Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week 2012W05 Featured Pages

One of the strongest motivations which propelled me to publish the book (at a considerable drain to my meager if not altogether non-existent retirement fund) was to answer, for the record, anyone and everyone who pestered me with the question of when I was going back to the Philippines, that vaunted “Pearl of the Orient Seas,” “birthplace of the glorious day,” the Paradise Lost of Jose P. Rizal’s [nuestro perdido Eden].  Well, the answer in all its bluntness and pathetic hapless futility has been laid out on pages 43 and 44, the concluding section of the first chapter of the book.
From here onwards, I can tell anybody who poses the question to please go to’slook inside” feature and search for the text string “Residual Repercussions.”  Chances are much higher than average that you will find the section in its entirety available for you to peruse without violating copyright protocols.  Better still, you can actually buy the book.  There is more to it than superficially meets the eye.  You may even learn something from it while actually enjoying the read.

Once again, as has been my wont, for the benefit of those who cannot be bothered to click the hyperlinks, the featured pages are reproduced in full hereunder:

=== Begin Excerpts === mid p. 43 =

Residual Repercussions                                        

The proposed trip to Saudi Arabia, including the authorized detours to the United States, was of course funded in its entirety by the Philippine government.  I was a government official on an official mission.  On the completion of the mission I committed, among others, to tender a detailed written report about the trip to the Department of Foreign Affairs in addition to that required of me by the university.

A case can be plausibly made that I did not only willfully abandon my mission but rather premeditatedly conspired to sabotage it maliciously from the very start.  Having not completed the mission, I am liable to be brought to court for breach of contract and malversation of public funds. The former may have a statute of limitation.  I know for a fact that the latter does not.

From what little I know of the Philippine judicial system, I’d be most likely to be hauled off to jail than see the light of day in a court of law.  Although I have somewhat of an adventurous disposition, battling with mosquitoes and bedbugs, among others, in some god forsaken jail in the Philippines has not been my idea of enjoying my retirement years.

It is therefore with dejected resignation that any speculation on physically going back to the geographical roots of my heritage had to remain vibrant only in the La Manchan realm of impossible dreams, too effervescent to abandon, too inscrutable to pursue.  One impossible dream should remain intimately entangled with all the ruminations I venture upon through the remaining days of my sojourn in this mortal coil.

Consequently, it had become more urgently incumbent on my creative faculties to nurture the imagination and keep the embers of inspiration smoldering in the inner chambers of my soul so as to afford a pleasurable promenade along nostalgia lane into the portals of Shangri-la, unencumbered by the lethal inertia of hubristic indifference which could prove a tragic millstone around the neck in the twilight of my years.  Such eventuality would most certainly render the magnificent bliss of reminiscences in solitude into a barren desolate desert of remorse and pointless, if well-deserved, contrition. 

Granted, I might have mercifully fallen short of my goals.  But having passionately pursued my convictions, I had achieved peace with my conscience that I had remained honest and true to myself.  If I had to do it all over again, I would follow the same deliberations and most likely would end up on a kindred side of the bifurcation at every decision point.

=== End Excerpts === top  p. 44 =

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Parable of the Lost Finger

Blogger's Note: The following material was forwarded to me by my youngest brother, an ordained and practicing Seventh Day Adventist Minister.  Rather than forwarding the message by email which can often prove unwieldy, I find it expedient to give it further circulation through this blog site. The email message distribution list and forwarding history indicated that it was in turn forwarded to him by the oldest of his brood of three, who is a medical student; and that the original distribution was confined to their immediate family. I found it singularly touching that I got the mail as a sole recipient. It almost felt like I have just been adopted into their fold.  On the merits, I found the story worthy of a wider circulation. So here it goes, enjoy the ride.
Amazing: God Never Lies!

A king who did not believe in the goodness of God had a slave who, in all circumstances, said:

My king, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect, no mistakes!

One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty losing a finger.

Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman said "Is God good? If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost my finger."

The slave replied only "My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and he knows the "why" of all these things. What God does is perfect.

He is never wrong!"

Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave.

Later, he left for another hunt and was captured by savages who made human sacrifices.

