goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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I’ve Always Wondered

I’ve always wondered how people going through an upheaval actually emotionally dealt with the hardship of seeing their world as they knew it collapse and assume there was nothing they could do but hold on and ride the waves.

Sort of how it feels now.

  • We have two unstable national leaders playing a game of chicken.
  • We have a Congress that seems to forget who put them there.
  • We have a series of natural events coming fast and furious with hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires needing attention.
  • We have a huge segment of our population who is hiding as much as they can, not earning a living, because they are on a list to be removed and sent away.
  • We have Germany perhaps having their first elected fascists since the destruction of the Third Reich coming this weekend.
  • We have Britain’s Prime Minister trying to delay the departure from the European Union because since the vote more people know its a bad idea.
  • We have the US involved in wars We the People know little about.
  • We have military veterans coming home in emotional states that clearly show that war is hell and they were not prepared for it.
  • We have a segment of our population who seem to think they are above average while they line up with the rest of the sheep to support the 1%.
  • We have two major political parties that are dysfunctional and do not remember that this nation’s Constitution begins with We The People.

I could go on and on.

So, I have always loved to read and reading fictionalized or nonfiction accounts of how individuals live through a major crisis has given me concepts to consider.

  • The Scout motto, Be Prepared, makes sense. Have skills and equipment that will help survival opportunities improve.
    • While Preppers may have the message right, it seems difficult to store 3 or more months of food, water and other supplies.  Many of us can at least have a supply of food for two weeks in our homes. I know many people who don’t keep a “pantry” with some staples. Time to wake up, everyone. It does not take a war to have an emergency when stores will not be supplied with your favorite treats. All it takes is a storm and a loss of electricity. A highway blocked. A bridge too unsafe to cross.
    • Start thinking NOW about how you will prepare food if there is no power.
    • Make sure you also store water, toilet paper, medicines, and first aid supplies.
    • I don’t need to tell you to store your weapon and ammo, but people, remember safety especially if there are children around.
    • And, by the way, your lack of preparedness does not make killing me or anyone else to get to our food and supplies an ethical or moral right. The time to think about protecting yourself and your loved ones is now. And might does not equal right.
  • Build a network of people you can trust. These are people who have complementary skills and common goals.
    • So many people have no close friends and are estranged from their families because of emotional battles that may truly be pretty insignificant if you thought about it dispassionately. Time to try to heal those wounds.
    • While many people disdain the concept of church, it does provide for an extended “family”. If you are not involved in some kind of organization or activity with other community members, it is past time. No man is an island
  • As the Governors of several states have recently done during hurricanes, martial law most likely will be imposed.
    • Recognize that the Internet and our cell phones most likely will stop Communication will have to resort to meeting with people face to face and talking.
    • ATMs will not be accessible and banks will be closed. Money will not be the currency of trade.
    • Most likely there will be  restrictions on movement. Gas will be in short supply and expensive.

Now, I sure hope saner heads will prevail in this building concern with North Korea. We will not do well with a nuclear war.

I hope We The People have a better memory in the next election and actually participate and vote to remove Congressional representatives who fail at their job. No one should be returned to office who has not demonstrated their responsiveness to their constituents.

I hope anyone in places where there can be warning of a coming devastation like a wildfire or a hurricane can calmly and safely get their loved ones to safety. As hard as it is to lose “everything”, no matter how precious they are, they are THINGS. You can rebuild.

I hope people in places where devastation has occurred can remember they are part of the Family Of Man and will open their homes to provide shelter and sustenance to people who have lost everything.

I hope you feel compelled to speak to your morals and ethics when others are showing their fear in hatred to a minority. When we remain silent, perhaps out of fear that we will also be attacked, we condone the attack.

I hope you know first hand how cooperating with others may not bring you the riches you dream of, but allows you “enough” as well as the ability to understand we each need “enough”.

 

I pray that any loved one serving in the military comes home safe and sound, and if not, you stay patient to give them the succor they require. As difficult as it is to lose the someone you knew to a altered person, love can help bring them around. A sense of trust and safety can provide the way.

