The Holidays & My Tribe

The holidays (Thanksgiving is next week in the United States) is a time when I think about my family and friends, the people who make up “my tribe.” My tribe is not a conventional tribe, then I do not lead a conventional life style either. The people who are a part of the group I hold most dear are an eclectic group. They range in age from 9 to 90, men and women, near and far, some of them I agree with on almost everything, others I agree with them on almost nothing. Some of the people in my tribe I have known for more than four decades some for only a few months. Some of those in my tribe are veterans, others lifelong peace activists.

But, they all have one thing in common, they are my friends and I treasure each and every one of them. If you are in my tribe I will do whatever I can for you. That does not mean I won’t let you down from time to time, my heart is in the right place, but I am only human. About two weeks ago I got a midnight call (literally) from someone in my tribe, “I need you.” So, I went to the airport and told the man at the American airlines desk, “I need a seat on the next flight to Chicago.” I cannot always do that. Sometimes I do not have the money to travel like that. But, when I do and someone in that group needs me, I’ll get the next flight.


A few of them live near me, most don’t. My tribe lives quite literally around the globe. Some of them I know from my childhood and have not seen in years, but when I do see them we pick up right where we left off. One of my friends said that is because my sign is Aquarius and Aquarian are like that. Ok, I don’t know about that, but it is who I am. Some of my oldest friends (and I am not saying THEY are old) are people like Mike Davis, David Kenney, Philip Gallo, Martha Schull, Pam Arrington, Linary Kingdon, and that is just six I cannot list all of them, too many. Then there are the vets, men I served with in uniform. And other vets, men and women I have gotten to know since I got out of the military. Some are writers, some are readers, and some are both. Some were strangers who asked me to help out or donate something for a fund raiser, and we just kept in touch. Some are people who have survived the same tragedy I had to survive. Some of the women in my tribe are some of my ex’s (just goes to show you can have a good friendship with someone even if you can’t have a good relationship with them).

It is at this time of the year my thoughts turn to those who have left an empty chair at my table as well; most of them through death, and a few through their own choice. No matter the reason for their absence, they have a special place in my heart that will always have their name on it.

This is also the time of year that I like to say thank you too. Thank you for being my friend. My tribe is too large for me to name them all, a few of them are people like Mike Steele, Tim Campbell, Charles King, Theresa Grimm, Lonni Roberts, Michael Channon, Sheri Bessi, Tom Ziemann, Trish Rooney, Ken Christian, Theresa Byrne, Teri Gorenflo. It would take me a very long time to list them all. But, I am in debt to them all.

And so, at this time of giving thanks in the United States, I would like to say thank you to all of my friends, named and unnamed, you are my tribe and I will always treasure our friendship. Thank you for being my friend.

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You Need to Read This !

I came across this during my “daily read,” it made me stop and think for a while. I have had a rough few weeks, but that does not change the fact that I am blessed. I am blessed most of all by the people in my life, the people no longer in my life that I miss, and the people who will be in my life in the future. Read this, please. It will remind you that you are blessed as well, and if you follow this man’s example, you will be able to appreciate those blessings in the “here & now.”

“I AM A Dad With Stage Four Lung Cancer, And Here’s What I Know Now”

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Sometimes, You Just Have to do, What You Have to do.

Sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do. A phrase used to excuse so many actions we do, that it has become cliché. This is something that is a little different from what we normally associate with this phrase.

When you are having a problem and nothing seems to be going your way. Finances, home, work, or anything really; do something for someone else. I believe, and I know you have heard others say, “What you send out, comes back to you.” You do not have to believe this though. Let me tell you another reason why this is so important for you to do when you need to jump start your life.

By doing something for someone else you are doing two things:

1-You are taking your mind off of your problems.

You are clearing your mind. When anything dominates your thinking it will pass from the point where it is helpful, to a point where it paralyzes your thinking and action. At this point, nothing you do seems to help. Your mental states spirals into frustration.

Clearing your mind, and then looking back towards your problem, will help you see your situation from a knew place. This will let you see more clearly what you must do to get your life going in the direction you want it to go again.