In the altar, ready to sacrifice the noble, the savages found that the victim did not have one of his fingers, so he was released. According to them, he was not complete and could not be offered to the gods.

Upon his return to the palace, he authorized the release of his slave and received him very affectionately.

My friend, God was really good to me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a single finger I was let go! But I have a question: If God is so good, why did he allow me to put you in jail?

My King, if I had gone with you in this hunt, I would have been sacrificed for you, because I have no missing finger.

Therefore, remember: everything God does is perfect.

It is never wrong.

Often we complain about life and things that appear to be negative when they happen to us, forgetting that nothing is random and everything has a purpose.

Every morning, offer your day to God.

Ask God to inspire your thoughts, guide your actions, to ease your feelings. And do not be afraid. God is never wrong!

You know why this message is for you? I do not know, but God knows, because he never makes mistakes.......

The path of God and his word is perfect, without impurities. It is the way of all those who trust in him, as he says in 2 Samuel  22: 31

Surely the message arrived at the right moment. May God put in your heart the desire to send it to someone. Do not be ashamed to send it to the right person. God knows, He knows why.

God is never wrong!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week 2012W04 Featured Pages

I had prepared a set of pages to highlight this week.  But the events surrounding the Costa Concordia disaster had outweighed the choice in favor of something much more deserving of our undivided attention.  In an event which has been so appropriately deplored as illustrative of the death of chivalry in the Western culture, reports of unbridled heroism exhibited by the Filipino kitchen crew is like a breath of fresh air in a suffocating miasma of “each man for himself, God for himself” ambiance of selfishness and unmitigated greed.

The report had brought to the fore my unshakeable and deep seated faith and belief that heroism is integral to the cultural DNA of the Filipino people.  The highlighted sonnets were minted with an altogether different set of events for inspiration.  But acts of chivalry and heroism are rather portable and applicable to a different set of circumstances, because they emanate from within the soul of the doer.  They embody the very essence of being of anybody who is so heroically inclined.

To the heroes of Costa Concordia, regardless of nationality or ethnic background, as my modest salute to your act of heroism, I highlight the below excerpted sonnets.  May your heroism be so contagious that it reverberates into the consciousness of the younger generation who badly need the inspiration and guidance of the generation before them, and may the impulse survive the corrosive ravages of the ruins of time.

Once again, as has been my wont, for the benefit of those who cannot be bothered to click the hyperlinks, the featured pages are reproduced in full hereunder:

=== Begin Excerpts === top p. 146 =


Should lessons gleaned from History provide

       Due faith and courage for your future course,

       Be best prepared to emulate with pride

       The brave defenders of your sacred shores.

       Allow not blunt your own awakening

       By rhetoric that politicians use

       To thwart your conscience into weakening

       The selfsame vehemence of vengeance's cause,

       The which would break the fetters of your soul

       And tear the mask of shameless tyranny.

       Default's the cross of falsehood bearing all

       Unreason for your seeming destiny

              To drown, in surfeit, bliss of ignorance,

              To crown, in glory, sweet irrelevance!!


Of friends and foes you earned the poets' praise,

       Your legend beauty fared romantic fame,

       Your languor proves the vanquish of your race,

       Your wants and woes, their very sins proclaim.

       The insolence of your perdition made

       An otherwise noble inheritance

       A mockery of aspiration's need

       To cross the threshold vagaries of chance

       That though subdued, undaunted yet in quest

       To brave the tide, sans fears of the unknown.

       Conquered yet undefeated, unredressed,

       Let grievance architect your own renown:

              Or tears, or sweat, or blood, such price defray

              For priceless proves the prize of liberty!


       So often did you pay the price before,

       What cause have you to now so hesitate?

       With cross and sword Magellan [1] reached your shore,

       With spears and sword, his death, Magellan met —

       Who came to make you vow to Philip’s [2] fame,

       Your sons, unbowed, preferred Magellan slain,

       For which you got the mark of Philip's name,

       Imposed by legions of the realm of Spain.

       The name you took, you fought the insolence

       With del Pillar [3] and Rizal’s [4] arguments,

       And Bonifacio [5] with more forceful means

       Imposed on Spain defeat's predicaments:

      Retreat, did Spain, in came th'Americans

      With Monroe's Doctrine [6] and George Dewey’s [7] guns!


