Poverty, the Stigma of Society

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There’s a gag line I remember that goes, “The only thing money can’t buy is poverty.”  I suppose it’s oxymoronic, but in plain sense it is a very truthful precept.  We, the people, fund government, both state and Federal, with taxes that keep skyrocketing.  Now with the new Obamacare, it will increase more rapidly.  Obamacare, as of today, has only helped 1% of the population according to the statistics I have heard.

Preventing poverty through government agencies is nothing but a futile and never ending money pit.  I know that from personal experience.  I worked nine years for the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare.  I realize there are times when some individuals need help, but it is supposed to be only a stepping stone until their situations improve and once more be self-sufficient.  This doesn’t apply to the disabled or the elderly who are having a difficult time in their remaining years of their lives.

The American people are probably the most generous group in this world, as are the British.  Whether there is a disaster, or charity, or if someone is down on their luck, they are always helping and giving in one form or another, monies or goods.  Not only is there abuse, but there are so many who just plain do not want to work for a living.  The welfare department insists on helping individuals get jobs.  Do you know how often I have read letters from employers stating, “skips work, comes in late, cannot get along with the staff, cannot be trained, and the like.”  Many start their jobs and get fired, some do it on purpose. And they start the whole process again.

If I remember correctly, welfare benefits are to be utilized for two years, according to the Federal limit guidelines.  Pennsylvania offers five years, and then there are loopholes for further benefits.  It’s a waste of benefits and monies for people who can care less how much the working class pays in taxes to keep them in the feeding frenzy.  Some consider it a lifestyle.  Pennsylvania’s Welfare cost is between $35 and $40K per year, over a third of the state’s budget.  Personally I would be ashamed to buy groceries every week being on a food stamp program.

I won’t go into welfare specifics, but I will make a few suppositions.  I keep asking myself the same questions, how can society solve the poverty problem?  When I read my local paper on Saturdays, it lists, in my area, 129 churches. Just in the surrounding part of Lancaster, PA.  So I will ask this question, “How much can a church do to help the poverty here and around the country?”  It really irks me when I read about how individuals who say they are missionaries and they travel all over the world to help the impoverished.  Who pays for the travel and lodging and food while away doing missionary work?  Each country has specific traditions, beliefs and ways of life.  I will guarantee that some missionaries are there not only to help, but also convert to their religious sect.  The world is made up of different cultures that make each of them a unique and wondrous lifestyle all their own.  Why should anyone want to change that culture with a different set of values?

Every culture is a valuable asset in their own way, and changing it will only damage it and destroy something of value as they know it.  I realize that missionaries just want to help, but how much do they realize it can be a detriment to the culture.  Why not send missionaries around the U.S and help cure the poverty situation and perhaps those in need of help will be less dependent on the government and our taxes.

The impoverished continually complain that they cannot afford babysitting, that’s why they cannot work…especially those single unwed mothers.  Churches across the country can absorb one or two families, and provide help, with babysitting, food and sundries, while the parent goes to work or to school to get a better paying job, until they can go out on their own.  It would be a small price to pay for churches and their charitable actions will be sated.

This isn’t a revolutionary concept, but why don’t more churches do it?  What are they waiting for?  I know that many churches help in this manner with refugees, so why not with our own impoverished citizens?  I sometimes think that churches don’t reach their full potential concerning their conduct and beliefs.  I am ashamed of many of them for not realizing their full potential.  I’m not berating the few that really do help our impoverished. I just feel that together they all can create a tremendous opportunity of aiding those in temporary need.

A long time ago, in 1607, when settlers came to Jamestown, Virginia, life wasn’t so easy for them.  They needed to be self-sufficient, so they created a utopian commune to build, farm and raise food sources along with hunting for meat.  But with man’s free will, some didn’t bother to help with getting the food or cultivating it for all to benefit from.  There were many that complained about those certain individuals who refused to participate in those necessary activities of survival.

Some of the individuals complained to John Smith about those not doing their share, so John Smith decided he had to do something to appease the complainers.  He gathered all for a meeting and staunchly proclaimed, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”  And so, the solution was heeded and all were joined together to work for the advancement of the colony.

Perhaps we should realize the fact that often we need to be harsh in our decisions.  But there are those who continually think that some will suffer without continuous help.  Man will accomplish just about anything when he puts his mind to it.  If most of us were not so adamant about our work ethic, we would have never reached the moon, or have a cell phone in our hands.

When I was an engineering Product Testing Consultant and Technical writer, I wrote a slogan on my business card that stated, “The miracle of technology is not created by magical wizards—but by the generosity of shared ideas.”  I hope that everyone can work together to solve our nation’s poverty stigma.

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Masquerading Women and Their Emotional Characteristics – Part Two

buzzard[1]Observation is an important rule for understanding your partner.  If you continually listen and watch, you’ll learn a good deal about any stranger you see.  I admit it is not exclusively specific, but it does lead you toward a sense of having an advantage and realize the type of person you will be interacting with.

When I was in the Navy, stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I was attached to VF-101 F-4 Phantom Squadron.  The base was just about three or four miles from the beach.  Some of us spent most of our free time there during the summer, especially the summer of 1971.  I worked the 11 – 7 shift in the AME shop (Aviation Mechanic , Environmental & Egress) I worked on ejection seats, canopies, air conditioning systems for both the cockpit and radar.  I also maintain the gaseous and liquid oxygen tanks.  With this in mind, I always had time for the beach whenever I wasn’t too tired.

