Prepare to enter a world of both shadow and substance

Take a journey of body, mind and spirit where you'll encounter things you won't find anywhere else.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Michael Crichton - Dead at 66

To say the least, I just received a shock to find out that one of my favorite authors has died recently. Michael Crichton, author of The Andromeda Strain, The Congo, Jurassic Park and many other great novels in my personal collection died on November 4th, aged 66, of cancer. I am at a total loss of words to explain how much his work has meant to me. If you haven't noticed, there's always been at least one of his novels on my "books I've read recently list" along the side of this blog. The most current one was State Of Fear, which I happened to acquire in a first edition hard cover. To say that he meant a lot to me would be an understatement. I have read and enjoyed his books for my entire adult life. I even have a techno-thriller novel currently in pre-production that I have been working on. I need to finish writing that book, now for sure. Rather than babble on here, I'll just post this message I found on his website, posted by his family:

In Memoriam

Michael Crichton

1942 - 2008

Best-selling author Michael Crichton died unexpectedly in Los Angeles Tuesday, November 4, 2008 after a courageous and private battle against cancer.

While the world knew him as a great story teller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us -- and entertained us all while doing so -- his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes. He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget.

Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand.

He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world.

Michael's family respectfully asks for privacy during this difficult time.

I couldn't have said it better. I'm going to miss Michael Crichton.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

America, Land Of The Free

With a new year fast approaching, I thought this would be an appropriate time to say how proud I am that I live in a country where I enjoy the freedom to blog and share my opinions with the world. People can't do that in every country. The United States of America was formed so that people who chose to live here could have the freedom to live life as they choose, without a tyrannical monarch ruling their every movement. There's a reason why the U.S.A. is called the "land of the free and the home of the brave."
So that we can continue to enjoy our freedom, men and women throughout the history of this great nation have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, just so that we can stay free. There's a reason why we, as a nation, erect so many monuments to these fallen brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and uncles, and why we equate the name "hero" with them. It's to honor those who have died fighting for this great society. Who among you cannot be awed and humbled when standing in front of the rows and rows of headstones at the revered Arlington Cemetery?

And the flag that always waves atop the Iwo Jima monument:

Or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? A monument honoring a nameless soul who died fighting for what he believed in:

And now, some of my antecedents, (which I don't often show in public!) What many on here may not realize is that I served in this nation's Armed Forces, when I was a member of the US Army:

I also did a short stint in the Navy, when I served aboard the U.S.S. Martini:

And, in my younger days, I was a cowboy who fought in the wild, wild west:

Just so nobody thinks I'm making light of anything, I want you to know that I was proud to have served this country while I was in the Army. I felt that I was helping, in a tiny way, to preserve the freedoms that we have known and loved for over 200 years. Freedoms for which others have died to protect. So, it saddens me when I see something like what I saw this past Monday. I was out Christmas shopping (thank goodness we still have some freedom to worship the way we want to....) with my sister-in-law, when an Indiana State Trooper pulled me over in the Toys R Us parking lot. The offense I was potentially guilty of? Not wearing my seat belt! How insignificant can you get? Now, a short bit later, we were almost ran down while crossing the road on foot by an angry woman in an SUV. Where were the police to help save my life in that instance? They were nowhere to be seen. I'll tell you why. They're not interested in saving our lives. They're busy earning all that overtime pay, which the United States Government grants to states if they will enforce the seat belt law.

It would seem to me that in the "Land of the Free," we would have the right to decide for ourselves whether or not to wear seat belts. Isn't that the very essence of freedom? Not to have some tyrannical power telling us every little thing that we can and can't do in our ordinary lives? Our government has become exactly what we were running away from when we formed the United States in the 1776. Are you sick and tired of seeing freedom after freedom of yours being taken away by some law that they say is ostensibly designed to help keep you "safe?" Know this - the United States Government or your state governments are not interested in saving your lives. They couldn't care less if you should live or die. They just do what they're told to do so that the tax money or the grant money will keep coming in. Remember that little phrase you learned in high school? That our form of government was "of the people, by the people and for the people?" That means that you and I are the boss. I think it's high time we start exercising our executive powers and tell them we don't want any more new laws that are designed to "protect" us. And, it's high time we tell them to reverse a few that are on the books already because they're not actually worth the paper they're printed on. In a free society, we have the right to decide matters that affect our own lives. So, all those laws saying it's illegal to smoke in a bar, but it's not bad enough to just outlaw cigarettes, should be repealed. If smoking is so harmful to people's health, why aren't they just outlawed? I'll tell you why. The government gets too much tax money from the sale of cigarettes. Doesn't that sound hypocritical to you? Oh, they don't care whether you die from smoking, they just want their money. And they don't care whether or not you die in an automobile accident. If they did, they would be going after the people that cause the accidents, the wreckless drivers, instead of the helpless victims of potential accidents. If they actively pursued the causes of most automobile accidents, the drivers that are the ones that kill and maim regularly, it would be much safer for ordinary people to drive these roads in America. Don't let them tell you that seat belts save lives and that it's the only reason they force you to wear them by passing laws to such effect. Studies have proven that the mandantory wearing of seat belts has not resulted in a decrease in traffic fatalities. There are also studies which prove cracking down on wreckless drivers improves traffic safety. I mean, that one is obvious to me, as it should be to you.

So, are you going to continue taking whatever the United States Government force feeds down your throat in the name of safety? I'm not! I am an American and I have the freedom to decide for myself how to live my life and to keep it safe. And I'm going to do everything I can to prove it in the coming year. The first thing is to try and get rid of that ridiculous seat belt law which hasn't saved any more lives than before it was "the law of the land." That's got to go. It's time for every good American to take back control of their own life. You have that right guaranteed to you in the Constitution, you know. And if you value your freedom and want to be able to have selection in where you shop, stop going to Wal-Mart or there won't be any other stores left and they can then charge whatever they want. There goes your bargains. You've already lost the selection that Wal-Mart used to offer, so that's no longer an attraction for them.