Fifty Three Things

Three years ago on the august occasion of turning 50 I wrote a note called “Fifty Things” (https://www.facebook.com/tony.hubble?cropsuccess#!/notes/tony-hubble/fifty-rants/468644568128) . The following year I recycled the blog and added one more item. Being a writer I’ve since decided that was just cheesy and so I tried to see if I could come up with a brand new list of “Fifty Three Things” without duplicating the others (even though they all remain germane to this day and still a testament to my genius/lunacy). Again, they are in no particular order of importance (except for the 1st one) or relevance but the result of spit balling on my part. Some are observations, some advice, some are things about me you may or may not know.  Again, they are my opinions so if you take offense to any of them you are taking yourself way too seriously (that was one of my “Fifty things” btw).

So, fifty-three things.

  1. God is great. All the time. This is indisputable. I consider this realization the greatest indicator of the growth and maturity of my soul. 
  2. I once had an atheist tell me that worshipping a God, any God is “barbaric, “stupid” and “medieval”. When I told him (as I tell all atheists eventually) that we’ll see how that works out for him in 50-60 years (should he live that long), he actually told me that if God himself stood in front of  him and told him to kneel that he would point blank say no. Now, whether you believe in God or not that’s a fairly stupid statement. I’m pretty sure that’s not how a conversation with an omnipotent being will go down. So we’ll see how that works out for him in the end.
  3. In business, when you cut someone a break it burns you about 85% of the time. It is my opinion that the 15% it does not burn me makes up for that 85%. Knowing this has not made me jaded or changed the way I do business. I’m just more aware is all.
  4. It may be trite and overstated but skydiving out of an airplane is, in two words, exhilarating and life changing. I did a tandem jump recently so I suspect my first solo jump will be even more so. That’s right, I’m doin it again. Few things compare to that moment when you’re looking down at the earth 13,000 ft below and are conscious of the fact that you’re are about to leap out of an airplane. I got almost the same kind of feeling when I cliff dived as a teen but this one lasts longer. My biggest fear when jumping? I worried about losing control of any body functions. What’s that say about me that I worried more about embarrassment than my parachute not opening?
  5. “You’re entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts” is a quote that has become more and more relevant to me in the last few years.
  6. In the same vein, people who “don’t like labels” just don’t like what they’re being labeled as. Labels exist for a reason. You can look at a turd and call it a flower but that wont change the fact that it’s a turd and it stinks.
  7. I was a movie extra by accident once. It was an Animal Planet movie titled “Rain” and it was about Army dogs in the Vietnam war. It was filmed in PR. My son was hired as an extra and the Assistant Director asked me if I wouldn’t mind sticking around. It kind of mystified me because the casting call was for young men 18-24 and I was clearly past that bar. But I agreed, found a uniform that fit and spent 12 out there in the island sun. I was filmed in several scenes, but apparently someone may have seen them and decided there were no middle aged Ricans in Vietnam so my scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. You can still see my son in the movie though. So I got $50 for my trouble and a memorable experience with my son.
  8. My favorite colors are red and black. I was ecstatic when the ATA went to those colors.
  9. Travelling with someone you cherish is a thousand times more fun than travelling alone. This may seem obvious to many but I’ve done most of my travelling alone and only recently has that changed and I’ve had a basis for comparison.
  10. Never stop attempting to surprise yourself or others. This obviously requires you to take risks. Therefore, never stop taking risks. It is the spice of life!
  11. For the most part I’ve stopped worrying about which idiot or congress of idiots is running the country. The cream always floats to the top and I’m convinced I will succeed regardless of how difficult the environment may be. Bill Gates started his business in a recession and so did I. Someone’s gonna make money in any environment. It may as well be me.
  12. A good friend told me this the other day, “If your dreams don’t sound crazy you aint dreaming big enough.” She was just riffing but truer words were never spoken.
  13. I clearly have no musical talent although I love music. I’ve recently begun piano lessons and am playing the bongos. I’m not any good at either but I sure do enjoy hittin those bongos and ticklin them keys! I also enjoy singing although I’m not good at it either. I’m not fishing for a compliment. I know how poorly I sing, but I do it anyways. It’s not like I’m gonna try and make a living out of it or anything. I’m like Big Bird. I don’t worry that it’s not good enough. I just sing.
  14. Denial is not just a river people swim in. Often it’s a vast freaking ocean.
  15. I’m an Alanis Morissette, Jewel and Taylor Swift fan. I’m not even very sure why since I’m way too old to relate to teen angst and neither of them are my “type” of women when it’s all said and done. Okay maybe Jewel is. They aren’t my favorite female singer/songwriters but I do consider myself a fan. Like other mysteries of my likes and dislikes I don’t spend too much time analyzing this. I will say this, I’ve seen Alanis in concert and that lil girl is one tireless bundle of energy!
  16. I’ve written three songs, countless really bad poems, multiple short stories, volumes of opinions, notes, blogs, three magazine articles and one novel. I don’t make my living as one but I’m comfortable calling myself a writer.
  17. Dance once a day. You don’t have to dance for very long and you don’t even have to be good but it must be done! It changes your perspective immediately. If you’re bold enough to do it publicly and don’t care what others think you should do it publicly, both for your sake and for the sake of the people watching. It changes both of you, if only for that moment. It’s best to dance with a partner but if you have no partner you should still dance.
  18. Smile frequently. For the same reasons as you should dance.
  19. Do pushups every day. If you only do one exercise a day pushups should be it.
  20. When you look women in the eye, the vast majority of them will look down and away. It’s one of the un-safest things they can do and it’s one of the first things I try to change in my female students. The one exception to this is women who wear a full Abaya with veil in the Middle East. Well in Qatar at least. The vast majority of them will hold your gaze even though it’s contrary to the tenet in their religion. I wonder if being completely covered makes them bolder.
  21. Every guy should have a “cool guy job” at least once in their lives. I’ve been lucky enough to have had three. The problem with cool guy jobs is they rarely pay much, but when you’re old and feeble you can smile and remember the cool times at the cool guy job. Plus you can shock your children and grandchildren when they find out you were once a bartender, ski instructor, bouncer, bodyguard, lifeguard, cowboy, bullrider, mountain guide, pit crew member, etc.
  22. Being a bodyguard was one of the funnest jobs I’ve had (see cool guy job item above), but my most satisfying moment did not come from escorting some big star or act. It came one time when I was working access security at a concert watching the entrance to stage right. My least favorite of all security gigs. At the end of the gig when I was about to leave the venue, a backup dancer came to me and asked me if I wouldn’t mind walking her to her car in an underground parking lot. She said she would feel safer. How do you beat that?
  23. Having said that, my jobs pale in comparison to what others do for a routine living. My sister once told me excitedly how she had her hand in a patient’s chest pumping his heart with her hand. My wife and daughter have both cared for people unable to care for themselves one day and then taken care of them after they died the next. If that ain’t operating on another dimension I don’t know what is.
  24. Always engage in an activity or activities in which you have to compete against others. The activity and the outcome are both irrelevant. Whether it be a physical activity or a mental activity is not as important as the act of competition. Competition changes you and always for the better. Competing against yourself, although also good is not good enough. You have to pit yourself against others.
  25. Conquering your fears is the best way to feel alive! “Living with fear is a life half lived” is one of the most poignant quotes I’ve heard. I don’t know who said it first. I heard it in a movie about ballroom dancing. Fear will stop you from attempting things you want to do and lead to regret later in your life. For example, it is my opinion that people who avoid competition do so for one simple reason. Fear. That in itself is reason enough to throw yourself into the ring. When you break through that fear barrier, in most cases you’ll realize that your fears were unfounded. The best definition of paralyzing psychological fear I’ve seen was penned by Gavid de Becker in his book The Gift of Fear. It is False Expectation Appearing Real. Genius!
  26. Never underestimate the mental stimulation of eccentricity. However, being weird and being eccentric is often not the same thing.
  27. Genetics is a mad scientist! I have five children and they have all the hair color and eye colors available. Brown, black, blonde and red hair. Brown, blue and green eyes. That’s right baby, I’m taking a bow.
  28. I have been a practicing martial artist for 41 years. I cannot imagine not being one and don’t understand how other people can give it up. There was a statistic I read years ago that stated that the attrition rate of the martial arts is 99%. I’m very proud to call myself a 1 percenter. I may be slower, less flexible, have some broken parts, some replacement parts, but one thing I know beyond any doubt. I’m clearly too dumb to stop. Oh, and I’m a bad ass! That is all.