Weakened, outgunned, you fought George Dewey's force,

       With precious lives defended Tirad Pass, [8]

       Your weak ones did provide the dismal course

       Of your demise, and Aguinaldo [9] was

       To self-exile consigned to negotiate

       Your sole surrender to an enemy

       Who promise of reforms did elicit

       In lieu of much coveted liberty.

       Reforms enshrined your glory as Rizal,

       And martyrdom enthroned, you idolize

       Inaction's cause and lose the wherewithal

       To build a nation strong, and free, and wise:

              Martyrs are but a nation's mournful loss,

              The nation must survive a martyr's cause!

=== End Excerpts === top  p. 148 =

For those unfamiliar with Philippine history, the following notes on the proper names referenced in the sonnets may prove instructively helpful.

=== Begin Excerpts === mid p. 150 =

[1]   Ferdinand Magellan was the commander of the Spanish Armada, which first landed on Filipino soil in 1521; was killed in the ensuing battle when the natives refused to pay homage to the king of Spain.

[2]   King Philip II of Spain's name is the origin of the name Philippines; the term Filipino originally meant Spaniards born in the Philippines, as opposed to ones born in Spain.

[3,4] Marcelo H. del Pilar and Jose P. Rizal were the main leaders of the Reformists, who argued for Philippine representation in the Spanish Royal Courts.  Rizal, executed by the Spaniards for sedition with his literary works, was subsequently consecrated under American occupation as the National Hero.

[5]   Andres Bonifacio was the founder of the first organized revolution against Spain; later slain in an internal power struggle with factions supporting Emilio Aguinaldo.

[6]   By the principles of Monroe's Doctrine the United States declared war on Spain; the American colonization of the Philippines was a spinoff of the Spanish-American War.

[7]   Admiral George Dewey was the commander of the Asiatic Fleet which sank the Spanish Armada in Manila Bay in 1898.  Most Filipino historians consider the encounter a "mock battle" since Spanish forces were already under siege by the Philippine revolutionary forces, and confined to a few blocks of Manila.

[8]   Tirad Pass was the only access to the Headquarters of the Philippine revolutionary forces in the Filipino-American war.  The fall of Tirad Pass directly resulted in the surrender of the Filipino forces.

=== End Excerpts === mid  p. 151 =

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Subject: WOW !! WOW !! AND WOW AGAIN

95 year old hero!
Letter To Obama at Whitehouse Sent from 95 year Old Pearl Harbor Survivor !! Fantastic!!

This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now. He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president.

Dear President Obama, My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year. People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.
I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate. Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor , allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.
One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.
So here goes.
I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.
I can't figure out what country you are the president of. You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like: " We're no longer a Christian nation" " America is arrogant" - (Your wife even announced to the world," America is mean- spirited. " Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.) I'd say shame on the both of you, but I don't think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you. To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.
After 9/11 you said," America hasn't lived up to her ideals."
Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British? Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War? I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.
I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.
Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.
Shape up and start acting like an American. If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue . You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.
And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts , who was putting up a fight? You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.
One more thing. I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you're the Commander-in-Chief now, son. Do your job. When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him. But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out. The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you're thinking of.
You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president. You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That's not our greatest threat. Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now. And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle...
Sincerely, Harold B. Estes
Snopes confirms as true:

When a 95 year old hero of the "the Greatest Generation" stands up and speaks out like this, I think we owe it to him to send his words to as many Americans as we can. Please pass it on.
This blogger concur: the letter demands sharing, especially with those Obama acolytes.

Week 2012W03 Featured Pages

The whole notion of “Featured Page(s)” was initially conceived to bring an historical context to the contents of the chosen page(s) through the prism of the author’s most immediate concerns and obsessions.  Thus, for instance, the “Seasons’ Greetings” for the turning of the years at Yuletide, and last week’s lament on inflation resonating with the unemployment report, etc. fit this template to the proverbial “T.”
Having embarked on what I hope to be the concluding phase of a healing process from the ravages of a debilitating traffic accident last summer, the physical and emotional experiences surrounding the minting of the poems highlighted this week were ineluctably brought to the fore from the cobwebs of my mind.  It is most appropriate to bring into focus the poems on the Flirting book’s pages 143 and 173 as the website’s new featured pages, this week.