One of the interesting points to this was that my three friends and I were, shall I say, unique.  Ted was a great guitar player, and Larry, Buster and I met and we were joined together by accident in the barracks.  We took our talents and when on the beach we sang the Beatles and Beach Boys songs in harmony. We mimicked the groups so well that it attracted a lot of vacationing nurses and sororities, vacationing girls, etc. A few fellows joined in because there were often so many women there sitting around listening and trying to sing along.

One evening Ted and I were by ourselves and we met three nursing students on vacationWe had a nice conversation and we hung out together for the evening.  We left them as it was Friday night and I had to get back for my shift.  The next morning, it was Saturday, so sleep was out of the question.  Ted and I were walking on Atlantic Boulevard when those same three girls were approaching us.  But this time there was a fourth young lady.  We were standing in front of the corner restaurant where they were headed for breakfast.  They, in turn, invited us to join them and we accepted.

This story is important as an observation exercise so you can understand how important little details can create viable assumptions.  Allow me to describe the restaurant so you can see why.  The entrance was exactly at the corner of the building.  As you walked in there were about seven booths on the right against the windows, with a round booth at the end.  To the left the aisle went to the back of the restaurant where there were tables and a stage for late night bands and dancing.  The booths paralleled the counter with round seats and behind the counter were bottles of all kinds of liqueur sitting in front of a ceiling-high long mirror.

The waitress came over and handed out menus.  Ted mentioned that I had a unique talent and smiled.  He told them that I was really good at it.  The waitress quickly came back to take our orders.  Remember, we never met the fourth nursing student until fifteen minutes prior.  When the waitress asked the new girl for her order, she asked, “Do you serve soda?”

The waitress told her yes and rattled off the flavors.  She gave the waitress her order and drink and the waitress left.  I looked at Ted, and then at the girls, and then I turned to the new student and asked her, “You don’t go out much do you?” she answered, “No, I study a lot.”  Responding to that I said, “You don’t date much at all.  She answered, “No I don’t.” I again said you don’t drink do you? Again she replied, “No, how did you know?”  I continued, “You are a very religious girl, am I right?”  She stared at me and finally sighed and said, “Yes, I am, are you a psychic?  I answered her with a no and explained to the group how and why I knew.

This example shows how not knowing a person you can pull out certain aspects of character traits and make certain well defined assumptions.  You have heard don’t make any fast first impressions, because you will be wrong.  My friends, it is possible to a point.

This is how I knew all those things.  She was unusually quiet, and not as talkative as the others.  She was mildly introverted.  That told me she wasn’t a person that dated much if not at all.  She asked if they sold soda.  That told me she didn’t go to bars.  A normal outgoing person knows that every bar has sodas for mixers. That automatically indicated that she was more religious than the others. Observation, listening, and logically deducing the outcome enables to know a person without having a long personal conversation.

I need to convey to all of you the primary source of all this color learning.  What you must remember is that the structured testing involved was intended for psychological testing.  It originally was composed of seventy-three color plates for specific analyses.  Dr. Max Lüsher (The Lüsher Color Test, first printing published 1969) devised a short version in his book utilizing eight basic colors. Four colors were primary and four were additional. Anyone who bought his book must initially take the test before reading to understand the premise of his research.

His book actually made you choose the colors in order of best liked to least liked without associating the colors to anything or anyone.  After the color plates were shuffled again, one takes the test again, instructing that it was not a memory test and choosing the same colors in order, as the previous choice, was not part of the test-protocol.  The test itself was the difference between the two choices so the analysis could be drawn with anxieties, compensations, and conflicts, relating to one’s character discrepancies. It focused on both physical and psychological aspects of personality, and whether or not there were compensating choices for any anxieties. The individual might have character deprivations and issues that needed to be discussed in open dialog.  By all means, it was not a test to see if you are crazy or insane.  It was simply a test to discover one’s discrepancies and improve one’s character to better life evaluated in a short period of time.

Even the entire short version of the test is very complex if you have no real interest in character analysis.  In the past I have seen the test online, but it was so general, that it was like reading your horoscope.  Not exceptionally viable. If you decide to investigate this action, understand that my system is completely different in its analysis.

Since this writing got to be a lengthy one, I will then write Part Three that explains the eight plates and their basic meanings.  I developed a whole new solution to character analysis that allowed me to quickly deduce a person’s typical attitudes, character, and shortcomings, both good and questionable.

Forty-Three Years of Lost Memories…Rejuvenated

buzzard[1]September 21, 2013 will be a day I shall never forget.  I apologize to all you bloggers, but this particular blog is intended for memories lost and found between childhood friends.

My friend, Pete, called me in July to let me know about a reunion that he and Gary decided to stage for all the YMCA Leaders Club members, friends who attended the Y every Friday and Saturday from 1965 to 1970, the last year when I left for the Navy. I’m including YMCA day camp friends who we haven’t seen for forty-three years of our lives along with the many who were affiliated in some way or another.

When one comes to the winter of his or her life, past memories just swarm, through my head at least, about all those I thought I would never see again before we all take that long dirt nap or scattering of our ashes, no longer being a part of such amazing times and unforgettable memories of friendships.  I am having a difficult time in writing this as tears are filling my eyes and blurring the damn print on the screen and keyboard.  My emotions are swelling up inside my brain, along with my failing heart and my somewhat broken heart.