  29. I’ve recently discovered something that’s funner than hitting someone with a padded stick. Hitting them with two padded sticks. It’s double the fun.
  30. I regret few choices I’ve made or opportunities met but I am human and I have a couple of regrets. For example, I kinda regret not training more in archery, fencing and Aikido. A little anyways. I’ve found suitable replacements for all three of them.
  31. My favorite animal is the tiger. There are few more majestic. I wrote previously that I would love to have one as a pet. I received some criticism for this statement. I realize how unrealistic this is and how a domestic tiger may be less majestic than one in the wild but I don’t think the tiger would care. Thinking that a tiger would prefer to hunt and live in the wild than to be fed and cared for is anthropomorphic. Actually, most humans would rather be fed and cared for than go out there and “hunt”. It’s why socialism is so attractive to some people. See how I got political there?
  32. My second favorite animal is the otter. They are the perfect combination of cuteness and ferocity. Plus, and this may be anthropomorphic as well, but they always look like they’re having the most fun.
  33. The praying mantis is the epitome of the axiom that size does not dictate ferocity or hunting prowess. I once watched one for about 20 minutes successfully hunting and feeding on flies. They usually rely on camouflage to stalk their prey but this one was on a brown pallet in the middle of a shipyard. It was an equally fascinating and gruesome sight. I walked up on one on the walkway of my house and almost stepped on it. I noticed it had reared up on its hind legs and had its front legs pointing at me kung fu style. Gotta love an insect with attitude.
  34. I once tried to breed praying mantises. I went so far as ordering 3 ootheca (egg capsule) and “planting” two in the wild and one in an aquarium. The one in the aquarium turned out to be a dud and I initially thought birds ate the two sacks I planted in the trees in my yard. Then, a year later I found a bunch of them on the outside wall of my house hunting by the light bulb by my front door. I wonder if they were the hatchlings from the egg sacks I planted.
  35. Few forces of the universe are more tenacious than a woman who wants to have children. Once a woman decides she wants a child nothing will stop her. She will have a child, whether with you or with someone else. This has to be a gift from God as men do not have a fragment of this drive. It’s even more amazing considering what a woman has to go through to bear a child.
  36. I would love to own a coffee plantation. I don’t want to work it but I’d love to own one. I worked on a farm that had various coffee bushes growing wild and I remember how wonderful the aroma was walking amongst them. Besides I could wear a cool plantation hat and ride a horse around my farm supervising the picking. I think I’d wear khakis and a nickel plated Colt .45 revolver with an ivory handle in my leather holster. I’d change my name to Fernando so people would have to call me “Don Fernando”. Ha ha! Admit it, you just got a mental image.
  37. Some people are chronic complainers who would just rather wallow in their misery. They will complain no matter how good they got it. These are the same people who like to blame others for their misery. No amount of counsel will help them because they can dispel any possible solution to their misery. I like to be annoyingly upbeat around them. Not because it’s going to change their outlook but because it’s fun and I’m a juvenile at heart. Besides, I’m an annoyingly upbeat person no matter what. It is not an act. In fact when I was younger I tried to be fashionably moody and glum because I thought it was “cool” but discovered that it only appears cool on film. Moody and glum people are just that. Plus they’re fun to mess with as I’ve stated.
  38. Two things will cause an immediate visceral reaction in me. The first is for someone to shush me and the second is witnessing someone being bullied.
  39. Women who pride themselves on being bitches deserve the treatment they get. The good news for them is they’re rarely disappointed and they justify that this treatment is why they’re bitches. It’s a self fulfilling vicious cycle.
  40. I spent 10 years of my Naval career on ships and I thoroughly enjoyed going out to sea. I’ve been wanting to go on a cruise ship ever since I retired from the Navy. The only reason I haven’t is because I’d have to go by myself and how sad would that be? I’m coming closer and closer to the decision to do it anyways.
  41. If I were granted a mutant power I’d want amphibian power. My favorite “monster” growing up was the Creature of the Black Lagoon and I was probably the only person to enjoy the movie Waterworld, mostly because of Costner’s character.
  42. I’m always surprised by some people’s misconceptions about me. Not because I haven’t earned them but because how off some of them can be. For example I’ve been described as arrogant. How can that be? Arrogance is a character flaw.
  43. By the same token I’ve been confused with various ethnic groups, most of which are not any part of my actual ethnic makeup. Arabic mostly, Greek, Italian, French (okay I am part French), and even Philippino once. Rarely Hispanic and never Puerto Rican. For the record, the ethnicities I’m aware that I am are Scott/Irish on my Gringo side and French/Spanish on my Rican side. There are unverified rumors of Native American and African but I haven’t been able to substantiate any of those. I will say this, when I lived in the Middle East I finally got the Arabic comparisons. It was like a family reunion over there! I’m pretty sure the Arabic comes through my Spanish heritage.
  44. When I was a child most people regarded me as a painfully serious, no nonsense child. This was mostly because at a very young age I had to start taking care of my siblings. I remember making a conscious decision at the age of 10 to stop playing with toys since they were for “children” and I was no longer a “child”.
  45. My two least favorite household chores are ironing and cooking. You would think I’d have developed a love for cooking since I had to learn to do it at a very early age and you would be wrong. I still don’t like it and do it only when essential to feed myself.  Besides I’m not very good at it. I didn’t have to iron until I was older and I still hate it. My decision to buy clothes is mostly governed by how much ironing I’ll have to do. It’s why I only have two linen shirts.
  46. I kinda always knew I would enjoy grandparenting, but I clearly had no idea how much I would truly love it!
  47. I always thought I was a good father until I watched my sons with their sons. They are much better than I ever was at their age. I’d almost ask for a do over except that I wouldn’t want them to turn out any different.
  48. I still need to learn to dance the Tango. Being able to Tango elevates your coolness factor significantly! Some of the coolest dances I’ve seen on film have been the tango (and no the scene in Scent of a Woman is NOT the tango). I took like 2 lessons about 20 years ago but couldn’t afford any more. I understand that in Finland the Tango is like the most popular dance. They also have like the highest suicide rate. I hope the two aren’t related.
  49. I’ve trained with some of the very elite in the martial arts, some not so famous but exceptional from whom I’ve learned a ton. But there are several people I’d really love to train with, all for several different reasons. Right now the top five list consists of Bruce Lee, BJ Penn, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagall and Dana Abbott.  Obviously Bruce Lee’s gonna be impossible, but I did train with his student Dan Inosanto so that will have to do. The others I’m not sure how I’ll manage but on the list of possibilities Dana Abbott and BJ Penn present the best possibilities. 
  50. Some of the things that I have discovered “As I’ve gotten older…” are often things I wish I had not discovered. Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t want to get older.
  51. Learn to recognize and act on incongruous behavior around you. This is one of the best pieces of self defense advice I can give you. People who commit crimes will act incongruously right before they commit their crime and your radar will pick up on it always. Everyone has this ability. They simply train themselves to ignore it or take no action. You may not have to do anything but pay attention. Once you focus on the person exhibiting this behavior your readiness levels automatically increase and should something occur you won’t be paralyzed by inaction.
  52. Writing this list has been brutal! Much harder than my original 50. This item is a freebie for me.
  53. I was born on my father’s birthday, but I had almost no relationship with him. I have four things to be grateful for to my father, even though they were given unintentionally. One was a piece of advice which he gave me based on his misconception of what I was feeling at the time. However it stuck with me. He told me to not take myself too seriously because no one else would. The second thing is I understand the importance and power of a father’s role in a child’s life. Particularly a daughter’s life. I did not realize this because of his presence in mine but because of his absence. The third thing is the genetic gifts I inherited from him which I consider to be significant. My father was an incredibly intelligent and kind man. This makes the final one the saddest. It has to do with unfulfilled potential. Potential is not all that significant a factor in determining ultimate success but it is sad when it goes unfulfilled. I attended my father’s funeral when he passed. Not because he earned it but because there is a major rule about parents.  There were five people at his gravesite. The two soldiers who presented me with his flag (he was buried with military honors), a friend he met late in life who gave him work periodically, the funeral director and me. It’s a sad testament to the sum total of his life’s accomplishments but it was the result of his personal choices. The saddest thing is he missed out on what I consider to be his greatest legacy. A relationship with his children and being able to meet his grandchildren and great grandchildren. I’ve taken these four lessons to heart. It is a great comfort to me to know that not only did I have something to do with bringing ten souls into the world, I am proudest of my relationship with all of them.

