A Change of View

A short family story

The extra bedroom had been turned into a den or office of some sort.  It was supposed to be a place to work or study, but actually it was just a place for Rob to hide out from the family.  In there he could read or daydream or actually make use of the computer he was determined to learn more about.  This determination did not go much farther than turning it on, looking at the home page and checking his email.  Rob did not get much email.  His friends knew he rarely read them anyway.  Rob did not have to use the computer much at work, and used it less at home.

Books, creative commons license

Over time the den had become cluttered with books and magazines.  That was Rob’s doing.  “These are the things to be read,” he thought.  The internet contained sound bites and headlines and celebrity pictures and Rob was convinced it held little value for him.  You might say Rob was a bit of a throwback to a previous generation.  The passing years had confused him and upset the neat world order in the family of Rob.  So, he needed his refuge to occasionally escape his modern family.

He had a conservative wife with conservative looks and conservative taste.  Despite her ever youthful appearance, she was likely better suited to  the era of black and white television than the present day.  She did not seem the daring young girl Rob married over three decades earlier.  There were also two teenage children, a boy and a girl.  Rob recalled how he used to call them his “little prince and princess.”  Rob’s neatly appointed wife thought he carried on with the “prince and princess” thing too long.  Becky continued to be “daddy’s little girl” and certainly acted like a princess, but Josh had transformed into someone else.  Until now, Rob had no idea how the world of Josh had changed.

This particular Thursday evening Rob sat alone in the den waiting.  He had come home to do something he had never done before and now he was waiting.  He looked up at the clock and it revealed the hour was closing in on 7 pm.  His teenagers had not arrived home and his ever patient wife was just starting to make dinner.  They were all going to keep him waiting.  On most days he would not sit in a room with just a low watt energy-saving bulb burning and do nothing but wait, but that was his mission now.  He was unsure what he would say when the waiting ended, his mind was actually rather blank and his face was free from expression of any kind.  He looked rather like an old soldier who just had a mortar shell go off nearby.  He waited in stunned silence.

Earlier in the day Rob was talking to one of the other dads at work.  The other dad was much younger and that may have been the reason he was more in tune with the teenagers and the internet.  “Do you ever watch You Tube videos? ” the younger dad had asked.  “No,” Rob replied, “I am not sure if I have ever seen one.”  “Here is one you will want to see.  Search this title.”  He handed Rob a piece of paper.  “It is important.  Do it today.  Here too is the ‘username’ of the one who posted it just in case you have any trouble finding it.”  The younger dad would answer no questions and would not say anymore on the subject.  Rob had put the folded up piece of paper in his pocket and did not take it out until he reached the den.  Once there, he went immediately to his desk, turned on the computer and sat silently.

As he waited for the computer to start up he read the few words on the paper over and over.  Could this possibly be some sort of joke?  Would they all laugh about it tomorrow in the company break room?  Would this just be a few minutes of needed entertainment?  When the computer was on, Rob searched for the title.  At first he was confused and a bit nervous.  There were so many videos with similar titles he was unsure what to pick.  Then he noticed the user name and started scrolling through the titles looking for the right one.

When he located the name that matched the one written out for him, he clicked on it quickly, before he could change his mind.  He watched the whole thing and when it was over, a single tear rolled down his cheek.  There was just one before his tears and his mouth dried up and his palms began to sweat.  In his 50+ years he had never felt like this before, ever.  When the clock stuck seven, the computer was still on and Rob was still silent.

Soon after the seven o’clock bells tolled for Josh, he opened the front door and came strolling in.  When he passed the door of the den Rob yelled, “Josh, get in here.”  Josh had never in his life heard such a sound come from his father.  As a matter of fact, Rob had never heard such a sound before either.  Whatever was the cause of this greeting, Josh knew it could not be good.  He stuck his head through the doorway and said, “Yes, sir” in a timid little voice left over from his “little prince” days.  In his 17 years, 3 months and 2 days, Josh was never this nervous, even when he broke Mrs. Applebaum’s car mirror playing baseball in the street.

