Always thinking…

It seems, even if my outward life is quite stable and consistent, my thoughts are always evolving. They’re constantly in flux. Why I believe the things I do and how I view my world are reevaluated on a regular basis. Recently, that reevaluation has preoccupied a good portion of my ‘quiet hours’… time that I take for myself after the responsibilities of the day are done.

I’ve always been amazed about the physical world around me. Learning leads to questions, and the subsequent answers, to ever more questions. It’s a vicious cycle. The complexities of our world and the makeup of our universe, in all of its awe-inspiring variations, are truly a wonder to behold. It’s easy to assign these wonders to an all powerful entity… God. But, is it… really? I mean, is there a God?

Evolution

I believe in what is scientifically provable… what is logical. For me, in order for God to exist, God would have to be able to defy all the laws of physics during and after the Big Bang, more than 13 billion years ago. Also, it is estimated that there are 10 trillion galaxies in the universe… Why then, have we humans of Earth, been singled out by any God for ‘salvation’? And why humans? Why not another species? We’re just the latest in a long line of animals to exist on Earth. Were it not for the death of dinosaurs, humankind most likely would never have had the opportunity to rise up to become the dominant species currently at the top of the evolutionary food chain.

Something to ponder…

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It’s kinda funny, really…

It should come as no surprise to my closest friends and family… I’m a far right leaning conservative. I’m laughing as I write. Why? Because I strongly believe in the Constitution and what the Founding Fathers intended when the United States gained its freedom from our English masters. And, by the standards of many today, that’s considered ‘far right’. The general public has no idea about the basics concerning our country or Constitution. Their ignorance is pitiful.

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Here are a few items commonly not known by most Americans.
1. There isn’t a separation of church and state written into our Constitution. There is a clause that restricts the government out of religion, but it isn’t a two way clause.
2. The Constitution is a rigid document, not a ‘living’ document that could be interpreted differently over time. If it were a ‘living’ document, there wouldn’t be a need for the amendment process.
3. The three branches of government are not all equal. Our Constitution only grants the Supreme Court two powers; original jurisdiction and the setting up of lesser courts.
4. The Supreme Court  (SCOTUS) does not have the power to judge any law unconstitutional. In the decision of Marbury v Madison (1803), the SCOTUS grabbed the power of ‘judicial review’. Since that time, the SCOTUS has abused their illegally gotten power to create law and rule on the constitutionality of laws.
5. The amendment process allows for the changing of our Constitution. The 2nd amendment cannot be changed. Why? Because it contains the language ‘shall not be infringed’. But that hasn’t stopped laws from being created that restrict, deny, and limit who can or cannot own/possess firearms.
6. The common misconception is that the Civil War was over slavery. Simply not true. http://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation

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My friend, Earl June Green Jr.

It has been more than 7 years since the passing of my friend, Earl. I found myself thinking of him earlier today. He was such a nice guy… a great friend… it still hurts knowing I won’t see him again.

I first came to know Earl during my freshman year at Lee High School in Huntsville, Alabama. He was a year ahead of me and we were both in R.O.T.C. together. He was an integral part of a close knit and small group of cadets during our time at Lee. Tall, always smiling, and wearing his heart on his sleeve… he was always a good friend to me. During the summers, we would keep in touch with one another and maybe take in a movie or just hang out.

Our group was close but drifted apart after high school. The comedian of our group was Alvie East. After graduation, he became a mortician and I never saw him again. Raphael Beckman, feisty but loyal, stayed local and has kept in touch over the years. Brett Chafin ended up in Tennessee and now works in the music industry. Earl went off and joined the Army Rangers and would visit when his leave time allowed.

Brett contacted me when Earl passed away. I was devastated. The news shook me to the core. I couldn’t believe the news. Not Earl! Why? What happened? He was only 39 years old! The details of his passing aren’t important. A great loss is not lessened by knowing the details. I was saddened to know his wife and children had lost their husband/father… his parents lost their child… and his siblings had lost their brother.