 If you’ve made it this far you clearly have nothing better to do, but I thank you anyways! Take this list with a grain of salt, but if something I’ve said or written impacts you positively it will have been worth the small effort.  I would like to thank those in advance who will be wishing me a happy birthday. Just as I mean it when I wish it to people I believe you do as well. After all, every day you wake up is a gift from God full of possibilities and with every birthday comes the opportunity to fulfill His plan for you.

My Belated Mothers Day Message

I realize this is a few days late. I started writing it on the week preceding Mothers Day, but as with all my writing, my dual careers prevented me from finishing it. I’ve resorted recently to posting three lines to accompany other people’s writing. I should really stop doing that. I used to be a pretty prolific blogger, but that was just a hobby. My moneymaking careers take precedence, supporting three college students n’ all. I really would like to give one of them up, but I digress.

Mothers Day. My mother’s name is Heyda Lucia Torres. At one time she was Heyda Lucia Hubble and then (I think) Heyda Lucia Torres de Vazquez. She was born in 1940. She would be horrified that I put that out there as if anyone looking at her wouldn’t get that she’s going to be 71 years old this year. How she got there mystifies me, and her doctors. She likes to say that it’s because she follows her doctor’s orders. That if he told her to eat a daily turd wrapped in seaweed that’s precisely what she’d do. I know, the imagery is pretty bad, but I’m trying to paint an accurate picture here.

Heyda is a dancer. She doesn’t dance much since she suffered a massive stroke in 1978 at the young age of 37. The stroke left her with a pronounced limp and limited use of her left hand, which she refers to as her “claw”. But she remains a dancer in her heart and soul. In her youth she danced briefly on television as part of a troupe of dancers on a variety show. My stern grandmother only allowed her to do this if she attended Beautician College after the season was over. She did, but she never worked as a beautician. Here is one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my mother although she did not teach it to me directly. Never give up on your dreams, regardless of how ridiculous they may seem to others. Your dreams are God’s gifts. This is a biblical principle by the way. How much more insane can a dream get than Abraham and Sarah’s dream of having children in their 90’s?

I believe my mother always regretted not becoming a dancer. It is probably her only major regret, but may have been the catalyst for how she has lived since. Instead, at the tender age of 18, she married a young Army specialist who was stationed in Puerto Rico at the time. His name was Garry Lee Hubble. They proceeded to have four children in their almost 12 years together. I’m the second one.

Through the course of her life my mother lived what most women dream of and also dread. She travelled extensively in her youth as an Army wife and lived with an alcoholic during that time. She raised her children with a permissiveness she wished she had as a child and didn’t have (apparently her sister and her were referred to as the “nuns of Condado”). She is a rebel at heart. She decided after two marriages that she would no longer take any crap from any man, which loosely translates into she would not be accountable to any relationship convention.

Ironically, she complains of being alone. I don’t think she’s putting the pieces together. I remember once after arguing with my wife, my mother, who was visiting, proceeded to give me “relationship advice”. It occurred to me that my relationship with my wife at the time was longer than any my mother had ever had. In fact, I had at that time lived with my wife longer than I had lived with my mother. When I pointed out the irony of her offering me that advice she replied that just because she didn’t know how to make a relationship last didn’t mean she didn’t know how to advise one on how to do so. Then she pointed out how stubborn I was being. It still cracks me up.

As a mother she is as fallible and imperfectly human as can be. My siblings are less forgiving, but I have come to terms with her. Just as my father she is almost completely self-absorbed. What she defined as “giving her children freedom” I translate as her not wanting to put in the hard work that a supervising parent must do to guide their young children through the travails of youth. We pretty much raised ourselves; left to our own devices as it were. It still surprises me that we survived our own creativity. How we all wound up productive members of society probably has as much to do with nature as with nurturing.

The greatest thing I can say about her parenting skills was this. In all my developing years I never once heard her say a negative thing about me. Not one. Even when I screwed up it was all about the behavior and not me personally. In her mind’s eye we were the princes and princess of Puerto Rico. We were the funniest, handsomest, prettiest, smartest of all. My sister took some criticism in her teens, but even then it was the result of my mother knowing that being a woman on the island was tough and you had to be tough to survive it. You just cannot underestimate the powerful impact of this kind of positive reinforcement. If you’re not careful you could wind up a little narcissistic (of course marriage will beat that out of you in due time). In the end, this self image is critical.

This self image is also the way she carries herself. She sees herself through a different prism than the rest of us. As you can see from the photo, my mother was breathtakingly beautiful in her youth. She had classic latina features and a very buxom build when that was still fashionable. Based on her wardrobe, I believe she still thinks she has that same body. Based on her behavior I believe she still thinks she is that age. Near as I can tell she has been reliving her youth for the past 32 years. This could very well be the secret to her longevity. Most women can do with a little dose of her self image.

I love my mother unconditionally as well, even though she annoys me to no end. To her friends and most people who meet her she is the Pied Piper. She has an incredible knack for making others feel pretty darned good about themselves and she leaves an indelible mark on them. I’ve never met a person who after meeting her has anything but glowing remarks about her. She has completely captivated the Sunday School class she attends every time she visits me. In fact, I believe the only people she annoys other than me are my siblings, and the men in her brief relationships.

A few years back I invited her to move in with me as she is on a very tight budget with her fixed SSI income and a monthly stipend from me. Also, and this is my opinion, she’s probably well past the point where she can take care of herself properly. Her response to this invitation was “I’m not dead yet”. I try not to overanalyze the fact that my mother equates moving in with me with death. I am clear that she believes I’m somewhat of a party pooper.

She has informed us that if it gets to the point where she can no longer take care of herself that we are to put her in one of those “Homes”. Of course in her mind that time is ten to twenty years off. I suspect that a decision will have to be made sooner than later. I will say this, whatever home she lands in will be forever changed by Hurricane Heyda. Whether for the good or bad would be a matter of opinion, but I’m clear the menfolk of that facility will be walking taller, dressing better and combing their sparse hairs more often. She still seems to have that effect on men. I myself am not looking forward to that day. It’s very possible that I wish I could see her through her own eyes.

Happy Mothers Day Mami. Que Dios te bendiga siempre.

RIP Blake Edwards

Blake Edward, dead at 88. May he rest in peace. I don’t know what his politics were, but I’m pretty sure I can state fairly accurately that he was probably another Hollywood leftist. Not that it matters to me since his movies never beat you over the head with his politics. At least not the ones I was a fan of, and there were many. Obviously the Pink Panther movies top that list. Not just for the physical comedy and brilliant delivery of Peter Sellers, but for dialogue like this:

Clouseau: Does your dog bite?

Hotel Clerk: No.

Clouseau: [bowing down to pet the dog] Nice doggie.

[Dog barks and bites Clouseau in the hand]

Clouseau: I thought you said your dog did not bite!

Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.

and this one:

[after Clouseau accidentally reduces a piano to a pile of splinters]

Mrs. Leverlilly: You’ve ruined that piano!

Clouseau: What is the price of one piano compared to the terrible crime that’s been committed here?

Mrs. Leverlilly: But that’s a priceless Steinway!

Clouseau: Not anymore

Those were from the best of the Pink Panther series (IMHO), The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

The slapstick scenes and the ones between Clouseau and Kato crack me up no matter how many times I watch them. I only wish Bert Kwok had been in more movies. He made an appearance in Jet Li’s Kiss of the Dragon, but in a serious role. I haven’t seen him in any others.

Anyways, I’ve enjoyed almost every Blake Edwards movie I’ve seen. My favorite, hands down outside of the Pink Panther series is an obscure film almost no one has seen but is in my opinion quintessential Blake Edwards. The movie is called Skin Deep and it features John Ritter in what I consider to be his best comedic role; a womanizing, alcoholic writer who is ultimately redeemed. The scene where John Ritter’s character (Jack) is trying to get to his car after being electrically tortured by an ex-girlfriend is a hilarious example of physical comedy at its best and John Ritter was a master at this.

What made Edwards’ movies stand out was the witty, almost always hilarious dialogue, his knack for creating complex, funny characters and making completely wacky situations seem almost possible. The storylines were always interesting even if the premise was as simple as surviving the Blind Date from hell! Even some of the minor characters in his movies were memorable. The waiter in the restaurant scene in Victor/Victoria (Graham Stark) was hilarious. The actor portraying that waiter made appearances in several Edwards’ movies.