Broadcast Yourself

Broadcast Yourself

“Come over here,” Rob commanded.  Josh walked over and stopped across the desk from dear old dad, who just lookd old at the moment.  “No, over here,” Rob said, pointing to the floor next to where he sat.  Josh came around the desk as Rob made ready with his new knowledge of You Tube.  When the little prince was in place, Rob clicked on the video and Josh knew immediately what was on the bill.  His heart and stomach tensed up as if someone was strangling them from inside.

“Dad,” the little prince squeaked.  “Quiet,” Rob growled in returned.  And so for the first time, father and son watched a You Tube Video together, all 8 minutes and 22 seconds of it.  When it was over and an uncomfortable few seconds had passed, Rob said, “Go,” in a soft voice that gave away hurt and betrayal.  Josh rushed from the den, ran to his room and slammed the door.  Rob emerged from the den to find his pretty wife rushing to the scene.

“What’s up with you two?” she said.  “Did the prince do something wrong?”  Rob gave his response a moment of thought and said, “Why didn’t we have kids sooner in life?”  “YOU did not want to,” she laughed.  “You said we should be financially sound before we started a family.”  She was right, of course.  That is exactly what he said.  He said it many times throughout the first dozen years of their marriage.

“I think teenagers were not as difficult years ago.  There just seems to be so much more to deal with now.”  The pretty little wife with the perfect hair and the perfect smile looked puzzled, but Rob said no more about it that night or for many nights to come.  He had no idea how to tell her that the little prince had come out as gay to the entire world by way of a You Tube video, but was unable to find a way to tell his parents.

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I’m Not From Here

Life in Gaza

“Did I ever tell you that I am not from here?” my young Palestinian friend asked me one day.

“Yes,” I reminded him.  “You told me that.”

It seems my friend spent the first twelve years of his life in Abu Dhabi.  Now he has spent the next twelve in Gaza.

“Why would you move to such a place?” I naturally asked.

Photo credit: startrek.ehabich.info common license

Photo credit: startrek.ehabich.info common license

He laughed as he gave his response.  “It was not my idea.  My father wanted to return here.”

His father is a Palestinian from Gaza.  He wanted to return to his homeland.  It is a common emotion.  Many people wish to return to their homeland after they move away.  There remains a certain yearning to be in the land of your ancestry.  This is part of the emotional conflict that resides in many people of the divided lands of Palestine.  In fact, it is one of the reasons for war.

Apparently they did not return to Gaza expecting a better life.  I do not know what they had in the United Arab Emirates, but it certainly had to be better than being in a land that is sometimes torn by violence or even all out war as it is now.  For one wishing to go home, perhaps the threat of future war does not dissuade you from returning.

Indeed Jews and Palestinians have risked their lives to stake out a home in what is mostly a hostile climate and, of course, frequently a hostile environment.  Finding peace among neighbors who question why you are on a particular parcel of land can be a tough life.

A narrow strip of land

A narrow strip of land

My friend knows of the harsh realities that Gaza presents to its citizens, mostly refugees, but he also knows first hand a life somewhere that is not as cruel as life can be along the Sinai desert on a small strip of land.  Like many others, he also sees what life is like in other parts of the world.  The internet provides the opportunity to travel to other lands, meet other people and learn new things.  For some, the knowledge that rides on the waves of cyberspace also calls out to students and citizens who seek freedom.  It is the siren call that some long to answer.

My friend knew that his family would be unhappy when he left Gaza one day.  He told me he desired to return to school, to be a student of languages, to have a job that would go along with his language skills.  Although he was not certain where in the world he could end up, but Gaza did not seem to hold a future.  It is devoid of culture that can be found in other cities.

“Who would build anything here when it might get blown up some day?”  This is a logical question.  Why invest in anything of value when you do not know what the future would hold for such an investment?  It could be lost in the flash of a rocket blast.

When I wrote of my friend in the story that first appeared here on Sunday, I mentioned that I had not heard anything since Friday morning when he wished me a good day as I headed off to work.  I don’t know where he was headed in the overcrowded and dangerous strip of land.

During Friday he “liked” my facebook status, “pray for peace.”  I have tried to contact him without success so far.  I can imagine that power must be knocked out to large areas of Gaza City and the internet may be unavailable.  I await go news and still pray for peace.

