Being Bullied For Being Different

Photo courtesy of Angel Fately                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           by Dennis Townsend

Angel is 17 years old and she gravitates to the beat of a different drummer. She likes Roy Harper comics, reading the Hobbit, and choreographing dance moves to Korean music. She lives in the world of panda bear tattoos and rainbow colored hair. life should be a never ending song of happiness for Angel yet she has had to overcome bouts of low self-esteem due to being bullied. Low self-esteem is a by product of being bullied and if there’s one thing that’s known about self-esteem is that there’s nothing innate or God-given about it and that it must be learned along life’s way. Those who are unique like Angel are often a target of those who possess limited intelligence and are opposed to change. Sometimes the changes that they see are a direct result of a bullied person who felt that their self image needed improvement in order to belong in a society that’s forever unforgiving. When a person is bullied, their lives and their happiness have become restricted and it often leads to fundamental feelings of inadequacy which in turn leads to other problems such as overeating, alcoholism, and depression. In women, low self-esteem is viewed as an epidemic and causes some women to make unwise choices such as marrying unworthy men, making bad career choices, and going from substance abuse to tolerating being abused. Some believe that women are more vulnerable to the symptoms of low self-esteem because the world as a whole is seen as a male dominated society.

It’s hard to have self-esteem when society as a group is constantly defining you, and in your eyes, you view it as not being good enough. You acquire all the symptoms of the dreaded “if only” syndrome. You begin to think if only I was prettier or smarter or had a better body. We all have been amazed at the runway models who look like they eat no more than two flakes of Wheaties and a glass of lemon water. That sends out the wrong message and starts some women on a never-ending perpetual journey trying to “fix” themselves to gain societies approval. You weren’t born with low self-esteem, it came from overbearing parents who told you that you were worthless, or being the one who never gets picked to join the “in” crowd because you choose to color your hair red. How does one change those “worthless me” messages? Sometimes it requires counseling and or a support group. It will also require the best weapon of all, family and friends. Angel has her good days and her bad days, and when she feels overwhelmed, she reaches out to family and friends and we are there to keep her spirits up. You must take the time to identify the good things you have and don’t put so much emphasis on the bad points. The greatest victory in life is the ability to live with yourself and to accept your shortcomings. You may be a long way from where you want to be, but if you really take a good look at yourself, you may realize that you’re not so bad after all.

The Double Edge Sword Of A Stroke

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by Dennis Townsend                                                                                                                    Do we take life for granted? When you’re young you have the feeling of invincibility and you see yourself living for a long time and retiring at an age where you can still enjoy the fruits of all your labor. You expect your health to be at a point that while you may feel the early stages of arthritis, it’s nothing that’s going to incapacitate you. But what if life throws you a curve ball and right at the time you were ready to retire, you have a stroke? My sister-in-law was the unfortunate victim of a apoplexy, better known nowadays as a stroke, at the age of 67. On November 21, 2013 the person that we all knew, the person that was so full of fun and laughter, the person who kept us amazed at the way she could emulate Patsy Cline at her impromptu concerts at the kitchen table, was unable to communicate.

Sandra Gaye  Lambdin was the last person we thought would become a total invalid and as a matter of fact, we thought she would be the one rocking on the front porch telling the old stories to the grandchildren. There were no signs of trouble prior to the stroke so needless to say we were all caught by surprise. Truth is, more than 200,000 Americans die of strokes each year and hundreds of thousands are incapacitated by this sudden “striking down” affliction. It’s times like these that we really come to grips with our vulnerability and realize just how fragile the human brain is. Each part of the brain is involved with a different part of human activity; one part controls speech, one part controls the arms and legs on one side of the body, another controls the muscles in the mouth and so on. A stroke is the stoppage of blood to certain parts of the brain and it can be caused by a number of disorders or malfunctions in the blood vessels. There are different kinds of strokes and they go from mild, little strokes, to massive in which it may not be fatal, but it will immediately be reflected in some parts of the body. It is said that a non-fatal massive stroke patient has a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years of unrecognizable faces, lost memories and constant seizures.