I haven’t seen all of his movies. I’ve never seen the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I’m pretty sure I won’t see it unless I’m dragged to it. One of these days I’ll watch Days of Wine and Roses, but I’m pretty sure I won’t like it either.

Again, I’m not sure where his politics leaned, but I know he and his wife were both philanthropists and were big on children’s causes, so that makes him okay in my book besides the fact that his movies have provided me with hours of laughter and entertainment. He’s one of the few directors in Hollywood who made movies that my wife and I both enjoyed, and that is indeed an anomaly. That he was married for 41 years also makes him an anomaly in Hollywood, although how hard can it be to be married to Julie Andrews? I’m gonna have to dig out my collection of Pink Panther movies and sit down and enjoy a belly laugh or two. RIP Mr. Edwards and thank you.

And so this is Christmas…

And so this is Christmas.

I know, I shamelessly stole that line from that misguided, secular, but optimistic John Lennon song. Not because it’s my favorite or because I even particularly like it all that much. If you must know, my favorites are The Little Drummer Boy, Mary Did You Know, Do You Hear What I Hear, and for just foot tapping, finger snapping simplicity, Feliz Navidad gets me going. But much like the former Beatle, I’m trying to make a point.

Many things to say about Christmas. For Christians this season is yet another occasion to celebrate the life of our Lord and Savior. Additionally, we use the season to attempt to bring more people to Christ. We don’t need a specific season to do either of those things as we do them all year long, but since this time of year where many do focus just a little on Christ (whether you believe in Him or not) we Christians like to strike while the iron is hot and redouble our efforts to attempt to save those who still need saving (I use the term “we” loosely as I’m a lousy disciple. I’m more concerned with my personal salvation and those close to me than anyone elses). In the process we give more money to support missions, collect food for the poor, perform work for those unable to do it, and comfort for those who need it. Again, we do this all year long as well. We’re a nice bunch, despite the movies, TV shows and books depicting the lot of us as intolerant, narrow minded, racist (only if you’re white), backward knuckle dragging superstitious, troglodytes and lunatics. There are those most certainly out there, but like all cross sections of society, it takes all kinds and those guys get all the press.

I’m not going to rant against the commercialization of the season as I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. For one thing, being a shameless capitalist I don’t see a single thing wrong with people going out there and spreading their money around more than usual, stimulating the economy and creating more jobs. For whatever reason. Heck, some businesses NEED the Christmas season to balance out their entire year. Nothing wrong with that and shopping has little to do with Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

I’m also not going to rant against the policy of wishing people a “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas, because the simple fact of the matter is that the season also includes the Holy celebration of Hanukah, the made up season of Kwanzaa and the ridiculous season of Festivus (Seinfeld fans will get that). I will wish everyone a Merry Christmas, but if I don’t get it in return, I’m just not going to get my knickers in a wad about it. I won’t boycott businesses who won’t say Merry Christmas and I won’t let it diminish my joy with the season.

I won’t even rant against the militant attempts by atheists and agnostics who want to remove all Christian symbols such as nativity scenes from public view and forcing everyone to refer to secular symbols like Christmas trees as “Holiday Trees”. Kind of ironic since the word “Holiday” is derived from the words Holy Day. I think it’s a little ridiculous and hysterical that they assign so much power to something they profess to not believe. I’m sure they wouldn’t attack a big statue of Obi Wan Kenobe with as much vehemence. We all know he doesn’t exist, but he clearly doesn’t evoke the same vitriol as any image that may represent Christ in any way shape or form. Funny thing. I lived in Qatar for almost two years. It is a country governed for the most part by Sharia law, although they are regarded as a moderate Muslim country. During Christmas, images of Christ are prevalent throughout the season. There are displays of Nativity scenes and the words “Merry Christmas” are displayed prominently. I actually caroled in Qatar to a group of Christians, Jews and Muslims and the Muslims enjoyed it just as much (my solo performance of Feliz Navidad was talked about throughout the year, mostly because of volume rather than musical talent). Here’s something from Abu Dhabi this season:

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.937a29e74a6fa43f33a85ed42e22fb84.11&show_article=1

I know the tree began as a secular symbol, but they’re still calling it a CHRISTmas tree. I personally know atheists who are celebrating Christmas with those same symbols. And what does Christ have to do with a Christmas tree? The Menorah is a more specific symbol of a Holy day than the Christmas tree. Shouldn’t we be decorating a cross or a giant fish? The Christmas tree has little to do with Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Some like to make the point that Christmas has little to do with Christ at all. The gift giving at Christmas was intended to commemorate the gifts brought to Him by the Three Wise Men as an infant, but the gift giving during Hanukah has nothing to do with that, so gift giving is not it. There are other Winter customs of gift giving that are not based on the Three Kings story as well. Gift giving has little to do with Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

December 25th as the historic date of Christ’s birth does not really exist. In Spanish countries January 6th is the celebrated date. Not of His birth but of the visit by the Three Kings. Puerto Rican children make out because they get gifts on both days. It’s one of those mysteries that of all the specifics that we know about Jesus’ life, we don’t really know the exact date of His birth. We know his family genealogy all the way to Adam and Eve. We can pinpoint the hundreds of thousand year old prophesies he fulfilled in His life and can verify His historic existence via other documentation besides the Bible. We just don’t know exactly what date He was born. We began our modern day calendar based on His life even though the term “Before Christ” or BC is no longer being used. Before Common Era or BCE is now the popular term. December 25th or January 6th have little to do with Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The point is, none of that stuff is going to bother me this Christmas and here’s why. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is bigger than all of it. He is bigger than any plastic display of His birth or any pagan symbol added to celebrate His birth. He will not cease to exist because some people stamp their feet and have a meltdown at the mere mention of His name. Much like love, gravity, subatomic particles and other intangibles, He exists despite the inability to see or touch Him. The fact that some don’t believe in Him doesn’t change this one bit.

That people behave a little nicer during the season is a good thing. That they give gifts and get in touch with people they don’t speak with all year is a good thing. That we get to eat all kinds of goodies we may avoid all year is a good thing. That we’re just a little friendlier, kinder, happier, sappier, these are all good things. That intentionally or not, it is because of the birth of the Savior of the world is definitely a good thing.

So I’m gonna listen to Christmas music on the radio (in Spanish and English) whether the music is about His birth, or about a snowman, reindeer or a fat elf in a red and white suit. I’m gonna decorate my Christmas tree which I cut down myself. I’m gonna finally find some time to decorate the outside of my house before my neighbors come at me with torches and pitchforks (ya gotta see my street, it’s like the Griswold Family Christmas out there), I’m gonna make and drink some Coquito, eat Pasteles, Pernil and pie. I’m gonna figure out a way to cook that turkey-zilla a friend of mine slaughtered and gave me (the carcass takes up my entire freezer and it won’t fit in any conventional roasting pan).

Most of all, I’m gonna celebrate the gift of love and eternal life granted to me by the sacrifice of blood by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Lamb of God and the Light of the World. I’m gonna celebrate that it is only through His Grace that I am saved as I cannot earn it by acts or good intentions. I’m going to wish His blessings upon my friends, acquaintances and loved ones. I’m going to do this via the very simple words, Merry Christmas.

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Fifty Rants by Anthony D. Hubble

Fifty Rants

by Anthony D. Hubble

 

I was born on the same day that Christopher Columbus discovered Puerto Rico in 1493. For all you funny people out there who can’t resist old guy jokes, my year was 1960. It was also my father’s birthday. He would have been 73. It is my 50th birthday and in honor of that august occasion of turning a half century old I’ve decided to write out fifty of the things that I’ve concluded with certainty in my fifty years on the blue marble. Some are tongue in cheek, some are serious, others are frivolous. You can decide which is which. They are listed in no particular order, rather as a result of brainstorming. Feel free to disagree if you’d like, but the experiences that led me to these conclusions are mine alone and therefore have been filtered through my own unique brand of lunacy. Don’t jump in that pool unless you can swim well.