2-By helping another person you are telling your subconcious mind, your problem solving mind, “As bad as things are for me, this other person is in a more dire position than I am.”

This is good for you for several reasons. Most importantly, you are helping another person. You are telling your subconcious mind that your problems are not as large as you think. You are also giving a better prospective to yourself of your problems, and where your problems fit into the world around you. You will feel better about yourself; no matter how bad things are, you could still take the time to help another person.

As, you go back to your own life, you now feel better about yourself, and your problems do not seem as large. When you get to this point, you can now solve your problem, and get back to the success you deserve.

This really does work. I’m speaking from my own personal experience. I have given away my last dollar to someone I felt had greater need, only to have my own financial needs resolved.

It will work for you. Please try this for me. You deserve the peace of mind and sense of accomplishment your generoscity will give you.


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Tragedy in the Desert

This past week SpaceShipTwo crashed during testing killing pilot Michael Tyner Alsbury, he was 39 years old. My condolences go out to Mr. Alsbury’s family and to everyone at Virgin Galactic.

Mr. Alsbury and those at Virgin Galactic are pushing the envelope of our capabilities. It is sad to lose someone courageous such as Michael Alsbury. Sir Richard Branson vows to find out what caused the crash, and I have no doubt he will.

Unfortunately, Mr. Alsbury was not our first loss while pushing the envelope of human capabilities, and he will not be the last. Just in the 20th century we had accidents such as Titanic, Hindenburg, USS Thresher, Apollo 1, and Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia.

We will mourn his loss and admire his courage. But, we will also honor his spirit and continue to advance our knowledge and abilities. And we will do it because of men like Richard Branson and Michael Tyner Alsbury.

Fair winds and following seas Michael.

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Our Children

We had another school shooting on Friday. In case you have not heard yet, this one in Seattle, Washington at the Marysville-Pichuck High School. I did something very stupid Friday afternoon; I read the comments on the article. They were the usual comments. If we put God back in schools or outlaw all guns in the United States this would not be happening. There was a smaller contingent of people who were blaming this on bullying.

First, when these comments were being put up all we knew was two students were dead. One was a suicide by the suspected gunman and the other a student eating lunch in the school cafeteria. We did not know the suspects motivation nor did we know how he acquired his gun.

I am going to make a different proposition to you.

We need to get our moral compass back. I am not saying we need to bring Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or any other religion into our schools. You can be a Buddhist, Shintoist, Atheist, or anything else for that matter, but you still believe murder is wrong. I do not care where your moral compass comes from, we all have one. Part of that moral compass is to respect other people and to respect yourself.

Even if we outlaw guns, they will still be on our streets. Suspend all the kids from school you want, there will still be bullies. There have always been bullies, there always will be bullies. I am not defending bullies and I have the most profound respect for people who work to rid our schools of bullies. But the best they will ever do is to reduce the number of bullies. Bullies will never be eliminated.

Guns. It is already illegal to murder someone. In many states the penalty for murder is execution by the state. Do you really think adding 20 years to that person’s sentence for possession of a firearm will stop them? Gun laws work if people obey the law. A law-abiding gun owner will turn in his weapon when guns are made illegal.

By definition a criminal is someone who breaks the law. It is already illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm in all 50 states. Has that stopped criminals from committing crimes with firearms? Unfortunately not.

Bringing God back into the schools?

Ok, which God? Do you want to bring Buddhism, Shintoism, Islam, Christianity, or one of the many religions that make up paganism into the schools? Take your pick, it does not matter which god you bring into the school, you will never get 100% of the people to believe in that god.

But, everyone believes murder is wrong. Some people even believe justifiable homicide is wrong (when a citizen or law enforcement officer is found, by a grand jury or court, to have been justified in taking the life of another). We all believe it is wrong to bully someone. We all believe it is wrong to steal. We all believe (those who are not fanatical about their beliefs) that it is wrong to force your beliefs on other people.

Schools are now expelling kids from school for drawing pictures of guns. Is that going to stop gun violence?

