Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Motion of Emotions

It's been said that there are only two emotions that a person can have, those being fear and love.

However, if one researches the broad spectrum of emotions that we feel over time, one will find this a rather brusque assumption.

First of all, our emotions are intrinsically personal. No one has the right to classify our feelings and say "oh, it's just 'this' or 'that' you're feeling". There are at least 48 emotions that have been classified and, whilst some of them do fall into the two aforementioned categories, others don't. And only we have the right to feel those that we have, without someone analyzing them unless we give them permission to help us "sort them out"!

Behavioral tendencies, the ability of the brain to produce dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin (three hormones that affect our emotions), and other factors have to be considered when psychiatrically or medically speaking of attitudinal or emotional triggers (the brain's amygdala, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus all play an active role in the development and nurturing of these emotions).

These factors also must include the neuropsychiatric or physiological state of an emotional individual.  Some disorders, such as bipolar or schizophrenia, as well as cerebral palsy (of which this writer has had a mild case; thus, the interest in this research), contraindicate the simple classification of only two emotions. So do serious medical states such as strokes, ALS and Alzheimer's/dementia.

If we are to classify emotions as being only two -- love or fear -- where then do we place those of awe? Surprise? Wonder? Does anxiety fit in "love" -- or "fear"? It can't be both, or it negates the dictum given at the top of this blogpost, right?

So, to place emotions into only two categories -- love or fear -- is like saying there are only two flavors of ice cream: chocolate or vanilla.  And to influence anybody with that theory is to actually do more harm than good, for it oppresses their ability to feel the emotion without worrying about classification and intellectual propriety.

Because emotions are far more complex than that ... they combine to create the intricate persona of each and every one of us!

Besides, nobody has the right to tell you how you feel or why -- or how you should feel and 'why' --unless they're going through what you are, in exactly the same manner, with the same history as you! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hoop-ing It Up

Y'know, while everybody is making a big thing about the national obesity issue, even more are wringing their hands and wondering "Gee ... how CAN I lose these gosh-ugly POUNDS?!?" They try different diets, pills, doctors and exercises, often without the desired weight-loss.

So how can you exorcise the weight demon??

Well,, we had a way back-in-the-day (hey ... that rhymes!  Geez ... what's next: readability??) that not only took the pounds off, but was downright fun:
It was simply called "the hula hoop."
Though this wonder actually had its start waaaaay back in early Egypt, it didn't hit big until it was brought to England in the 15th Century. Of course, a lot of dislocated backs were blamed for the sensation as everyone, from paeans to kings, wanted to try it!
Then, in the 1800's (when British sailors visited Hawaii), they saw the similarity between "hooping" (as it was called) and hula dancing (thus, they returned with a name for this "hoop" thing: the hula hoop!).

The phenomenon continued to grow and, in an attempt to cash in on the craze, an Australian company began making them for sale in retail stores in 1957. And that brought it to the attention of Wham-O, a small California toy maker. Richard P. Knerr and Arthur K. Melin (two employees) decided to make them into plastic hoops of different and bright colors. These two guys promoted the products for months in 1958 on Southern California playgrounds where they would give away hoops to get the children to learn and play. And that turned the HULA HOOP into the greatest fad the country has ever seen. Twenty-five million were sold in four months! The cheerily-plastic, Wham-O! version of the Hula Hoop was introduced in 1958 ... and made Knerr and Melin rich! Soon, it was touted as a great source of exercise, as long as people moderated their "hooping".

Hey ... with the recent "obesity" reports, wouldn't now be a good time to bring it back? It certainly couldn't hurt!!

Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Great Chi-Town Disaster

It all started so innocently on that July morning ...

Y'see, back in '99, I took my (then) daughter-in-law and two-year-old granddaughter to Chicago so we could witness Kaela's dad graduating from boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Air Station.

I mean, the trip started innocently enough: Since I hadn't been to Chicago since 1897, I thought it was safer to take the Greyhound™ bus. Nothin' to it: Buy tickets, load baggage, find seats, relax. Right??

Yeah ... uh-huh ... suuuuure ...

Since the night before had been a long and sleepless one, I dozed off just before the bus approached the Indianapolis station for one of its famed stops (long enough to get a drink, not long enough to use the bathroom). Suddenly, I heard Kaela's unmistakeable cry.

(Now, for this next part, PLEASE understand that I was groggy. Please?? Thank you ...)

