For over 236 years we have celebrated as a nation our freedoms from tyranny, specifically British Rule, and all other freedoms that we as Americans have. Year in and year out we have parades, fireworks, concerts, plays & shows, cook-outs, bar-be-ques, carnivals, festivals, family outings, vacations, races, military honors & rifle salutes, and too numerous to name other forms of celebration.
Imagine, as many will, your typical Independence Day memory: plenty of good food, friends and family, watching concerts and patriotic plays, seeing sporting events in a large city nearby, giving somber remembrance to the United States’ military and their ultimate sacrifices for our freedom with color guards and artillery salutes. Then, as night begins to fall, and the stars shine bright, performers will sing a set of popular and patriotic tunes, and finally, the finale, the fireworks; all the colors and sounds, flashing and shooting throughout the night sky. Where are you thinking about? Maybe it’s New York, Boston, your closest hometown; large or small? How about Philadelphia in 1777?
One year after our Declaration of Independence was signed, the young nations celebrated in cities and towns, large and small, in all these ways. The more things change the more they stay the same. Founders such as John Adams wrote in July 1776 that Americans would celebrate in these ways in future years. That Americans would cherish their independence and the rights that they held and fought for so dearly. The founders only thought that the celebration would come on July 2, the day that the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress, and not the day that it was signed, for the signing was only a formality.
Our Wondrous Declaration
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
This is the introduction, or a preamble, to the Declaration of Independence. Further along our founding fathers detail the grievances that they have against England, particularly its ruler, King George III, but here they simply state that when such a case for dissolution of a political state in order to form a new state comes about, the decent thing to do is to announce it, and air the grievances so that the other side knows those reasons, reasons that have driven one group to separate wholly and completely from another. It means that you stand for something. Sadly to say, from the looks of our political landscape and leadership, too little stand for anything except re-election, or if they do, they stand for donors instead of constituents and even these don’t stand for anything themselves, but stand for other peoples beliefs. What happened to backbone, to standing for what is right and that which you believe in, for standing up for yourself and for those who cannot stand up for themselves, those without a voice?!
Our founders definitely stood for things.
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Here’s another painting, completed today, August 15, 2011, number two in the World Tree series. I hope everyone likes it. Title: The World Tree in Fields. Acrylic paints with modeling pastes and gels on ply-board; 24” x 24”.
First painting in months. Completed today August 13, 2011. Title: The World Tree. Idea from the World Tree image out of Norse Mythology, with a little inspiration from Van Gogh and the way he made the lights in the sky. Acrylic Liquitex paints with Golden Medium Gel Matte, on ply-board. 24” x 24”. Hope everyone likes it!
This is the beginning of a series of somewhat autobiographical/fictionalized accounts of my time in the retail world, from all points of view, as long as their mine…
Introduction: The First and Greatest Lies of Them All
I was brought up in church, and I know that lying is wrong. I really do, despite anything I may write in here. You must know first that although this is an accurate portrayal of my time in retail, there are embellishments, after all, part of the title is “…lies I’ve told myself.” God even proclaimed: ‘Thou Shalt Not Lie’ in the Ten Commandments that he handed down to Moses while the tribes of Israel were wandering through the wilderness. All the time growing up I was a decent little kid. You can ask anyone. I mean, I have to be honest here, right, I fibbed here and there, and everyone tells the little white lie. We tell small discreet lies every day to people when we don’t want to hurt their feelings. I don’t know a single person who could look me in the eye and tell me that they never declared a meal fantastic, when it was barely edible; if their mother, wife, girlfriend, or friend or family made it.
As I got older, I became more pronounced at the fine art of the lie. I would fib to teachers about the reason a homework assignment was late, I would tell my parents that me and my friends were just going to stay at home and watch television instead of sneaking out and riding around. Eventually I become talented enough to lie to myself and get by with it. This is an especially difficult art, because if anyone knows the truth about what you are saying, it’s yourself, right?
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I know that I’ve written twice recently about the economic crisis that the country is going through at the moment. With the past week there have been plenty of shockwaves felt in the economic and financial worlds. Surprisingly, during this exact same parent of time my credit worthiness has skyrocketed. It’s like opposite day when we were kids, it’s just so hard to get a grasp on.
First a little bit of background to prove my point. At one point in my life, my credit was completely shot. I don’t think I could have even made a collect call it was so horrendous. Between being divorced and medical bills due to a broken spine, I was in way over my head. Then, once I realized the position that I had unwittingly found myself in, I did what the government should do, looked around, pulled myself up, and figured up how to rebuild my credit in the easiest, quickest, and most importantly, permanent way.
So after a few short years, I had brought my credit back up to par, well, a little over par to that of the average American. Still though, credit cards were elusive to me. I wanted two of them, to use only to purchase things I already had the money for to bump my credit even higher. At the time I had a very good job that paid well for my age, I was happy with it, but not the job, but hey, a job’s a job.
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It had to come sooner or later. With all the posturing and posing that came with the Debt Ceiling Crisis of 2011, we all knew that whatever plan was implemented, there would be repercussions. I can’t say that I am personally surprised that everything came about so quickly. For all the arguments, plans, and deals that were attempted to be cut in the last week, I feel like the repercussions are justified. By this, I do not mean for one second that I want bad things to happen to the United States economy, I rely on it too heavily in our capitalist world to think like that. I like money, and I like stuff, therefore what is going on really sucks.