We all shared times at the Y, since it was co-ed, by doing gymnastics, not Olympic quality, but definitely on the fun side.  Trampoline or not, we did everything to keep us active, and later going to the pool downstairs for more fun.  Some would say it wasn’t all fun, but when it came to working with the kids, teaching basics of tumbling, etc., and the infamous learn to swim campaign that went on for one week each year, it was work, but it still was fun.  I don’t know about our fellow girls workers, but I know the guys appreciated it since we got to see the girl teachers in their bathing suits.

Personally, I never thought to see that many at the reunion, and truly missed those that couldn’t or wouldn’t make the effort for the gathering of old acquaintances. It was a stroke of luck that Pete called me as I had a very trying year with my health since January of this year.  And for those of you who didn’t know, the first four months were devastating as I had actually died twice in the ER.  It was then I realized that I may never experience what transpired on Saturday the 21st.

A few years prior I had developed CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).  I never had a heart attack, it just decided to stop working at capacity and it only pumps 20% of normality.  It was a horrible feeling knowing that at one time when we all were together at the Y, I ran a lot and often I’d jog 10 miles a day, but mostly 3 miles from home to the Y.

My ER experience was due to my CO2 levels reaching near 100% and my lungs failed due to that excess.  My implanted defibrillator helped as I was told and by the end of the next two months, I was home from therapy, barely walking and on 24 hours of sucking down oxygen. This past month, I am only on oxygen at night while asleep for my apnea.  I lost 76 pounds since I left the hospital in April.  It’s a day by day effort. There is more to that story, but I won’t bore you with it, so moving on…

I realized for some time now, that there lies a fine line between depression and nostalgia.  When that line stops or continues, I can’t tell you.  I suppose it’s how you handle the memories of days long past that determines the results on how the two opposing situations are dealt with in each of our lives. Hell, I take antidepressant pills twice a day…..how’s that for dealing with it? But I have to admit, I still get teary eyed thinking about all of you people.  What the hell, just because I’m old doesn’t mean I don’t care about all of you.

Admittedly, I never thought that I would have been of any importance when I got to the Y camp on Saturday. I was literally in awe of the people that remember me (at least the good times) all except the Adams twins…just joking girls.

There were many stories that we all shared, and yes many were hilarious, and some were embarrassing, but at our ages, I know we can’t be offended as that was so long ago.  It was just so terrific that the stories were remembered.  I never forgot most if not all of them.  I’m hoping that as time goes on, I will share with all of you as many stories as I can.

I was in awe that no one got trashed…..  I suppose that at our age, we are more sensible or maybe just too stupid to realize that we could get a little drunk.  But it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime, and believe me, I have experienced a lot.

When Pete contacted me, he sent me a list of people he had trouble finding.  He thought I might have the ability to track down some of you people.  I still do a lot of research for my writing.  I just cannot fathom thinking back in high school, I got so many D’s and F’s in English and I ended up being published in a magazine with my own column and other writings over the years, including this blog, but I did my best.

You girls were the hardest to find since you all changed your last names (sometimes twice or thrice….just kidding).  And so it began…the search for the oblivious ghosts of years past (and it isn’t even Christmas yet).

After Pete gave up his search, I remained the bloodhound. I often think I feel like one, but persevering and two days before the reunion, I found the last one, Betsy M., my long lost flickering strobe light dance partner at the Y’s occasional weekend dances.

At the reunion, I never thought that it was going to be so ecstatically rewarding.  I never thought of myself as anyone special, I thought I was just a nerdy kid (I still carry a pocket protector, loaded with stuff) who wanted to help out, have some fun, and prayed that sometime in those years I would have the Kahunas to ask some of you girls out.  But the words, scared s***less only comes to mind.  I continued to be just me.  But all of you made my day…perhaps my life, now knowing how many of you thought of me (and once again, except the Adams twins who couldn’t remember me, but came around after a couple of stories). The closeness of all of you will be something I will cherish always.

I realize this blog is a tad lengthy, so please bear with me a little while longer.  This is important for me to vent it out of my system.  My life has been somewhat difficult for me as I truly am a sensitive person, but I never showed it.  I traveled from Navy base to Navy base, job to job, city to city.  I always had to leave certain friends behind, knowing that the possibility of never seeing some of them ever again before I leave this earth (I know how you feel Pete).  Sometimes I wish I had a time machine and be at the Y to do it over again.

To this day, as I muse about all of you who had dated, had crushes, but most of all, and no matter what happened back then, we all are and will still remain…friends.  The old YMCA no longer stands and a new one stands erect.  I have never entered its open doors knowing that the ambiance of all of you and the charisma of the old place no longer exists.

I now realize that we were a part of a generation that was on the cusp of a changing society.  In those short years, we lived in this unique bubble of intense emotional connection to each other without realizing it until now (sorry, my eyes just blurred again).  We all evolved into what we all hoped to be and hoped to accomplish, whether it did or did not endure the plans exactly as we planned it.  But without any regrets, except for the fact this special occasion did not occur earlier in my timeline, I say to you all, I thank you for making my life complete now and before.  To those wonderful teenage years that inspired us to be the best from all our learning experiences. My only hope is to have all of you keep in touch and perhaps increase the attendance for another in a couple of years.  May you all live long and prosper and I thank you for being a part of my life…from the bottom of my heart….Emery

The Two Faces of News Media

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Watching the news on TV the other day made me think about some of the substandard and two-faced reporting.  I don’t know why it is so important to discuss issues that are meaningless in value and does nothing to improve our lives and future goals.  They are becoming like the paparazzi except they do it under the cover of news.