I urge you to start digging a bit deeper for information that shapes your opinions. So many of us do NOT read across the spectrum nor any news sources from overseas, but those are the only ways you can know if the information you are being fed is accurate. Also, if what you are reading is using inflammatory language, if the article tells you what to think, it is an editorial, not a news article. News articles must explain who, what, why, where and how and leave you thinking.

As for the political parties, the ONLY way we can gain change is for everyone to get involved. Simple. And please realize that the place your voice REALLY counts is on the local level. You want to see changes, get involved in your town.

 

 

 

 

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Fool Me Once……Wait a Minute…This is Happening Too Often

marionetteI hate being manipulated. When I know someone is pulling some strings, I usually can maneuver around that, anticipating my choices before it comes to a final showdown.

However, there are issues we normal people never know…until the Freedom of Information Act opens sealed files. And so, we find out that we were puppets once again. Case in point is The United States’ entry into World War II because of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. We were righteous in our indignation and because of the Japanese-German alliance, thereby could also attack Germany. That we should have been on that moral pathway two years before is something for another discussion. But here is a presentation of the facts that lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbor as I never heard them before.

The desire by those in power to further strengthen their wealth through trade and commerce, through acquisition of raw materials, has played out time and again throughout history. Just as our American government had us manipulating Spain with the explosion of the Maine in Havana harbor to start the Spanish American War. The goal always was to open more trade with other areas, notably, the Philippines.  World War I’s eruption has been told often about how major powers chose certain actions instead of diplomacy. And more recently, we remember the non-existent weapons of mass destruction that had George W Bush to convince many here that we MUST go in and take out Saddam Hussein. Look what that lead to. But Cheney got extremely wealthy, so I guess opening the Pandora’s Box of a loss of leadership is a trade-off the power elite accepts.

We have just weathered a campaign season where it became greatly apparent how easily people are manipulated. Few verify things they read and I have had more than one Facebook Friend tell me if it not her job to educate me. I responded that she needed to educate herself and she has stopped talking to me now.  She did not appreciate my posting facts to refute her emotionally laden editorial writing she posted as truth. It is important that EVERYONE wakes up NOW and slows down with their reactions to how the news is given. We MUST demand more information before our leadership takes us into a situation that will be dangerous to us all.

I remember back to the Gulf War II time when I cautioned we needed to verify before jumping into war. I was chastised by many that I was not being patriotic. Au contraire! It is a true Patriot’s role to help keep us in truth, justice, and what we were told watching Superman was the American Way.marionette-don-quixote

 


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Maybe a Teenager

Imagine you have a plumbing problem and since you’re the kind of person who can fix that kind of thing, you remove the toilet and then the floor in the hope of getting to the pipe and replacing it. That was Lucciano Faggiano’s goal when he had a toilet problem holding up his dream of opening a trattoria. What happened next was amazing..castle keep interior

When I read this story this morning it reminded me how young the United States is, how short our history, how immature our culture. Maybe a teenager when compared to most other parts of the world civilization.

Who are we to tell people what to do? How can we go into a nation whose culture is so very different from ours that it is almost incomprehensible, and expect to fix it? And when that hasn’t worked numerous times before, why do we keep trying in other places?US-war-graph

Like a teenager with limited experience we keep butting our head against the wall.

Or maybe the people pulling the strings, the power players, want it that way. Whenever the sabers rattle, look at who has to gain. Wars almost always are about expanding markets. Using our young people as fodder, the rich old men get richer. puppet-master

It has always been this way. Pretty sad to think we are in a rut, banging our head against the wall.Again and again and again.

Pretty sad we race around the world to help others when there are people here at home that also are wanting freedom, education, medical help and food. think globally


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You Fall For It so Be Careful

1984-frontDid you read Orwell’s 1984?  It has been years since I read it, but something is very much happening in today’s society that called it to mind. And we need to be aware many of us are guilty of falling for it.

George Orwell introduced the concepts of Doublethink and Newspeak. Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and the Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought – that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc – should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.

Today, in America, we definitely have DOUBLESPEAK, what some suggest is a combination of these dystopian concepts.  With Doublespeak, we have gotten used to names of things without realizing they actually are about the opposite of what they seem.