Sandy was the one spoiling all the grandchildren and knew exactly what each one wanted for Christmas. Grandchildren who were now just shadows in her mind. She spent her days straining to understand what her daughter Tina is trying to tell her, but after a while she becomes so frustrated that she lashes out in what can only be described as a damnation of her solitary confinement inside of a now irreversibly damaged brain. She could not speak and for her family and friends to watch someone who spent her life as a saleswomen and who possessed the proverbial “gift of gab”, plus a singing voice that would have given Dolly Parton a run for her money, it was heartbreaking to watch her steady decline. And even though it seemed like Sandy’s brain was permanently afflicted, there was the thought that she could still think clearly but she just didn’t have the ability to communicate. That could have been the main reason for her bouts of anguish and despair that had become her constant companion. Recovering from a massive stroke sometimes requires months or even years of intensive physiotherapy to prevent the deterioration of muscle. Sandy requires constant care which required moving her out of her home where she lived alone and into her daughter’s house where she could be easily cared for. That officially gave her daughter Tina the title of caregiver and we all know, especially military families, the gamut of difficulties that goes with that title.

Are there warning signs that a stroke is imminent? They say that many of us have warning signs in the form of “little strokes”. Dr Walter Alvarez, an authority on these little strokes once stated ; “One of the commonest diseases of man is that in which, over the course of 10 or 20 years, a person is gradually pulled down by dozens or scores of thromboses (clots) of the little arteries in the brain .” In reality these little strokes are common but physicians are not familiar with all the peculiar things that happens to individuals who have these little strokes, and therefore, they go unnoticed. Little strokes are an indication that all is not well inside the blood vessels that feed oxygen to the brain. Recognizing little strokes and acting swiftly could prevent the “big stroke”, the one which leaves the permanent injuries including paralysis.. Strokes do not discriminate and age makes very little difference so everyone should be familiar with the warning signs of a possible stroke. The American Heart Association uses the acronym F.A.S.T., (Face drooping, Arm numbness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.) Time is the enemy here, and you want to get medical attention immediately if you feel any symptoms that you think is associated with your heart. Whether one recovers from a stroke depends on the severity of the stroke and how long the brain was without oxygen.. Sandy survived the stroke in a sense, she was still breathing, and her heart continued to beat, but how do you define her quality of life after the stroke? We were all happy that she was still alive,, but you could see it in her face everyday that she was not. We may have called it a blessing, but knowing Sandy as I do, she would have been quick to call it a curse. On August 3, 2016, Sandy left this world and I for one believe she is happy to be free of the chains in her mind that held her hostage for two and a half years. And that voice will stay with me forever.


Obey The Police Now, And Complain Later

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by Dennis Townsend

It seems to me that some people just don’t get the big picture when it comes to the proper way to interact with police officers because common citizens are still being shot dead first and the “how comes” being asked afterwards. Have you ever noticed when you’re watching police being overly-aggressive on camera, the first thing I notice is how many times they “dribble” the persons head off the pavement while shouting, “stop resisting!!” When you make a sudden move while being handcuffed, it qualifies as “resisting arrest”, which in turn gives the officer the go ahead to give you one or two lumps on the head if you’re lucky, a coffin if you’re not. You would probably expect a stupid move from a real life “desperado”, but we are talking about normal Jane’s and Joe’s who make a bad decision due to being either drunk, hopped up on some narcotic, or they could be just your normal psychopathic delusional individual having a bad day that got worse once they saw the red and blue flashing lights in the mirror. Whatever the reason, you should remember one thing, police are human beings first, and as such, each has his or her own individual level of courage. Only those who have been under fire with the possibility of losing their lives really know what goes on inside the mind when in danger, but it’s been said that our subconscious kicks into preservation mode and our body reacts accordingly.

Back in the late 60’s there was civil unrest through out the land also, and police shootings were commonplace and it got to be a street saying that labeled the police as “trigger happy”. Today, that label seems to be coming back, and you can use the same definition, and it’s become even more likely that a knee-jerk stupid reaction when dealing with a law enforcement officer will result in you getting to the next world sooner than later. You must comply to whatever he or she ask you to do, not argue and become belligerent and confrontational. Some seem to think that they can win an argument with a police person even when they are clearly in the wrong. Never going to happen. What I find really disturbing is the number of people who seem to think that they can outrun a police car. There are hundreds of innocent people who are killed in high speed police chases every year because someone thinks he can elude a high speed county cruiser with officer Roscoe P. Coltrane in hot pursuit. You may outrun the car, but you will never outrun that radio, or a bullet.

