the challenges that parents face

We have written a few times on parenting and children.  Now, we share these sundry thoughts.

Raising children, especially in these terrible times, can seem to be a thankless chore.

Yet, we so desperately need strong families today in Western societies.

We encourage, even urge, parents to spend time with your children and take an active, continuing interest in their development each year.  Remember, the schools are not designed to play the role of parents to your children.  Schools are to educate your children, not raise them.  You, as parents, must work to instill self-discipline in your sons and daughters.

Parents being more actively involved with their children was the norm 4 or 5 decades ago. I can remember when most women with children were housewives back in the 1960s.  In those years, a married couple could maintain a modest middle class standard of living with one “bread winner”.  Life was a struggle then, yes, but life is even tougher now.  We are not saying that women with children ought not work outside the home.  But, we are acknowledging the reality that doing so does add more challenge to raising children.

What is the typical family interaction like these days?  Parents and children in many homes hardly see each other during the day and evening with every one going off on their own way.  Consider making it a priority that the family will sit down to dinner each evening with all members present.  That is a start, and it is not difficult to do.  (Children can help in the kitchen and/or with clean up after meals.)

We have observed many families in recent decades where it appears that the parents abdicate their responsibilities and just let their children do their own thing with little parental involvement once the children reach their mid to late teens.  You still need to play a constructive role in your teenaged children’s lives.

Teenagers can seem to be incorrigible.  This is where the challenge can be the greatest for parents.  Teenaged children can be so “me” centered.  As they get older and as the emotional maturation process progresses they should become less so, less self-centered.

I do not think the artificially prolonged adolescence in the US helps.  We could retool our educational system by moving to year round schooling in all districts, and by getting tenured college professors to actually teach classes (instead of researching and writing, or going on sabbaticals) so that young people could enter the workforce with a 4 year degree by age 20.  When are young people graduating these days?  At about age 25 or even later. (No wonder we have so many “sexually active” young people who engage in serial fornication.  Sadly, there are many young people who are unable to make the serious emotional commitment that marriage requires after they are out of school.)  Of course, retooling education to be workable will also require the government to get its heavy boots off the jugular veins (or carotid arteries) of the economy so jobs can be produced for our young people.  (Hey Obama, it ain’t working.)

So-called Millennials – in this stagnant economy – may be living with mommy and daddy well into their 30s.  That is a national disgrace.

We note that the task of parenting becomes even more difficult in a single parent home. We have in earlier essays spoke of the very great challenge a single (or divorced, or widowed) mother faces in trying to raise teenaged boys.

building needed character strengths and homeschooling

How do you build the strengths of character that young people need to resist peer pressure?  How do you build character strength and instill positive, constructive values that will prepare your children for a self-reliant adult life?

These are important questions.  The answers may seem to be elusive in these times.

Homeschooling one’s children is a major sacrifice in terms of time and effort (and foregone wages) on the part of the parents (mainly mothers) who do this.  However, in a large proportion of cases of homeschooled children, once they are away at college for a few years, they adopt the attitudes and values (or “anti-values” depending upon your perspective) of their peers and their leftist college professors.  This comes as a rude shock to their parents, who gave so much of themselves during the long homeschooling process before their children went to college.

Why does this play out this way?  It appears that homeschooling does not give to children the character strength to resist peer pressure.  It can be very lonely for a college student and he or she can feel both threatened and vulnerable when he/she is the only student, or one of a very few students in a class, that holds to an unpopular or politically incorrect view.  Often, the young person in that minority of students is the one who holds to a traditional moral position on the hot button issues of the day.  (We touched on this in our essay of 5 June 2014 on ideology in higher education.)  By protecting or shielding one’s children from the often corrosive, toxic influences found in many of our schools, homeschooling parents have also kept their children from experiences of confronting peer pressure.  Parents with the best of intentions can see a failure in moral character in their young adult children.

These words are intended to serve as food for thought, and are not meant to discourage parents.

end of essay

This photo was taken this morning in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  We see our photographer (on a brief holiday) with local children on a chess board.


Lucy on chess board


copyright 2014 –

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Are we attaching too much importance to our careers?

For some individuals the prospect of retirement, or the loss of a job, is the psychological equivalent of death.

This strikes me as odd.  In this world, we work in order to live.  We do not live for work. We work to provide for our families, to meet their basic needs.  We humans are not beasts of burden.

Now I know for those millions of adults in the US that do not currently have jobs this does not sound meaningful.  When you are unemployed and struggling each month to get by and pay your bills and not lose your home, your main focus – and your largest, pressing worry – is to get a job.  I have been there.  I know what you are going through.  Sadly, the failed economic (fiscal and monetary) policies and endless regulations coming from Washington are largely responsible for your trouble finding a good job that pays a decent salary or livable wage.

To return to our main point:  Are we attaching too much importance to our careers?  Are we defining ourselves by what we do each workday at the place of employment – and, thus ending up with a rather narrow and limiting view of ourselves?  (We certainly stereotype people we meet in our thoughts when we find out what their occupation is.)  Yes, one has to work hard and work smart to keep one’s job today or to keep one’s small business in business.  But, that is not my question.  Are we valuing our jobs or careers more than we value our loved ones?  Are we so narrow in our focus and in our interests that we are missing so much of life that is out there around us?  (Do we suffer from tunnel vision?)  Are we, in a sense, de-humanizing ourselves by effectively making our work a false god?