I called Earl’s folks. I spoke with his father for quite a while. I know my voice broke several times during the conversation. If it was that hard for me, I couldn’t imagine the pain his family must’ve felt. I shared a few stories with his father, Earl Sr., but none seemed to capture the depth his friendship had meant to me over the years. Some friendships are just that way… words simply cannot do it justice.

Earl June Green, Jr.    28 August 1968 – 7 May 2008

I miss my friend.

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Dreams

I’ve always had the ability to remain calm and collected during times of great stress. The world, in a manner of speaking, could be on fire… and I would pause, assess my situation, and cautiously plan my next several moves. In such times, my dreams would roughly parallel reality. The dreams would be very lucid, almost tangible, and would leave me thinking about them long after waking.
One particular dream seems to reoccur periodically. The dream would pick up about where it left off previously but would then loop around and begin again… much like a skipping record. In the dream, I would be crouched on a narrow wall, looking inward, as best I could… into a small square-shaped, but very dark courtyard and, with what little light was available, a shadowy vapor-like mass could be seen lurking… wandering about. It moved much like a living organism and behaved as if it were intelligent. From time to time, I’d have to re position myself along the top of the wall trying to avoid the shadow below. It appeared to me that it was seeking me out but it didn’t know quite where I was. My periodic movements would attract its attention… and it would just be a matter of time before I’d have to move again, to avoid being caught.
The shadow had the air about it of malevolence and harshness. It filled me with a sense of dread and impending doom. From my vantage point along the wall, I could faintly make out that the ground below was slowly rising. As it rose, I could see the mist getting closer to reaching me. Moving away quickly and quietly as I could, I snuck along the wall to escape its reach. To my amazement, the wall must’ve been on an incline, because I could see that I was putting more height between myself and the following mist. The ground kept rising… I crept along… the mist kept coming…
Inevitably I’d awake with an uneasy feeling… with the dream fresh upon my mind. I’ve thought at length about the underlying meanings of this dream. I could feel my angst reflected perfectly in the dream. I’m the type of person who avoids conflict if at all possible. The mist symbolized the stressful situation at that point in my life. Moving along the wall just out of reach, and trying to not attract the attention of the mist, was my way of distancing myself from an unpleasant event. The ground rising up, to me, symbolized unresolved issues coming back to haunt me. The inclined wall was my temporary escape route.
Would the courtyard ground ever stop rising? Would the wall level off and allow the mist to reach me? Would I finally have to confront the mist?

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Series: My brother, the Gunny.

My brother is a moron. That’s right, I said it. We’re family and I love him, but he’s still touched in the head. Tony is the middle child in our family and he always had to be at the center of attention. I’ve compiled a few stories for your consumption.
Never, and I mean never, go out to eat with my brother. Drive thru windows aren’t safe either. We were out together one day and decided to get something to eat. Pulling into a Wendy’s drive thru, he place his order. “Yes, I’d like a number two combo, large, with a coke. And don’t be stingy with the chili sauce either!” He then turned to me and asked, “Hey, you want anything?”
Seriously? I’m going to order something after he was an ass at a drive thru window? Those guys make minimum wage. Do you think they’d give a damn or think twice before screwing with your order?
“No, thanks, I’m good.” I replied.

He did the same thing once at a Carl’s Jr. After placing his order, he finished by telling the order taker, “And don’t put any of that goddamn secret sauce on it either!”
Good move, Tony! I’m sure they’re not inside, lining up to spit on your order… Dumbass.

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My brother, the Gunny.

My brother has a way of doing things to cause a stink… literally. It’s his way of saying he likes you.
One afternoon I was watching TV when the phone rang. I saw from the caller ID that it was from my brother so I answered.
“Hello?”
“Patrick! You know what the hell your brother just did?????” screamed his wife Kelly through the phone.
“Hey, you married the guy. What do you want me to do about it?” I replied.
“Listen to what he just did to me!” she said.
“Ok…” Hell, in all honesty, I didn’t have anything else to do and she was pissed. I figured this might be fun.
“I was in taking a shower, all by myself…” she started out saying.
“Get to the point, Kelly. The sun is going down.” I sarcastically replied.
“Shut it, mister! Shut your damned pie hole and listen!” Yeah, she was mad. Kelly was a Navy Corpsman, a psych tech (Marine Certified) to be exact. She was used to other people’s attitude and she wasn’t having any of mine or my brother’s.
“Go ahead….” I knew this had to be good.
“I was taking a damned shower and all of a sudden this god awful smell started choking me. I was like WTF??? So I pulled the shower curtain back and saw YOUR brother taking a shit! Right there… while I was taking a shower!!!” Her voice trailed off in a high pitched squeak.
“Kelly, did you lock the door?” I asked.
‘No!” she said.
“Then it’s your own damned fault. You know how Tony is…. YOU married him!” I shot back. Kelly hung up. She should have known she’d get no sympathy from me.