The media jumped at the chance to let all of us know what Miley Cyrus did on stage that they deemed shocking and morally questionable. I sure as hell didn’t care.  I wasn’t there and I’m sure many others just didn’t know until the media brought it to their attention.  I can tell you that when Madonna did her concert displays years ago, the hoopla was termed as — great personal marketing. Was there any difference between both public displays?   I think not.  I believe the media scrutinized Miley because she was at one time a children’s channel icon.  Communication, these days, travels almost at the speed of light.  It is horribly and insensitively instantaneous as compared to the early days of television and radio.  Even the newspapers were stunted by the lack of modern technology.

At the 2013 Miss America Pageant, in Atlantic City, a judge had asked one contestant what she thought about the Miley Cyrus’ risqué display on stage. That judge must have the brains of a mutated aardvark. What purpose did it serve to support and understand the intellectual being of the contestant?  I suppose it was better than an answer that she wanted ‘World Peace’ and there is the undeniable fact that It never has and never will be as long as man has a free will to exploit and grab power for his own selfish reasons.

The question that needs to be asked is whether we need all this trash news and what does it do for us to continue to live our lives as a family.  Granted, news about danger, weather, and issues affecting our daily living is important because it brings value to the safety and concerns needed for making our day fruitful, fun, and most of all happy.  I admit it is often nice to hear the ridiculous acts of people that make us laugh and realize there is some sort of humor in living.  But some days I wonder where the common sense of human character disappeared.

There is a quote that I feel is apropos because it draws a parallel to the media influx of news worthiness.  Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) wrote, “Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless.”  ‘nuf said?

Masquerading Women and Their Emotional Characteristics – Part One

buzzard[1]I believe I will get a lot of flak for this blog.  You may even think I am a sexist, but be it far from the truth, I am only inviting you to envision my perspective analysis that I have extrapolated over forty years of research.  I am not a scientist, but I studied character development issues that I have learned and now I would like to share them with you.

Typically, from my point of view, men fall into five categories: they act like bloodhounds in search of physical conquest.  Some are sadists, some are masochists, some are loving and honest and finally some are just “Yes, dear” type, if you understand the gist of my point.  Women on the other hand are complicated and there is no end to the possibilities of characteristics.

What drove me to this revelation was an article in the Style section of the newspaper concerning decorative fingernails, both pre-made and personally painted nails.  I do realize that this self-indulging perk makes all women feel good about their appearance.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s okay, but there are consequences at times that men and women do not recognize.

From the age of 17, my intention was to become a psychiatrist.  Unfortunately, that never occurred due to a number of factors.  However, that didn’t stop me from reading, studying, and testing the theories I had learned and, of course, I restructured all the variables to coalesce with the initial definitions.  I read a book that presented character analysis with color.  It was a modified version of the entire test data procedure.  And with that in hand, I began my studies with hundreds of individuals, one by one.  I vowed to always keep the personal results confidential.

Did I document it?  No, only the initial test and after the analysis, I destroyed it.  All the data that I had analyzed is in my head.  Generalities are easy, but the specifics of the characteristics were more difficult on the personal level.  The accuracy of these analyses amounted to about 90%.  I always asked the individual to affirm the data if it was correct concerning a particular trait. I discussed reasons with them to help them understand why if the results were questionable in their minds.   Every once in a while the response failed if the subject was denying certain information so as not to reveal a personal or embarrassing trait.

At this point I want to stress that choosing a color is an involuntary act, such as going to the closet and deciding to pick a certain dress color, a tie, a blouse or a shirt.  It usually can change your mood for the day without you realizing why.  As an example; in the entire test (over a hundred colors), the color pink was a detrimental color in certain situations.  In a prison, they put a convict into a room painted totally pink.  For a short time it calmed the prisoner.  But after a long duration of just sitting there, it started to make the prisoner edgy and angry.  It was done a number of times with different prisoners with the same results.

Let me relate a short story that I had encounter back in the early ‘80s before I jump into the color discussion.  I was working as a machine operator creating electronic connectors.  This was before I moved on to the test laboratory for testing connectors for the aerospace industry.  Behind me sat a few women that were assembling connectors.  One particular girl, I would guess in her early twenties was nice looking but nothing too exciting to look at.   At times you can hear conversations between the girls and without trying to pry, I overheard her say she was getting a divorce.  I didn’t think anything of it until a couple of months later.  I was just walking toward my machine when I happen to notice this same girl totally and fabulously transformed into a beautiful and stylish vamp.  Her hair was done, nails pedicured, face made up and dressed like she was going out to a nightclub.  This is one occasion I never forgot.

I started analyzing her status by evaluating reasons for change.  I had to ask myself if this transformation took place because she no longer was with her husband and was she on the prowl for another mate.  I deduced that it was correct because later that evening (it was the 3 to 11 night shift) I overheard how she was going out to a drinking establishment for a good time after work.  I have to ask you, “What didn’t she do that when she was with her husband? Perhaps that may have been at least one reason why there might have been disinterest between the couple.  The other point is, why, does a woman look so good when you are dating, and when you get married she lets herself go?  What drives that action?  Why do women masquerade their looks and later become a plain Jane?  Don’t get me wrong, men let themselves go as well.  But women act like bait, set the hook, and it’s over.  It’s another lesson to be learned because men are sexually stupid.  That’s a true story and a realistic evaluation.

The general structure will reveal only certain traits and not any insightful specifics. The following is a simple rendition of what some of the colors mean, as I know them, as a base analysis over the years. I intend to keep certain traits a secret so no one will try it and make some grievous errors.  I will continue with the explanations of the color schemes in Part 2 of this two part series in a few days.  Thanks for reading.