One cannot ignore the current “values” prevalent in our society (that is suffering from serious social decay).  The person who earns a large salary and lives in a large expensive home is viewed more favorably and looked up to more than the modest wage earner who has less material possessions.  Career has its place, yes, but it ought not take or occupy the primary place in a person’s life – and it does not need to.

If you are a one dimensional person for whom your career is your identity, the phrase “get a life” is apropos for you.  A job, a career cannot meet all your needs.  The job cannot love you back even if you love it.

Just food for thought.  From time to time, it may help to take a step back and question your priorities in life.  There is always the opportunity cost of how you choose to live your life.  (Time is the scarcest resource as you only have a limited amount of it before you leave this world.)  If you commit much of your time and energy to a career, working 60 or 70 hours a week, you do not have much quality time with your spouse and with your children, or for other meaningful interests and pursuits.

other related thoughts

I have worked for several companies over the years.  There were fellow employees who liked me and there were some who hated my guts.  What of it?  My priority was providing for my family.  Away from the job, I had a full life.  I worked in order to live and did not become overly attached to any job.  (And, I left jobs, too, when what the employer demanded was far in excess of what they were offering in return – both in pay and in quality of work environment.)

We in the US have it backwards.  We really do.  Finance was supposed to facilitate economic growth and foster commerce.  (Finance was in a support or ancillary role to the economy.)  With economic growth, the needs of families are met.  Thus, finance is to serve the economy and the economy serves the nation’s families.  Today, individuals toil in the wage economy and the profits, the fruits of their labors, are mainly enjoyed by the financiers.  This is not free market capitalism.  It is corporatism controlled by the mega sized banks and trans national corporations.  A corrupt government goes along with this, and the middle class and the small business person are being crushed.

The below image was taken in the northern hemisphere summer of 2013 and shows our photographer in her nephew’s sports car.


bright colored car 2


copyright 2014 –

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Why do we circumcise?

Why do we circumcise?

Modern doctors (in the US) routinely advise new parents to circumcise their baby boys.  It is a given in many hospitals that newborn males will be circumcised, if possible, before they are allowed to leave the hospital.  (No other industrial country does this to their baby boys.)

Why do we in the USA do this to our baby boys?  Why do parents consent to this without giving much thought to their decision and its life long adverse effects on their son(s) and their future daughter(s)-in-law?

Let’s ignore the vested financial interest that doctors, interns and hospitals have in this procedure that is done a million times each year.  (When nationalized health care systems have been put in place in English speaking countries, circumcision has not been covered as it is correctly deemed an unnecessary surgery.)

Is it that the son must look like his father?  As others have pointed out, we would not amputate a baby’s arm if his father had previously lost his arm.   Yet, with circumcision we are amputating healthy, useful tissue for no good reasons.

Do we circumcise (mutilate) in order to prevent cervical cancer, the spread of venereal diseases, and masturbation?  Well, all these problems were to be prevented or at least greatly lessened by circumcision.  That is what the doctors told us.  At one time or another these were the defenses of circumcision offered to parents and to society as a whole.  By the way, all the numerous evils (cervical cancer, the spread of venereal diseases, masturbation, etc.) that circumcision was supposed to eliminate were never eliminated by it.  All these myths, masquerading as truth, have been debunked long ago.  (The masturbation myth is really offensive to people’s intelligence.  The doctors in the 1800s asserted that masturbation was responsible for many maladies including epilepsy.  And the way to stop masturbation was to circumcise because the greater sensitivity of the natural penis (with its thousands of nerve endings) was the cause of masturbation.  People really believed these quack doctors on this.  If such were true, with all the circumcised males in this country, one would think that masturbation would be very rare indeed!  Forgive me here – but the truth is the truth.  Hey doctors, masturbation has more to do with seminal glands being full to overflowing when there is no other sexual outlet available.)

Regrettably, even today, people blindly listen to doctors and show them the deference due a medieval priesthood.  Doctors are not incapable of error.  They are not infallible and they can, and do, have their own agendas at times (including the unwillingness to admit error!). Do not buy into the nonsense about UTIs and cleanliness concerns – the current justifications for amputating infants’ foreskins.  A natural (uncut) man can easily wash his genitals as any woman can gently wash her genitals.  UTIs are rare in natural men and can be easily treated with simple antibiotics.  The so-called studies showing a reduced risk of contracting AIDS (HIV) for those men who have been circumcised are problematic, and some have been debunked.  (It seems a certain desperation is gripping those doctors obsessed with promoting and defending infant circumcision.)