For example, in reaction to the horrible events of 9/11 the United States established the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act was passed. The Patriot Act, in the name of protection, limited numerous personal freedoms we were used to. If you, like me, raised concern, you were also told you were being unpatriotic.  Now, so many years after just about everyone waved the flag in solidarity, we are beginning to get pretty uncomfortable. The Patriot Act comes up for renewal again in 2015. You will not be unpatriotic if you look into the restrictions it will continue and decide enough is enough,so contact your Congressional representatives.  But overall, because the war is not won, society may tell you that you are unpatriotic just because of the name.

tolerance-does-not-mean-tolerating-intoleranceAnother word that seems to have doublespeak usage is “tolerance”. Not too long ago, American society defined it as living peacefully with people who may disagree with you. This grew out of a biblical context of humility before  God and the command to love your neighbor. Now, a large group of American society believes it means concepts are being forced down their throat giving equality to groups who do not deserve that.  Tolerance has become a dirty word for some of our community.

In the last week there has been a new movie called American Sniper and many people are lauding it as a well directed effort by Clint Eastwood commemorating the actions of Navy Seal Chris Kyle.  Texas has declared a Chris Kyle Day and many say he was a hero. I have been watching the comments as they show up on my Facebook feed, first laudatory, then damning, then kickback. So, what’s the problem and the tie-in to doublespeak?

Our society has had a continuing deteriorating war on many levels in the Middle East and against Muslim terrorists who want the world revised to their way of life. We got into one war to chase the man who we were told masterminded the 9/11 attack on the United States. We got into another war to destroy the weapons of mass destruction we were told might be used against us. Any discussion in those days, when I urged people to think carefully about the clarity of that information was turned against me and others as unpatriotic.

We sent our young people to fight there. We hoped to turn those nations around, to instill in the people there a sense of opportunity for democracy and fair treatment. Instead we have more tribal and religious flighting and a overall all consuming hatred of the people as a group. We have become a mirror to what we were trying to fix.

The American Sniper movie is partially appealing because it says things many think-that these are not really people but “damn savages.” It offers a glorification of an extreme skill that traditionally we have not discussed in a laudatory way but anyone who shoots can admire.

The people who are distressed by this movie indicate the book itself includes inaccuracies. They are also concerned that while Chris Kyle saw the world as good versus evil, Clint Eastwood has many shades of partial right and wrong throughout the movie, and the typical proponent is not discussing much of that.blackorwhite

Life is not all good nor all evil. And when you jump on the bandwagon and condemn anyone who raises a different point of view, you are adding to doublespeak.  My questioning the loud support for this movie does not make me unpatriotic. I am a person who is very concerned about the mental state of our military and vets. My questions show I am a citizen of a wonderful country where the right to speak truth clearly and with full understanding is our right and also our obligation.

If you get sucked into something because it appeals to your sense of outrage, take a step back and a deep breath. Do some thinking, not just emoting. THINK. Then speak your truth but remember, there are many experiences out there, so many different viewpoints. When you try to shut them up, you are contributing to making this a nation that is very narrow minded.Imperfection-is-beauty...

 

 

 


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Pearl of the Ocean

Guest Post by Graham Rankin

I just returned from a two week trip to Sri Lanka conducting a workshop for some of the forensic chemists at their Government Analysts Bureau.  It is part of a international program funded by our USAID.  The point of this essay is not what I taught but about my observations about the Sri Lanka, its people and, because I am a foodie, its food.  This is the first of several blog posts.

srilankamapIndiaSri Lanka is an island just east of the southern tip of India in the Indian Ocean.  I was told that Sri Lanka means “Pearl of the Ocean”. When it was a British colony it became known as Ceylon and was most famous for its tea, spices and sapphires. My Sri Lankan guide told me that “Ceylon,” a corruption of “Sea Land,” named so because of its importance as a port for early sailors.

Not many Americans visit there mostly because of the distance (12,000+ miles) and long flight times.  It took me about 25 hours total travel time each way.  This is a shame because it is a beautiful tropical island with a diversity of geography and some of the most friendly people I have met.SriLankaMap

My work kept me in the capital city of Colombo most of the time. Since I had the weekend free I enjoyed a guided day trip into the mountains to the city of Kandy.  More about that trip in a later blog.