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Smoking and Dieting Stupidity

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How do I hate thee, let me blurt the ways. The dieting industry is probably one of the biggest money makers in this country. It is comparable to the other money mongers, the insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Let’s think about this on a more down to earth level. Those of you that diet, exercise, and suffer (and I do mean suffer), try to think how long it has been that you have tried diet programs and failed each time. How about how much cash was sucked up with little or no results.

Dieting is like trying to quit smoking, some of us can and some of us will not quit. Yes, I mean will not quit. The intentions are always good but usually to no avail. The question is why do you lavish so much time and money on a never-ending aspiration?

Let’s go back to the smoking situation. Personally I started at 17 and puffed smoke for 13 years before I decided to quit. Cigarettes were cheap. Fifty cents from the machines and on board a naval ship, three miles out at sea, the prices dropped to 25 cents a pack. But that was then. I decided to invest some money on a group hypnosis seminar. It was a very odd experience. I left there, got into my truck, and lit up a cigarette. I took 2 puffs and I threw it out the window, along with the pack. It lasted 2 years I started up again because of stress. I originally quit because my first son was born, I smoked for the next 9 years.

It so happens I decided to quit again, so I found a woman hypnotist and had three sessions. I was the only person who ever answered her question correctly, “What was the difference between a smoker and a non-smoker?” The answer was, “a non-smoker doesn’t think about wanting to smoke.”

I must have been her first non-smoking triumph because I sent others to her and she raised her prices three-fold. Three years later, I started again, due to much stress. I smoked for the next nine years. On top of that, I started to gain more weight. I thought that smoking would help reduce the urge to eat. Was I ever wrong! By this time I was divorced, and seven years later, I re-married. I continued to smoke, gain weight, and I developed a terrible cough. I could only sleep on my left side, otherwise I couldn’t breathe. Did you ever walk outside on a cold winter’s day and start hacking for 10 minutes before it stopped? It was a terrible feeling.

One morning I sat up and said to myself, “That’s it, I’m done.” It had been thirteen years since I stopped smoking and this time I will not give up.

Eventually I ended up with diabetes, type 2 then type 1. I attained CHF (Congested Heart Failure) and now my heart is pumping at 20%, even though I never had a heart attack. The VA (Veterans Administration) doctors (I am a Disabled Viet Nam Era Veteran) finally said it was time for an implant and a week later I had a defibrillator put in. Two years later, my fingers and hands started to swell. I ended up with Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Gout. All this broke the camel’s back, and I had to stop working, as I had a difficult time walking, breathing, and using my hands to any great length.

Now that you have some history, I can tell you that being on oxygen 24 hours a day, with a weight of 347 Lbs., wasn’t what I aspired to live as I looked toward retirement. I ended up in the hospital so weak that I was unaware (I went by ambulance) my lungs stopped functioning twice. I was lucky. The doctors acted quickly, as I was told. My CO2 levels were near 100%. It was a rude awakening for me. I couldn’t stand up or walk. It took two weeks before I could stand and walk after arduous daily therapy.

You all know that when you have that much weight, exercise for any length of time is nonexistent. I told myself that if I needed to exercise, even a little, I would have to get on a diet. I considered all types, but the cost factor was just not there. Living on disability, does not give you many options for extra cash. For the next nine months (to present day) I decided to do it my way again.

My philosophy is, “If you want to get something done, you gotta want it bad.” And so I decided to diet on my own terms (with the help of my nagging wife), just don’t tell her I wrote that. Here’s what I did to lose weight in seven months without getting ill. It was a slow natural loss.

Start off with a good breakfast:

I have 3 eggs over medium with 2 pieces of toast, hash browns, 3 link sausages, coffee or hot tea, juice and a banana—
Another choice is a ham and cheese omelet with salsa on top, 2 pieces of toast, coffee or hot tea, juice and a banana—
Lastly, try two ham, egg and cheese on toast with coffee or hot tea, juice and a banana.
I use Splenda or a generic form of sugar substitute (it’s cheaper) for my liquids.

For Lunch:

I have a large salad consisting of any type lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and mushrooms. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, Italian seasoning, oregano seasoning, and finally Italian dressing.

Note: Over the months of eating this salad, here is what I found. You don’t just dampen the salad, douse it. Always use Italian dressing because when you finish the salad you gulp down the remaining dressing. I have noticed that if you need your blood sugar to be less than 150 then no insulin shot is needed. It so happens that if my blood sugar was say 135 in the morning, 147 two hours after breakfast, I won’t need a shot of insulin. After I have the salad, two hours later my glucose level drops sometimes less than the first, as an example, 124.

Why does this happen, I don’t know, but it does. I keep regular white vinegar around and take a shot of it after eating something sweet, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of the salad. The jelly pushes my sugar levels way up over 200. The vinegar does help keep it down below 300. I do this because sometimes I get a small piece of cake or pie, but never too much of it. It is okay to cheat every once in a while. I don’t want to live the rest of my life without enjoying some of my yens.

For Supper:

Any food is up for grabs as long as it is just one helping of everything. This way it should satisfy your hunger until next morning. I only drink diet soda, but not often. I usually have an iced glass of Crystal Light drink that I mix up from powder. I limit all fluids to 2000 ml. a day. Going over is not critical and ice water is also okay.