Why is this important?  Fair enough.  Circumcision is a major issue because it so grievously injures marriages by abnormalizing coitus for both the wife and for her husband.  Our brains and genitals are wired for natural sex – not for circumcised sex.  Do not take my word for it.  This thesis has been very well developed by Kristen O’Hara in her book, Sex as Nature Intended It (2002) which is very comprehensive in its treatment of why natural coitus is more enjoyable and gratifying to both the wife and her husband.  (Kristen obtained many comments from women who had had the comparative experiences of having natural husbands/partners and having circumcised husbands/partners.  She also obtained the comments and insights of men who had been circumcised as adults and could compare from their own personal experiences natural coitus and circumcised coitus.)  Basically, the point is that a vagina and a natural penis (not circumcised) can do truly wonderful things together that cannot be done with a mutilated, circumcised penis.  Among the many benefits of the foreskin is its ability to keep the timing of the man’s thrusts correct for naturally and easily bringing his wife to orgasm(s).  (Go out to Amazon and get a copy of this book.  It is very informative and will open your eyes to the truth of the damage that circumcision does.)

When circumcised adult men think about what they have been deprived of, it is very painful for them.  This is understandable.  Yet, choosing to remain in a state of denial, as so often happens when one is dealing with great pain and hurt, does not help our children and is not the right thing to do.  Perpetuating the superstitious practice of needless infant circumcision is opting for perpetuating ignorance and assaulting future marriages.

It is rather ironic that we have a federal law on the books (from the mid 1990s) prohibiting the genital mutilation of girls in this country, but we look the other way when the genitals of boys are routinely mutilated day in and day out.  And foreskin restoration is not the solution to this injustice.  As the old adage says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is apropos here.  Foreskin restoration is a very lengthy and difficult process in that it requires a very large commitment of time, effort, and inconvenience and does not always yield good results for many men.

To Christians that are concerned with children’s rights, I would humbly point out that children do have a right to bodily integrity.  Sadly, we do not hear of Catholics or Protestants condemning this needless mutilation of baby boys in this country.  (In fact, it was Protestant doctors that introduced circumcision to the US in the late 1800s.  It was not universally advocated for the entire population by Jewish doctors or Rabbis.  Do not blame or fault Jewish folks for this.  Also, Catholic bishops failed (and still fail) to condemn this harmful practice because they believed the doctors’ claims about masturbation’s terrible health effects and that masturbation would be lessened or eradicated by circumcision.)  And this is not a “gay” or “straight” issue.  This is about whether we are going to confront erroneous beliefs and correct our thinking such that we start doing to justice to our children.

Lastly, women have a right to natural husbands.  For the sake of future generations’ marital happiness and strength of marriages, we – both mothers and fathers – really need to oppose this practice.

We, as Americans, need to overcome our ego-centrism in thinking that our way is the only way or even necessarily the best way to do things.  The rest of the world is correct in not doing this to their baby boys.

Thank you for your time in reading this.  Please forward a link to this essay on to any prospective parents that you may know.

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Are we merely characters or players in a grandiose simulation?

Some individuals postulate that we humans are a part of someone else’s computer simulation.  It as though we are characters in a video game, albeit a very long running one. (You can find videos on YouTube that discuss this conjecture.)  We humans are thus fictional characters who are possessed of self-awareness and can – within limits – think and feel.


Rubber Band Ball


This simulation includes all that we see and likely much that we do not see around us.  The stars, galaxies, etc. are part of this simulation.  The Big Bang appears to us to have occurred billions of years ago, but that could be false with the “evidence” for the expansion of the physical universe having been coded into the simulation much more recently by those conducting the simulation.

We do not see the simulation that we are actors in as being a simulation.  To us, it is very real.  When we are cut, we bleed.  We feel pain.  We experience fleeting moments of happiness.  We cherish hopes in our hearts.  We feel sadness and regret.  We feel joy.  Some of us believe in God, and the soul, and an afterlife for the soul.

When the simulation, or game, is over for each of us, our individual consciousness (personal self-awareness) ceases.  Hence, one will not be aware to realize that there was nothing after “death”.

Do we have some, or any, freedom of action within the simulation?  True freedom?

Or, are all our thoughts, proclivities, and strivings preprogrammed, or randomly coded in to our virtual brains by those operating the simulation?  (Perhaps, this could be done while each of us is in utero.)

What of the accounts of alien entities and alien abductions?  Are these aliens any more, or even less “real” than we are in the simulation?  What of “ghosts” and ghost phenomena? What can we make of “miraculous” cures, if we are in a simulation?

This simulation idea can be terribly disturbing for some of us if it is taken too seriously.

Is this science fiction?  Or, the imaginings and/or rationalizations of latter-day atheists and agnostics (who do not want to make the effort to believe in God)?

This conjectured simulation scenario seems to require a larger leap of faith to believe in it than simply believing in a creator God.  It also strikes a painful blow to the core of our sense of identity, and worth.

If we were in a grandiose “virtual reality” simulation, then we really would be just play things for more powerful beings.  As well, being trapped in a simulation for the benefit or the amusement of others would give a new twist to the term “watchers”.

Can science help us here?

Could our science at its current level of development somehow be able to pierce through the simulation’s boundaries or edges, and then be able to recognize or determine that we are in a simulation?  How could we be sure about this?

