A Meaning of Life


Life on Earth (Source: Disney’s Wall-E)

On the way back home from a tutoring class, I stopped by a local Home Depot – the wall-mounted wireless unit of my garage door opener had become temperamental and needed replacement.

It is, of course, easy to find things in a Home Depot. A bewildering variety of things are piled into tall shelves, and huge orange ceiling banners advertising contents of aisles assail the eyes – but getting lost in there is my strong forte. I sought the first human in an orange apron I could see: “Where can I find my thingamajig?” “You should be able to find it in Electrical Hardware,” said she, scurrying along on another more important task. Not happy, I looked around for another helper and spotted an elderly couple talking with a balding, jovial gent with an apron on.

A fragment of their ongoing conversation was all that was audible on approach, from the man to the HD employee: “…my one question.”  “Yep, that’s it,” he replied.

“Could I ask you one question too? Just one?” Their conversation seemed over, and my question impetuous.

“Sure, just one. Make it good!” ordered the apron-donning gentleman.

What’s the meaning of life?” popped out, while some part within cringed at this brash query.

“Haha – that’s it, asking questions, that’s the meaning of life!” exclaimed the elderly man. Mr. Apron just smiled.

“Am just looking for this thingamajig,” offered I.

“Head over to the next aisle, get to the wall, walk a mile that-a-way, and you’ll find it on your left.”

“Did you say ‘mile,’ when you meant ‘aisle’?” His meaning escaped me.

A smile again. I walked along per his directions, musing on the quick response of the other gentleman, and found the thingamajig in the far corner of the store.




Posted in Literary, nonfiction, Philosophy, Social, Writing | Tagged , , ,

Gun Supremacy in the land of Ameriguns


Angry yet? (Source: Getty Images)


Did we ever come out of the wild wild west? Ever learn to settle issues without violence? Or learn to ask questions, of others and oneself, before shooting first?

“The Gun makes all men equal.” Does it? Equal in what respect? The capacity for retaliation, retribution, extreme violence, of course…how dumb can I be? The world isn’t a friendly or kind place, is it? No one will dare raise a hand, against me, even in seeking recognition, or in expressing harmlessness, with my Gun in my hand. Lift your hands and I’ll shoot, so beware, you hostiles. I am your equal, as hostile or even more so, with my Gun.

“I love my country. I love its Freedom. My Gun is my free right to bear arms.” Ah, yes. I am free. I can do anything I wish in my country. Say anything, do anything, to the Devil with all others and their sentiments. I do so love to walk around with a bazooka that compensates for my other failings. Makes me a real man. And hey – my right is enshrined in the cons-tit-you-shun. I know my rights. That old piece of paper says: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary – something or the other – my right to bear Guns shall not be infringed.” Not even by my own understanding, compassion, wisdom, or God. And I shall teach my children the very same – you must worship your freedom and your Guns. And use them for wanton expressions of your manliness (womanliness too) and the occasional mass murder. I shall not care about what was meant with the preamble to the right in that old document. That is not my concern. I love that my country allows me to cherry pick just the phrase I can use – my right to bear weapons of mass murder shall not be infringed – to buttress my personal freedom.

“Guns do not kill people. People kill people.” Of course! Guns are things, harmful things, sure. They are used by good and bad people. We must arm all the good people of the world with the same weapons the bad people use. The nuclear deterrent. Fight terror with terror. That works, doesn’t it? Hey – if we’d armed all the concert goers in Las Vegas with automatic rifles, and if they’d been trained, they could’ve seen muzzle flashes from the hotel window and directed focused automatic fire toward that ‘evil’ terrorist. Just imagine – fire and fury – all focused in a stream of glorious avenging bullets against the vile shooter. The good people could’ve fought back and won a glorious victory. God would’ve won that night. It’s always a battle, life and death, ain’t it? People kill people.

My land of Ameriguns recognizes the truth: might is right. The Gun is supreme, and we shall never be caught unvigilant. We shall rain awesome destruction, shock and awe, on all who stand opposed to our ideology. And we shall use our cons-tit-you-shun as our highest moral principle. And profit from the agony of hundreds, thousands, millions, and billions of living beings all over the world. Profit is our God, and the Wild Wild West, our way of life.






Posted in Literary, nonfiction, Philosophy, Social | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Longest Winter: The Battle of The Bulge

The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated PlatoonThe Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II’s Most Decorated Platoon by Alex Kershaw

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A detailed, engaging, moving narration.