Now for the grand finally; I have lost 76 lbs. in those seven months and during that time, my walking is much better. My breathing is not labored, as I don’t use my oxygen during the day, but I have to at night because of sleep apnea. Walking as my exercise does help reduce the weight without me fighting for my breath. Every day was a struggle, but it is definitely getting better and easier. It is too bad my hands won’t get any better.

So as you can see, the mind can do wonders if you really want it. Don’t give up and stop wasting your bucks. Give yourself a month and let me know how you are doing on my blog. Just hang on. I know you can do it.

A Sailor’s Tradition and a Gambling Game of Chance

buzzard[1]

As a Disabled Navy Veteran of the Viet Nam era, I have since read many ways that folks try to document and explain this naval invention. This game was a way to eliminate boredom aboard ship when there was a lull in duties. In older times, Scrimshaw was very popular aboard whaling ships. A few sailors would take a whale’s bone or ivory and scrimshaw (carve) a scene or detailed objects onto it. Some of them today are highly prized for their beauty (See Photo 1).

Photo 1

Other sailors carved Love Tokens. A creative mariner would take a silver coin and carve anything from initials to small pictures. When finished, he would put a hole at the top and bestowed it upon his lady as a pendant, when he returned to port. It was a token of his love to show her how he often thought about her while he was away at sea (See Photo 2).

Photo 2

Before the modern sea vessel evolved, a mariner would learn rope work or better known as marlinspike seamanship. It was the precursor of macramé that most all recognize. All sailors learned to sew, knit, crochet, and weave (as do I). Rope knotting was an integral part of sailing on square-riggers and for a few, some intricate knotting, was a closely guarded secret. Many a sailor would wait until a master rope rigger would teach him a certain knot because he was desperate for the perfect design. It was a time of artistic work and it took away the boredom when work was completed (See Photo 3).

MonkeyFist

Photo 3

However, as most of you know, sailors were notorious for chasing women while in port, or gambling away their hard-earned wages (as did I) while at sea. Even to this day, boredom was prevalent after a hard day’s work. The thought of bringing home more money than was earned was always a tempting lure.

Ship’s, Captain, and Crew was no different. It was a sailor’s crap game, with five (5) dice in lieu of two (2). Whether they played this game in bars and taverns, well, that may be a bit subjective. Rather than play games, most had other ideas when finally reaching a port, if you get my drift (pun intended).

In lieu of only reading bits from one and bits from another article, I can tell you how a seasoned chief petty officer, while in transit, taught us every aspect of the game. Funny, he taught four (4) of us the game and he ended up losing $40. He was not a happy camper by the time he had to leave.

Needs: Five (5) Dice
Money or chips fer ye landlubbers

• The basics: (See Figure 1)

– The Ship = 6 (Six)
– The Captain = 5 (Five)
– The Crew = 4 (Four)
– Of… = Total Numbers of the Remaining Two (2) Dice – From Two (2) to Twelve (12)

Figure 1

• Numbers of players = no limit, however, six (6) participants or less is an easier number to handle.

• To choose first player, everyone tosses all five (5) once. Largest combined sum begins play. All players that tie with the highest number will toss again until only one (1) winner is established. Play begins with the winner of each round, at all times.

• During play:

• Players are A, B, C, D, for identification purposes.

Player A rolls all five (5) dice but none are sixes (See Figure 2). You must roll ALL 5 dice again even if one of the die is a 5 (Captain) or a 4 (Crew). You cannot keep a 5 (Captain) or a 4 (Crew) until you roll a 6 (Ship). The same rule applies to the rest of the sequence. You must get the 6, 5, 4, in the correct order before you get the final number for the Crew.

Figure 2

• During play:

All players are limited to a maximum of three (3) rolls. However, the starting player will determine the number of rolls each player thereafter is allowed to roll (i.e. if the starting player only used two (2) rolls to achieve his goal of 6, 5, 4, and a crew of XX, all others must follow and try to beat his crew number XX within two (2) rolls of the dice).

• Exception: If the starting player used all three (3) rolls to achieve his goal, any player beating the starting roll in less than three (3) rolls can stop if he chooses or roll again for a possible higher numbered crew.

• If the starting player A wins the round, A will begin the round again until he loses. The winner of any round begins the next round.

• If the starting player fails to achieve his goal, the dice pass to the next player and player B becomes the starting player. All rules apply as previously discussed.

• When no one reaches their goal, and the dice return back to the original starter, all starting rules begin once again.

• Exceptions to the rules, players are A, B, C, D:

• If starting player A, rolls 6, 5, 4, Crew of 6, 6, on the first roll, it is called Midnight** (See Figure 3). Player A wins the round automatically and all players lose the round. If a 6, 5, 4, 6, 6, occurs on a second (2nd) or third (3rd) roll, All other players must match it to be in a final tiebreaker, or they can drop out.

Figure 3

• If player A rolls 6, 5, 4, Crew of 4, 5, after his third try, he passes dice to player B. If player B rolls all three chances and does not beat 4, 5, he drops out and passes dice to player C.

• In the same round, if player C rolls 6, 5, 4, and a Crew 6, 6, he beats player A and is now the leader of the round. The dice pass to player D. If player D rolls the dice and matches player C, a tiebreaker ensues. If player D fails to tie, player C wins the round and player C is now the new starter. All rules again apply. Starter sets the number of rolls.

• Once the starting player sets the number of rolls, all players following must adhere to that number of rolls. If the starting player only rolls once, all players can only roll once. If the starting player rolls three (3) times, all other players can stop after 1, 2, or 3 rolls if he chooses, providing the player can beat the current high sum.