These are troubling times in our nation and law enforcement is on high alert and on edge, and with the recent wave of police ambushes one can’t really blame them for being overly cautious. That’s why it is so important that when you have to interact with the police, always comply with their demands. Even if you think they are wrong and can prove it, wait to make your concerns known after you get to a court of law. Proving they were wrong and you were right is a whole lot easier when you are still breathing.


Chronic Pain

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by Dennis Townsend                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chronic pain, the pain that just doesn’t go away, it’s there when you wake in the morning, and it’s your constant companion when you try to go to sleep at night. The causes are many but the cure sometimes is nowhere to be seen. Some chronic conditions like cancer requires constantly controlling the symptoms which often includes controlling the pain. Oh sure, you take your pain medicines but it only last so long and before you know it you’re reaching for another pill or two. And if you’ve been taking them for a long time, they are not as effective as they were before and you find yourself doubling the doses just to get acceptable pain relief. The instructions on your medicine bottle start to mean nothing, and the pharmacy warns you of the dangers of a possible overdose, but when you are in severe pain you don’t give it a second thought. We are all aware of the heroin epidemic that has gripped the country and it has been linked to opiate abuse which some say is the real gateway for heroin. But  I believe that the root of that problem is really chronic pain.

The biggest health problem in America is chronic pain, it affects 100 million adults, more than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report. It’s the primary reason Americans receive disability benefits and it’s one of the least understood afflictions in the medical field. Medical schools teach hardly anything about handling chronic pain, spending maybe 9 hours on the subject over 4 years. One reason is that there is no objective way to confirm that the pain actually exist. Many patients with chronic pain are mistakenly seen by society at large as drug seekers or hypochondriacs. That leads to trial and error treatments, fighting skeptics who believe that the pain is imaginary. In America, 44 people die every day from overdosing on prescription medications, and three times as many die from heroin overdoses. With the heroin epidemic getting out of control and the government desperate to bring a halt to it, the decision is made to put the brakes on doctors prescribing opiates for pain. While that may be a solution for some, it’s a nightmare for those who are really suffering from chronic pain. In an effort to control the flow of opiates to patients, hospitals across the country are now opening up pain management centers where your pain medicines are closely monitored and refills are based on your ability to follow your doctors orders on when and how many to take. If you take more than what is prescribed on the bottle, you will run short before your next refill, and that could mean days without any pain medicines at all. A horrible prospect.

The normal prescription for pain medicines last for 30 days, and then you must get your primary care physician to approve another 30 days. I live in the great state of Ohio with a Republican governor who just signed a law that doctors can only give you a 7 day supply of opiates for pain unless you suffer from a chronic terminal condition that causes pain like cancer. The law is a double edged sword because if someone is actually suffering from chronic pain, and if that person can’t get pain medicines legally, then they will be drawn to the people the government is most afraid of, the street drug dealer. I can tell you that illegal pharmaceuticals of all kinds are on the streets everywhere, no script needed. The cost may be a little high as far as money is concerned, but for those who suffer with chronic pain, no cost is too high. for pain relief. There are millions of people who are living with chronic pain and while some are hypochondriacs and drug seekers, there are millions more who actually are suffering. And yes sadly, there will also be those who become addicted and move on to heroin, and lives will be lost. But is it any different than alcohol or tobacco? Both are addicting and both cost lives, and for now, opiates is just another chemical concoction to blame on a country’s lack of morals and unnecessary deaths.

Being able to determine the existence of chronic pain in a patient seems to be the problem but there is finally some good news on that subject. Scientist at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital has a new brain-scanning method that allows doctors to see chronic pain in detail for the first time. The technique, a merger of PET (positron emissions topography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), clearly identifies that a patient is hurting and now gives doctors a way to diagnose chronic pain. Now that we can see the activation of chronic pain pharmaceutical companies should pursue new treatments for chronic pain. Trouble is, it will more than likely require taking another pill.