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Southern Charm

Growing up in the Deep South, it was always ingrained into me that manners were important. Rich or poor, even if you had nothing else in life, you should have good manners. Common courtesy was a fundamental part of everyday life.

I moved to San Diego in the summer of 1999 after divorcing my wife of eight years. I wasn’t too surprised at the pace of life being much brisker than Alabama. I had moved around a bit as a child and had experienced life in other places but San Diego took a little bit of getting used to. The typical pleasantries that defined the world I was accustomed were noticeably lacking.

Shopping was awkward when it came time to pay for my purchases. The cashier would almost always ask, “Did you find everything you needed?” My response would habitually be “Yes, ma’am/sir”. That, more often than not, generated somewhat of a pained expression upon the cashier’s face. It happened that one cashier retorted to my “yes, ma’am” with “I’m not that old!” To which I replied that it had nothing to do with age but rather common courtesy. It didn’t matter how old she was. It was all about being respectful towards others.

In the Deep South, ostentatious display of wealth is also frowned upon. You could be in line next to someone wearing overalls, sporting a few days growth of beard, and looking as if they hadn’t a dime to their name… in truth, that person could very well be a wealthy man. They just didn’t ‘put on airs’, as it is locally known.

Dating was another area where I was called out on my social graces. More than a few times, I would attempt to open a door for a lady and she would say something like “I can open my own door.” I made it a point not to ever ask her out again. One thing that bothered me when dating some women here in San Diego had to do with them asking me what I considered to be very superficial questions. Things like, what kind of car to you drive? Do you own or rent? How much do you make?

Wow! I never could get used to that. Before formulating what my net worth could be, wouldn’t be a better idea to get to know me as a human being? What happened to politeness? Were these people not taught manners as children? Was I expecting too much? I married my second wife in 2002. Neither of us knew what the other earned until about two weeks before our wedding day. Our relationship wasn’t based upon financial statements.

Over time, I’ve learned to just ‘go with the flow’. I try not to let the lack of courtesy bother me as much as I did years ago. I do miss what some would call ‘Southern charm’ but still remain true to my roots… to my manners.

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Concerning the SCOTUS and gay marriage…

Here’s the deal. I don’t care if you’re straight, gay, or get your kicks with little furry animals. The SCOTUS does not have the right to rule on the constitutionality of any law. They only have two powers… original jurisdiction and that of setting up lesser courts. They granted themselves the power of judicial review with Marbury v Madison. Since that time, they’ve been a rogue branch of government. With all of that said, the SCOTUS should never have the ability to overturn the will of the people.