  1. You must be bold in the pursuit of your dreams. They are God’s gift to you and only you can let them die.
  2. Presumptuous stupidity is easy to find because it wears a bell around its neck.
  3. I wish I had a Tiger for a pet. I’d call him Zeus and take him out for walksies every day.
  4. Billy Joel is the best singer songwriter of the 20th century, so I’m quoting him here to keep it clean. “I learned about sex but not enough. Found that the dances still looked tough anyways. Oh yeah.” And that’s all I got to say about that.
  5. I can fail at every endeavor I attempt, but my five children will still be the marker that will measure the sum total of my successes. They are unsurpassable as that marker.
  6. There is one secret to the success of a relationship, and that is that the two parties involved in the relationship have to want that relationship to succeed above all things. Their motivation is irrelevant. Love, passion, honesty, trust, communication, all those things contribute, but so does duty, fear, laziness, resentment and even politeness. The driving desire for it to succeed, on the part of both parties, is the one key ingredient. It will make you do the things necessary for its success.
  7. Telling someone you love them, if you don’t is despicable. Even if you do, it’s not always a good idea. There are clearly situations where it is purely self serving to say those words. Plus, once you let that genie out of the bottle you can’t stuff him back in.
  8. I married the woman of my dreams. I’m still not sure how she made out in that deal.
  9. Few things are cooler than a bull riding monkey and I have a picture that proves it.
  10. The fight you win one hundred percent of the time is the one in which you don’t engage. How you make that decision is contingent upon how much you’re willing to sacrifice or compromise. You should know what that is beforehand. It gives you more control over the decision.
  11. Hitting someone with a padded stick is one of the funnest things you can do. It’s almost as cool as a bull riding monkey. Hitting someone with padded hands and feet is a close second.
  12. The liberal mindset remains a mystery to me. So does most females. I wonder if there’s a correlation.
  13. The naysayers always outnumber the yeasayers. Who you heed is still your choice.
  14. Neil Sedaka is right. When you’re the father of boys you worry, when you’re the father of girls you pray. The good news is that prayer works. So does raising them right. Wearing one of your firearms on your hip in the presence of her potential suitors also helps.
  15. I’m clearly not as good looking, charming or intelligent as I think. This is a very recent discovery. Also I can’t carry a tune. This I’ve known for quite some time though. It doesn’t change my tendency to burst into song at the drop of a dime. Karaoke anyone?
  16. You just cannot regulate human passion. History has shown that people will risk everything they worked for just to have a little strange.
  17. It’s ironic how some people who have contempt for and are inherently suspicious of government workers will default to petitioning that government to solve their problems as if the “government” itself is a separate entity and not run by the very people for whom they have contempt.
  18. I used to think that anyone who had the means and wherewithal would open their own business. I’ve discovered that this is not true. Most people are perfectly happy working for someone else. I don’t mean this as criticism for one or praise for the other. It just is.
  19. I don’t understand people who are afraid of snakes and spiders. How can you fear an animal you can outrun and an insect you can squash with your shoe?
  20. I’ve enjoyed some jobs more than I ever thought I would. Some in particular I had no inkling I was going to do. Being a US Navy Chief was one of those. Being a bodyguard was another.
  21. Conversely, some jobs I thought I would like left me either uninspired or I completely detested. Being a Tech Writer was the former, caring for livestock was the latter.
  22. I love teaching. The subject matter is irrelevant. I once taught cryptography (yeah, zzzzzz!) and still enjoyed the process of teaching that course. Being a martial arts instructor is the best of all. If I weren’t teaching martial arts I suppose I’d enjoy teaching history or political science.
  23. I used to think I had a hundred books in my head I would write. To date I have only completed one. Turns out, to date I have a hundred BEGINNINGS to books in my head. I’m trying to fix that.
  24. Protecting Nahir is a masterpiece of contemporary American literature in the Murder Mystery genre. It’s way more entertaining than One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’m still waiting for my Nobel prize.
  25. I loved being a military sailor and the U.S. Navy saved my life. The sense of adventure I used to get from pulling into a foreign and new port is incomparable. Plus we got to blow stuff up. Beats the heck out of pulling crab from the bottom of the Bering Sea although I think I may have enjoyed that too.
  26. I have never seen as spectacular a night sky on land as I’ve seen at sea. The same goes for sunsets and sunrises. Everyone should go out to sea at least once to experience these. Majestic is one of those words you can rarely use, but it can be used frequently to describe the days and nights at sea.
  27. People who whine about not making enough money annoy me to no end. Particularly when they blame external forces for that paucity. Want more money? Work harder, smarter or longer. One or all of those three are guaranteed to make you more money. It is an undisputable fact.
  28. There are three universal truths about food. If you can bread it and deep fry it, wrap bacon around it, or melt cheese on it, almost everything becomes edible. I had a shipmate who would melt cheese on everything he ate. When you asked him why he did that he would shrug and say “cause it tastes better.” Simple as that. Amen Dusty!
  29. Breaded Fried chicken is the best food on the planet. Colonel Sanders should be canonized by the Vatican.
  30. “I coulda been…” is the most tragic thing a person can say. It’s also very often inaccurate. If you coulda been and are still breathing you can still be. And maybe if you’re not, you just could not have been. Or is that too cryptic? Here’ s an example, I coulda been a Salsa singing star if I had a modicum of musical talent. See what I mean?
  31. Victimhood is an opium pipe many people will suck on first before accepting the stark cold truth of personal responsibility. Society today in many ways fills that pipe and holds a match to it, particularly if you’re a person of color or a woman.
  32. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not right 100 percent of the time. I’ve accepted it, but I still don’t agree with it. I get this trait honestly. Below my father’s picture in his high school yearbook is the caption in quotes, “I’m not arguing with you, I’m telling you!”
  33. I consider the ability to laugh at myself a precious gift. One of the few pearls of wisdom I learned from my father is to not take myself too seriously since no one else will either.
  34. Faith doesn’t come easily to me. My ability to think critically would lead me to dismiss my strong faith in the existence of God if my faith weren’t so strong. I get it, it’s a dichotomy. I resolve this by simply stating, “There is no God” and then laugh at how ridiculous that sounds. I’ve done lots of research. It is staggering to me that there are people who don’t believe in His existence. I only hope He is merciful enough to forgive them and save them as well. I don’t think He will. In the end however, I can only state with certainty that He exists. What His plans are ultimately will remain a mystery until I face Him. I suspect I’ll be okay with whatever He has planned for me. I have been thus far.
  35. Christianity is the best deal on the planet. There are only two pre-requisites to belong to the club and you can’t “earn” your way in. Good thing too because I clearly could not. Even some Christians don’t get this.

  36. Casablanca is still the best movie I have ever seen. Humphrey Bogart made a lot of bad movies, but he was good in all of them. The same is true for Jack Nicholson.
  37. I watch way too much television. I should be doing other things instead. Even so, I don’t feel guilty about it.
  38. I love to swim. It is one of my favorite physical activities. Funny thing is, I don’t have the body of a swimmer. I have short thick limbs. Lucky for me I don’t have a desire to be a competitive swimmer. I just love to swim. The good thing is that when I’m too old and feeble to do anything else I will still be able to play Tai Chi and swim.
  39. I find just as much enjoyment out of doing fifty things at once as I find doing nothing at all. I’m very impressed with my ability to do nothing at all.
  40. The best place to do nothing at all is on a beach.
  41. I don’t believe in psychic phenomena, although I’ve had two experiences that cannot be explained rationally and by definition would be psychic experiences.
  42. The hardest dessert for me to do without is ice cream. I could eat my weight in butter pecan ice cream. That I rarely eat ice cream is a testament to my will power. Instead I eat fried chicken. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
  43. I’m always surprised to see how fat I look in pictures. I’m not blaming the camera, I just don’t see myself that way in the mirror. I get this from my mother. She has no clue how she looks in the clothes she chooses to wear.
  44. I have no fashion sense either. Okay, maybe I do, but it’s not a very good one. This doesn’t improve with age and sophistication either. This discovery came as a surprise to me, but I’ve grown to accept it. Now that I shop for my own clothes this could become a problem as it usually has been when I’ve shopped for my own clothes in the past.
  45. Almost nothing beats that first cup of coffee in the morning. I said ALMOST nothing.
  46. Life is not fair and no one promised you anything. Too many people nowadays think that leveling the playing field means guaranteeing the outcome of a situation rather than making the opportunities equal.