Kershaw balances the depiction of the courage and valour of soldiers with the horrors and agonies of war in this comprehensive narrative that describes the Battle of the Bulge at the end of WWII. And, perhaps unintentionally, he demonstrates selflessness and dedication, on the part of soldiers and their direct leaders, that stands in stark contrast with the selfishness and personal politics of leaders of armies engaged. Of particular note is Patton’s quest, to rescue his son-in-law from a POW camp while sacrificing at least 25 American lives, of no significant military objective, and the meaningless competition between such so-called leaders driving their soldiers to accomplishments that brought transient honours to themselves. I thought it striking that the work highlighted this aspect while describing true devotion and heroism.

War is never a desirable activity; war and conflict can sometimes show and build character, but more often than not bring out the worst in men. This too is evident in this narrative of the long winter war near the end of this great conflict. It is rare to find modesty under and after such circumstances, and that displayed by Lt. Col. Robert Kris, “Medals do not make heroes any more than court martials make cowards…it is enough to say that they gave a good accounting of themselves,” is perhaps something to learn from. Do what we must do; make no song or lament of it.

Copious footnotes in the narrative add to credibility but do distract from an unbroken reading. I wished for fewer such diversions. And, as with any long work, perhaps this too could use some additional editing. The book is otherwise an easy read and immerses one in that brutal time and place.

Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Posted in Literary, nonfiction, Social | Tagged , , , , , ,

Jesus at the foot of my bed


Jesus and Lucifer (source: Unknown, Net)


“Have fun!” The friendly cashier bade an elderly lady goodbye and turned to me. “Found everything you needed? What’s so funny?” A big smile adorned my face.

“Oh, the vision of a rounded, bent-over, old lady ‘having fun,'” said I. She smiled and continued to ring up my few items. “Is that really what people do?”

“Oh YEAH, honey!  That’s what my father did, right up until he closed his eyes. Was just a while ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” I wasn’t sure what to say.

“No, not at all – he was cheerful all the way. Just closed his eyes one night, and was gone. No fuss, no mess.”

“Glad to hear that! My mother too, but she struggled a few days in a hospital.” A pang of guilt arose within; I hadn’t been at her bedside when that happened last year. She’d struggled for a decade with old age and infirmity, and with a mentally challenged daughter to care for. And I – I struggled with…but never mind, I couldn’t get to her bedside soon enough.

“He was in a hospital too, bedridden for a couple of years – almost. A week more and it’d have been exactly two years. Someone ran him off a 300-ft cliff in his car.”

“Heavens! However did he survive that? Was he in a good car?”

“He was in his Chevy truck. The fall banged him up something awful. But he was bright and funny to the end.” She’d finished scanning all my purchases, and the machine displayed $9.24. I gave her a tenner and searched my threadbare pockets for a quarter. “The best part was his story about being in the hospital bed. He said he was never alone.”

“What do you mean?” I found my quarter and handed it over.

“He said Jesus sat at the foot of his bed. ‘What did he say!’ I asked him. ‘There’s nothing to be said,’ said he. He was just peaceful.”

“Oh, he was fooling you…” I couldn’t resist bringing logic into the narration.

“There’s nothing to be said,” said she, handing back my change.






Posted in Literary, nonfiction, Philosophy, Social, Writing | Tagged , , , , , ,

FREE: HnH E-Book, July 17, 18


Humbling and Humility (cover image)


You’ve likely heard a captain of the financial industry describing our government’s function (dysfunction?) as “all the stupid shit.”

Is it, really? Things may be simpler when one’s investing, counting beans of gold. That we understand. But political machinations, cover-up’s, collusion, conspiracies…but sure, call it what you like. Manure.

Or call it what it is: deep-rooted corruption. A government that is no longer by the people or for all the people. Ideology and agendas have taken over intended governance. Lies and deception now control the voting populace.

Is it just “Washington” that is so afflicted? I beg to disagree: my own story, penned in Humbling and Humility, may surprise you.

HnH (the ebook) is free through Amazon on July 17 and 18. Get it, read it, and let me know what you think!



Posted in Literary, nonfiction, Political, Social, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Saving Easter

No, no ‘passover lamb’ was pardoned, nor were any eggs picked or left undisturbed. A life was brought back from certain death: my daughter saved a fledgling, not by accident, by precautions she took against such eventuality.

Fledgling saved by catch blankets

Chick saved by blankets and pillows circling the palm

How did this come about, you ask? It’s nothing short of a miracle in my mind.