It was during the middle of the first term of the Clinton Presidency.  I was then determined to fully recover from the residual paralyzing effects of a stroke suffered on 1-Feb-1993 which put me out of commission for the entire month.  Call it karma or just the vagaries of chance, I was fortunate enough to enlist the services of a Licensed Massage Therapist who used modalities which were just what “the doctor ordered.”  There would be no use denying, she was definitely all of the object, subject, and inspiration for the excerpted poems.

A bit of historical background may prove instructive.  As a school boy I used to perennially suffer severe migraine headaches, in the order of at least three to five days a week.  As far as I could remember, the episodes were immune to the traditional headache medications that were available in a farming/fishing village.  The only effective remedy was my father’s ministrations of his masterful expertise in amma, a traditional massage modality. He would massage my entire body to locate what he called “the eye or head of the migraine.”

The culprit, in the form of a pulsating almond-shaped migrating gland, could be found anywhere in the body, typically where one traditionally feels for your pulse.  Once located, my father would molest the gland with pinching finger pressure for upwards of fifteen minutes until it was rendered “benign,” or annihilated to surrender.  The process was excruciatingly painful but at the end of the ordeal, the migraine would be gone and the relief would invariably induce a rejuvenating stupor culminating into a peaceful if not a totally blissful slumber.

It is mainly due to this history that as I alluded to on page 113 of the above referenced book, (which may be ordered
giving and appreciating an effectively healing massage is very much in the DNA of my heritage for at least three generations.  So when a massage provider’s methodology resonates with the healing needs of my physical wellbeing, it necessarily affects my emotional impulses and over all demeanor.  This, in a nutshell is the emotional backdrop of the featured poems.

As has been my wont, for the benefit of those who cannot be bothered to click the hyperlinks, the featured pages are reproduced in full hereunder:

======== Begin Excerpts ======

(p. 143)

XXXVI   Why, or Why Not?  

Should the vibrant summer of your blooming

Grace the autumn of my apprehension

And make heaven of indulgent dreaming,

Shades of reality, to obsession?

Suchlike notions born of sordid fear

Bid oblivion build a frail memorial

To the boldness of caprice unbridled

By the frigid fetters of common sense;

Cold sacrifice charging the pedestal

Of calculatingly unprincipled

Surrender to hubrid incompetence

Much taking liberty of blind despair.

To have met you and yet let you alone

Is my soul’s insufferable treason!

(p. 173)

Oh Marie, You're Therapy!                   

Oh, how I am so sore!

Sore, but I yearn for more

More, of that magic touch

Touch, that I love so much:

Much consternation dwell

Suspended in the spell,

Delicious agony

Of partial therapy —

The which be incomplete

Ere I reciprocate

Your traces magical

With much less clinical

Responses of my own

Unbridled expression

Of this sweet compelling

Hunger for the healing

Promised by your finger

I fondly remember,

To tease eternity

The possibility

To commit my soul

To the incredible!

======== End Excerpts ======

Revisiting Recent Personal Milestone

I have often referred to the traffic mishap of 6/30/2011 from the effects of which I still am trying to recover.  In order to preserve the accessibility of online documentation, I decided to publish this post to facilitate a visual reference to the event.
Just Lucky, I Guess

To be imbued with such irresistible charms that bewitched, bothered, and bewildered 18-year-old females don't let me be.  This time around she just happened to cross my path at the wrong mph while I was behind the wheel of the pictured Lincoln Town Car below.

Result: W. Ernst Hanley moment, viz., "my head is bloodied but unbowed.”

Prognosis: Never a dull moment for up to six months to mend from a compression fracture of at least one lumbar vertebrae.  The good news is, there is no evident injury to the spinal cord.  It only hurts when I cough, laugh, clear my throat or make any sudden moves. I still can proof the book in a wheel chair and still make it a rewarding experience.

Reaction: We have to play the cards we are dealt with and leverage the most we can get from the hand.