If we could determine that we were in such a complex simulation, would the authorities, those fellow humans in power over us here in the simulation, allow this to ever be known? As well, would not the game’s masters be aware of our probing and be able to thwart such probing, or misdirect it on to false conclusions?

other thoughts

Science cannot help us with spiritual questions.  Science has its limitations, and the mind of man has its limitations.  Some, perhaps many, will disagree and say that in time science will provide the answers.  (These persons have much “faith” in science – although they might prefer the term, confidence.)  But science deals with the physical universe and uses physical instruments and methods.  (We are not talking about the “social sciences”.)  Can science truly be competent to deal with the spiritual realm?  Those involved with the “paranormal” may answer in the affirmative.  Yet, paranormal research appears to have produced many more questions than tentative answers so far.

This idea of a very long running, all-encompassing simulation is not to be confused with the Hindu concept of Maya.  Maya is the idea that this world is ultimately illusory as it is material and temporary, as opposed to being spiritual and eternal in nature.  But, for the Hindu, there is a very real spiritual plane of existence.

Personally, I believe that our nature is fundamentally spiritual.  And, we have individual consciousnesses for a purpose – it is no fluke or accident (or by-product of biological evolution) that we do.  But, we have already discussed that in other essays.

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the beauty found in the ordinary

A view of an ordinary thing – not special, nor intricate, nor assaulting the senses.


flowering plant


Another photo.


flowering plant 2


These were sent to us from San Francisco and are of backyard flowering plants.

copyright 2014 –

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childhood vaccinations: protecting your children from harm

Parents need to proactively step in and protect their children from the harm of vaccines. The first thing to do is to say NO to the doctors that insist on injecting your small children with shots that have multiple vaccine agents and dangerous accelerants.  A young child’s body is so very vulnerable to the toxicity of the powerful chemicals and heavy metals in these shots that prudence and common sense demand that these vaccines be spread out over many months.

The public needs to demand these vaccines be made safer.  Even if this reduces profits for the companies who manufacture these vaccines.

The skyrocketing increase in “autism” in US children in the past 30 years makes one ask: What has changed in the environment for US children during this time?  Perhaps the biggest single factor to have changed is the strength and toxicity of the vaccines they are injected with.  (When I was very young at the start of the 1960s, babies and small toddlers were not injected with so many vaccines within the first 6 to 18 months of age.  These shots were spread out over a longer period of time and not as many multiple shots were given.  Autism was rare.)  But, autism is not the only possible harmful side effect from vaccines.

Children need to be protected from harm, from all sources of harm.

Others make this argument much better than I, so we include a few links for parents and concerned individuals.  If you have small children, or know of others (family, friends, etc.) that do, please consider talking with them about this very serious health issue.

Now most subscribers will not read this essay and fewer still will visit these links, but these are informative.  The choice is yours as to how much effort you will make to inform yourself and your loved ones.

Google search using these terms “US vaccines autism link” will give you many articles for reading.

The US CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has tried to debunk the link between vaccines and autism; but one must remember that the CDC, the FDA, and big Pharma are all linked together and behave in ways to protect and promote profits for the pharmaceutical companies (that also manufacture and market these vaccines).  Can we trust the medical establishment (including doctors) to be honest and objective in this area?

Here is one recent article.

Another Google search you can do: “US vaccine harmful side effects”.  We see that the CDC makes strenuous efforts to downplay risks (as it has done with the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) given to teenage and pre-teen girls).

And, what of human DNA within the vaccines that children are injected with?

Yes, you read those words correctly.

If you Google search using the terms I used (“US vaccines fetal tissue”), you will see that there are many articles on this very “controversial” and contentious issue (because the fetal tissue is procured from aborted human babies).

This next article (from 2011) does a good job of informing readers of what has been going on in the vaccine industry for many years.

Another blogger has written numerous times on vaccines and the harm these cause.

We do not necessarily agree with all this man writes, but he does take on the powerful and corrupt US medical establishment, and that is very much needed today.

And, from our own archives, there are other things children need to be protected from:

Ritalin, statin drugs, etc. are not good for children to be taking.

We have also written previously on getting needless shots for older children and for adults. We strongly advise against getting flu shots.  We quote now from an earlier essay (

Okay, I am not a big fan of tainted vaccines or vaccines that have harmful side effects. Here is my advice for our readers.  You cannot undue the vaccines forced on you when you were a child.  But, you can be careful what you do to your children, or should I say what you allow these doctors to do to your children.  (The surging rates of autism in the US may be linked to tainted vaccines in recent years. . . . . )  As well, you do not have to queue up each autumn or early winter for a so-called “flu shot”.

Do you really need the heavy metals in such shots?  No, as many of these metals accumulate in the organs of the body and can harm your health.  The doctors take a guess at what strains of influenza they think will be prevalent in the coming winter and that is what the shots are designed to boost immunity against.  Sadly, they rarely guess correctly and the strains of influenza are known to mutate.  Thus, your flu shot is largely a placebo for peace of mind that does not really protect you from coming down with any of a number of strains of influenza.

I’ll tell you this.  I have never, and will never, get one of these shots.  I cannot recall the last time I came down with influenza, but it has been at least 15 years or longer since I have.  Head colds with sinus congestion, and chest colds, yes, maybe every couple of years I get one of them.

