Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Trip To Walden (Originally Published on September 7, 2012)

I already had my excuse lined up, just in case I woke up to the tapping on driver's side window by an officer of the law. I would tell him that I had been in the area, had been looking for a hotel or some kind of a place to stay, and was surprised to find nothing. After a while, I was simply too tired to go on, and just had to stop. That was the responsible thing, right? Right!?
I saw the gas station there in the dark, but only the second time around. It was so dark, that my eyes had not caught it the first time around. Even the second pass, I almost passed it by without noticing it.
What was the worst that he could do after that? Send me away? Give me a ticket, even, perhaps?
Sure, there was a risk, but I thought it was worth it. After all, what were the chances that somebody would find me there, in perhaps the one place in the immediate area where cars were expected to be parked overnight?
So, I pulled into the darkened service station. It was deliciously dark, and seemed promising. It was a little unnerving, admittedly, when the motion sensor lights came on, but I continued on. What choice did I have?
There was a spot open between a car, and a bigger truck, that would have blocked the car from view by the nearby road, which was tempting. But as I was looking, I noticed a much darker area behind the station, with more spaces to park. Obviously, this deserved more of my attention, and so that is what I gave it.
Much like the entire area, it was very dark. There were no city lights to be seen. No lights from a mall or din from a nearby highway. Nope, none of that. This place felt truly like the countryside, like the middle of nowhere. During my search for a decent, adequate place to sleep, it seemed that I was in the middle of a mixture of woods and darkened farm fields. The area was too modern to be reminiscent of the days when Thoreau and Emerson graced the local area with their presence, yet for someone from suburban New Jersey, this was incredibly quiet. A few cars passed on the road, maybe at the rate of two or three every fifteen or so minutes. Maybe. But I was hoping that I would not be awake to count just how many cars passed by in the later hours in the middle of the night. Fatigue was quickly overtaking me, and I really did need to close my eyes and get some sleep.
And sleep I did. It was a bit awkward at first, and every car that passed surely must be the cop that would investigate the lot for some intruder like me. At one point, I heard this kind of banging noise, and rose up to see what it was, if I could see anything. Nothing there, but I distinctly had heard some weird kind of banging noise. Then, there was some weird shadow or something that I caught out of the corner of my eye. I turned, but again, there was absolutely nothing there. Just the dark night, nothing stirring. I might as well have been the only thing awake in that corner of the world at the moment. Of course, my thoughts raced with the worst possibilities, since my 21st century mind conditioned me to think up the wildest horror movie scenarios. I quickly turned to face the back of the car, half expecting to see some deranged lunatic trying to sneak up on me, about to make his move.
Since I posted something about Walden Woods and Thoreau yesterday, it seemed appropriate to do the same today as a follow up of sorts.  
So, here are some previously published posts regarding Thoreau: 

I tried to force this out of my mind, and settled back down; shut my eyes for a few moments. But that was all that it took before that strange noise again. I sprang back up, and scanned the dark and unfamiliar terrain chosen for my abode for at least one fortnight. Finally, I spotted it. Some creature, probably a raccoon, was trying to grab some grub from the trash compactor.
My mind eased a bit. I relaxed a bit, and settled back down. Noticing the time (it was now well past midnight), the urgency of catching some sleep was growing. Knowing that some mechanics arrived to their jobs very early, I had set the alarm for about 5:30am. This may have been overkill, but it seemed to err on the side of caution, and not risk oversleeping, and being woken up by someone who might accuse me of trespassing. So, that would be the time the phone alarm would sound, and that was less than five hours away! Not much sleep, and I was surely going to be exhausted in the morning, and likely for the rest of the day as well, surely. I needed sleep.
My mind was restless for quite a while that night, and I don't remember falling asleep, but know it was fairly shortly after seeing that creature, which was oddly comforting, in a strange sense. It must have happened a bit after that, and the next thing I knew, the alarm was ringing, and instinctively, I turned the thing off.
Sleepy as my eyes still were, I surveyed the horizon. It was not full light out yet, but it was certainly not full dark, either. Everything was quiet, of course. This was not a busy hour yet. That would come later. Still, it felt like I had to get a move on. So, resisting the urge to lay back down and shut my eyes, I turned the key to start the car, and began to drive, just wanting to find a quiet place to empty my bladder in peace, choosing one of the really quiet, tree-lined country roads that I had explored the night before (just a few hours before, really).
That done, I began to head towards my destination, although it seemed assured that everything would be locked up and closed, and that it would take another trip here later on to gain access.
But when I got there, there was a car in the drive, and my eyes widened. Looking around, I now saw quite a few cars parked there, and my excitement began to grow. There was a great feeling that you feel when you accidentally stumble upon something really great, and that was how I was feeling at the moment.
This surely was too good to be true, and I would be met with some kind of disappointment or other, right?
Still, I headed towards my destination, taking a change of clothes, and quite a few books, in my big orange travel bag. Walked away from the car and headed back towards the road, crossing it, and to my destination.
