Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rant of the Day - Politics, like football, is not for the faint of heart!

When I was in high school, so many, many moons ago, my favorite class/subject was History.  Cranford High School (Cranford, N.J.) was a little different from the norm in that only 11th and 12th grades actually attended the high school.  The 9th and 10th grades (freshmen and sophomore) were lumped in with the lower grades at the junior high schools. There were 2 of them, one on the north side of town and one on the south side of town.  Then the juniors and seniors from both sides attended the high school.  I mention all of this because, in my Sophomore year, while I was still at one of the Junior High Schools (Orange Ave., on the north side of town to be exact), I had the bright idea to go out for the High School football team.  Now, dripping wet and fully clothed, my weight at that time was at best 120 lbs., which made me the smallest guy on the team. 

Needless to say, I didn't see much action, and what made matters worse, when I did get into a game, I still didn't see much action because I was pretty much blind as a bat without my glasses.  Since they didn't fit too well under the helmet, and I didn't want to take a chance on smashing them and my nose in the process, I mostly wandered around in a fuzzy haze. It wasn't until after college that I finally got my first set of contact lenses.  Anyway, my high school football career was short-lived and mostly limited to special teams action.  My one chance at pulling off any heroics came in a game on a rainy afternoon, when I was actually inserted into the game as a wide-out.  As I ran the route, and made a particularly good move on my defender (if I say so myself), I turned back to the quarterback and lo and behold, the ball was headed my way.  Although it was a little overthrown, I think if I could have seen it better, I could have adjusted better to make the catch, but it's hard to judge distances on a blurry object that you can't really focus on.  

So, my one shot at a touchdown went by the wayside. My two other most vivid memories from that season are the broken  coccyx (tail-bone) I received from one particularly hard tackle during practice one day.  I was a halfback on this play, and had the ball when the defender decided that tackling me wasn't good enough.  He had to pick me up and carry me about 10 additional yards before slamming me to the ground.  Which brings to mind my other memory.  My coach, Mr. Messina, liked to say that contrary to popular belief, football was not a contact sport.  "Dancing", he would say, "is a contact sport.  Football is a collision sport."  My broken tail-bone can attest to these words of wisdom.  

So, to get back to the first sentence above, here I am about to enter my junior year at the high school, and my American History teacher turns out to be, oh no, Mr. Messina.  Well, since I didn't go out for the team that year, I figured that I was really in for it in this class.  And while I did take a little ribbing on the first day of class, it turned out to be a great class and Mr. Messina became my all-time favorite teacher. So much so that when it came time to select my classes for my senior year, I made sure that I was in his Far Eastern History class. His approach to American History and Asian History and their impact on current events still resonates with me today, 43 years later.  

As I watch the unfolding political scene of today, I can't help but think about how he might tack on an addendum to his adage from those days.  If dancing was a contact sport, and football was a collision sport, I'll bet that politics would be a demolition derby.  The participants seem to be of similar mind sets as well.  In a demolition derby, the last car "standing", or able to limp across the finish line in one piece is declared the winner.  Barring some colossal mishap however, spectators are generally not a part of the "action", and will walk away from the event unscathed, having enjoyed the afternoons' festivities. Not so in politics.  We seem to be such a polarized nation lately, what with the Tea Party and the Occupy folks and everything else, that the participants in this particular "sport", have lost sight of the fact that by the time they are finished, by the time the "last man (or woman) standing" limps across the finish line, there's going to be nothing left after this particular demolition derby.  And that would be a shame.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Something new - Rant of the Day! - The Trashing of America

So, as I start to get back into the groove of publishing these blog posts, I am faced with the same dilemma as in my earlier forays, namely "What to write about?"  It's tough to come up with something that may (or may not, in many cases) be of interest on a daily, or even semi-weekly basis.  As anyone who has followed me before knows, I have plenty of online endeavors that I may choose to promote from time to time (website, storefronts, galleries, Amazon shop, and now, even a Pampered Chef website).  But seriously, who wants to keep being bombarded with that crap all of the time.  In an effort to mix things up a little last year, I started to feature the artwork of artists other than myself in this blog.  I have fun with that, and enjoy putting the spotlight on the work of artists that my friends, family and other readers may not be exposed to otherwise.  Plus, it may help to introduce that artist to an audience that he or she would not normally reach. That, in turn, lead to a regular feature in my Art from the Inkwell Monthly Newsletter - "Artist of the Month".  Links to my various websites, storefronts and galleries are located in the side panel of each blog post, so readers always have easy access to those sites, whether the content of the blog refers to them or not. 