• Here are the rules for the gambling aspect of the game, using the same players as in the previous step:

• Like in poker, all ante according to the starting player A. Starting player A can regulate how high the ante should be. All players must ante or drop out of this particular round by stating the term. “I pass”.

• If player A rolls a playable set of numbers, he has the option to bet again if he thinks that he may win, or pass if he does not.

• All players must “see or match” the bet if player A bets, otherwise all others have the option to bet to stay in the round or pass to get out of the round.

• There is no “raising of bets” in this game.

• Following all the rules from the beginning, betting is always the option after the final toss of the dice of the current player’s turn. All remaining players have similar options as stated earlier.

• If no one makes the necessary Ship, Captain, Crew, and the play returns to player A once again, everyone must ante for the second time or pass to get out of the round. This rule applies for all repeated or similar conditions. I have seen it repeated four (4) times in one (1) round.

• Note: Midnight is the correct term for the time between night and morning 12:00 PM. However, there is no such thing as 12:00 PM hours in the military or naval services. The correct time is 00:00 or zero (0) hundred hours. The next minute following would be zero, zero, zero, one (00:01) hundred hours.

• This is the correct way to play the Navy game of chance. However, it may be a game just to pass the time, but it was always a serious gambling game on board ship. Watch your wallet, it could be lost at sea (pun intended).

• The pictured Monkey Fist (Photo 3) had a heavy weight (lead or stone) in the center of the ball and it had a long tail tied to a heavy mooring rope. A dockworker would twirl the monkey fist and cast it up over the rail of the docking ship. The sailor aboard would grab it and pull the heavy rope up and aboard so that he and others can slowly pull the ship close to the dock. It was then that they looped the heavy rope to a stationary peg.

Pennsylvania Dutch Made Ham Loaf

Moving to Pennsylvania, after leaving the Navy back in 1974, was a rude awakening. I learned quite a lot from all the different aspects of living and ethnic customs. This Ham Loaf recipe is definitely different and it is Pennsylvania “Dutch”, which is actually German (Deutsch). I thought regular meat loaf was my favorite, but this is a close 2nd.

Ham Loaf Ingredients:

¼ lb – Ground ham
2 ¾ lb – Ground pork, not sausage
2 – Eggs
1 cup – Breadcrumbs
1 cup – Milk
Pineapple rings or chunks

Sauce Ingredients:

½ cup – Brown sugar
½ tsp – Dry mustard
¼ cup – White vinegar
¼ cup – Water

Get a large mixing bowl and combine the ground ham, the ground pork, the eggs, the breadcrumbs, and the milk, and mix them together well.

Next, remove mixture from the bowl and mold it just like your meat loaf into a deep casserole dish or into a loaf pan if you own one. If not, choose whatever pan you normally use (dishpans not allowed…lol).

Next, mix the brown sugar, the dry mustard, the white vinegar, and add the water together in a medium saucepan. Stir the sauce and cook it slowly until sugar dissolves.

Bake the ham loaf at 350°F for two (2) hours. Keep checking the ham loaf in the last hour, just in case your oven varies in temperature.

Before the last half (½) hour, baste the ham loaf with the sauce and keep basting until it is all used up. After the basting, top the ham loaf with pineapple chunks or rings. If you are using the pineapple rings, you can put a maraschino cherry in the center of them.

Finish cooking until done. Some Pennsylvanians like it served with candied yams or just sweet potato. I like mine with mashed potatoes. Eat hearty and do not forget to double the recipe. You will want seconds and it is great as a warmed up hot sandwich.

Homemade Polish Pierogi

I know you can go to the grocery store and buy some frozen pierogi, and they are okay in my book, but nothing tastes like homemade. This is my mom’s recipe and I will keep the recipe short and simple.

I have added steps for different fillings you can use.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
½ cup water
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt

Directions:

Mound flour on kneading board and make a hole in the center. Drop eggs in the center break the yolks. Add water, salt then knead until it is firm. Let the dough rest for about ten (10) minutes in a warm bowl and cover it.

Next, you divide the dough into two (2) halves and roll it thin. You then cut circles, like wontons, with a large cutter or a can edge, whatever size you like.

Put a spoonful of filling, toward the one side, fold over the opposite edge, and press the edges together firmly. Seal each edge carefully so the filling will not run out. You can use some egg white if you wish.

Drop each pierogi into salted boiling water. Cook gently for 3 to 5 minutes, or when they float to the top. Check one to make sure the timing is correct, as there are always variables with stoves, pots, etc. Finally with a perforated spoon, lift them out of the water carefully.

Never crowd or pile up the pierogi. Uncooked pierogi will stick together and the cooked ones will lose their shape. Note: You can fry them after they are cooked. They will be like fried Chinese dumplings

You can stuff them with mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes and garlic, or mashed potatoes and sautéed onions. You can add parsley with all if you wish. The following are more ideas for stuffing the pierogi.

• Stuff them with mashed potatoes
• Mashed potatoes and garlic
• Mashed potatoes and sautéed onions
• Mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese
• Add parsley to some or all
• Sauerkraut and add sautéed onions
• Sauerkraut and mushrooms
• Plums pitted and mixed with sugar and breadcrumbs sautéed in butter with whipped cream put on them
• Blueberries, mixed with sugar and breadcrumbs, sautéed in butter. Then make a sugary sweet heavy cream sauce to pour over them
• Try some fruits, apples, cherries, etc. use your imagination. Make your Pierogi sweet when you use fruit

Varieties of Fillings

Cheese Recipe #1

1 cup cottage cheese
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 egg beaten
3 Tbsp currants
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp melted butter

Cream cottage cheese with melted butter. Add other ingredients and mix well. Fill pierogi. Serve with melted butter and sour cream.