Do yourself a favor and say no to the flu shots.  Here are better things to do to lessen the chance of getting ill during the winter.  If when on public transit, some one is coughing or sneezing near you, get up and move to another part of the bus, or the train.  (I used to give up a seat and even stand in another part of the train or street car to reduce my exposure.) Wash with soap, or if not practical at the time, at least rinse your hands after you touch likely germ infested surfaces. Such surfaces include shopping carts, doors to public buildings and rest rooms, and a big offender, the gasoline dispenser when you fuel your car. Eat healthy fruits and vegetables and even supplement with multi-vitamins to get more vitamins C and E.  (Capsules and even softgels are better absorbed and are much more effective than tablets.)

A healthy skepticism of the doctors (who are not all-knowing) and some common sense can help you protect your health and the health of those you care about.

end of quote.

They cannot fine you or imprison you for exercising common sense.  Take ownership of your health.  (Although coercion is coming as more of Obama Care is phased in.)

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morning meditations or reflections on daily living

Some days I think to myself, “it could always be worse”.  But, then that thought quickly gives way to this thought, “it could always be better”.  . . . “But not in this world.”

It seems that suffering, in its various and diverse forms, is our constant companion as we journey through life.  (Buddha was correct – life is suffering.)

“How do we change our mindset?”, I ask myself.  “How do we see past or through our own troubles and still show compassion to others who are also suffering?”

Change rarely happens like a satori moment, or sudden flash of enlightenment.  One step at a time, little by little, with ongoing conscious effort we can change and become more loving human beings.  But, it is not easy.  The human heart and soul are like dried out clay that is very difficult to work with and shape.

When I feel despair I say to myself: “Even being an imperfect person, each of us can strive to make a positive and constructive contribution to the lives of those around us.”  (Well, may be not these exacts words, but something to that effect.)

God knows my thoughts.  As well, He knows that all the pain, all the tragedy, and all the injustices, all the hurt that are ever-present in this hellish world can be so very depressing to us humans.  When I confide to someone close to me that I think this world is a form of Hell, they often scoff or laugh a little at my view.  (I do not often confide to others how I truly think on some topics.)

The thought comes to me that we who live in the real world, who go out into it each and every day, and do battle with all of life’s challenges and obstacles (including others and ourselves) are the real warriors, the ones who posses at least some courage.  Those who opt to spend their lives in a monastery or the cloistered convent – what of them?  Is it an escape for them from the ugliness and harshness of the real every day world the rest of face day in and day out?

Walking across the large paved parking lot to the mega sized supermarket, a crow is cawing in the bright morning sunlight as it sits on top of an electric light pole.  As I walk by this pole, I glance up and caw back at the bird.  If others hear me and think I am just another crazy person in our crazy society, what is that to me?  (None of them sign my pay checks, anyway, I think with a smile.)

Laughter can sometimes catch me unawares.  But, I do not laugh at the expense of others. That is for the elementary school yard where young children can at times be so hateful and hurtful towards others.  A moment of laughter can blunt the pain of living.

My mind wanders on to the subject of organized religion with its many adherents.  “Is the faith of so many just a head game, an intellectual exercise?”  I think of the fear, the guilt, the glorification of suffering, and the abuses of Church authority – and am not comforted. For faith to be of any true value, it must be lived, not merely talked about on a Sunday morning.

Yes, I will be honest with myself now.  I have hurt others, terribly so at times.  I have been cruel, and that is worse than merely being “insensitive”.  As well, the truth is that I have been hurt by others, many times.  Even by those close to me, those who I was naive enough to believe were on my side.

To lessen my disappointment with myself as I look back on my life, the thought comes that it is equally true that others have helped me  . . . and that I have helped others from time to time over the years.

There are fewer years ahead of me now than are behind me.

“What of all those persons who leave this world today, still hurting?”  Will they know love in another plane of existence?

I start to hum and sing the words from a song by The Guess Who from many years ago. “Time goes slowly but carries on.  And, now the best years – the best years – have come and gone . . . . .”

I will work through the hurt, the wound, in my soul and soldier on each day through life come what may.  Trying to remain in the present moment, because that is all any of us has.


jello for work 2


On a future day off, have no plans for the day.  Do what you feel like at the time, even if that is to take it slow and enjoy a quiet day without so much external stimuli.  (Shut the cell phone off.  Forget about the TV.)  Let your spirit rest.  It needs the occasional “down time”.

These thoughts came to me this morning.  As we post this essay, it is morning in some part of the world.

The images in this post are of jello that my wife recently made for a “pot luck” at her place of employment.


jello for work


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pictures from Puerto Vallarta – part two – food at the resort hotel

In this photo essay, we share pics of the food served at the resort hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

Here we see strawberries and kiwi.


strawberry and kiwi


These appear to be decorative artificial apples.




Colorful cup cakes.


cup cakes


These look like apple desserts.


apples desert


Salad with tomatoes.




Ceviche?  (Not sure of the spelling.)  Looks good with what looks like avocado.




Prawns and tortilla chips.


prawns and tortilla chips


Rice with corn.


rice with corn


The actual dish now.


rice with corn 2


Chicken surrounded by lettuce.