Lingering Enigma: It’s most astounding that my Physician cannot seem to imagine or believe that I could possibly be seriously injured from it. I’m good but at the end of my wits I come up empty.  I refuse to attribute it to possible “malicious indifference to the patient’s well-being” because I otherwise consider her the most pleasant physician with impeccable professional decorum that I have had the privilege of being a patient to in almost 67 yearsJ

For now, I have no choice but to defer to good old Khayyam:

There was the Door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see:
Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee
There was--and then no more of Thee and Me.

Can anybody out there hazard any viable alternate explanation?  Your only possible reward would be the knowledge of helping out one of God’s creatures in the throes of senilityJ

Monday, January 9, 2012

This Week’s Featured Page at Flirting with Misadventures

Notwithstanding, or rather especially because of, the White House spinmeisters’ painting a much rosier scenario than warranted by economic reality, just to sell the narrative for Obama’s re-election bid to a gullible public, I deem it most appropriate to highlight the poem on the Flirting book’s page 171 as the website’s new featured page.   

The piece itself was originally written in the workplace, when inflation was barely half what it is now.  The national debt was about $771.54 billion.  Compared to today’s humongous $15.3 trillion and counting, those were the proverbial “halcyon days of yore.”

Those were the glory days of the Carter Administration when national malaise and stagflation were dominant components of the national lexicon.  Compared to the contempt with which the Obama regime is lambasting the American public and dividing and fragmenting the national consciousness, it is very tempting to embrace Jimmy Carter as a pampering benevolent father figure.

For those of you who are less inclined to click on any hyperlinks, the poem is reproduced in full below.  Enjoy the ride, the rest of the week, especially the GOP Primaries festival of trivia, banalities and insufferable irrelevance.

A  W O R K E R 'S   L A M E N T                      

(Typesetting at 4th Quarter Lobster Shift!)

Last page is done, so is the day

And one by one, we take our way

The time we spent pasting those pages

Gladly we sent to distant ages.

What words to speak, what verse is there to write?

What device can make reason usher in some respite?

Give me words of wisdom to save the common sense

From such taste of boredom akin to violence!

Oh, these newspapers, Why! they're such a crowd

And their publishers all seem so pleased and proud

With odds and ends to drown the bliss of ignorance

Prose and verse to crown the Glory of Irrelevance.

One might argue: Why get so annoyed?

Tough work to pursue, tougher still unemployed

What with inflation going up by the hour

'Tis no simple mission to get worth for your dollar.

Well, then, it is obvious, there isn't any choice;

Methinks it takes genius, takes cunning otherwise;

Some take the drudgery, all day, nine to five,

Mischief and trickery, nay, sin to survive!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Delicious Food Metaphor

“I enjoy your writing (even if I do not comment or reply); it is like a good sour cream ~ quite thick, a bit bitter but with a smooth texture and refreshing aftertaste, and more, ~ it can be applied to many occasions… Keep on.”

Oleg Gang, Leader for Soft/Bio Nanomaterials at Brookhaven National Labs.

Truth be told, I don’t even like sour cream.  It gives me heartburn. Both its consistency and aroma remind me of, the porridge which, I, as a farm boy, used to produce out of coconut milk in my father’s barn, in a huge wooden barrel or a clay pot, fermented overnight and chilled by the tropical mountain air. It was used mainly to bathe the water buffaloes with as a lice killer and repellent.

Admittedly, there is no debating when it comes to taste.  The proclivities of my taste buds’ are more inclined toward Uni (sashimi than sushi) and Oysters on the half-shell, sans horse radish. I habitually spike my Kim Chee with a generous splash of Tabasco sauce.  I know more than a few people who consider these culinary inklings as bordering on the abominable.

Nevertheless, I must concede, this food metaphor accolade of my writing endeavors stokes the ego in a most inspiringly pleasurable manner.  Just from the locution “I can taste it with my eyes,” I tend to believe that the faculty of taste can be considered the most susceptible of all the senses. It is therefore, the most flattering whenever it is invoked. That the comment has been imported as the latest entry on the Flirting Website’s Testimonials page, is as natural as day follows night.
It is understood: when compliments are rather few and far between, every single one that comes your way is treasured as the most priceless and rarest of all gems, much more than all the jewels in Sheba or Cleopatra’s crown.