Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

When we think of Memorial day these images are usually iconic.

Brothers in arms who remember those who have fallen in battle.

Or for most of us, its a lovely three day weekend spent with family and friends.

When we think of soldiers returning from battle we are shown happy reunions

Or sadly soldiers who have paid a terribly high price for old men to prove they are the biggest dog

What we dont see are those that never truly come home.  Who are trapped in the hell of combat, and are left broken and battered of soul and mind.

When I was going to volunteer for the shelter in Tempe, a large number at the drop in center were homeless young vets suffering from PTSD.  The government washes these soldiers out, and they're on their own.  When Congress makes cuts, its never for hardware, fancy jet fighters, but for medical care for our veterans.

TH was friends with a fella who fought pirates in Somalia, he was in the lead in Iraq hunting down insurgences who had been slaughtering Kurds.  And each and every time he came home, it took longer and longer for him to adjust to a normal life.  We lost touch with him and his family when they were posted stateside, and we worry about him, but have no way to find him.  He is very security conscious and refuses to use social media.

Third son has a very close friend who was in Afghanistan and was the leader of his battalion at the tender age of 24.  After two tours he became quite ill, and after extensive medical tests discovered he had cancer.  He stayed home getting treatment, while his battalion left for yet another tour.  And while they were gone, several of his buddies died in combat.  The friend was near suicide, sure that if had been there, they wouldn't have died.  He finally recovered from his cancer, and mostly from his survivors guilt. 

If we are going to continue sending the best and brightest of our men and women to war, then we need to care for them their entire lives.  We need to care for them as if they were our own brothers and sisters, with loving compassion and kindness.  For those who will never be able to reenter society they need to be housed, fed and cared for in warm and comfortable settings.  The military is decommissioning bases, those can be used to provide homes, recreation, and medical services, an entire community for our men and women to heal and live safely and cared for.

And yes, the Aussies fought with us in Vietnam, and faced the same disdain and hate that our soldiers faced when they returned home.

If one considers the observation that the worth and dignity of a civilization is judged by the way it the treats its weakest members, we cannot help but look back in shame at our past.
By Rudolf Rickes

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Good God I love President Obama!

"We take this opportunity to reaffirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights, to celebrate the dignity of every person, and to underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love.  We work toward this goal every day. Here at home, we are working to end bias-motivated violence, combat discrimination in the workplace, and address the specific needs of transgender persons. Overseas, I am proud of the steps that the United States has taken to prioritize the protection and promotion of LGBT rights in our diplomacy and global outreach."

Barack Obama

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tissues are required for this awesome video!

My new hero is in this video, Ban Ki-Moon. Get your hankies ready for a happy cry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May Days

The end of the school year for most of us conjurers up memories of endless days of sunshine and freedom.  Out on our metal steeds (bikes) pedaling as fast as our feet and legs could churn those foot pegs.

Out in the dark in our backyards playing zombie tag with flashlights.

Sitting under the dappled shade of a tree reading either a much beloved book or the latest volume of our favorite comic book series.

But for to many children the end of school marks the beginning of hunger.
For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers. (1)

Let that number of children living in poverty, 51% soak in a moment.   Over half of our children are living in poverty.  In Mississippi the percent rises to a mind boggling 70%!

And Congress sits on their fat asses and tries to undo public safety nets and access to free medical care, and a stern refusal to raise minimum wage.

The lack of education in the southern states matches perfectly with the higher  poverty rate in those states.

And schools are having to feed more and more children for free.
 This sentence shocked me to pieces.
In a classroom at Smothers Elementary School in Washington, D.C., third graders grab egg sandwiches, cups of juice and milk and take them back to their desks to eat. In this high-poverty school skipping breakfast wasn’t about stigma. All kids qualify for free meals. (2)

I'll just say what most of us are thinking, our country is broken and we need to find a way to get it back on its feet and running again, but how?  I have no idea at all.

May 9th is Letter Carriers "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive.

 On the morning of Saturday, May 9, just set out your non-perishable food items well before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. Note that he or she will be delivering and collecting mail as usual, on top of collecting food donations, so that pickup time could be slightly later than usual.
Pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity often are bare by late spring. And, with most school meal programs not available during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.
People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods such as canned soup; canned vegetables; canned meats and fish; pasta; peanut butter; rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday. (3)
No child should ever have to go to bed hungry.  Or have to worry about if there will be food available tomorrow.

(1) Washington Post
(2) Marketplace
(3) USPS

Monday, April 27, 2015

Forecast for the week, increasing bouts of freaking out, with flurries of out right panic

About 6 weeks ago, in a weak moment, I agreed to host a May the Forth Be With You meetup.  If you're not a Star Wars geek-a-zoid, its a play on the saying "may the force be with you", and is held every year on the 4 of May. 

I did have enough common sense to hold the number to 6, including myself.  Out of that 6, three will be complete strangers. 

In.  My.  House!  

My safe zone. 

My batcave. 

My fortress of solitude. 

Ok I've finished with the comic book references, sorry.