Mahi mahi.  (The camera had technical difficulties in this shot.)


mahi mahi


Fish and chips.


fish and chips


Beef in rosemary sauce.




The actual dish.


beef 2


Our photographer on location enjoying breakfast.


Lucy at breakfast


Steak (even in this off-color image, it looks inviting).




Corn tortilla chips.


tortilla chips


In this last image, we see what appears to be guacamole (avocado based).




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The coming Islamization of post Christian, socialist Europe?

We now play the role of social critic.

Today, Muslim immigrants seek to subvert Europe from within.  There is no assimilation nor accommodation possible for these militant, angry Muslims.  Is there a European future for Europe?

A post Christian, secularized, socialist Europe has lost its sense of itself, lost its soul, lost its courage.  And, is thus far not up to meeting the challenge of Islam.

the current situation

There is increasing violence in Europe by Muslim immigrants and more recently by European converts to Islam as well.  There are attacks on Jews and Christians and their houses of worship.  Women and girls are assaulted, raped and humiliated because they are not Muslim.  Several summers ago, in France, Muslim youths went on a nightly rampage for weeks with much arson and destruction of property.

Westerners must realize that Muslims do not see crimes and attacks against “infidels”(any and all non-Muslims) as being crimes.

These violent crimes require serious prison sentences.  One has to wonder about European men who cannot or will not protect their wives and daughters from raping Muslim youth. Make no mistake: Rape is a physically violent crime intended to humiliate, degrade and dehumanize the victim.  Cowardly Muslims often seek the defenseless and/or the vulnerable to victimize.

It is baffling that Europe allowed immigration from Muslim dominated countries.  (The former colonial status of some of these Muslim countries of origin is irrelevant.)  If Europe needs immigrants to work in its economy (since no European nations are at replacement birth levels), why not accept immigrants from non-Muslim nations, from countries that are not anti-Western?  There are a number of non-Muslim countries that send many workers overseas each year.

Some Europeans are belatedly waking up and in some countries are calling for limits and restrictions to immigration from Muslim lands.  However, if you dare to voice your concerns on this issue, or show any “nationalist” sentiment in Europe, you will be smeared as being a “fascist” or a “Nazi”.

It is important to note that militant European converts to Islam are a rapidly growing part of the challenge that Europe faces.

the Muslim desire for conquest – many centuries old

Muslims have invaded Europe more than once in the past.

In 732, Charles Martel (grandfather of Charlemagne) defeated the Muslims at Tours in France.  The Muslims retreated back beyond the Pyrenees and occupied Spain for several centuries until the last Moors were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella (circa 1492).

The Crusades (beginning in 1095) were in part a western response to the major victory of the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert in eastern Anatolia (Asia Minor) in 1071 which seriously weakened Byzantine (Greek) power.

The Ottoman Turks (who were Muslims), after conquering Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453, continued threatening Christian Europe and were twice stopped at the gates of Vienna.  (Ever wondered why there are Muslims in Bosnia?)  In 1529, weather prevented an Ottoman success.  In 1683, on 11 and 12 September, a combination of Polish aid and the modern warfare techniques of the Europeans stopped the Turks.  (The croissant – or crescent – pastry was the Viennese way of celebrating these victories.)

The Wahhabists and the Saudis.  The Saudi family made a deal with the Wahhabists (religious “reformers”, purists) in order to secure their backing of Saudi claims to rule Arabia in the early 20th century.  In return for the Wahhabists’ support against the claims of rival clans, the Saudis would allow Wahhabists to control all things religious in the new kingdom.  The Wahhabists, after their founding and like many other religious reformers, quickly began killing any who resisted being reformed.  Today, Saudi Arabia funds many Muslim schools around the globe that indoctrinate Muslim youth in hatred of all things non-Muslim.

if Islam conquers

What might happen in Europe if the Muslims gain power?

If Islam prevails in Europe (or in America), there will be few, if any, women’s rights and gays will have no rights and no legal protections.  Then, women and gays will experience life in a truly oppressive society.

If the Islamists succeed, there will be a lack of freedom of religion (or of the freedom to not be religious).  One may still be a non-Muslim but it will subject one to ongoing discrimination, periodic abuse and the ever-present potential to be violently persecuted.

Forced genital mutilation for both females and males.  (For those readers in the US: Europeans do not circumcise their baby boys as this is not medically necessary.)  When you mutilate the genitals of a person – at birth or at adolescence – female or male – it is not about God’s will, and it has nothing to do with health or “cleanliness”.  It is about power and control.  Genital mutilation causes a very significant reduction of the pleasurable sexual sensations (experienced during coitus) in mutilated adults (both males and females) as thousands of nerve endings are amputated and permanently lost.  (This is why we condemn infant male circumcision in the US.  Children have a right to bodily integrity.)

Far fetched, you say?  Not as far fetched as you may think.  Consider the reports coming out of Syria and Iraq where ISIS has conquered.

troubling situation and a question

Can atheists, moral relativists, nihilists, socialists, communists, and hedonists effectively resist these violent Muslim subversives and revolutionaries?  So far, these Europeans have not given any effective resistance.