Cheese Recipe #2

1 cup dry cottage cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp sugar
Dash of salt

Push cottage cheese through a sieve and mix with other ingredients thoroughly.

Cabbage and Mushrooms

1 small head of cabbage
2 cups mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped fine
butter
2 Tbsp sour cream
salt & pepper

Quarter the cabbage and cook in salted water for 15 minutes. Drain, cool and chop fine. Sauté onion in butter, add chopped mushrooms and fry for five (5) minutes. Add the chopped cabbage and continue to fry it until blended. Add the sour cream and let cool.

Sauerkraut

Two (2) cups sauerkraut may be substituted for the cabbage. Rinse and chop sauerkraut. Follow the directions above.

Mushrooms

1 cup chopped mushrooms
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped fine
butter
2 egg yolks

Sauté onion in butter, then add mushrooms. Season it. Remove from stove, add egg yolks, and stir well. When cool, fill pierogi. Serve with chopped onion browned in butter.

Mushrooms and Meat

½ cup cooked beef
1 onion, chopped fine
butter
½ cup chopped mushrooms
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp sour cream

Put cooked meat through a meat grinder. Fry the onions in butter until transparent, and then add mushrooms and meat. Season to taste and add the sour cream. Let cool before filling.

Prunes

1 cup cooked prunes
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
butter
breadcrumbs

You should soak the prunes overnight. Cook them with some sugar and lemon juice. Remove stones (pits) when cool, and coat them with breadcrumbs browned in melted butter. Now stuff the pierogi.

Ripe Plums

plums
cinnamon
sugar
egg white

Peel and stone the plums. Fill the cavity with cinnamon and sugar. Dip the plums in sugar and, if you wish, you can coat them with breadcrumbs browned in melted butter. Cover with dough and seal edges with egg white. Try serving them with whipped cream.

Fresh Berries

blueberries or cherries
sugar

Sugar the fruit generously for half hour before using.

Option: You can make a cream sauce with sweet heavy cream and pour it over the blueberry pierogi

Cooked Fruits

Any fruit preserves or such must be thick.

Apples

6 apples
¼ tsp cinnamon
½-cup sugar

You peel apples and use a grinder with a coarse blade. Mix the apples with sugar and cinnamon. When cooked, coat the pierogi with thick sour cream, buttered breadcrumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Bake in an oven at 350° F for 15 minutes.

Three Little Bakers – A Legacy of a Bygone Era

A couple of years ago, I decided to call the Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre located in Wilmington Delaware. So I googled the site for their phone number. I was devastated to read that the best dinner theatre I loved was no longer in business.

I want to share with the younger generation about the pluses of the dinner theatre. Nowadays, it’s cell phones, DVD movies, X-boxes, computers and everything else that takes away the idea of a live theatre performance. There is no outside interaction and understanding the history of past songs, plays, musicals and the like. It will someday be all forgotten and the newer generations will never learn the greatness of entertainment that existed before today’s fast-paced lifestyle.

I had attended the Three Little Bakers (TLB) on a number of occasions in the 70’s, 80’s and in the 90’s. The first time I had the pleasure was in Kennett Square, PA., where the seating capacity was only 400. As I remember it, they outgrew the place and rumor had it that the Pennsylvania State had passed an entertainment tax which may have pushed the Immediato Brothers to move across the border to Wilmington, Delaware. This new complex seated 900 eager theatre goers.

The three brothers, AL, Hugo, and Nick, were once called the Acromaniac’s. They were a Vaudeville act for years if not decades. They were a tumbling acrobat act and were very well known nationwide. They even were on TV at times. It was after one brother broke his vertebrae, that they quit and went on to be bakers and started a catering business which later evolved into the dinner theatre.

They featured Broadway shows, famous artists, chorus lines, and intermission events. TLB was sold out 7 days a week for many years. They gave away, heart-shaped bread to anniversary couples, birthday breads, and often a prize for the man who recently had a vasectomy and that usually brought down the house in laughter. At the intermission they always had dancing, as I can remember the last time I was there, the dance floor was packed for the regular dances, and they ended with the Macarena.

They were famous for their extravagant buffets and tables upon tables of desserts of every kind you could imagine. They kept telling everyone to take more of all the desserts. Their belief was to treat everyone as kings and queens with respect, dignity, and friendship; something that you don’t see much of these days.

Their Christmas shows were outstanding. It was the last one I attended in the 90’s. I recall, the song, Santa Baby, because while the young woman sang, one Santa after another kept falling down and out of the chimney. It was hysterical. They closed their doors on March 17th, 2007. Attendance declined from 900 to 200 soon after the drastic day of 9-11, 2001. Seniors, who were the majority of their customers, hesitated to venture out since. Frightened by the possibility of more terrorism, the gas prices going through the roof and lack of spending monies for extras, brought the TLB to its knees and to its final demise.

What stood out for me was that prior to the start of the show, TLB had all the veterans stand for all to honor them, with me being one of them. I will never forget that honor initiated by them.

I say good bye to an era of nostalgia and historical entertainment, and I say to you all, give your kids an education outside the home and let them see what life in the great past has to offer. Visit your nearest dinner theatre and enjoy a night of relaxation, a good meal and a great show. To the Three Little Bakers, thank you for letting me be a part of your social greatness and family.

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