  47. The Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution are the most masterful documents written by man, second only to the Holy Bible. I believe they were both inspired by God. That the framers were fallible men who were able to come together and compose these documents that made us the greatest country on the planet is proof of this.
  48. People who live in this country who believe they’re oppressed have no idea what oppression is. In this country people believe they’re being oppressed if they have no cell phones or basic cable. I’ve seen oppression around the world and we don’t hold a candle to it. True oppression is the inability to change the crappy situation you’re in. In many countries this is the status quo. In our country you are truly free to change your situation. The amount of money Larry Flynt, Mike Tyson, Dog Chapman and 50 Cent have made is proof of this. It’s ironic that many people in this country want to emulate the countries where this is just not possible.
  49. Going through life without a sense of humor is like sliding down a splintered board bare butt naked. It hurts all the way down. I don’t remember where I read this, but it is right as rain even if the imagery is a little disturbing.
  50. I haven’t had a mid-life crisis and I don’t think I will. Mainly because I believe people who have mid-life crisis’ are the ones who live with regret and want to recapture their youth. I have no regrets. I know that’s a bold statement, but here’s the thing, I’ve done most of what I’ve wanted. I haven’t jumped out of an airplane yet (the operative word is yet), but I have cliff dived. I haven’t swam in the Olympics, but I’ve swam in almost every ocean on the planet, and not just from the beach. I’ve been deeply in love and had that love returned. I’m not a rock star, but I sang Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” in front of hundreds of people in Golcuk, Turkey (and I rocked that house!). I haven’t fought for the PKA World Championship, but I am currently in first place in the state of Arizona, vying to be World Champion in Combat Stick. I haven’t been a boxing or MMA referee, but I get to judge martial arts tournaments several times a year. I’ve never held public office, but I can list as a job accomplishment “assisted President Reagan in expediting the demise of the evil Soviet Empire” (my contribution, albeit much smaller). I’ve published a novel, was a bodyguard for George Benson and Ricky Martin, and have stood in the spot where the Savior of the world was crucified for our sins. Not to mention being partially responsible for the birth of five of the most precious beings on the planet. I’ve lived with the mother of four of those children for almost 30 years. Honestly what is there to regret?

     

    If you have made it this far in my rant you are one of my new favorite people. So I give you one more, for good luck!

     

  51. Turning 50 is a huge deal! Those who trivialize it as “just another number” need to take another look. Some of the most famous and accomplished people never made it to 50. Bruce Lee died at age 33. Bobby Darin and Edgar Allan Poe died at age 40. My father did make it to age 69 despite abusing his body with alcohol, cigarettes and who knows what else for probably 60 of those years (I watched him once light 15 cigarettes in a row, one off the butt of the other). My mother turns 70 this year and she still thinks she’s 25. I don’t know how long I’ll last. I firmly believe that God will call me home when His plan for me is complete. I do not intend to “go quietly into that good night”, but go I will. Hopefully in another 30 or 40 years. Either way, I’m sure the adventure continues on the other side. So, I will conclude by saying that I am an exceptionally lucky man. On the occasion of my 50th birthday on November 19th, 2010 I will have family members and scores of good friends who will wish me a Happy Birthday. Many of them will mean it. I may even get a present and a card or two. Having been in a place in my life when my birthday went pretty much unnoticed I prefer the former. Some people don’t want a big deal made about their birthdays, particularly, the advanced ones. I’m not one of those people. I’d like to stand on some summit at the top of the world and yell in my best Stallone voice,

     

    “Yo, 50! I did it!”

Obama’s “chickens coming home to roost”

The Obama-ites are frenziedly trying to damage control yet another bad association the Senator had in his murky past.

 

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/GuyBenson/2008/04/24/debunking_obamas_ayers_fact_sheet

 

We knew very little about this charismatic, idolized young “agent of change” a year or two ago and the MSM would have liked to have kept it that way.  Not like it matters with his acolytes.  Being Liberals, they’re more concerned with how he makes them “feeeeeel” and don’t want to be bothered with facts.  Like Chris Matthews “chill running up his legs” when Obama speaks.  I’m not even touching the complete gay nature of that comment.  I’ll just focus on the fact that it is coming from a supposed “journalist”.  I’ve blogged about that idiot in the past.  But here’s further proof of his man crush on the young Senator.

 

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/MikeGallagher/2008/04/25/media_jumps_the_gun_for_barack

 

I don’t hold people to the follies of their youth.  I know I have my fair share, but I’m not running for President of this great nation; and yes, I hold that office and whoever occupies it to a slightly higher standard. But we’re not talking about a naïve, obsolete and isolated association with a questionable character.  We’re now talking about a pattern of association with some of the NOTORIOUSLY worst anti-American, racist, anarchist, socialist, leftist people in the country. 

 

All he offers as a defense is either “I didn’t know…” or “that’s irrelevant…” or “I didn’t know…” (I listed it twice to make the point).  Well, Senator, if you’re gonna expect to hold the reigns of our national defense and security you should make it a point to know who you associate with and you cant think I’m obtuse enough to think that your associations, close associations despite what you say, are irrelevant.  I for one hold you to them. 

 

A word about a great majority of the blacks in this country.  I’ve already stated my position on racism and race in general, so here goes an objective opinion based on observation. The OJ Simpson trial taught me droves about the views of a HUGE majority of them.  Events like the LA Riots, Hurricane Katrina, the Jenna Six, the Duke Lacrosse and Don Imus fiascos don’t make the community look any better. The huge numbers the Senator is getting everywhere he goes also defines their agenda.  I don’t shy away from stating the obvious.  It’s not that sinister really.  If you’re a black Democrat, both your candidates have the same agenda/philosophy, so given the choice, you identify with and vote for the black candidate.  What’s bothersome is that they vote for him BECAUSE he’s black.  Can’t sugar coat that. 

 

Of course the over riding reason is that he’s a liberal since Alan Keyes and Condoleeza Rice would not register on their list of possibilities.  Not that I blame them, they’re only following the cues of their leadership.  Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson et al.  What’s insulting to them, or at least should be, is the condescension.  What’s worrisome to me, is the inherent racism.  Something that the other side is constantly being labeled with.  So again the contradiction still being propagated by things like Jet magazine, BET (who ironically doesn’t like Obama), and all the other exclusive Black organizations in this country (not to mention Hispanic).  It’s okay for the black goose, but not for the white gander.

 

 

 

“What kind of name is Yossarian?” March 25, 2008

I’ve been meaning to blog about race for quite some time.  I’ve touched on the subject briefly on a couple of old blogs, but I’ve been meaning to cover it more in depth for a while now.  I’ve never directly blogged about the issue (save for one on my physical similarity to Arabs).  I haven’t done it for two reasons.  One, every time I began to write on the subject it became as long as my four part series on how to survive a mass shooting.  Also, to be honest, I was holding off because I intended to do some research and write an article I was going to submit for paid publication. My memories of the effort I expended getting my Black Belt magazine article published for the payout I received has discouraged me from that avenue. 

 

Then John Hawkins’ wrote a column that inspired me to finally put down my thoughts on the subject. 

 

Click here for John Hawkins article

 

Kick back boys and girls, this one may get rather long, but I believe it’s topical.

 

I’m uniquely qualified to talk about the subject.  That doesn’t make any one else unqualified to discuss it as we all can draw on our personal experiences.  The problem is the injection of filters.  Admittedly I have my own, but my experience is a unique one.  Ironically and in many ways it is very similar to Senator Obama’s, although I derived something very different from mine. 

 

Ethnically speaking, I’m just as much a mongrel as anyone in the US, or the entire planet.  My father’s heritage is Scott Irish (with others mixed in as well).  He was born and raised in Michigan.  My mother is Puerto Rican (which is of itself a mixed ethnic group).  She was raised on the island.  I spent some time looking into my ancestry and was surprised by what I discovered, as I’m sure most people would be if they took the time.  For example, the Hubble Family Society says that every single Hubble in the US (regardless of whether you spell it Hubble, Hubbell or Hubel) all come from the same descendant.  This means that I may be related to Edwin Hubble the astronomer.  I find this staggering! Particularly since I haven’t received a single residual from whatever money’s been made off that telescope.  I’m still looking into it.  Plus I’m partly Canadian and I have an actual clan tartan.The Mcintaugh clan.

 

I was raised partly in the US, Puerto Rico and Europe from birth to age six.  Then we settled in Puerto Rico when I was seven until I joined the Navy at age seventeen.  The amalgam of my parental cultural heritage and my upbringing has made me an enigma to some people who (human nature being what it is), try to put me into some comfortable shelf in order to define “what” I am.  I don’t blame them.  I confuse myself sometimes. 

 

My unique perspective stems from how people who come in contact with me treat me.  For example, while being raised on the island, because of my last name and the fact that we spent the first few years of our lives off the island, most of the islanders referred to my siblings and I as “Los hermanos gringos”. 