At present, it appears that these demoralized individuals do not feel it is worth fighting for their culture, for their way of life.  The fight is being taken to them by the Muslims.  The Muslims are not interested in mere peaceful “co-existence” in Europe.

other related items

Robert Spencer has a website called Jihad Watch that is very informative.  I have heard him speak periodically on various radio programs over the past 10 years.  Robert notes that there really are no “moderate” Muslims, only some lax Muslims.

Here are 2 earlier essays that may be of interest to some readers:


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pictures from Puerto Vallarta – part one – beach, sea and sky


We now share some pictures taken in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in the last 2 days of August and the first 2 days of September.

In this image, one can see beach, sea and sky.


surf at beach


The foaming surf.


surf at beach 2


Thatched stationary sun umbrellas for tourists.  Needed more on a sunny day.


beach clouds and water


A low-lying, cloudy sky with palm trees and beach.


beach and clouds


Our photographer has done this before on other holidays.  We are not sure as to the significance or meaning, if any, of this sand pouring ritual.


bizarre sand ceremony


Looking back towards the resort hotel, we see these palm trees.


palm trees


Another view of the beach.


beach scene 4


On another day, a local family enjoys the beach.


beach scene 2


In this image, we see a blue sky and part of the beach is in shadow.


beach scene


Looking inland, possibly from an upper level viewing area in the hotel, we get a good view of a cloudy sky and many trees.  Puerto Vallarta is located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and is in the tropics.


sky and land


Our final 3 views show our blog’s photographer at the beach on different days.


beach scene 3


Underneath a sun umbrella.  Beach chairs are needed.


lucy at beach 3


Even with delays in the flight departing the airport in the US, Lucy and her party were able to make it to the beach that first day and catch the sunset in this photo.


Lucy at beach


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some reflections on humans, living, and mortality

We humans are contradictions at times.


We are never the same person after new or painful experiences – are we?

We may heal – but we are not the same person.  Our experiences play a role in molding our character and our outlook even in ways that we may not be consciously aware of.

But, we can choose to make the conscious effort not to allow our experiences (our past hurts) limit us or bind us.

We hurt others and we hurt ourselves.  Living is a painful process.  Just ask any child learning to roller skate or to ride a bicycle once the training wheels are removed.

One can look within one’s self and renew one’s self.  Your immortal soul is unharmed.

Christian apologists and preachers often take an externalized approach to morality, moral living.  Rules are told to you, many rules, and why these rules are needed and appropriate is often not explained very well, if at all.  Some Christian denominations appear to us as being excessively ethical, with an, at times, extreme emphasis on the letter of the moral law and not on the spirit of the law.  (At least a few of the many religious prohibitions do not appear to be on solid ground.)

Is it perhaps better to try to awaken an interior love for God and for our fellow human beings?  Christians who recall Jesus’ 2 commandments and seriously cultivate in their hearts a true love for God and for their fellows will not need hundreds of rules.  By keeping the higher principles in mind, they will act in ways that do no harm to others.

We are not saying that a moral code is not needed.  The moral commandments actually call men to freedom – freedom from their tendency to self-destructive actions (both individual and collective actions).  But, we do not want to be Pharisaic either.  While scrupulously observing all the “thou shall nots”, we may fail to make the efforts to love others in an active way.  (I cannot quote you chapter and verse here, but in a homily a couple of years back, I heard that Jesus had said that a terrible sinner, a woman (possibly a former prostitute), had been forgiven much because she had loved much, or words to that effect.)

When we say we have lost our faith in God, perhaps we really mean we have lost confidence in ourselves, in humanity.  Let’s not fault God for humanity’s failures.

Modern men and women seem to have lost “the will to believe” (that’s my phrase).


When we attach too much importance to sense gratification, making it a central part of our lives, a priority, even the priority of our life – we then tend to identify with the physical body – and we forget our true identity as a spirit-soul.  Some of us may not be conscious of this identifying with our bodies, and others may take it for granted and not question it. (The flesh is temporary, I think we can all agree on that.)  Asceticism and renunciation is not the answer here, but rather achieving a mature and healthy balance in one’s approach to the challenging process we know as life in this world.

For the many that forget or who are ignorant of a spiritual component of human life, and that identify with the body, death is believed to be the end, as in their minds the body is the source of consciousness.  (We believe that the body is a vehicle of consciousness and not the source of it.)

Taken to a rather grotesque extreme, there are individuals that have their bodies “suspended” after dying through cryonic preservation processes.  (We have written on this once before, see link below.)  They have a false hope that medical technology will one day be able to bring them back to life, perhaps in the distant future.  Once the connection from the soul to the body is severed (known in occult writings as the silver cord), the soul cannot be called back to the body.  (That is why “near death” experiences (NDEs) are just that – near death – and not a return or resurrection from having been dead.)  Thus, “suspending” a body – by preserving it from decay in a capsule cooled by liquid nitrogen at minus 300 degrees Farenheit – is an exercise in futility.