We have a sparrow couple living up in the branches of the high palm tree in our backyard. It isn’t very common for sparrows to nest in palm tree branches – but this is an uncommon backyard. Food appears magically every morning at 7am on the wall. Birds of all sorts feast upon this daily bounty; they’ve come to depend on it. With such providence, what homely pair wouldn’t nest nearby?

My daughter called me, tearfully, yesterday, while I was in class mid-morning, tutoring a student on a complicated engineering subject. A chick had fallen down from the palm tree onto the hard ground beneath. I could not get back home right then – and promised to call back.

The baby bird died. She’d tried to save it, but the fall from such height had broken the flightless thing’s body. I came back to find the bird buried in one of my seedling patches with flowers lovingly placed nearby.

A grim, determined look assailed me…I knew she’d composed herself and done what needed doing. Her little cousin – whom she babysits often – followed her, lamb-like, and helped her with a strange spectacle.

My daughter was arranging all her blankets and pillows around the palm tree!

“What are you doing?!”

“Don’t want another chick to die like this, Dad!”

“But – but those pillows! We need those!”

“You don’t use them, DO YOU?!”

Humbled, I too helped her, lamb-like, and replaced the pillows with old ones I could find. And old sofa cushions. See them in the picture? Gave her any old blanket or bed cover I could find. The palm tree now wore a soft cloth skirt near its roots.

I hugged my daughter – twice – as she left to drop her cousin. Not a word from her.

Texted her later that night, thanking her for her care and love for our backyard beings, suggesting treats at a local movie theater or restaurant. No replies.

We worked in the backyard again this morning. My son helped pluck weeds and my daughter tended her peas and potato patch. She moved over to the palm tree, and I saw her gesticulating, shocked by something. Another bird on the ground? I wasn’t worried this instance – the skirt may well have helped, and being here together would be easier in a crisis.

A fledgling! It was on one of the blankets laid out, hiding from the sun in the shade of a pillow. And it was alive, and unhurt!

She picked it up carefully and brought it over. Its mouth was wide open. Dehydration, a need for food. We quenched its thirst immediately, and my son went to find a shoe box and a soft towel. Having taken care of chicks before, my daughter knew exactly what to do with this little thing. She fed it and settled in into the box.

“You saved a life – you thought of what may happen.”

She just smiled.


Posted in Literary, Nature, nonfiction, Parenting, Social, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Review: The Delight of Being Ordinary

The Delight of Being Ordinary
The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Intriguing, imaginative, and decidedly irreverent.

The book title intrigued me – how did Roland Merullo bring out the essence of simplicity, the joys of shedding pretensions and embracing humility in life – but, in my limited perception, no significant enlightenment in this aspect could be gleaned within. Instead, one finds costumes, a fancy machine, a road trip funded by unlimited Vatican wealth (that, in a handful, could almost pay the bill for said Maserati), Mussolini, and the decadence of Italian movie stars. Sure, ‘great men’ are taken out along Italian roads for a few days’ break from their exhausting royal duties – an adventure playing truants – which, if you’ll excuse me, is rather remote from anything ‘ordinary.’

Let’s move on. Spoilers ahead, but you’ll forgive me.

Imaginative? Certo. The author marries Orthodox Christianity to Buddhist reincarnation and rebirth, and manages to also spring an immaculate conception upon unsuspecting readers near the end. Predictable? Arguably, though he invents a new religion-less religion of a great mother and a great father enjoined in creation. Hmm.

Just what was he getting at? Let’s leave that aside – it is just a road trip, after all. Only, it isn’t! It’s also a good lot of musings on religion, on similarities and some differences, on doubt, self-doubt, restraint, and reconciliation…a hodge-podge of self-help reading material on Catholicism, Tibetan Buddhism, and various aspects one comes across in contemporary lives. He uses religion, and religious beliefs, in his attempt to get to non-religion. Seemed rather irreverent to me.

So – having explained the gist in a boring, linear fashion – a few thoughts on the writing. It is engaging and even enjoyable in places. It is a fun story with reasonably rounded characters and inconsequential ones thrown in for good measure. There is an unhealthy obsession with Il Duce within, but given that the adventure is set in Italy, he had to have something to bash – perhaps to make a powerful institution, that in part collaborated with German Nazis, look good in comparison – and a dictator summarily executed by the people he tormented was as good a choice as any. There are descriptions of national tragedies, the Italian countryside, and aspects of the culture that are interesting. There isn’t anything exceptional; for want of a better description, let’s just say the writing delights in being ordinary.

A Goodreads Giveaway received and reviewed.

View all my reviews

Posted in Literary