So, still mostly asleep, I instinctively reached over, rubbed her arm and mumbled, "There now, honey ... grandpa's here! You're gonna be okay!"
Suddenly, I was hit by a wadded-up piece of paper, and my name was being whispered loudly but urgently: "Chuck! CHUCK!!"

I barely cracked open my eyes when I noticed Kaela ... sitting with her mother ... on the other side of the aisle!! I went from a drowsy to "freshly-poured-ice-down-my-pants" look in .015 milliseconds. If Kae's up there with her, then who was ....??

As they (and a few other passengers) began laughing, I slowly, hesitantly glanced beside me.

Now, I dunno ... maybe the sailor was coming off leave or something ... but, fortunately, he was still asleep! Thank goodness. Maybe I was off the hook? Probably not, considering it wasn't his arm I was stroking (NONONO!! It wasn't, er, "that" ... it was his leg! His LEG!! ONLY his leg!! Geez ...)

And I was right. By the time we pulled into the Indy station and I started to g-e-n-t-l-y get up to retrieve K's diaper bag, he tapped me on my hand and slipped me a piece of paper with his phone number on it! (And, no, I didn't, so don't ask ... let me suffer in peace, willya??)

Finally, after pulling into the Windy City (I'd moved to another seat. By myself ...), we got off the bus and into a cab, heading for the Metra™ train station.
Now, for you who've been there, you know there are some revolving glass doors in front -- and Chicagoans move faster than the speed of light through those things ...

ummm, until I showed up.

Carrying all the bags so K's mum could focus on carrying her, I waited until just the right moment and finally jumped into a vacant door ... which was smaller than my load ...
and jammed the entire system!

Y'know, people look a mite funny when their faces are quickly slammed against glass ...

Eventually, I got out ... just to see my daughter-in-law nearly bent over in laughter ... red-faced, but laughing at me (imagine ...)!!

On the escalator going up to the elevated train platform (remember, me: pack mule. Daughter-in-law: protective mum), one of K's shoes fell off. Gallant granddad to the rescue. I reach over to retrieve the shoe ... a couple of bags fell off my shoulder and sped down the escalator and ...

remember the old bowling alleys?? Well, replace the pins with humans, and ...

All I could do is run down ("down" an "up" escalator!), grab the bags, look around in embarrassment whilst trying to save my butt by mouthing "I'M FROM KENTUCKY!" and run back up the moving staircase while keeping my head bowed (at least that way they wouldn't see the foot in my mouth!)

On the train, the conductor would come back and announce each suburb on the route as we reached it. The first time, little K. looked confused. The second time he came back, she looked angry. The third time he came back to announce the suburb, she jumped into the aisle, put her hands on her hips and yelled out, "NO S--T!!"

We finally got to the train depot at GLNAS (no, that's not me in the pic. My hair didn't start turning grey until after this ...) and had to get over to the gym where the commencement was to be held.
But there was a problem: A wicked-looking barbed-wire fence separated us from the main area!

Natch, Mr. Braveheart took all those bags and negotiated the fence ... pulling barbs out of his torn shirt, wiping off a little sweat and blood with my hand. FINALLY ... I'd made it! I turned around ...
to see K and her mum standing in front of me ... and they were (do I haveta say this again??) laughing!!

Six feet from where I went through, the fence had stopped, allowing anyone (with any sense) to go around it!

We finally got to the gymnasium and the ceremonies (and, I've gotta admit, when Tim marched in with the grads to Anchors Aweigh, I jumped up, tears flowing, and shouted. The guy behind me did finally apologise for burning my butt with his cigarette, though ...*).
After a fantastic July 4th weekend with him (and a great stay at the Great Lakes Navy Lodge), we took another stop in Chicago -- a very brief and cautious one (eyes watched ... and remembered) -- and headed home.

*(Alright, I've gotta 'fess up: The reason behind the tears and shouting was that I was proud of my boy. I'd raised him and his bro, Mike, by myself since they were pups, and to see him marching out there, so dedicated in his perfectly-pressed Navy whites, made me feel tower-tall ...)

But I wasn't done with Chi-Town ... yet:
A year later, whilst on the way to work with a client up in Canada (I took a non-sailored Greyhound™ this time), I stopped in the Windy City; since the next bus wasn't due for another eight hours or so, maybe I could make up for the mess I made last time.
Yeah ... right ...
I put my cigarette (I smoked back then) out in the ashcan as I turned around and headed for the terminal. With enough time on my hands, certainly there'd be enough time to take in one of the city's famous blues gigs.

