Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wishing you love, light, and the means to preserve it

wishing you love and light - Ordinary Courage

I love the look of Dr. Brene Brown's blog, Ordinary Courage, as well as the uplifting message in this post, "wishing you love and light,"published December 18.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Please read the entire post and not just the excerpt here. H/T: Jane for bringing this light to my attention. 

The Dr King quote highlighted in Brene's post is similar to the following quote attributed to the Buddha and published in Nepo's Awakening (December 17th)

In this world,hate never yet dispelled hate.Only love dispels hate.This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible
- Buddha
These two similar quotes hit me hard because I read them in the aftermath of the December 14th Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. 

On December 14, 2012, Adam Peter Lanza, age 20, fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members and wounded two at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Connecticut. Before driving to the school, he had shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home.After killing the students and staff members, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as first responders arrived. --Wikipedia

In view of the wisdom in these quotes, and given the reality of recent tragic events, I wonder, "What is the correct response to senseless tragedy?" 
  • Vengeance, such as screening and "pre-treating" potential murderers?  
  • Vigilance, such as armed guards in schools, and teachers with pistols in the classroom? 
  • Regulation to limit the freedom of law-abiding citizens? 
  • Resignation to the flaws of human nature?  
  • Some combination of the above?
  • Something else not yet mentioned?

Light drives out darkness. This is evident every time we flip the light switch in a dark room. But, does only light drive out darkness as Dr King said?  Can the darkness of a lost human soul be brightened by some needed compassion? I believe so.

Both Dr King and Buddha further opined that only love dispels hate. Is this true?  Is compassion enough to stop a crazed, irrational, self-loathing sociopath with a death wish? The Beatles sang, "Love is all you need." Tell that to the families of Adam Lanza's victims.  

I don't know how to drive out darkness except by light, either literal or figurative. I do not know how to dispel hate, except by love and compassion. I do not know how to stop evil, especially irrational and heavily-armed evil, except by superior force. I believe in compassion to prevent hate and increase love. I believe in forgiveness to reduce stress and increase love. And I believe in taking dead aim on any demon-filled wacko who threatens me or my family. 

I refuse to die unarmed in a gun battle. 

A warm gun is cold comfort, but I would rather go down fighting than cowering in the corner with my arms around my children and my back to the attacker. And I am certainly willing to obtain all the licenses, training, and certifications necessary to make sure any potential thug or wacko looks somewhere else first. 

Wishing you love, light, and the means to preserve it. And if that means standing behind me, know that I am ready.

Forgiveness for Good: the Stanford Forgiveness Project

Forgiveness does a body good. But you don't have to take my word for it. Read the following with an eye toward launching 2013 on a slate wiped clean!

"The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression, and stress. Forgiveness leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love." --Dr. Frederic Luskin

The Forgiveness Project website presents more details, including information about books, workbooks, and workshops.

"In the Forgive for Good workshop and class series Dr. Frederic Luskin presents the forgiveness training methodology that has been validated through six successful research studies conducted through the Stanford Forgiveness Projects"  (emphasis added).
The process Dr Luskin has tested in a pilot study and 6 research projects is based on the following steps. Do try this at home!

9 Steps

  1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.
  2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
  3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”
  4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years – ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.
  5. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.
  6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.
  7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.
  8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
  9. Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.

And if you would like a little extra incentive or motivation, here is my favorite song on the subject:

Hat tip to UEd who said "....personally my timeline is to not enter this 2013 with any remaining 'unforgivens'!,


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Advent Tree

Image is available for sale as a Christmas card from Creative Communications. The design caught my eye because of the similarity to my earlier post, Christmas 2012.

Christmas 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Skulls, Flaming skulls, and Winged flaming skulls

Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary Tank Badge and 
the Hell’s Angels Logo 

This head-to-head comparison shows some interesting similarities between the brand new H-D 110th anniversary tank badge and the logo of the infamous Hell's Angels.

Do you think the similarity was intentional?

Of course as we all know, skulls, flaming skulls, and winged flaming skulls symbolize a fraternal bond that will survive mortal death. (See my related post HERE.) Many brands and organizations have sought to use such symbols to inspire feelings of loyalty and devotion. 