The island was inhabited for over 10,000 years by a wide diversity of people, resulting in a series of kingdoms and territorial wars for centuries before Europeans arrived.  Portuguese Jesuits set up a trading center in Colombo in the 1500s.  Of course they also began to work at converting the islanders from Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions to Christianity.  The Dutch came later in the late 17th and early 18th century, establishing a fort at the city of Galle (pronounce Gaul) on the southern end as part of the Dutch East Indies company. The British made their appearance in the early 19th century when it looked like France would conquer the Netherlands and its colonies would become French.

Ceylon became part of the British Empire in 1815.  Independence from Great Britain occurred at the same time as India in 1948, but remained a member of the Commonwealth until 1972.  There have been a series of governments in Sri Lanka including a Communist leaning one in the late 70s and 80s.

There are currently two major ethnic groups, the Singhalese and the Tamils.  Each group has its own language and alphabet. I was told that because each refuses to learn the other, English is the common language.  In fact at the local universities all classes are taught in English and theses and all papers must be written in English.

The upper is Singhalese; the middle is Tamil

The upper is Singhalese; the middle is Tamil

srilankabombMost recently there has been a very bloody uprising by a faction (ILTE or Tamil Tigers) of the Tamil minority that lasted from 1983 until 2009 when the Singhalese dominated military was able to crush the rebellion.  Numerous bombings were commonplace during this time.  Several top officials of the government and parliament were assassinated.

Although Colombo is quiet and relatively safe, a number of bombings occur in the Tamil dominated northern and eastern sections of the country each month.  Land mines planted during the insurrection are still discovered in rural areas; unfortunately when elephants or people step on them.  There are soldiers at key positions around Colombo with Chinese made AK-47s and numerous police (mostly unarmed) throughout the city.  Directing traffic seems to be the main occupation of many police.traffic

I considered taking a picture of one of the soldiers but thought it might not be a good idea.Gunboat

I thought this boat was just a fishing vessel when I took the picture until I blew it up and could see the deck guns.  It was patrolling off shore opposite my hotel.

Since 2009, there has been a resurgence of foreign capital coming into Sri Lanka with a building boom in Colombo.  There is a goal of constructing 3000 new hotel rooms over the next couple of years.  A new toll road to the airport was just opened.  A cab driver told me it is an election year so the current president is seen a lot cutting ribbons on projects.

GalleFaceHotelRestoration

Galle Face Hotel

The hotel where I stayed (Galle Face Hotel), originally built in 1864 is undergoing the second phase of restoration to be completed next year.ViewFormHotelRoom

This was my residence for the two weeks in Sri Lanka.  A historic hotel with hardwood floors, ceiling fans and an ocean view where I could watch the sun set from either my room  or from the patio bar and pool below.  As most guests stay only for a few days, my two week stay may have resulted in some of the comps (bottle of wine, fresh fruit and candies) I received, and the service was excellent.

DSC_0034GoodyBoxSunset1

After a full week there I had laundry done…it was return perfectly folded in a rattan basket.MyLaugndryDelivered

I had the feeling of being in a Victorian novel where the elite made the Grand Tour of the Indies, staying at hotels like the Galle Face.  BedroomThe room had all the standard accouterments  with a very modern bath.  BAthIn addition to central air conditioning there was a ceiling fan in the room which I much appreciated especially coming in from the 90 degree 90% humidity that reminded me of summers in Houston, Texas. LibraryGalleFaceHotelThe hotel had a library,   (yes it was that yellow!) gym and spa.

 

woodcarvingDiningoomCarved wood trim everywhere including the dining room

 

ChekhovNehruLots of staff available (more it seemed that in a typical Hilton) willing to take care of any need.  The bar had photos of famous people who had stayed there including Nehru,  Anton Chekhov, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Alex Guinness and Sir Lawrence Olivier.  The general manager told me that during the filming of Bridge over the River Kwai, much of which was shot in Sri Lanka, several of the cast stayed there.  He also told me a visitor commented to him that any hotel that hosted both Che’ Guevara and Richard Nixon (not at the same time!) was his kind of place!