Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Woes of Shaving Revisited

I have been shaving for almost 45 years. I started with the old double edged safety razor, quickly moved to an electric shaver, but reverted to a razor after a while. As most everyone else, I have moved through the evolution of razors from injectors to the modern "turbo" multi-bladed phenoms. Lately, I have become quite chagrined at the cost of these modern "marvels," which claim to pull and cut in great comfort for the closest shave ever.

Yet, that closest shave has caused problems for my aging face. I seem to experience more discomfort than ever. I began to look around on the net for alternatives, investigating the latest electric shavers, when I ran across some sites that convinced me to return to my roots. As I was reading one of the sites that touted the advantages of the old double-edged razors, I leaned over to an antique table by my computer that contains a drawer of a few of my father's knives and such. Low and behold, there were two classic Gillette double-edged marvels. One is a Gillette adjustable, that one site says is the best ever made. The other is apparently just as desirable.

What luck! I searched around, looking for information on blades. Sure enough, there were plenty of suggestions as to the best. I settled upon some Israeli made Personna blades that cost about 9.00 for 100 on Ebay. A bit cheaper than the modern, slick Turbos, which retail for about 20.00 for five of the apparently golden gems. My next choice will be shaving cream. Will it be the premium British made Taylor of Old Bond Street or the Italian Proraso? Will my old brush be enough or should I shell out thirty bucks for a new one? Maybe I will also need a new German made Merkur razor also.

I never thought of shaving as a hobby. Now, however, I have the time to savor a good wet shave in the morning. No rushing through my morning routine to have breakfast and hit the road to the office or worse, a day of driving. No, I will have my morning coffee with my daily crossword puzzle, blog and news site reads. Then a bite of breakfast. Then, and only then, will I go to the master bath to practice the almost lost art of wet-shaving with my double-edged safety razor of long ago.

Who knows, I might pull out great-grandpa's straight razor one day, hone and strop it to a fine edge, and...cut half my face off. No, I think I will wait on that one. I can still remember the barbershop days of my youth, when the barber would pick up that scary weapon, strop it and proceed to shave my neck. I will leave great-grandpa's razor in its case and in the display cabinet where it belongs.

Born Again American

My friend, Ryan, over at "That Baptist Ain't Right" introduced me to this great site today. Please take a moment to check it out and sign the pledge. This isn't a partisan site. It is an American site. It is time for true activism and patriotism and taking our government back as we face the challenges of the future.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Wolf in Shepherd's Clothing

I see it almost every day somewhere or other. Those who have placed themselves above everyone else as God's chosen one, some of them condemning and damning to hell those who don't agree with them. They wear their religion on their sleeves and appear to be sincere in their beliefs. They openly thank God for everything, blame God for everything ("It was God's will..."), and generally bring Him up every chance they get in conversation. I have always been just a bit cynical about many of these kind of folks, because most that I have known have led less than stellar lives at the same time. There are too many to be chronicled in the space I have here. Generally, it seems to me, the folks who demonstrate their piety on a daily basis, quietly, without show, are the ones to be trusted as sincere. The others, well, let's just say I don't turn my back on them easily.

In recent days my wife and I have been dealing with the situation of a distant relative of mine, who is about 90 years old. She is a typical independent and stubborn mountain woman, who is living in the home in which she grew up. She has no immediate family living. Her living conditions, we have discovered, are somewhat poor. She has heat and a good roof over her head, food provided by friends, apparently enough money to pay her bills, and even cable TV. Cleanliness and running water are another story. When we tried to help her, too much, I suppose, she said in so many words, don't call me, I'll call you.

How does this relate to the beginning paragraph? Her pastor, who hasn't visited her in months or even years, appears more interested in this lady's property than her welfare. She opposes having Meals on Wheels and Adult Protective Services involved, because she fears that my relative's living conditions would be discovered, leading to, possibly, a nursing home. Granted such a move would probably mean the end of my cousin's life because she wouldn't leave her home voluntarily. However, it would also mean a lien on the her property for payment. There are several acres of mountain land involved.

Recently, the pastor insisted that, should the subject of a will arise, we should encourage the elderly lady to leave her property to the church. Did I note that the church is a small country church with only a few active members? So what would this church do with a few hundred thousand dollars? Given the reputation of this pastor, I would be very concerned.

Frankly, I would be glad for the property to go toward proper care for its owner. If she could end her days in clean, comfortable, and safe care, why shouldn't her family property stand good for it? Our local nursing home is a part of the hospital and is very well operated. The patients are cared for in a responsible manner and the environment is very clean and positive.