I think the similarities are coincidental, but would I want a gang of Pagans to mistake my H-D @ 110 tattoo for a Hell's Angels tattoo? No, thank you.

And no, MOM, I do NOT have a H-D @ 110 tattoo! But that tank badge looks pretty sweet on the 2013 Road King gas tank...

H/T Brian

Friday, December 7, 2012

The GOD Hypothesis

H(0): Complexity in DNA or H2O or skeletal structure proves the case for an Intelligent Designer, GOD, who created / caused these impossibly unique combinations. Therefore we assume all life throughout the Universe is carbon-based and dependent upon liquid water, just like us.

H(a): Cause and effect are reversed. All matter yearns to get closer to Unity / Divinity. GOD is not the cause. GOD is the result or the destination   Many, many different life forms exist. We do not recognize them all, and some may be more successful than others, yet all are one in shared motive.  Similarly, there are many paths to the destination of GOD. We do not recognize all of them, and some may be more effective than others, yet all are valid in shared intent.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 3 (or 5?) Cs of Life

The three variables, choices, chances, and changes, resonate well with me. The message itself seems good at first blush, but it really falls apart on closer inspection. "You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change?" Wrong, Bucko! Your life will change, whether you want it to, or not!

As written, the quote leaves out too much and is potentially misleading. Your life will change whether you choose to take a chance or not. Furthermore, there is a huge difference between risk and uncertainty. "Take a Chance" sounds as instructive as pulling a card from Community Chest. How about doing a little homework and putting the odds in your favor? It's not as if nothing will change until you blindly leap forward in ignorance and hope. Hope is not a method! I'd rather act deliberately in confidence and faith.

Lesson learned from 28 years of active duty in the US Army: Never complain without proposing a solution. Here is my suggestion. Your thoughts are welcome!

Step one: embrace change. All change, not just the change you hope for. Every living thing changes. Understand that not all change is deliberate or positive. In everyone's life, there will be times for congratulations and times for compassion. (Maybe we should have Five C's?) For better or worse, only the inanimate have seen the end of change.

As for chances, the Universe is full of God-authored randomness. Life is stochastic by design. There are relatively few processes with certain outcomes, but we can think in terms of probabilities. Good things happen to bad people. Innocent people are punished. Don't merely "Take a Chance." Do a little homework. Turn uncertainties into calculated risks. Have a goal in mind. Accept that having a goal does not guarantee attainment, but lacking a goal guarantees chaos and overwhelm.

In the face of uncertainty, and knowing that change is inevitable, the only thing left for us to do in the decisive moment is to choose. We make a choice whether we do anything or not! Yes, avoiding the decision is also a choice with consequences intended and unintended. In life, you cannot control anything except the choices you make in the face of relentless and inevitable and random change.

Therefore, I propose the 5 C's of Life:
  1. Change. Keep moving. Just Don't / Stop / Moving.
  2. Chance. Educate yourself continually about the options available and preserve options as long as possible
  3. Community. Maintain your social network and your support system. We are not meant to go through life alone
  4. Choice. When it's time to decide, trust yourself to make the best choices possible with the knowledge, skills, and abilities you have at your disposal
  5. Confidence. If you realize you made a mistake, or if the results don't turn out as expected, or if random stuff derails everything you worked for, don't lose faith or confidence. Instead, refer back to #1.

Better? My version is not as crisp as the 3 C's image, but it's more comprehensive. Maybe we can condense it into a more concise expression? Let'share a conversation in the comments section!

Image attribution: I first saw the 3 C's image on Facebook and accessed it here, on Nov 26, 2012. H/T: JEG

50 Years of Bond Girls (Then and Now)

1962 to 2012: 50 Years of Bond

If you are like me, you have followed the Bond series for many years, secretly wishing to be Bond. If you are really like me, your desire to be Bond is not so secret. You:

  • have seen all 24* movies at least once. 
  • have read some vintage Ian Fleming. 
  • played the Thunderball board game as a kid. 