Similarly, the recent speculations that “downloading’ one’s memories on to a computer chip and implanting it into the brain of a cloned genetic copy of your body would give you another life to live strike us as being unattainable.  (Science fiction writers posed variations of this 50 years ago in the 1960s.)  The life force, the spiritual monad that is you, that is your consciousness, cannot be mechanically captured and transferred.  A cloned copy of your body, even with your memories artificially implanted, would not be you.  Your consciousness would not be in that cloned body.  Another consciousness would be in that cloned body.  How to convey the point I am trying to make?  If this were tried, a clone with your memories would be somewhat analogous to hearing a well done audio recording of a gifted singer.  The recorded voice, as lifelike as it may sound, is not coming from the singer, but is a convincing copy of the singer’s voice.  The record is not the original, but is a representation of the original.  One’s implanted memories are not one’s consciousness, but merely a record of past experiences and past thoughts.

We have written before that mind is not an exact synonym for brain and that the mind overlaps yet transcends the physical brain.  (Rene Descartes was neither unique nor original in his somewhat similar thinking about this.)

Living properly is the best preparation for death, and consciously practicing a certain detachment can be helpful.  By detachment, we do not mean retreating into one’s self but rather living a constructive, loving life in the awareness and acceptance that this life is temporary and death could occur at any time.  Recognizing that life in this world is not all there is, or all there will be for us, helps us to not be overly attached to this world.  This is one helpful benefit from working for a spiritual level of consciousness.  Obsessive fears of death and clinging to life in this world are the burdens that we must carry if we identify with our bodies, and deny our spiritual dimension.

Dogen, a great Japanese zen master of the Middle Ages, advocated living in the awareness of death and the acceptance of it even though we ought not seek death (as a release from the pains of living).  When we approach life and death in equanimity, we are free to live fully in the present moment.  (He was not advocating reckless, irresponsible behavior.) Dogen stressed that one is to continue with their duties and their zen practice even while dying.  One could take medical treatment when ill, but one did not neglect one’s zen practice.  Perform your duties (as you are able) even while death is approaching.  This seems to us sound advice.  Do not think that you cannot make a positive contribution or a positive impression on someone even in your last days.  You can make a statement and set a good example in how you leave this world, in how you accept death, and in how you die. And, many hospice care nurses say that more than a few individuals as death comes very close can experience some profound realizations and find peace.

final thoughts

A personal reflection of mine on human life is congruent with the belief that our ultimate nature, our true nature is spiritual.  When I look upon a disfigured, horribly mangled, deformed body of a child with very severe birth defects, I still see an immortal soul residing in that body.  An immortal human soul that is worthy of respect and love.

Hope and love are in short supply in a world filled with despair and suffering.  Yet we can as individuals choose to make a loving contribution to the world.  Make loving choices in your life.

Here’s the link indicated above.

And, here is our feature image.  A stand of trees early on a summer morning.  We first shared this image in our photo series on the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.


stand of trees


Thanks for reading.

copyright 2014 –

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some scenery pics from far off Asia

Do not allow regrets from the past and worries of the future to rob you of the beauty to be found in the present moment (like enjoying a serving of tapioca pudding).

This morning at breakfast, with a window open here in the high elevation desert, I heard a bird laughing.  Yes, it sounded like a laugh that this bird was emitting.  It made me smile. (Perhaps the bird was a Laughing Chukar.  One of the nearby streets is named after such a bird.  Yes, this must be the bird who laughs at us humans.)

We feel like we are an automated lighthouse on a remote, lonely, rocky headland or offshore island, or a beacon in deep space that space travellers come across every so many thousands or millions of years or so.  . . . .  still blogging  . . . .  because we have been programmed to do so.

In this picture essay, we present the remaining images taken in China in late Spring.  (May be someday our photographer will journey to India and we will have pictures to share of that fabled land.)  Our photographer will soon be in Mexico for a few days.  Perhaps, we will have some photos worth sharing in September.  As well, concept or thematic essays will be presented next month.  But, for now, enjoy these photos.

This is a nice image of a parking area with a backdrop of hills and clouds.


China 45


These images, the one above and the next 4, were taken on the return from the Lijiang temples.  River, clouds and hillsides are seen.


China 43


Another view.


China 44


Our photographer on assignment.


Lucy in China


A view from a bridge.


China 42


These next few images appear to have been taken on the way to Shangri-La on the previous day.

Here is Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.  (In late Spring, there is no snow visible.)


Jade Dragon Snow Mountain


An image taken a couple of minutes later in another direction.  That is not graffiti on the concrete wall of the bridge.


China 111


A picture of the same scenery having walked with the camera a little further in one direction.


China 112


Several minutes later we see this view.  This is a picture of the “Five Goats” – the significance of which is not known to us.


China 110 five Goats


A moment later this scene was captured on film.  More clouds and river.


China 109


Some minutes later, we have this view.


China 108


2 hours later we see indications of farming on the hillsides.


China 104


Some minutes on we see this view of human activity on the hills.


China 101


Here we see small cattle in China.


China cattle


As for China, we do not care for all the computer hacking and cyber attacks that originate there.  This is a form of warfare that the miscreants that govern “the people’s republic” are waging against the West.

These next 2 pictures were taken at a Mexican restaurant this past weekend.  Avocados and tomatoes are very healthy to eat.


Mexican food


Shrimp was also served in addition to beef and chicken.




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