 

You would think calling me a gringo is funny, considering my appearance, but Puerto Rican’s are a bit unique when it comes to physical appearance.  In PR, they don’t separate themselves by color into different ethnic groups.  Color is mostly a descriptive.  You’re either a blonde haired, blue eyed Rican or a black as night Rican.  Either way you’re Puerto Rican.  We long ago stopped raising eyebrows at couples who were distinctly and physically different in color.  In fact, the supposed “classic” Rican is defined as a combination of Spaniard, African and Taino (Arawac) Indian.  I believe this is historically inaccurate and there are many more.  In my own family on the island there’s even a direct French ancestor.  Then there’s the fact that Puerto Rico has been a US Commonwealth for over a hundred years.  There were plenty of horny gringos at the beginning of the last century planting their seeds all over the island. But I’m digressing.

 

By the same token, outsiders are defined as such regardless of skin color.  I wasn’t treated poorly as a “gringo” on the island.  In fact, after a brief introductory period when I’d infrequently get into a fight with some wannabe comedian for mangling my last name and using it to make fun of me, I fit right in.  The fact that I was a “gringo” became one of those things they’d remember only occasionally (usually when my last name came up again).  I’ve heard at least ten phonetic pronunciations of Hubble.  The first day of school always made me cringe.  I’m sure anyone with an odd surname can relate.  However, the anomaly of being slightly different always gave me the perspective of an outsider looking in.  It bothered me sometimes and sometimes I used it to my advantage.  The advantages usually outweighed the problems it created.

 

Then, when I joined the Navy and came back to the continent I was called “the Puerto Rican guy”.  Physically that fit, but I was actually born in Seattle Washington.  How funny is that?  Some people thought I was from New York.  I had not spent a day in New York, but apparently I had a New York accent.  This is because where I was raised on the island most people spoke English like either Desi Arnaz or Tony Soprano.  I  adopted the Tony Soprano inflection, but believe you me, I have many relatives on the island who talk just like Desi.  The point being that now I was being put into another slot that “differentiated” me. 

 

When I reported to my first ship, the Puerto Ricans and other Latinos expected me to immediately hang with them in their Latino cliques.  For a brief period I actually welcomed this bonding, until I figured out that none of them actually shared my “heritage”.  Some of the Ricans from NY (we call them Niuyoricans on the island) didn’t even speak a lick of Spanish.  They were very proud to call themselves Puerto Rican, but they had no clue about their ancestral heritage from the island.  They in fact put me in yet another sub-group since I was from the island itself.  They called me Jibaro, which to them meant I was “fresh off the boat”.  They didn’t even know the origin of that particular moniker (it was a term used by a Spanish author by the name of Miguel Alonso in a book by the same name a about three hundred years ago).  I had absolutely nothing in common with any other Latino group. 

 

Ironically, I got along very well with a guy whose family came from Cuba.  He was a blonde haired blue eyed guy named Rodriguez.  He spoke better Spanish than most of the Ricans on the ship.  We often joked that we should swap last names because of our incongruous physical features.  This even led me to briefly giving some thought to legally changing my last name to my mother’s (Torres). 

 

My very first experience with racism came from a Latino guy on that very ship.  He was a Chicano (this was a moniker he gave himself) from East LA.  I had befriended a guy named Mike Melko.  He actually wound up being the best man at my first wedding.  We were all in the Deck division of the ship.  The Latinos had a clique of about six guys in the division.  Their Latin cultural heritage was as diverse as any other.  When I began hanging out with Mike, the Chicano approached me and asked me why I was hanging out with that “guero”.  His tone was that of a cross parent addressing a wayward child.  He was about six or seven years older than I was so I guess he thought he was entitled.  His problem became two-fold.  One, I was very resistant to authority in my teen years.  Two, I didn’t take kindly to people telling me what to do, regardless of age.  The subsequent exchange sealed my fate with that particular Latino clique.  Now I was a gringo again.

 

I discovered something very quickly on that first ship.  First of all, I figured out that being Latino did not immediately qualify someone to be a friend of mine.  Let’s face it, there are assholes everywhere.  There are plenty of assholes on the island I wouldn’t give a minute of my time to and that applied universally.  The Latino guys who became good friends of mine did so in spite of their ethnicity.  One of them a Niuyorican who spent the latter part of his teen years on the island and another a Tejano from Kerville Texas. 

 

So if being Latino did not immediately qualify someone for my friendship, then it certainly didn’t qualify you for my vote, my patronage or my support.  In other words, I learned to deal with people on their merits.  Thankfully, at a very young age. 

 

I’ve only been called a Spic two times to my face in my life.  In only one occasion was it done in anger (some guys don’t react very well when the women they have designs on opt for a better option).  I’ve only met one person who I’d call a true racist.  Ironically he was one of the best Chief’s I served under in the Navy and even he never held me back. 

 

The various other non-insulting things I’ve been called (Gringo, Jibaro, Puerto Rican, Boricua) were names other people gave me (I’ve also been called Arabic, Italian, Greek and on one strange occasion, Philipino). 

 

Here’s the thing; I have never been denied a single opportunity because of my ethnicity and skin color.  Even if it had been done, unbeknownst to me, my ethnicity and skin color would be the last thing I’d use as an excuse.  For one thing they’re factors out of my control and I’m very big on controlling my fate and destiny.  For another, once you go down the victimhood road you might as well go down it with your pants around your ankles. 

 

What is my point?  That assholes come in all colors?  That ignorance is just as universal? That there is no pure race, therefore, there should be no racism? 

 

To be perfectly honest, I really don’t give the subject much thought anymore.  Or I at least don’t let the militants, extremists and opportunists bother me as much anymore. I think that people who make excuses for themselves will use the most convenient of excuses and people who hate will find a reason to hate no matter what color you are.  People’s perceptions are their realities and you can’t shake them from their trees if they were on fire.

 

What makes me ultimately comfortable is the fact that most people are just like me.  Reasonable and rational.  We take people at their merits and based on how they treat us.  We’re proud of our uniqueness, but don’t wear our ethnicity on our sleeves.  And thankfully, regardless of our individual colors and ethnic backgrounds, we are still in the majority.  We just don’t make as much noise.

 

History’s idiots

The saying goes, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”  General David Petraeus, an American hero and, as evidence shows, a brutally honest battle commander has once again been ignored and trivialized by the power hungry who are advocating surrender. Yes SURRENDER. They’re just calling it different things I’m clearly not “nuanced” or “sophisticated” enough to understand.  Me being a war monger and all. Yes I’ve been called that on at least two Multiply pages.  It doesn’t insult me and I’m in good company so go ahead.  Beats being a peacenik. 

 

I’m not going to get into the tired argument about whether it was a good idea to invade Iraq.  My position on that is clear, educated and based on first hand exposure and experience.  Besides, that kind of second guessing is moot at this point in time.  What is relevant is that we are there now and things are clearly improving.  Yet, the Dems want to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  The repercussions of our abandoning Iraq the way Clinton, Obama and Co. are outlining can’t even be fathomed by most of the peaceniks, and may even be a little hazy for some of the war’s lukewarm supporters.

 

 Allow me to provide a historical perspective.  For a while it was fashionable to make comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam.  I haven’t seen much of that lately, and it’s possible that they figured out what I’ve known.  First, most of the comparisons were inaccurate and the ones that applied went against their arguments and talking points.  Here’s what I mean.  Our abandoning Vietnam the way we did by caving to the Peaceniks, the Media and the liberals caterwauling directly resulted in the murder of millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians.  This in the face of the liberal elites saying the slaughter would never happen and that the best thing for Cambodians and Vietnamese was for us to just leave.  Some names you may recognize.  Like John Kerry.  I’ll post a link below.  In fact, here’s something Senator Chris Dodd (then a US Rep) said back in 1975:

 

“The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is not guns but peace. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now.” -U.S. Rep. (now Sen.) Chris Dodd of Connecticut, March 12, 1975.

 

So we listened and the result was a massacre that was aptly named “The Killing Fields”. 

 

So what you say?  Well, it also resulted in a decade of hangdog shame, self-loathing and loss of national pride that was only eventually reversed when a Presidential candidate unabashedly reminded us that we were the “shining city on a hill”.  Want to know what Chris is saying now?  Here’s an example:

 

“Q [to Dodd]: Should the US set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq?

 

DODD: I believe we should. I didn’t come to that decision a long time ago. It’s been an evolving situation here. I think most would agree today that we’re more isolated today, our moral standing in the world has suffered terribly over the last number of years as a result of our involvement in Iraq. We’re feeling less secure, more vulnerable today. My view is there’s a greater likelihood that the Iraqis, if they understand that this is not an open-ended process here, there’s a beginning time and an end time for our military involvement here, and that we’re willing to help train troops and help on counter-terrorism, but that come the first of April next year, our military participation is over with.”