Trump vs Clinton vs What’s Left Of America

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Well the elections are right around the corner and to hear the news programs, it’s neck and neck between Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton. Over the past months all we have heard is that we couldn’t trust Hillary and the main spokesperson for those accusations is the Donald himself. But yet there has been countless stories of Trump and the Russian Mafia, along with money laundering, and shady business dealings. He’s starting to make Al Capone look like a choir boy. He uses his charity collections to pay his lawyers to fend off all the lawsuits that have resulted from the destruction of hundreds of small businesses he crushed on his way to the top. Now you must admit, anybody who wants to make someone like Donald Trump president of the United States is truly in a class all by themselves. While Hillary was pretty blunt, I would be untruthful if I said that I disagreed with her definition of Trump supporters.

Trump talks pretty big about bringing jobs back to America but he would lose his fortune since mostly all of his business dealings are done overseas. His clothing line alone is responsible for the decline in textile manufacturing in this country in favor of the cheap sweatshop labor in places like China and Bangladesh which just had another deadly accident at one of their clothing mills. And while each candidate promises that they will do this or do that, the plain truth is that neither will be able to do a thing without bipartisan support. And we all know how that will go don’t we? What I find hilarious is watching Donald Trump going through the African American neighborhoods and churches promising forty acres and a mule if you vote for him. He is a real piece of work who totally believes there’s a “sucker born every minute”. And need I say that nobody on that side of the fence is putting any pressure on Trump to get a peek at his tax returns. That alone tells me that there is a whole lot of money washing in Republican closets. If you press Donald he will start singing like the Temptations because they all know his mouth is a deadly weapon and you know what they say about “loose lips”. And we all can agree that Donald Trump has the loosest lips on the planet.

As for Hillary, there’s just a lot of people who don’t want a women president. That song and dance about “trust” is irrelevant. Republicans are having a hard time accepting that somebody can match them dollar for dollar in their little game of king of the hill. Some will never admit that they are sickened by Donald Trumps antics but what are they to do? The ones who refuse to support Trump will look wise when and if Trump loses. Those who supported him will be defined as fools. Republicans have just declared that the Obama administration was stepping out of bounds when they declared that everyone making less than $47,000 must be paid overtime, so they have filed a lawsuit to stop it. That combined with their blockage of raising the minimum wage proves that their pledge of prosperity for all is not a GOP priority. If trust is the qualifier for this election then both candidates should be equally scrutinized, and if Trump doesn’t release his tax returns before the election, he should be disqualified.

Will This Be The New Face Of America?

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Donald Trump, the man with billions of dollars, the man that loans his own presidential campaign millions, that diabolical genius whose  divide and conquer tactics is leading his party down a path of self destruction is turning out to be a living nightmare.  A man who made his whole fortune by being an opportunistic businessman and who knows how to strike when the irons are still glowing crimson red. The opportunity for the Trump steamroller to flatten the Republican party presented itself when the true-believer conservatives were fed unrealistic expectations by a party that was and is on a fast track to nowhere. Over the last decade they have done nothing but open a Pandora’s box of very bad politics that played mostly on the fears of the people, and spent way too much time and money trying to destroy Barack Obama’s healthcare solution and in the process, cooked up a pot of conservative resentment with a dash of racial animus that is now boiling over. And now they are befuddled as to why they are in danger of having permanent and long lasting party damage done by a man who makes fun of women, insults Mexicans, who wants to bring back torture, and who wants to stop Muslims from coming to America. They sure didn’t see that coming did they?

Maybe the Republicans need to pin some of the blame for their party dysfunctions on extreme right-wing talk radio shows and the likes of Rush Limbaugh who was always saying that the party was drifting left and felt that a little cattle-prodding from the strong right was in order which has given in to conspiracy theories that have found their way to television and of course, social media. It has produced a sort of “myopic extremism” in which reality does not exist, but whims and wishes do. According to Erick Erickson, a conservative talk radio host, the Republican party created Donald Trump the monster “because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.” And then to lose the White House twice to, shall we say, an undesirable, was the last straw. And now their voting base has become so disenchanted with party promises they are now following an ill-informed, bigoted, sexist xenophobe with no political experience at all. This speaks volumes about what has happened to the party of Lincoln.