Not as easy as it looks

Graphic failure

Part of the Zero to Hero month was a challenge to write a post with an element you would not normally use.  I guess the point is to take you out of your comfort zone.  I looked over the suggestions and thought I would drop in a tweet.  I have already put photographs and videos on the blog.  A tweet would be something new, something exciting, something easy.  Celebrity tweets are always fun and I see a few on my feed.  I think Seth MacFarlane make a lot of funny comments.  Neal Patrick Harris is a regular online.  Joseph Gordon-Leavitt is intriguing.  Why not pick one of them and write a few pithy comments?  The You Tube generations lives on Twitter as they are constantly self promoting.  Some of them are even interesting.  Perhaps one of them would make me seem more relevant and up to date.

First and really the only point worth making, it was a total failure.  As you can clearly see, there is no tweet embedded in this lovely post.  I read the instructions.  I am reasonably literate.  I thought I understood it completely and…nothing.  I either got the URL or I got nothing, depending on the variation of dropping the little picture that I tried.  I am certain that more than Word Press gurus and teenagers are capable of doing this, but I threw in the towel when the clocked tolled 22:00 hours.  OK, my clock does not actually “toll,” but you get the point.  It took too much of my time, which is too bad when there are more funny tweets of 140 characters or less to read.

So, there will be no “Hero” tonight, only zero.  If I was snowed in and it was 15 below zero, I would spend more time trying to figure it out, but we already did that this week.  Today we had a heat wave in the 20’s and we are back to reality.  I think I will go tweet that.

I Heart Jake Fan forum

It was not ever on my mind to write about the forum, although some story ideas did swirl around this early experience online.  I guess I may never actually capture the ideas that came as a result of my first online experiences.  In relative terms, I am a late comer to the world wide web.  Many of my friends had an internet connection long before I did.  I was not convinced in the early days that I needed to get connected.  I had a computer, but confess it was little more than a word processor and keeper of softball stats.

When I finally decided to get online I got a newer used computer, a modem which I still use, a kit to hook myself up, and I set up shop.  I called the cable company, got the internet and set up an account.  I still use that email address although, like most people, I have others.  Once I was rocking and rolling around cyberspace, I found mention of what some where calling a “gay cowboy” movie.  This is absurd, I thought.  Why would anybody make such a movie?  No one will ever go to see it.  The advance publicity began to catch my interest as I never heard of any of these guys.  The online movie trailer seemed interesting and this Jake guy certainly was good at being a cowboy.  “This actually looks interesting,” I thought.  Who is this guy?

First I had to get down the spelling of Jake Gyllenhaal so I could “google” him.  One of the first places I found was a fan forum called I Heart Jake Community.  I had never before heard of a fan forum.  The fan board had a lot of interesting topics, including games, chit chat, movie reviews, fan pictures posted by an administrator and it had all things Jake.  You could start a “thread” about anything to do with Jake, including any recent Hollywood gossip.  After checking out the sections on a few different trips, I decided to sign up and jump into the conversations.  There was a “Newbie” section for introductions, so I introduced myself.  Well, actually, I gave a user name and vague details.  I thought I would NEVER, EVER give out any information about myself on the internet.

I did not know anything about an avatar, but I had to get one of those.  I could not figure out how to add my sig pic (signature picture) so I asked for help in a help section.  Someone jumped in to help and soon I had my own signature pic, some Jake thing I stole from the main I Heart Jake site, separate from the forum.  Soon I was chatting with a number of regulars, but the person who helped me originally maintained a regular dialogue for a while and we traded pictures, thoughts on movies and participated in the online games, mostly word games and stories.  That online acquaintance was a young man in another state who grew up to be a friend I met years later.  I still think such things are unlikely and would caution anyone against cultivating online friendships.  There are too many cautionary tales in cyberspace to use a good experience as a recommendation.