We keep passing more rules, more laws; and they do nothing to curb the violence.

This latest suspect had to have been in extreme emotional pain to commit the acts he is alleged to have committed, including suicide. If you throw a high school senior (who is already accepted at a major art university) out of school for doing a portrait of a soldier which included a gun in the portrait – how is that going to relieve the emotional pain this latest suspect was feeling. And, what about the thousands of other kids in schools in this country who are feeling the same or even more emotional pain.

The disease is not the act this young man did. What this young man did is a symptom of the pain he was feeling.

Do you want to stop school shootings? Treat that pain. We all want to protect our kids from everything bad and painful, but that is impossible. What we can do is to teach them how to respond to people who are bullying them.

From time to time I see an article about a kid who stands up to the kids bullying them. A kid who embraces those things they are made fun of for. It empowers them and makes them feel better about themselves. Even more than that, after they see how it disarms the bullies they feel even better about themselves. These kids who stand up to the bullies are always kids who decided to do that on their own, or were encourage by a family member or neighbor to stand up to the bully.

Are we teaching kids this in our schools? No. We are suspending and expelling kids from school for drawing pictures of guns and for bullying. Are we teaching kids that not everyone will like them, AND that it is ok if everyone does not like them? No.

Morality people, morality.

Not religion, not gun laws, not school expulsions, it is morality that will end school shootings. While our society and governments are busy pointing out everyone’s diversity, we need to embrace those things we have in common; and we need to teach them to our children.

We all believe:

1-It is wrong to murder       .

2-It is wrong to steal.

3-It is wrong to attack people who believe differently than you do, just because they believe differently than you do.

4-It is wrong to attack people who look or dress differently than you do, just because they look or dress differently than you do.

5-It is wrong to cheat.

6-It is wrong to lie.

7-It is wrong to be mean to someone.

8-It is good to help those who need your help.

9-It is good to clean up after yourself.

10-It is good to respect yourself.

11-It is good to respect others.

12-It is good to say “thank you” and “please.”

13-It is good to ignore people who attempt to bully you.

14-It is good to honor other people.

Even those who do not deserve to be honored, you honor them, not because they deserve it, but because YOU are a person who deserves to be honored and you honor yourself when you honor others.

That is my solution to the problem. I am doing what I can to teach my young daughter this. Of course this is a free country. You can continue to scream for more gun control, you can scream for more religion. But, this is my advance notice. The next time we have a school shooting I am going to point my finger at YOU.

I will point my finger at the extreme religious right, because you would rather use the deaths of innocent children to advance your agenda, than to stop the madness.

I will point my finger at the gun control advocates. Because you push gun control as a cure-all, even though you know that in countries where guns are illegal they still have gun violence. But, you would rather use the deaths of innocent children to advance your political agenda, than to stop the madness.

When a person aims a gun at a child and pulls the trigger, they do not ask if they or their parents are: religious or atheist, republican or democrat, liberal or conservative, for or against gun control. They are merely killing people, and often they are trying to kill as many people as they can, before they die.

You go ahead and push your agenda, but while you are busy trying to “win” your political or religious argument; that next child killed may be one you know, or worse yet, your own child.

Me – I want to make sure kids know there are people who can help them with their pain. I want them to know that there are peers of theirs that will help them with their pain. I want them to learn how to deal with their own pain, and to share that knowledge with their peers. I believe that is the way to stop the violence in our schools.

It is over used, but this is an epidemic. If we want to stop school violence we have to help these kids – OUR kids, learn out to deal with their pain in a positive way. We need to teach children, all children, morality. We do not need to teach them religion that should be left to their family. We need to take those 14 points I listed above and add to it those moral beliefs we all share and teach that to our children. Then, after we stop this madness, then you can go back to bashing each other for your stances on religions and guns. I do not want another parent to know the pain of having to bury a child. I know that pain.

There will always be tomorrow to argue political and religious agendas. But, for some kid, somewhere in the United States, tomorrow will be too late to teach them how to deal with their pain. And it will also be too late for the other children that kid will murder.


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