When we dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima we opened up a window in which this planet can be destroyed at the press of a button. At the time we dropped the bomb we were the only country to use a nuclear weapons to end a war and the death toll from one bomb was staggering. To make a point we dropped another one on Nagasaki and to this day there are still birth deformities and long term health concerns for those born after the massive radiation exposures. Now picture a briefcase with all the launch codes to every nuclear weapon we have in the hands of Donald Trump. The man hates everything that’s not beneficial to him or his ego and he has successfully turned this election into a glorified reality show. He hates negative press and believes that freedom of the press is a hindrance. His colorful language is the pipe music that draws in new followers and votes from openly racist groups. If Trump is able to evade the gauntlets that the Republicans are setting up for him and secures the nomination of the Republican party, his battle with presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will be epic. She will be up against every racist in the country who blames the state of the country on that “man” in the White House. For once in our lifetime we stand a very real danger of a true bigot running the country. One wonders what Archie Bunker would say about Trump?



Miracles; To Believe Or Not To Believe

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Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe the power of the mind can heal your body? Does it surprise you that 80 percent of Americans believe in miracles? The fact that this planet still exist is in itself a miracle. When the universe was formed this mass we call earth almost didn’t make the cut as a goldilocks planet. That mythical zone that’s not too hot or not too cold. This habitable zone in space in which we live is a corridor from Venus to Mars. Venus is way too hot, and anything past Mars would be way too cold. So the Earth was molded and placed in a part of space suitable for a carbon based bi-pedaled species, us. Miracle number one, the ultimate miracle. That was a little more than 3.5 billion years ago. Picture a pool table with the balls racked and ready to be distributed with the strike of the cue ball, the “big bang”.

Planets rolling around a universal pool table randomly striking other planets and being diverted in all directions. Since this planet didn’t have a name at that time, I will refer to this mass as Planet 3. For Planet 3 to land in the goldilocks corridor was a culmination of numerous miracles when the planets were formed. Not only did Planet 3 land in the perfect spot, it brought along it’s own moon which stabilizes this planet. How did the oceans form on this planet that was once a molten ball of lava? Water was transported to this planet by the vast number of frozen and ice covered asteroids that struck the newly born planet while it was still warm. The frozen rocks cooled the planet and the water remained. Evidence of these impacts are deep in the depths of the oceans where man can not go, the place I would call the actual final frontier.

Was it a miracle that the dinosaurs ruled this planet for 150 million years before a giant rock from space hit the planet off the coast of Mexico to make room for us? Was it a miracle that the first living organism on this planet was a extremophile adaptable bacteria, and did you know that that same type of bacteria could now eliminate all life on this planet? Our lives are connected to numerous miracles and our adaptability to changing conditions is well documented throughout history. But along with miracles comes fate and the program that’s running this “matrix” could hit “delete” and it would all be over in an instant. What’s the difference between luck and a miracle? You cross your fingers for luck, but you pray for a miracle and since atheist don’t believe in God do they count on luck?  You can go into any hospital and you will find a family praying for a miracle to save a loved one. They do not pray for luck, they pray for a miracle which means they put their faith in something spiritually bigger than this planet has to offer.

To try and separate miracles from what some of us know as God is something I feel can’t be done. If you feel otherwise that means you believe in luck which is just like wishing on a star. Given a choice, I would rather pray for a miracle, it’s the better bet. Because if you don’t believe in miracles perhaps it’s because you probably forgot that you are one.



Mother Earth: Her Fate Is In Our Hands…..For Now by Dennis Townsend

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So you say there is no global warming, or you’ve been listening to some scientist who works for big money corporations saying there’s no definite proof that climate change is terminal, and we are all just a group of chicken little’s with wild imaginations. But it’s kind of hard to ignore certain weather phenomenon’s around the world such as snow in places that has never seen any, or droughts where there use to be plenty of water. Winters in some places have become brutally harsh, and in some deserts, the temperature has hit and stayed at 125 degrees for days on end. Yet we continue to poison our atmosphere with fossil fuels destroying the ozone layer, our only shield from the suns deadly rays. The Earth, our only place to live in this galaxy, is under siege, and even though she cries out warning after warning, we still have only scratched the service of reversing the damage that we have already done.