Eventually, I saw many Jake Gyllenhaal movies, including Brokeback Mountain.  To call it a “gay cowboy” movie is such an injustice.  It was as intriguing as the trailer led me to believe.  One summer together for the “cowboys” lead to unfortunately tangled lives for the families of Jake and Heath Ledger, who tried to live “normal” lives that the time period would have demanded (1960’s).  It was the best movie that year, not Crash which drew far less to the box office and for good reason.

As for the forum, we drifted away from that like tumbleweed through the desert.  Some of the experiences there prompted stories in my brain long before I ever thought of writing any down.  Forums are an interesting past time, but there are more productive ways of spending your time.  I learned about some actors and movies.  I learned a little about pictures, avatars and writing codes.  I made a good friend.  It may not make a great story, but I guess it was worth one summer of my time.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

There were 60 new posts according to this report.  Internet sharing and other Lies was the most popular.  It was actually a rerun.  Next was Being Alone, a piece I am proud of.  Olympic Diver Stands Up was next.  It was just a new intro about Tom Daley to a piece posted last year about Anderson Cooper and his coming out story.  The biggest news actually is that SERENDIPITY blog featured a couple of my short stories, thanks to Marilyn Armstrong.

A Change of View

A short family story

The extra bedroom had been turned into a den or office of some sort.  It was supposed to be a place to work or study, but actually it was just a place for Rob to hide out from the family.  In there he could read or daydream or actually make use of the computer he was determined to learn more about.  This determination did not go much farther than turning it on, looking at the home page and checking his email.  Rob did not get much email.  His friends knew he rarely read them anyway.  Rob did not have to use the computer much at work, and used it less at home.

Over time the den had become cluttered with books and magazines.  That was Rob’s doing.  “These are the things to be read,” he thought.  The internet contained sound bites and headlines and celebrity pictures and Rob was convinced it held little value for him.  You might say Rob was a bit of a throwback to a previous generation.  The passing years had confused him and upset the neat world order in the family of Rob.  So, he needed his refuge to occasionally escape his modern family.  He had a conservative wife with conservative looks and conservative taste.  Despite her ever youthful appearance, she was likely better suited to  the era of black and white television than the present day.  She did not seem the daring young girl Rob married over three decades earlier.  There were also two teenage children, a boy and a girl.  Rob recalled how he used to call them his “little prince and princess.”  Rob’s neatly appointed wife thought he carried on with the “prince and princess” thing too long.  Becky continued to be “daddy’s little girl” and certainly acted like a princess, but Josh had transformed into someone else.  Until now, Rob had no idea how the world of Josh had changed.

This particular Thursday evening Rob sat alone in the den waiting.  He had come home to do something he had never done before and now he was waiting.  He looked up at the clock and it revealed the hour was closing in on 7 pm.  His teenagers had not arrived home and his ever patient wife was just starting to make dinner.  They were all going to keep him waiting.  On most days he would not sit in a room with just a low watt energy-saving bulb burning and do nothing but wait, but that was his mission now.  He was unsure what he would say when the waiting ended, his mind was actually rather blank and his face was free from expression of any kind.  He looked rather like an old soldier who just had a mortar shell go off nearby.  He waited in stunned silence.

Earlier in the day Rob was talking to one of the other dads at work.  The other dad was much younger and that may have been the reason he was more in tune with the teenagers and the internet.  “Do you ever watch You Tube videos? ” the younger dad had asked.  “No,” Rob replied, “I am not sure if I have ever seen one.”  “Here is one you will want to see.  Search this title.”  He handed Rob a piece of paper.  “It is important.  Do it today.  Here too is the ‘username’ of the one who posted it just in case you have any trouble finding it.”  The younger dad would answer no questions and would not say anymore on the subject.  Rob had put the folded up piece of paper in his pocket and did not take it out until he reached the den.  Once there, he went immediately to his desk, turned on the computer and sat silently.

As he waited for the computer to start up he read the few words on the paper over and over.  Could this possibly be some sort of joke?  Would they all laugh about it tomorrow in the company break room?  Would this just be a few minutes of needed entertainment?  When the computer was on, Rob searched for the title.  At first he was confused and a bit nervous.  There were so many videos with similar titles he was unsure what to pick.  Then he noticed the user name and started scrolling through the titles looking for the right one.  When he located the name that matched the one written out for him, he clicked on it quickly, before he could change his mind.  He watched the whole thing and when it was over, a single tear rolled down his cheek.  There was just one before his tears and his mouth dried up and his palms began to sweat.  In his 50+ years he had never felt like this before, ever.  When the clock stuck seven, the computer was still on and Rob was still silent.