I hate cooking for others now.  When you cant taste what you're cooking it becomes super stressful.  I can't cook only things that I can eat as one of the people coming is allergic to soy, my go to replace dairy.  So, now I'm trying to come up with things that everyone can eat. 

At this point in time I've decided on build your own hoagies.  I'll have my gf bun, and will buy some for Miss Soy Allergy (MSA).  They can have cheese and egg mayo, meat and shredded veggies. 
MSA is a sometimes veggie, so that gives me some worry.  Tortilla chips with guac and salsa.  I was thinking about raw veggies, but am stumped as for a dip.  What I can eat for a dip, MSA cant.  What I can serve for the others, neither one of us can have. 

I need to clean the house, tis a messy home at the present.  Lay in party supplies, like paper plates, as I only have a service for 4 dinnerware. 

Oh dear Pasta, what have I done.....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wow Gee Golly Gosh!

Sorry for the long delay in my travelog, but I became sad from missing TH.  It was FABULOUS to be together for 11 wonderful, thrilling, quietly together days.

I don't have any of my own pictures of this beach due to us going to swim and not wanting to leave cameras or phones unwatched. 

Ok, remember Pu'uhonua o Hounaunau from the last post?  Right across the bay is a "beach" called Two Step. The building in the distance is the temple in the Pu'uhonua (refuge) area.  There is no sand at this beach and only the very edge where the waves wash it are smooth enough not to hurt tender feet.  This lava is like walking on brillo pads, very sharp!  See that wee bit of sand up against the greenery?  That is a shallow sand lined cove that green turtles come and bask and rest in.  Its roped off from the rest of Pu'uhonua and anyone that comes snorkeling in is chased off as the turtles are a protected species.

 Two Step is named for the naturally occurring two steps from the lava to the water.  These two steps are the only area to get into the water.  Here are the Two Steps in action.  Luckily the top step is coated in a soft layer of ocean plant that makes getting up and down comfortable.  If you time it right, the waves help push you up on the step from the water!  Lovely for tired legs after snorkeling for a long while.
See how close to the surface the coral is?  There is a goodly portion of the bay that is fairly shallow, but it does drop off rather quickly to depths of around 100 ft, give or take.

Now TH being the totes adorbs fella that he is, goes snorkeling with me.  Even though he is afraid of the ocean, and can't get a good seal on his mask due to his mustache.  He rents a boogie board and motors out with his flippers on and if I see something amazing, I come and show him, he dons his mask and looks about quickly before it fills with water.

So this day the weather was perfect.  No wind, lovely calm flat seas.  The beaches fill up quickly so we arrived about 9 am.  There were already beach goers, but not at all crowded.  So, into the water we go, and are amazed at all the fish!  As we slowly made our way further from shore, the bottom began dropping off and TH became a bit nervous.  Until he looked up, him of the perfect vision and shouted DOLPHINS!!!

There was a pod of about 20-30 dolphins!  They swam and fed and there were two with babies who nursed their young!  While I was under watching them do this, TH saw them do flips and spins out of the water!  We swam around them for over an hour.  At first I have to admit I was terrified of them.  But then calmed down and really enjoyed watching them.

A video of what the reef is like.

I sure wish I have pictures and video of my own.  Hopefully, next time will have an underwater camera and goggles for TH so he can see more underwater without trying hard not to drown every time he puts his face in the water.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

P'uhonua o Honaunau

In ancient Hawaii only Ali'i Nui (royal chiefs) owned property.  Ali'i land was pie or wedge shaped so each chief received rights to the ocean, beach, and so on up into the mountains/volcano cone, allotting equal access to all needed resources.  There was no form of currency, the only thing a common person actually owned was his own life.

Polynesian culture was ordered with laws that were sacred rules, known popularly as taboo, in Hawaii as kapu.  While modern usage of kapu throughout the Hawaiian isles is keep out, or no trespassing, that is only a portion of what it used to mean.  Kapu rules codified what was acceptable in their society.  Like any society kapu covered all aspects of life: gender roles, politics, religion, areas open for fishing, when to harvest trees and so forth.

With no currency, no ownership of property, how would you punish someone for large and serious transgressions, by taking the only thing they owned, their life.  Now, there was this very tiny loophole to escape death, a loophole that wasn't easy to wiggle through, but was available, pu'uhonua, a place of refuge.  If you could make it to pu'uhonua, then after religious rites and purification all was forgiven, and were free to regain society once again.

The pu'uhonua on Hawaii is wedged between the ocean and the Ali'i Nui (royal) compound at Honaunau.  It was not meant to be an easy thing to get to, many were supposed to fail on their journey, so only the bravest, strongest and most determined managed to save their lives.  Weeding out the weak in a very Darwin way, yeah?

The building behind the wall is the pu'uhonua compound.  During times of war, women and children, elders and defeated warriors took refuge from the battles, no chief would breach the kapu of killing someone within the walls.  If the chief of the area lost the battle, the chief took ownership of the land and had a ready supply of people to get back to work.  A much better way of waging war if you ask me.

This is the reconstructed temple or heiau that also served as a mausoleum for the Ali'i bones. (royal chief)

Ki'i or more widely known using the Maori word, tiki.