It’s amazing that all these great financial, economical, and political minds let something like this sneak up on them and then get what we have seen being battled out in the newsrooms and on Capitol Hill these last months. I refuse to believe that the problems of the debt and the debt ceiling issues were something unexpected. I refuse to believe that the plan passed was the best one for the sake of the country. I do believe that some of the lawmakers had the countries best interests at heart, but it is less than three months until Election Day and the presidential primary candidates are starting to get into the thick of the fight.
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For a while now I’ve wanted to take up photography as a serious hobby. The only problem was that I didn’t have a great camera. The camera I did have was a nice one. A very good Olympus model that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 megapixels. Don’t get me wrong, it did great for all normal uses, point and click, BAM, you got your shot. The pictures I took and continue to take with it are nice, but there was something lacking. I wanted to get more serious about it, I wanted to use digital photography to compliment my artwork, and in some cases to combine digital photography with other art mediums.
So naturally, I did what most people would do about something like this, I stalled. I stalled for months; I knew the prices of digital SLR cameras and the accessories for them such as lenses, flashes, and filters, not to mention the photo editing software if I got that serious about it. After months of stalling, I still couldn’t get it out of my head so I decided that I would purchase a camera and began my research. The amount of research was pretty daunting. I honestly still don’t know exactly what differences in aperture and shutter speeds mean, just that they make pictures look differently.
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Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create in some way. Either through writing, artwork, taking pictures, making sounds; anything that was creative, as a kid I wanted to do it. Over the years these feelings persisted and over time with practice and effort, I became more talented in some of these areas and less talented in others. I would surmise that I have been feeling the need to write almost as long as I have to draw or to paint. I’ve been drawing and painting since I was probably three or four years old and I probably wanted to write stories soon after that point.
I know my parents read to me as a kid. My mom was a teacher, and briefly, my dad was as well, so they took education pretty seriously. They weren’t overbearing about it though, for the most part (read less important on short term decisions; my parents would let me make some of the choices for myself). This is when I developed my love of the written word and have read voraciously almost continually since first learning how. About the same time, when I was younger, maybe six or seven, I decided that I would like to write stories myself; since there were things I thought that should be written that I hadn’t read yet. I think my first one was after reading the Jules Verne book “Around the World in 80 Days” and writing a very similar story about a man that traveled to almost every country that I recognized on the globe. It was very short, just two or three pages, and I have no idea what happened to it, but it was the first bit of writing that I ever undertook (that I remember) and finished.
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Why has it taken so long to come to an agreement in the United States Congress on how to overcome the crisis of debt with the debt ceiling maxing out? There are so many questions I wish I could ask but I know that none would ever be answered. Is it really that difficult for people to work out issues that affect everyone, and to also not compromise and solve the problem in the ways that the majority of tax payers seemed to want it solved?
I came up with an analogy as to how everything seemed to play out that I ran by some friends and they seemed to agree with the assessment. Just imagine the congress as a playground at an elementary school. Now, picture the executive and legislative branches as two bullies with their toadies vying for control of said playground. The arguing and hassling between the two branches (and the two political parties) unwilling to compromise is like watching the two said ten year old bullies calling each other names, kicking sand on each other, and posturing and posing because they’re both bullies, neither want to look bad, and both want to try to intimidate in order to gain turf in their bully playground (our capitol hill).
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Recently I wrote an opinion piece on ten writers that everyone should read. Some of the authors were mainstream, some not; some were fiction, some wrote comics and graphic novels, and some wrote non-fiction. Since it was one of the best received pieces I’ve written and posted to my blogs, I’ve decided to try it again. This will feature another variety of authors, some who are widely read (unlike the previous post on authors for the most part), and some will focus on particular pieces that the author wrote which were genre defining pieces. Without further ado; here we go…
1) Ayn Rand: A very intriguing author. Famous for her works; The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and Anthem; Rand gives in depth insights into capitalism, government, various economies, and dystopian ideals. She is widely read and highly quoted, with her hero from Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, taking on a figurehead role in the Tea Party Political Movement. Rand’s writing is not for everyone due to her ideas. People of certain beliefs and political leanings would not enjoy her work I suspect. Those who would enjoy her work would at times have to force themselves through parts of her work. This isn’t really a comment on her as a writer, but to the age in which she wrote, the language, wording, and syntax used in the early to mid 20th century, versus what we as readers have come to expect with modern day popular writers.
2) David Baldacci: A very popular and bestselling author, much of his work deals with government, law, and conspiracies, the latter popular in his Camel Club series. Much of his work has been turned into, or optioned for filming. Baldacci is easy to read, a good storyteller, and is in demand because of the modern reader’s enjoyment of political thriller and suspense novels. Though a much more widely read author than the others mentioned here, his stories are just plain fun to read, and sometimes, that is what is important in a book. Pure and simple enjoyment and being transported into the story’s setting is what makes a book fun to read. Of all the different reasons to read, enjoyment and escape may be the number one reason to crack open the book.
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