Soon after the seven o’clock bells tolled for Josh, he opened the front door and came strolling in.  When he passed the door of the den Rob yelled, “Josh, get in here.”  Josh had never in his life heard such a sound come from his father.  As a matter of fact, Rob had never heard such a sound before either.  Whatever was the cause of this greeting, Josh knew it could not be good.  He stuck his head through the doorway and said, “Yes, sir” in a timid little voice left over from his “little prince” days.  In his 17 years, 3 months and 2 days, Josh was never this nervous, even when he broke Mrs. Applebaum’s car mirror playing baseball in the street.

Broadcast Yourself

Broadcast Yourself

“Come over here,” Rob commanded.  Josh walked over and stopped across the desk from dear old dad, who just lookd old at the moment.  “No, over here,” Rob said, pointing to the floor next to where he sat.  Josh came around the desk as Rob made ready with his new knowledge of You Tube.  When the little prince was in place, Rob clicked on the video and Josh knew immediately what was on the bill.  His heart and stomach tensed up as if someone was strangling them from inside.  “Dad,” the little prince squeaked.  “Quiet,” Rob growled in returned.  And so for the first time, father and son watched a You Tube Video together, all 8 minutes and 22 seconds of it.  When it was over and an uncomfortable few seconds had passed, Rob said, “Go,” in a soft voice that gave away hurt and betrayal.  Josh rushed from the den, ran to his room and slammed the door.  Rob emerged from the den to find his pretty wife rushing to the scene.

“What’s up with you two?” she said.  “Did the prince do something wrong?”  Rob gave his response a moment of thought and said, “Why didn’t we have kids sooner in life?”  “YOU did not want to,” she laughed.  “You said we should be financially sound before we started a family.”  She was right, of course.  That is exactly what he said.  He said it many times throughout the first dozen years of their marriage.

“I think teenagers were not as difficult years ago.  There just seems to be so much more to deal with now.”  The pretty little wife with the perfect hair and the perfect smile looked puzzled, but Rob said no more about it that night or for many nights to come.  He had no idea how to tell her that the little prince had come out as gay to the entire world by way of a You Tube video, but was unable to find a way to tell his parents.

Enriching your life

Recently I was giving thought to all of the good friends in my life.  Actually, I think about it a lot.  So it seems to me now is a good time to rerun a column I did last summer about family and friends.  The number of people I know in foreign countries has increased since then, which helps to broaden my understanding of life around the world.  I am glad I can add to my list of friends. You can never have too many.

Friends

There is no over estimating the value of friends in your life. While you hope immediate family will always be there for you, in the mobile society in which we live they may not always be nearby. Your personal support network needs to include friends to whom you can turn in times of need. When I was younger and moved from apartment to apartment several years in a row, my friends were there to help me move. They were certainly pleased when I landed at my present location and stayed put. The important thing was their willingness to be there for me. It is a comfort to know that.
Having friends to listen at the right times is also of great importance. You may stubbornly think that you need to bear an emotional or spiritual burden on your own, but it does not need to be that way. Good friends will listen.  They will offer advice when asked. Those not willing to hear you may need to be categorized as acquaintances or casual friends. It is OK to have plenty of them in your social circles. Good friends will populate your close personal circles along with your immediate family. They become your “extended family” which is so important in today’s world
Internet friends can now comprise part of your personal life. It seems an interesting phenomenon to me to have such friends. While a great deal of caution must go into cultivating this sort of friendship, it can have its own rewards. You may meet people with whom you can can correspond on a personal level. They may be able to help at various intellectual levels as well. Right now I believe I have three people on my facebook that I only know through the internet. Two of them I have known for years and perhaps some day we will actually meet. All three live in different countries.
I have met someone I had known for years just through shared internet experiences, all good, and personal correspondence. When we met he came with his roommate to visit. I had told him years earlier not to meet a new person alone, so this was fine by me. It turns out they are great people and now good friends. I consider myself lucky to have met them, although I still feel this sort of thing, meeting internet friends and expanding the friendship, is more the exception and not the rule.
My former place of employment had given me the opportunity to meet students from other countries though their internship program. In addition to attending local sports events with many of them, I have been able to keep in touch with some via facebook. In fact I am currently in France visiting one of my best friends and a former intern following our Olympic tour this past week. Email, Skype and facebook have allowed us to keep in close touch even though we are thousands of miles apart.
“You have more friends than I know people,” my brother told me at our mother’s wake. That’s because the funeral home was filled with an absolute gaggle of our relatives and my friends. My brother had moved away decades earlier so he did not know a lot of these people. I have thought about his comments a number of times since then. I used to tell people, “I have friends from 18 to 80.” This was largely due to our parish, community groups and even the internet. I guess I am lucky in all this to have so many great people as friends. Be open to friendships as they enrich your life.