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Something to Ponder…

Political correctness permeates many aspects of our everyday lives. Incrementally, it has crept upon us in such a way as to render common sense and objective reasoning almost non-existent. Words and terminologies are thrown around without much thought going into the real meanings being conveyed.
Have you ever wondered about the term ‘African-American’? The term appears on a multitude of government forms and job applications. Many people use the term interchangeably to mean ‘black’. The funny thing is that a ‘hyphenated American’ originally was defined as someone who was a first generation American. Therefore, an African-American could be any skin color under the sun. The term ‘African-American’ is not a racial designation… even if it has been misapplied and accepted over the years.
Another politically correct and popular misconception concerns people with gender identity issues. I realize that the idea of homosexuality being a mental disorder went out of favor in the late 70’s. Still, I strongly feel that once a person suffering from a gender identity crisis has identified the root of their problem, the cause will most likely be a combination of deep emotional scars and behaviors indicative of a narcissistic personality. My personal opinions aside, one can no more change their gender than they can change their species. A male will always be male as a female will always be female. Their chromosomes determine their sex. The only people to whom this is not strictly applied are hermaphrodites.
Currently, popular political correctness is targeting the flag once used by The Army of Northern Virginia, aka the Rebel flag. The Confederate States of America, over the course of the Civil War (the War of Northern Aggression), from 1861 – 1865… chose three flags to represent the Confederacy. The flag of The Army of Northern Virginia was not one of them. The general argument is that the flag in question represented slavery, as well as sedition, and should be purged from the American culture. Let’s look a little deeper. The ‘Rebel’ flag was only in use during the four years the Civil War was being waged. Before that time, slavery was very much a part of our history and culture. From the time of the founding of our great country, Old Glory has represented the United States. How come Old Glory isn’t being targeted as a racist symbol?
Trying to reasonably discuss these ideas with most people typically ends with accusations of ‘racism’ and ‘homophobia’. It’s sad when you realize how unthinking the general public tends to be.

 

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Inside the mind of an INTJ.

I’ve been asked in the past by a few friends ‘How do you know all that stuff?’ and it’s usually followed by ‘What’s it like you be you?’

Huh? Are you serious? I’m me. I’m really no different than you. I’m just more intense. Puzzling looks are what I usually get in return. Maybe I am different… some might say ‘quite different’. I do tend to over- analyze things, taking new information and applying it towards what is already known and then speculating possible conclusions. I also fill mundane/routine tasks with intellectually stimulating calculations, ie., figuring out how fast the Earth is rotating at a particular latitude. For those of you who are interested, here’s the formula. Take the cosine (sine if your latitude is greater than 45 degrees) your current latitude (San Diego is at 31.725 degrees) and multiply that by 1,041.666 (the Earth’s circumference is approximately 25,000 miles. Divide that by 24 hrs in a day = 1,041.666 miles per hour at the equator). In my case, the computation would look like this… Cosine of 32.975 x 1,041.666 = 873.862 mph. That’s the relative speed of the Earth in San Diego. To compute the speed at your location, just change the latitude value in the formula to reflect where you are.

Am I a nerd? A geek? Too introverted? Maybe, I’ll let you be the judge of that. I do enjoy history, politics, and some social interaction. While I enjoy the company of others, I tend to like my quiet solitude more. Contrary to what the popular TV show  The Big Bang Theory might have you believe, I don’t like comic books or super heroes… nor, am I stereo-typically socially awkward. What some may confuse in me as being as being ‘angry’, is really just me pondering an idea or thinking in depth about something. Yes, I’m a Mensan, but not all Mensans wear thick glasses and live in their parent’s basement or garage. And not all highly intelligent people have trouble relating to others. We just have  a different or unique way of doing so. Mensans, just like all other people, are unique. We don’t all have the same quirks, hobbies, or interests. We just take the things we do have interest in, to a higher level of knowledge and understanding.

Listed below are a few of my quirks or idiosyncrasies:

Curiosity. They say the devil is in the details. When I become curious about a subject matter or a particular object, I research all that I can in order to gain a knowledgeable understanding of it. Over the years, I have acquired considerable knowledge in many areas that all have a common thread… history. Through my several collections, including antiquarian books and coins, I’ve deepened my appreciation of the past and those who’ve shaped the world during their time. The thing I like most about coins are that they tell the stories of the countries of their origin. The images on coinage and banknotes usually contain the images of national events, heroes, and patriotic symbolism.

Mind like a steel trap. I pay attention to the most mundane and trivial things. I file away those ‘facts’ until a later date and can recall them with amazing accuracy. It is not uncommon for me to have already formulated multiple scenarios to an upcoming discussion or meeting, and plot out how to ask and respond to potential questions.

Perfection. While I don’t strive for perfection, I do try to do my best at whatever I attempt. OCD is not one of my faults. I learned a long time ago to let go of that which is not obtainable or is not worth the effort required to achieve the desired outcome. With that said, I’m a stickler for details and context. To me, context is everything.