The pastor seems to truly care little for the welfare of this lady. She has done nothing beyond an email or two. She has rejected offers of help from other pastors, feeling, it appears, that they might horn in on her possible windfall. If she truly had concern for this woman's welfare, she would have gladly accepted offers of help, since her flock is also elderly and can do very little to help. She would be contacting local sources to see what other assistance might be available, as we are going to do. She would be visiting on a regular basis and talking to the lady to see if she might be able to encourage a positive change.

Instead, she watches from afar and waits, like a vulture circling a dying beast. When this lady passes, I expect the pastor, who is also a legal assistant, will dive in, seeking to benefit from the leftovers. She is not the first wolf in shepherd's clothing that I have encountered in my lifetime. There are many others out there just like her. Some are less obvious, others make no bones about it.

A late pastor friend was at the time of his death writing a series of articles on "The Market Driven Church," where numbers mean more than souls. Money the root of all evils seems to drive so many churches today. It isn't money to do good with. It is money to build monuments to ourselves, and to show up the other churches in the community. Far be it from us to use those millions to run a soup kitchen or provide shelter and clothing to the homeless. Let's build a gym and a health club for our members, so they won't have to associate with others of different beliefs or races. Surely Jesus, the white guy with the beard in the painting up front, will understand.

Monday, January 12, 2009

To Prosecute or Not to Prosecute?

The Obama Administration faces a monumental issue in the near future. Should an investigation into the POW torture issue be initiated? Obviously, such an investigation would be characterized by Republicans as a witch hunt. It would be terribly divisive and destructive at a time when this country is suffering greatly from a major economic tornado. When it has just lived through one of the worst presidential administrations in the history of the country, the near future should be one of healing and setting the country back on the right track at home and in the world.

Yet, torture is a criminal activity. For the last 70 years, at least, this country has decried the use of torture and has sought out, when possible, those who have been guilty of it, and put them on trial either before a world court on within the confines of the accused country. Saadam Hussein is a good example, as were the World War II Germans. Granted, both examples were, as far as we know, far greater extremes that those committed by the Bush Administration.

Does the Obama Administration have an out? In my opinion, yes. As much as I would like to see Cheney and Bush and their minions pay for the damage done to this country's image in the world, I hope that there is no prosecution within this country. However, other countries may very well bring charges in the World Court. Some of them could be allies. What does Obama do then? Does he refuse to turn the indicted ones over to the court? Probably so. Just the fact that legitimate charges are brought and Bush and Cheney and others are virtually confined to this country would be recognition enough of their crimes to suit me.

I don't think the damage that would occur within this country would be worth the effort of putting these low life's on trial. Let history take them to task, as it certainly will. No Karl Rove revisionism will turn the tide of history away from the truth. I can't think of a better history lesson for future generations than a recap of the mess that has taken place over the course of the last eight years.

What better way to teach the Constitution and its value, than to show how it was abused and how close we came to losing so many inalienable rights. Students can be shown the era of this country's low point in world history, and how quickly it went from a leader to a disgrace. They must know how easily human rights within our own country were dissolved by a simpleton leader and his followers, who used a tragedy to consolidate power, and who cared so little for human life that they sacrificed thousands of American lives on the field of battle in an unprecedented pre-emptive and unnecessary war.

Nightmare in Gaza

Do the Israelis really have to kill hundreds of Palestinians, including mothers and children to stop Hamas' rockets from being launched into Israel? Do the Israeli's not understand that they are only deepening the hatred of themselves by the unnecessary killing? Do they really care? My opinion, no to all.

They have made feeble attempts to alert the Palestinians, when they are going to bomb or shell. However, when there are millions of people squeezed into a small area, exactly what do the Israelis expect them to do? If they go down the street, they are just as likely to be killed as not. It is more like a turkey shoot than anything. "Shooting in amongst them" as Jerry Clower used to say, accomplishes little more than a massacre. It is such a sad story to see such military might used against civilians with such little apparent regret. It is sadder to see our country doing so little to try to stop it.

These attacks by Israel every year or two always kill many, many more Arabs than Israelis and only deepens the resolve of those who would see Israel destroyed. Just as the United States' actions in Iraq were recruiting fuel for Islamic fundamentalist hate groups, so are the actions of Israel each time hundreds or thousands are killed at the hands of Israel's U.S. supplied army. Those young children, who see their brothers, sisters, parents and extended family killed by the Israeli army, are fodder in the hands of extremists. How easy it must be to eventually recruit them as suicide bombers or other soldiers, marching against the hated Israelis and Americans.

For the last eight years we have encouraged Israel's bullying behavior. Granted they have to defend themselves, but do they have to massacre so many in the process? Surely there are better ways to accomplish their goals. They didn't succeed with this kind of action in Lebanon a couple of years ago, nor will they succeed this time. If their goal is to lower the population of Palestine, they are doing so, but I have grave doubts that they will bring an end to violent attacks on themselves. Instead, they may very well have ensured even worse attacks against their homeland.