A castle in Orschwiller, Alsace, France

Internet sharing and other lies

This past week I posted the following status on my personal facebook site: “The amount of people who share misinformation on facebook because they think it is true is absolutely astounding. How about doing a Google search to see if it’s a lie?” This was in response to a posting that is being shared around about the new facebook “graph app,” Graph Search actually. Facebook has posted information on how the graph search works and how to control your privacy settings, but it is too late. The conspiracy theorists are already at work telling a different and somewhat untrue story. This reminded me of a commentary I posted last year at this time:

Interesting, but not true

In an age with mass communication and so many ways of getting the news, I fear we are becoming less informed and in many cases misinformed. “Why is that?” you may ask. Most of us get the news on our home page, whether it is Comcast, MSN, Yahoo or many others you can list. If you are ambitious, you can have your web browser open several news sites at once. Add on CNN, BBC, France 24, Huffington Post for the left and National Journal for the right. Many of the big city newspapers also have web site news. If you do not catch the news on television or your car radio, you can read it on your desktop, laptop, smart phone, iphone, ipad and probably other devices that I can not even imagine. It is almost impossible to escape the news of the day, and yet I find many people so uneducated about politics, I fear many will go to the polls this fall with little information about the candidates, or worse, the wrong information.
How can this be? With so many ways of getting the news, surely we should be more educated, but we are not. The reason for this incredible phenomenon is social media. Everyone now can put up postings for his/her friends to read. It does not have to be true. Your first amendment rights let you say what you want, as long as it is not down right slanderous. Even then you might get away with it because the internet is the wild West and you can not possibly police the whole thing.
This past week I saw a posting on my facebook page showing what was reported to be the words of Abraham Lincoln. These words praised business owners and the rich to such an extent that I became suspicious. It turns out Lincoln never said those things. They were written by a Presbyterian minister decades after Lincoln was dead. The minister was a director of the Citizens’ Industrial Alliance, a pro employer group. Of course, some one thought these phony words attributed to Lincoln would be just the thing to support Romney for President and slam President Obama. My first inclination when I see things that just too neatly fit today’s campaigns is to go to Snopes.com. I immediately found the true story there. By the time I posted the rebuttal, this piece of falsehood had so many “shares” there is no telling how many people have seen it and shared it again. So I guess we are to conclude Lincoln supports Romney for President.
Another interesting tidbit showed cartoon caricatures of Romney and Obama with lists great things done by Romney and bad things by Obama. Since there were no sources or statistics, I posted the comment, “Do you have any examples? No? I didn’t think so.” No one put up a rebuttal to my comments. My You Tube home page suggested a video which was little more than a Romney commercial. It played phrases from Obama’s speeches and used them to show how Obama vilifies business owners and that is not right! The problem is the phrases are so short there is no telling what Obama was actually talking about. Phrases without the sentences or maybe the paragraphs they were in can be spun in just about any direction.
What are we to do about this disturbing trend?  We can all be newscasters and write whatever we feel. Who is to stop us? If someone lies about a candidate, so what? No one is going to sue a little guy for “sharing” a facebook posting or You Tube video. If we can share something around a lot, which is possible, we can get a lot of people to believe the wrong things. If we can get a group of people to spend a day putting up crap on facebook, myspace, Stumble Upon, ChimeIn, Word Press, reddit, Pintrest, tumblr, Twitter and countless others, we can spin politics in every way except the truth. By the way, I do not wish to suggest it is just Romney supporters doing this. It happens on both sides.
Last week I mentioned an article in the National Journal where a columnist had noted that if we have the worst Congress ever then it follows “that we are the worst American electorate–ever.” Perhaps he’s right.