Peer pressure. This isn’t something that has ever concerned me very much. I don’t give in to peer pressure or what the ‘in crowd’ is doing. I’m my own person and do things because it is something I want to do. At times, it does put me outside of the herd mentality, but that’s OK. Most people are ‘sheeple’… followers… and I view them as weak. That may sound arrogant, and to a certain extent, that might be so. My day-to-day personal experiences have thus far revealed to me that most people are intellectually shallow.

Peer pressure typically has the opposite effect on me. If a certain celebrity, movie, opinion, etc., is very popular… I tend to become turned off towards it. I embrace the insipid… I look for the trivial beauty in the ordinary.

My moral compass is not based upon other people’s opinions. I draw upon insights gleaned from the Holy Bible and the writings of great authors such as Dickens, Hugo, and Paine, to name a few. My values are primarily black and white. It is either right or wrong… there’s very little grey. Those values may not quite mesh with the values of society at large, but in my opinion, I alone must live with the consequences of the choices I make. I have very few regrets in my life.

Perspective. As I’ve stated before, I tend to over-analyze things. I look at situations from many viewpoints and how they are perceived, or can be perceived, by others. I’ve found it to be very true that a person’s perspective is their reality… no matter how asinine or screwed up that perspective is. I constantly re-evaluate what I believe and why I believe the way I do. Most people tend to hold the same beliefs, political positions, and religious affiliations as their parents and close family members… never questioning ‘why’? It’s as if they embrace what is familiar without thinking for themselves.

Introverted or extroverted? Like everyone else, I’m a combination of both but I do fall more strongly into the introvert category. My Jung’s and Briggs Myers’ personality profile identifies my personality type as INTJ. The percentages of each are as follows… Introvert (33%) iNtuitive (25%) Thinking (62%) Judging (100%). Here’s a link that discusses INTJs in more depth. I do value my ‘alone time’… time set aside just for my own personal reflection. It could take on the form of being on the still lake waters at daybreak fishing, walking along a hiking trail, or just picking a comfortable spot on the couch and reading a classic book. That’s my time to unwind mentally.

Outlook on life. I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person. I do believe there’s a lot of life lessons conveyed through biblical scripture but I have a problem attributing scripture as the divine word of God. That doesn’t mean having faith in God is a waste of time… it just isn’t for me. Do we have souls? Is there a heaven or hell? What about karma? What is ‘good’ and ‘evil’? Are  good or evil based upon changing societal standards? These are just some of the questions I ponder from time to time. My own personal feelings are that we are all here for a very brief time. I do not think we have souls but do hope I’m wrong. I’m not afraid of dying but sometimes do grow weary of life. I think life boils down to what you make of it. Your happiness, your sorrows, your triumphs… and your failures, they’re all temporary. How you come to deal with this thing we call ‘life’, says more about your inner strength and general outlook than anything else. Goals are important. Family is important. Finding things that stimulate your curiosity and adds some meaning to your existence, that’s what makes life interesting. But in the end, the reality is that our legacy is perpetuated only in our offspring and our contributions to society. The totality of our lives, will slowly pass from the memories of those we loved, as they too will inevitably pass away. Only the relics of our brief existence will remain in heirlooms, pictures, and tombstones.

Relationships. Much like an onion, my relationships and friendships are in layers. I make friends easily but most of those friendships are superficial at best. I don’t trust readily trust people. It takes quite an effort to get close to me. I do have a few very close friendships that have stood the test of time but those can be counted on one hand. I admire the qualities in a person that makes them stand out from the crowd. I favor a person’s inner qualities over their outward appearance… their dignity and grace above their beauty.

I accept people as they are. I don’t try to change them to fit some preconceived idea of who I think they should be. To me, that’s dehumanizing. Either accept who they are or walk away.

I do tend to forgive people easily, sometimes to a fault, but that really depends on the transgression involved. But I don’t forget.

In closing, I challenge you to self-assess who you are and why you tend to believe the way you do. Why are you the way you are? Always ask yourself ‘why?’ Question everything. Expand your horizons… and learn new things.

 

(Originally posted 14 June 2014)

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