Suddenly, people started running in and out of the station, yelling excitedly. I looked out and saw the unmistakable flickering of fire!
Apparently, somebody'd thrown a cigarette ... into ... the ... wrong can. One marked ... 'garbage'!
It was all just a simple mistake. I mean, any balding Kentuckian could've done it ... right??
Anyway, after viewing the resulting festivities ... er, from a distance, I thought it'd be a good time to exit the station right then (or, until the next bus came). So I checked my pockets and realised that ... I'd lost my ticket!!
No problem, really. Since I was sitting in the station when the flames started flickering, I just backtracked. There it was ... fifth seat from the right. I grabbed it, put it in my coat pocket, and took off.
"Hey!! HEY!!" The guy who was running after me had blood in his eyes: MINE!

"Who the hell do you think you ARE, man?? Gimme back my ticket NOW!!"
Judging from the way he was reaching for my coat lapel, I don't think he wanted it for warmth! But I obliged (either that, or this 6'4", 275-pounder was gonna make me "late" -- and I don't mean for the bus; it's what my friends would've called me ...)

"Look ..." I stammered to him (and the now-gathering crowd of mostly-roughnecks) as I pulled it outta my pocket. "I bought this ticket in Ashland, Kentucky, and I'm headin' for Canada. See?? It clearly shows I'm heading to ...

Boston, Massachusetts ...

So, as I was fumbling my apologies and handed it back to the man, another guy looked over and under the seats. "Here go one for ..." he checked it out ... "Calg'ry, Canada ... an' IT from Kentucky!" He handed it to his friend who grabbed my lapel, opened my coat and shoved it in the side pocket.

No, my friends ... I don't think Chicago, Illinois, will ever forget me. That's why I now have insurance ... and a good set of fake glasses-and-nose in the event fate lands me there again!
(DISCLAIMER: Don't get me wrong; I really love Chicago. The events that occurred in these posts actually happened, but does not reflect the city or its people ... most of whom I hope to see if I'm every allowed back there ...)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

Since today's Father's Day here in America, I want to share a story with you -- a TRUE story -- that not only honours my own dad's memory, but may just give us all something to think about:

Years ago, when I was just barely into my teens, my dad came home from work carrying a battered, old guitar. He knew I wanted to learn to play one – I’d seen folk groups, country acts – even some new group called “The Beatles” playing them, and it looked like so much fun. In fact, while these performers were on TV, I’d watch carefully for the close-up shots, and (using a baseball bat as a “guitar”) I’d mimic their fingering, position of the chords and timing.

When he gave me the acoustic guitar, I sat down and, propping it up on my knee, began to position my fingers on the neck, just as I had seen the performers do. Certainly, I was going to be the next Elvis. But he did something that I’ll remember to my dying day: He took a big, calloused hand, put it over the fingerboard and stopped me from playing! Then he said, “Son, wait a minute. Let me tell you a little story.

You see, Life’s a lot like that old guitar you’ve got, especially when it’s time to pay your dues. And, just like the sounds you can make on that guitar, the ones you make in life is entirely up to you. We can’t stop you from framming away at it like an off-tune madman any more than we can stop you from playing beautiful music. When you get to be an adult, it’s going to be the same thing when you’re ‘out there’ in the real world. Nobody can stop you; it’s your choice as to what type of ‘music’ you give them.

Now, you see those strings, and how you’re holding them down with your fingertips? Each note is meant to create harmony with each other. That's your goal in life, son … learn to place each thing you do …each step you take … so it’ll be in harmony with mankind. Otherwise, just like with the guitar, you’re gonna make such a noise that nobody’ll want to hear you. ”I listened intently; this was good stuff! Then he continued,“ And, by and by, you’ll learn how to sing with that guitar – maybe even write a few tunes yourself.

When you do, remember that a simple tune does better when the words are from the heart. Make them easy for people to learn … to keep in their mind. And you’re painting a picture with each one. Son, remember to do the same thing in your everyday doings, and you’ll make friends and be happier than you ever thought.

And that ‘song’ that you sing … the one you show everyday in your actions … will be the one that’ll go ‘number one’ with your friends and others. Just leave the lyrics open to your brother’s and sister’s point of view, and they’ll be humming that song long after you’ve gone.
Now … let’s hear you play …”

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to each and every dad out there in our readership (and beyond). If your dad is still alive and kickin', how about takin' a few minutes -- better yet, hours -- to spend with him? If he's passed on, cherish his memory and lift up a few prayers in his honour, okay?