Industrial lies

Quotes attributed to Lincoln, he NEVER said this

4th of July and other updates

Last year on this date I noticed a lack of flags on this block.  It is the same this year.  Furthermore, I have noticed very few flags in my travels this morning.  It is a shame really.  We should not merely celebrate a day off of work, but also a day that represents something we cherish above almost everything else, our freedom.  Here is most of what I said last year:

As I look down the street, I see that we are the only ones flying the flag today. Why is that? It seems to me that in the 21st century we have largely dropped the practice of flying a USA flag from our front porches. The only place some will see a flag today is on their paper plates under their hog dogs and potato salad.

Kashmir is a Led Zeppelin tribute band I saw last Saturday. As I got one good video of their performance, I uploaded a song to my You Tube channel.

Last Saturday this blog got as many hits as the previous 10 days. There was nothing spectacular about Saturday and as I usually only post on Sundays, it was a bit of a surprise. Thanks for stopping by.

I wish I could tell you where I got the picture below. I copied it last year onto my Facebook profile just for the day, and have no recollection of who posted it. Since things can get passed around the internet rather quickly, there is no telling where it actually started. I like it a lot so here it is.

4th of July

Friends

There is no over estimating the value of friends in your life. While you hope immediate family will always be there for you, in the mobile society in which we live they may not always be nearby. Your personal support network needs to include friends to whom you can turn in times of need. When I was younger and moved from apartment to apartment several years in a row, my friends were there to help me move. They were certainly pleased when I landed at my present location and stayed put. The important thing was their willingness to be there for me. It is a comfort to know that.
Having friends to listen at the right times is also of great importance. You may stubbornly think that you need to bear an emotional or spiritual burden on your own, but it does not need to be that way. Good friends will listen They will offer advice when asked. Those not willing to hear you may need to be categorized as acquaintances or casual friends. It is OK to have plenty of them in your social circles. Good friends will populate your close personal circles along with your immediate family. They become your “extended family” which is so important in today’s world
Internet friends can now comprise part of your personal life. It seems an interesting phenomenon to me to have such friends. While a great deal of caution must go into cultivating this sort of friendship, it can have its own rewards. You may meet people with whom can can correspond on a personal level. They may be able to help at various intellectual levels. Right now I believe I have three people on my facebook that I only know through the internet. Two of them I have known for years and perhaps some day we will actually meet. All three live in different countries.
I have met someone I had known for years just through shared internet experiences, all good, and personal correspondence. When we met he came with his roommate to visit. I had told him years earlier not to meet a new person alone, so this was fine by me. It turns out they are great people and now good friends. I consider myself lucky to have met them, although I still feel this sort of thing, meeting internet friends and expanding the friendship, is more the exception and not the rule.
My former place of employment had given me the opportunity to meet students from other countries though their internship program. In addition to attending local sports events with many of them, I have been able to keep in touch with some via facebook. In fact I am currently in France visiting one of my best friends and a former intern following our Olympic tour this past week. Email, Skype and facebook have allowed us to keep in close touch even though we are thousands of miles apart.
“You have more friends than I know people,” my brother told me at our mother’s wake. That’s because the funeral home was filled with an absolute gaggle of our relatives and my friends. My brother had moved away decades earlier so he did not know a lot of these people. I have thought about his comments a number of times since then. I used to tell people, “I have friends from 18 to 80.” This was largely due to our parish, community groups and even the internet. I guess I am lucky in all this to have so many great people as friends. Be open to friendships as they enrich your life.

A castle in Orschwiller, Alsace, France