So now, with "Rant of the Day", I'll throw in some additional observations that may, or may not, be of interest to anyone reading.  And the observations may not always be "rants", but I thought that made for a nice title, so what the heck.  Which brings me to today's topic - "The Trashing of America".  Each day, as part of my daily routine, I take the dogs (Boots and Cooper) for a nice walk in the woods in the foothills near our house.  There is an access road called Packsaddle Road, which winds its way up the mountain for about 8 miles, with any number of off-road paths and trails to follow.  The scenery can be quite stunning, with many vistas of the surrounding foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  That is, until you take into consideration the amount of refuse left behind by other visitors to these woods.  I'll try to pack out some of the beer cans and bottles strewn around once in awhile, but this task is just overwhelming.  Lately, I've been seeing enormous piles of corn husks along some of the paths I frequent.  Can't figure this one out, unless some folks have started producing moonshine up there.  No other evidence of a still is visible though - just piles and piles of corn husks, along with beer cans, bottles and occasional wads of used toilet paper - really disgusting.  Why not pack out your trash, instead of treating the mountain like some sort of land-fill?  Other areas of road are used as a sort of make-shift rifle range, in spite of all of the "No Shooting" signs posted, so there are spent shell casings all over the place (along with the beer cans, etc.).  And of course, let's not forget the poachers.  At all times of the year, not just hunting season in the Fall, you are bound to come across various deer and elk carcasses littering the trails and hillsides, again with the seemingly requisite beer cans, etc.  I would hazard a guess that these poachers are probably the same idiots who are dumping their corn husks, shell casings, beer cans and used toilet paper wads all around. Just last month, I came across the carcass of a Black Lab wrapped around a tree along the main part of the access road.  It seemed that the dog must have been struck by a vehicle and thrown to its final resting spot a few yards off the the road.  Happens all of the time I guess, but back there in the woods, it must have been someone's companion, or pet, probably one of the previously mentioned poachers.  You would think that some attempt to carry the animal out would have been made.  Instead, after about a week, the maggots accomplished their task of reducing the carcass to a pile of bones.  I'd hate to think of one of my dogs ending up that way.  I even checked in with my Veterinarian down the road to see if anyone had reported a missing dog recently, just in case some sort of closure would be needed.  All of this brings to mind the famous commercial of about 40 years ago, wherein piles and piles of roadside trash and refuse, smokestacks spewing their black smoke, and rivers filled with floating debris lead up to a closing shot of a Native American looking out over the mess with tears running down his cheek.  I guess we really haven't learned any lessons yet, have we?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Holiday Special x 2!

What better to get back in the groove of hitting the blog on a more regular basis that to start off by letting everyone know about the Holiday Specials I'm running this month. Let's start off with my Etsy Shop, where  I'm offering FREE SHIPPING now through December 31, 2011. Simply use the COUPON CODE:  HENSHE at check-out to take advantage of this offer.  This is good for anything in my shop, whether it's a Note Card Package, Print, or any of the laser-engraved fine wood gift items available.  Payments at Etsy are handled with PayPal, so you can rest assured that your transaction is secure.  Just click on the link above for easy access to the shop, and get started on that last minute shopping!

"Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse"
Over at my FineArtAmerica Gallery, I'm offering 20% OFF, also now through December 31, 2011. Simply use the DISCOUNT CODE:  GDPDBZ at check-out to take advantage of this offer.  Here you'll find Giclee Prints of the artwork in various sizes, with matting and framing options available, as well as canvas and canvas stretching options offered.  Or perhaps you're looking for 5 x 7 fully customizable Note Cards, available singly, or in packages of 10 or 25 cards.  There's still plenty of time to find those Stocking stuffers and finish up with your last minute shopping, and as with the Etsy Shop, transactions here are through PayPal.