 

Then there’s Senator John Kerry.  This pompous ass needs his own category.  He’s irony incarnate.  Here’s what he said on the Senate Floor on November 9, 1997 [Congressional Record, p. S12256]:

 

“We must recognize that there is no indication that Saddam Hussein has any intention of relenting. So we have an obligation of enormous consequence, an obligation to guarantee that Saddam Hussein cannot ignore the United Nations. He cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a matter about which there should be any debate whatsoever in the Security Council, or, certainly, in this Nation. If he remains obdurate, I believe that the United Nations must take, and should authorize immediately, whatever steps are necessary to force him to relent–and that the United States should support and participate in those steps.

 

We must not presume that these conclusions automatically will be accepted by every one of our allies, some of which have different interests both in the region and elsewhere, or will be of the same degree of concern to them that they are to the U.S. But it is my belief that we have the ability to persuade them of how serious this is and that the U.N. must not be diverted or bullied.”

 

He recently stated this about Al Qaeda in Iraq:

 

“Truth-be-told, it is our overwhelming footprint that energizes Al Qaeda in Iraq.  If we reduce our footprint — as the Iraq Study Group and General Jones have recommended, I believe the Iraqis themselves, will drive Al Qaeda from Iraq, with a leaner U.S. military and special forces there to finish the job.”

 

I’m wondering what exactly he meant back in 1997 and what exactly he intended to do about Saddam Hussein?  Clearly nothing. 

 

Way back in 1971 in a debate between John Kerry and John Oneill on the Dick Cavett show John Kerry made the ridiculous assertion that reports of an ensuing massacre if we abandoned Vietnam were exaggerated.  Well, we all know how that turned out.  You can read the transcript or watch the entire debate here:

 

http://www.wintersoldier.com/index.php?topic=KerryONeill

 

It’s pretty extensive but well worth watching.  You might even get chills and an odd sense of déjà vu when analyzing today’s armchair military geniuses and their “predictions”.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not re-live the decade of the 70’s, politically speaking.

Lessons from our troops, January 3, 2007

TigerThis recent posting from Michael Totten got me to thinking about some of the lessons we can learn from our Masterful Marines.  Mr. Totten’s another independent imbedded journalist in Iraq. 

 

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2008/01/a-plan-to-kill.php

 

Before I get to the “lesson”, let me say I enjoy these guys’ insights because their independent status gives them the leeway to be brutally honest and non-agenda driven.  Pat Dollard and Michael Yon are also good sites to have bookmarked for this purpose.  Other than the personal friends I have in theater, I count on these reporters’ postings for good and factual on the ground news.

 

Again, I was linked to Mr. Totten’s site by FoxNews.com’s “Latest News” link. They continue to be the only source for these reports in the major news organizations.  The other networks/newspapers continue to ignore these and for good reason (in their editorial bent minds).  They invariably report GOOD news.  Not intentionally and they’re all clear that much work needs to be done and the situation is dynamic, but they have a clear understanding of the importance of this work and why it MUST be done.  They don’t get into any of the “why are we here?” and “President Bush is evil” chants.  Not to mention the fact that they are respectful and honest about our forces, yes our Masterful Forces’ efforts.

 

Now to the lesson.

 

This latest posting focuses on the issue of complacency and how our Marines are countering this mindset.  I addressed this issue on another blog in our own lives within the “relative safety” of our mainstream USA streets.  Mr. Totten was having difficulty with this concept, but he seemed to get the point.  Admittedly it’s a fine line to walk, the difference between situational awareness and rampant paranoia.  I like the joke axiom “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean you bastards AREN’T out to get me”, because it’s just funny.  But the opposite is also true (not being paranoid doesn’t mean you bastards AREN’T out to get me). 

 

Mr. Totten pointed it out when, looking at an Iraqi, who in his mind clearly presented no danger, he imagined smashing the man’s face in.  Some may be appalled at this but it is an exercise I engage in regularly throughout the day.  As people walk up to me I switch off between two imaginary scenarios.  One, what would I do if this person (regardless of their physical appearance) all of a sudden upped and surprise attacked me (armed, unarmed etc.).  I mentally prepare a counter for each of these scenarios.  I focus on quick and deadly, mostly gross motor movements. 

 

Second, I also imagine how I would attack them if I wanted to all of a sudden surprise blitz them.  In a million years I would not do this for real, but it gives me an insight into the thought process of an attacker.  There are countless scenarios that I alternate in both exercises (quick and deadly, defensive and non-lethal, immobilize, one-two-three strikes etc.). 

 

One of the major benefits of this type of mental training is that you create a mindset of situational awareness that continues to churn in the background of your mind even when you’re not engaging in the exercise. 

 

How is this useful? 

 

Surprisingly, a MAJOR benefit is subtle and intangible, but very effective.  It counters prey behavior.  In other words, your heightened state of relaxed alertness delivers an unspoken message to the attacker (predator) that you are NOT easy prey.  They don’t know why, but they can just sense it.  Here’s the beauty of it.  The message in most cases is effective REGARDLESS of your physical appearance and/or training.  Remember, you only have to physically defend yourself when your actual personal security plan has failed.  You want to avoid that because there are some evil sons of bitches out there.  Ironically, even the toughest of them are inherently cowardly and will only target easy prey.

 

Secondly, should you have to physically defend yourself you will leap into action almost immediately with canned physical techniques that are subconsciously driven..  We all have some of these that are already neuro-muscularly innate.  Throwing your hands up, crouching your head, closing your eyes etc.  The first few seconds of an attack are CRITICAL and are almost always wasted by the shocked reaction of people who first go into a state of denial (often voiced aloud).  “I can’t believe this is happening to me!”  Remember, the attacker has had the benefit of planning and victim selection. They are also already highly adrenalized into action.  You’re playing catch-up.  The above exercise will expedite this paradigm shift.

 

Do not misunderstand me here.  I’m not advocating a state of paranoia about your fellow man.  What I advocate is preparedness, physical and mental, but the mental state is the key to avoidance.  It’s amazing to me when I hear my single, slightly older, female students talk about the myriad of emotional defensive mechanisms they have in place when they go out on a date for the first time with someone.  They have these because they’ve been burned before and they carry them into the first few dates.  Yet when I talk to them about the above exercise they express shock and dismay that they should have to live like that.  Ironic.  The mental state I’m talking about here is actually quite a liberating and empowered one.  Particularly if you’re not innately security minded.

 

Of course to me the exercise is also a bit fun.  Sue me.  My juvenile proclivities aside, as Joe Pesci’s character says in My Cousin Vinny, although I could probably use a good ass whuppin, I’m not volunteering for one anytime soon.  For more of this type of information, go to my “Surviving a mass shooting” blog. It’s in 4 parts but I’m pretty proud of that post.

Kangaroo Farts and Other Scientific Breakthroughs, Dec 6, 2007

KangaroofartsIt appears that the Global Warming hysteria has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. There have been many examples of this, but the following report just took the freaking top prize! 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,315586,00.html 

Kangaroo farts?????? Kangaroo farts????? (I didn’t need to repeat it, it’s just funny!) 

Kangaroo farts are gonna save the planet??? I don’t know who these Australian “scientists” are (or if they’re on Al Gore’s payroll), but it seems to me they could be working on something with just a little more substance. Or at least something they can tell their kids they do when asked to come to their schools on career day. 

Child: Daddy what do you do for a living?

Australian Scientist: Why I’m studying how Kangaroo farts will save the planet!

Child (laughing hysterically); No seriously Daddy. 

Come to think of it, that would be perfect for a kid’s career day! This scientist would be a smash hit!  

I can see it now. “Well God, no worries mate! We have figured out how to save your Masterful Creation and reverse whatever plans you may have. Kangaroo farts!” (See? Told ya it was funny). 

I don’t know what these scientists look like either but I’m willing to bet they’re the spitting image of Harpo, Chico and Groucho Marx!  

As of this wasn’t bad enough, I watched a video on foxnews.com about experimenting with cats in zero gravity. I ask you, what in the name of kangaroo science could this serve. We’ve been going into space for sixty years now. Did we really need to know how cats would behave in zero gravity? I’m a high school dropout and I could have clued them in. Duh, they float. HELLOOOOO!!!! 

Ahhhh! How far we have come in the field of scientific research. Louis Pasteur, Galileo, Marie Curie et al would be proud!!