The Earth will not be here 5 billion years from now according to some scientist, and the way we take care of her, we will destroy the planet long before its time. We are writing our own epitaphs each day we do nothing about the destruction of Earth by those who desire only profit. The shortage of clean drinking water is beginning to be a big problem in civilized populations, and state governments are falling down on the jobs when it comes to taking care of the residents well being. The future is holding a place for the wars that will take place over clean drinking water. In our measly efforts to save this planet, we have the best help we can get, the Earth herself. She will reclaim the land on this planet whether we like it or not by the simple fact that we cannot control the true master of this planet, the weather. Everything on this planet that’s man made can be destroyed by the weather. Around America there are countless brick and steel abandoned factories that are being reclaimed by nature. Nature has many weapons in it’s arsenal in which to reclaim that which is hers, and even though man is technically advanced, nature is relentless.

While you may think that fire is a devastating form of destruction, it is water that holds the real power. It’s been proven that old concrete and steel buildings are being demolished by nature herself.  Water gets into nooks and crannies of old concrete where it travels to the steel reinforcing, causing it to swell, breaking out of the concrete like the Hulk breaking out of a shirt, and the pieces fall off the building or falls to the next floor. If you’ve ever noticed old concrete buildings, you can see floors that have collapsed on top of the floors below. You can see bushes and small trees growing on the rooftops of six story vacant buildings, thriving.  All that’s needed is some soil, seedlings that blow freely on the winds, and water. Nature will then take hold and overwhelm a deserted build in a very short time with her second in command, weeds. You see examples of this in neighborhoods with abandoned houses. The overgrown weeds, and the foliage growing wildly is just nature taking back what’s hers, and when we die, we are even buried in the bosom of mother Earth. This is a living, breathing planet and we are just fleas on her back, and she will be here long after we’re gone. When the Earth shakes or when volcanoes erupt, the Earth is speaking, but the message is falling on deaf ears. How long can we continue to suck the life out of her before she becomes a dead planet? Dead as far as her being a place fit for human occupation, but physically, she will live on. The Earth has been here for 4.4 billion years, and humans have been here just over 200,000 years. Dinosaurs ruled for 150 million years, and out of all the species, humans have done the most damage to this planet in the shortest time. Somewhere somebody is telling the creator that maybe keeping the dinosaurs on Earth would have been the better choice.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Just In Time

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As if right on queue there is a disturbance in the Force and the need again has risen for a rebellion against an evil party hell bent on domination and oppressing the weak. Funny how we see the same thing in everyday politics but without special effects. One can’t argue the fact that we are in need of a pleasant diversion to take us away from the sideshow politics that’s going on at the present time, and as popular as Donald Trump seems to be, he is no match for the power of the Force. Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens is the perfect diversion we all need at this time to take our minds off terrorist, refugees, climate change and the ongoing political theatre that plays out repeatedly on main stream news networks.

When Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope hit the movie screens nearly 40 years ago we were blown away by the special effects and for most of us, we were hooked the moment we saw the Imperial star cruiser filling the screen in the opening scene. The movie itself is an old Earth story brought to life in a galaxy far, far away. Take away the futuristic special effects and you have the story of a superior ruler who wants to enslave the universe with his army of storm troopers and a planet killing weapon. And then there is the resistance group who, with very little resources, manages to keep two steps away from being exterminated. It tells the story of beating the odds and believing in your inner self, that “Force” that picks you up when you feel low and hopeless. It tells the story of a typical teenager who wanted to waste time with his friends at Tosche Station instead of doing his chores not knowing his path in life had long been pre-determined. His wanting to leave the planet of Tatooine for better things but instead being caught up in the dreams of an old soldier destined to help a princess in distress. A princess who leads a rag-tag rebel group and after having no other choice, sends her two trusted droids to seek help. We all have heard of the great comedy teams, Abbott and Costello, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Laurel and Hardy, and now R2-D2 and C-3PO, who delivered just the right amount of humor through-out the film to keep you smiling, must be recognized as a legitimate comedy team.
That first Star Wars movie had all the elements needed to qualify as one of the greatest movies of all time, danger, heroism, betrayal, swashbuckling, and romance. Qualities that made movies like “Gone With The Wind” an icon in the motion picture industry. Add a light saber, star cruisers, blasters, X-wing fighters and a death star, cast some energetic bit part actors who had fun with the scripts, and you have Star Wars. Sci-Fi addicts were in a galaxy far away with episodes IV, V, and VI, and like all space geeks, craved for more. It takes about 3 years to produce one Star Wars movie, and in the rush to please the masses, Episodes I, II, and III were rushed to completion and turned out to be mediocre films. and while it fed the need, many saw the Force slowly making it’s way into movie hibernation, doomed to a life of folklore and treasured 6 episode box sets. There was talk of an episode VII but George Lucas, at this time in his life, decided that the franchise would stand a better chance of going on in new hands with fresh, young ideas. He sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney for a whopping $4 billion dollars and they immediately announced that there would be an episode VII. From that point the anticipation of the new film was enough to sell more than $50 million dollars in advanced ticket sales with the movie being compared to Avatar which so far holds the top box office record sales of almost $3 billion dollars worldwide.

With all the bad news around the world and the political posturing flooding the airways this is the perfect time for the movie industry to take us away from our troubles if only for a short while. Next stop, that galaxy far, far away. May the Force be with us.



Processed Red Meat; The New Health Threat

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Well if you are the type of person who just enjoyed the outdoor summer life, it included doing plenty of family activities which include grilling meat. It’s been done since cave men first learned to make fire millions of years ago and decided that that chewy Brontosaurus meat got a little more tender when beaten with a rock and burned on a stick. Now that most of the country has finished their summer fun, comes word that eating red meat, particularly processed red meats can make you more susceptible for getting cancer. Talk about raining on the country’s parade. They say that eating lots of red meat puts you in the same boat as the pack-a-day cigarette smoker. Processed red meat has been a mainstay of our diets for years and we all have eaten “mass quantities” over our lifetime, and now we find out that we may have to eat more chicken and fish to stay healthy and pass on that steak.

All red meat is processed, and some processed more than others so how do we as a consumer determine what is the safest of these lethal meats? And what do we say to all those people who gave up smoking tobacco only to find out that the red meat they’re eating is just as deadly. All the health gains they thought they were going to enjoy has just been challenged by constantly eating hormone infused red meat. Naturally the National Beef Association is up in arms about the whole outcome of this “so-called” scientific study. Seems to me that it now leaves the consumer stuck in the middle with that old question, to eat, or not to eat. There is going to be a vast number of people who will now stay away from red meat religiously, and some who will say it’s too late to stop now. Grilling meat also brings into play how we grill these deadly meats. In an attempt at damage control the meat industry has agreed with the recommendation that we refrain from using charcoal when cooking red meats outdoors, and instead use propane.  Score one for Hank Hill.

Charcoal has been used for cooking for so long, we forget that it’s “coal”, which when burned is the dirtiest form of pollution in our atmosphere and we coat the coals with “lighter fluid” and ignite the whole shebang without a second thought about the chemicals flowing into the meat. Turns out that the smokey flavor we love so well doesn’t love us. Those smoke vapors, chemicals, ooze their way into the meat and we have learned to love that “smoked” flavor. In fact, there have been many a feud over whether charcoal is better than propane gas as far as taste goes. So to sum all this up, we are now suppose to eat red processed meat in moderation if at all, and choose chicken and fish when at all possible. How safe is chicken? Every year we hear about chickens raised with powerful antibiotics that make the consumer vulnerable to hard to kill forms of bacteria. Not to mention the high risk of salmonella poisoning which could kill you quicker than red meat. Eating more fish is a crap shoot also and while it may be a good health food, our waters are becoming more and more polluted with chemicals that in turn pollute the fish we eat. It’s a “catch 22”.

Does this mean that we will start seeing warning labels on T-bone steaks? Probably not, the cattle barons in Texas won’t let that happen, but as consumers, we have some choices to make. There may come a day in the future where you may be asking the question that grandma asked in those old Wendy’s commercials, {“Where‘s the beef?”}



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