilian employees and the dependent family of service members used. The attack was intended to inflict mostly civilian casualties, and it did. Small children were among the wounded.

CNN was in its’ infancy, and while the Military used the Internet for communication purposes, it had not evolved anywhere near to what it is today. The attack was carried out by a terrorist group called the Red Army Faction. Two people were eventually apprehended and sentenced to prison for it. The terrorists had managed to get the bomb laden VW on the post using the stolen ID of an enlisted man they had murdered the night before.

So here we are 25 years later, and the name of the terrorists group is Al-Queda, not the Red Army Faction. We are fighting them in Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of Western Europe. The enemy’s face has changed as well as the field of battle, but I still see the same old conflict, just bigger, but definitely not better. In a few short years after the 1985 attack, the Berlin Wall fell, and less than a decade after that in 1998, The Red Army Faction announced it was disbanding. Then came 9/11, and it all started over again with Al-Queda. The more things change, the more they stay the same, except this time the enemy is more organized and better trained, but then, so are we.

Today a small granite marker stands on the site at Rhein Mein where the bomb exploded, in remembrance of the victims. Someday I will get around to traveling overseas and viewing it. In all probability 25 years from now there will be American men and women veterans observing their own anniversaries, and thinking about their experiences the same as I do now. They will probably ponder going to visit the granite marker at the site of their personal memory. I wonder if someday we will run out of granite for all the markers?