    Did you play this board game as a kid?
  • have at least one CD of Bond theme songs (I even have an old vinyl album!) 
  • are seriously considering asking Santa for Bond at 50, the complete DVD collection, and you wonder why there are only 22 movies in the collection.

And of course...
  • You have a poster of all the Bond girls. 

What? You don't have a poster of all 50 women (three made multiple appearances) who have played a feature role in a Bond movie either as Bond's love interest or his enemy (and ultimately, his love interest anyway)?

Well, then, this is your lucky day! Here you go: 50 Years of Bond Girls (Then and Now). When you click on the link, a miniature poster opens. Click the poster, and it expands to a view-able size.

You're welcome. 

To push the point just a bit further, if you are like me (and really, at this point, who wouldn't want to be like me, right?) you have:

  • a favorite Bond, 
  • a favorite Bond movie, 
and of course,
  • a favorite Bond girl. 
I'll give you a moment to collect your thoughts.


Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona Volpe in Thunderball

My favorite Bond girl is assassin Fiona Volpe, played by Luciana Paluzzi. Not just another pretty face, she uses her intelligence and sexuality to get what she wants. She is Bond's enemy, an agent for SPECTRE. A worthy adversary, she is Bond's equal in skill, cunning, and the art of seduction. She knows how to drive a Ford Mustang convertible fast enough to put Bond ill at ease. That she looks hot in motorcycle leathers is an obvious bonus, but it's not that fact which distinguishes her above the other Bond girls. It's her attitude!

Like all true Bond fans, my favorite movie is the next one! Tied for 2d is the most recent one (Skyfall) and the one that first hooked me (Thunderball). Skyfall is great, but  in 20 years will I still like Skyfall as much as Thunderball?

Another major plus of Thunderball is Sean Connery's spot-on portrayal of James Bond, and the fact that I was playing the board game version of Thunderball before I ever noticed just how much better a motorcycle looks when the person in the saddle is a hot woman in riding leathers.

Another reason to love the now 50-year old Bond franchise in general and Thunderball in particular is Claudine Auger (Dominique Derval, or "Domino"). When it comes to sheer beauty and screen appeal, there are none better in my opinion.

Claudine Auger as "Domino" in Thunderball

I didn't see Thunderball in the theater. (For the record, I was a young lad in 1965!)  But I did watch the film on TV in the early 70s. In fact, I have only seen the older Bond flicks with full commercial interruption on Sunday night TV--another reason to get the DVD collection! But the point is that I watched Thunderball (1965) after I had played the board game in the late 60s and also after Van Morrison's hit song, Domino first graced the airwaves (1970).

"Domino" is Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison's personal musical tribute to New Orleans R&B singer and pianist Fats Domino. But every time I listened to the song, I just kept thinking about Claudine Auger... For this reason, I am still a Van Morrison fan to this day!

Do you have a favorite Bond girl? Who is she? and why?

*There are 25 Bond movies by some count. I have not seen the original Casino Royale, released in 1967 with David Niven as Bond. It's not included in the Bond girls poster or in the MGM Box set because it was produced by Flemming's co-author. Wikipedia offers an explanation full of legal stuff  beyond the scope of this post.

PS--Luciana Paluzzi auditioned for the role of Domino, but was cast in the ultimately more intriguing role of Fiona. Luciana Paluzzi was born in June 1937 and is 75 years young as of this writing. You can compare her then and now photos here: 50 Years of Bond Girls (Then and Now)

PSS--Thunderball was for years the most expensive Bond movie, when adjusted for inflation. All those underwater fight scenes must have been expensive to film! The first three movies cost $1M, $2M, and $3M respectively. Thunderball cost half again as much as all three previous films together: $9M.

PSSS--The non-Eon Productions remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery reprising his role as 007, came in at $36M. This is about $75M today, and that means it's just slightly more expensive than Thunderball, whose $9M budget in 1965 would cost just under $70M today.

PSSSS--The Daniel Craig-era Bond films have blown the top off the budgets. QoS cost about $230M, and SkyFall is estimated to have cost over $200M.