There was quite a congregation of people there already, despite the very early hour. It was not even 6:30 in the morning, probably not even 6:15 or so. Yet, a whole bunch of people, most of whom seemed to know one another, were there. There stood on the sand, putting on their outfits, talking amongst themselves.
Always feeling self conscious, and wanting to keep to myself, I took the far side, taking heart to see these people nonetheless. There were some people already in the water, swimming. Some were actually quite distant, and these exercises were not for the uninitiated.
But that was not why I was there. It was not to test my swimming skills, but to swim these waters, and then to soak in my books, and one book in particular that I had brought with me. This was a book that, though it shames to admit it, I had tried to read a few times, but never gotten farther than a few pages or so at most. There was a well-known essay in the back that had been highly influential, and I had never even read that, either. That was a relative blemish on my reading history, and a source of personal embarrassment (although nobody else really knew). But starting today, I intended to change that.
Before stripping off my shoes and shirt, I wondered if there was anything like this scene in another lake or pond in the country. It was hard to imagine that there was, since this was nearly a religious experience for some. Not sure that it was for me, but this also was not just an ordinary swim, or anything like that. I held this place with a certain measure of reverence and respect. There was a reason, after all, that I cam here, specifically. There was a reason, too, that these strange people gathered in such numbers shortly after dawn to catch a swim, or perhaps a hike.
I tested the water, expecting it to be prohibitively cold. But it was, and so I swam, and simultaneously bathed and purified myself, in the waters at Walden in the early morning hours of dawn, and watched as the approaching sunrise began to hit the upper parts of the trees surrounding the pond.
The water was refreshing, restorative. Suddenly, spending a night crouched inside of a car in the back of a gas station was not such a big deal. Was, in fact, okay. How long had it been since I felt so alive, awake? God, it was wonderful!
I swam for a bit, then got out of the water, and sat, facing the pond. Pulled out that book that I had never managed to successfully get through, or even to get into beyond a superficial reading of the first couple of pages or so. It was an old, beat up ex-library copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden that I had found at a thrift store for all of maybe fifty cents. It certainly was not more than a dollar.
Reading while feeling myself drying off, looking up every now and then to inhale and take it all in, before exhaling and getting back to my reading, it all felt very good. I was finding the reading far more enjoyable and enlightening than ever before. Perhaps I had needed that maturity, because now, I could appreciate it. Perhaps the surroundings helped as well. Whatever it was, it was working.
After about half an hour, when I felt myself really drying off, I went back in the water. This time, I went out further than before, and really began to feel it in my arms and legs.
How long had it been since the last time I swam so much, and so seriously? Usually, I am with my son, trying to teach him, and hardly go past shallow water that reaches past my shoulders. So this was a new experience to me, of sorts. Or, rather, it was an unfamiliar one that required reacclimatizing.
There came a point when, braving a swim to what was approaching the midway point of the pond, I looked toward the shore, and it was looking rather distant. So, I turned around and headed back.
            It was the most real swimming that I had done in ages, and my arms and legs were actually feeling it. They were tired, and had that burn of exertion. I reflected yet again that this was not a bad way at all to get up and get a morning going.
            Walden Pond is like a big bowl, and it goes very deep – well over 100 feet. So, it was nice to finally get to water shallow enough for me to stand in, and there was comfort in feeling my feet touch the ground below again. I lingered in the water for just a little bit longer, because it just felt so good.
            I got back to shore, and got back to reading, too. It was still early, and I was still feeling good.
            There was one other thing that I really wanted to do, and that was going for a hike. Now, I love hiking, and getting a hike in here, of all places, seemed paramount. But time was starting to be a factor, because later in the day, I needed to drive home to New Jersey. Still, I wanted to make a point of hiking here, and fulfilling my desire to have done everything I wanted to finally on a trip to Walden. This was as good an opportunity as I ever had thus far, and I meant to take advantage of it this time.
            So, I found a quiet place (this was harder than you might think, because although some people had filtered out of Walden Pond, others had joined them, and it seemed likely that the later the hour, the more people would show up. But there was a quiet corner, and I changed into dry clothes, ran up back to the car to drop off my bag and books, and then headed back towards Walden Pond, after a brief visit to the replica of Thoreau's self-made home (they seemed to refer to it as his "hut" on the trail, which was not entirely accurate, I don't think, since it was a house in the western style, and not a more basic hut, which would have been living even closer to the wilderness, to nature, as it were).
            So, there was a trail that wrapped around the pond, and I decided to take that. At the entrance to it, there was information about the trail, claiming that it ran a total of 1.7 miles. Pretty short, and should be a quick hike. About a half a mile into it, I learned after reading more, was the site where Thoreau's house once stood. I couldn't wait to finally see it, and wondered what it would look like.
            There was another pond just before you reached it, and this one was much more like the image of a pond that I conjure up in my mind. It was tiny and kind of tucked away, and filled with green algae and lily pads, and with ducks swimming in the water. There it was, shining in the morning sun, sitting very prettily. This was a very nice little corner of the world.
            Right after that came a bit of a rise in the land to get to the site, and I followed the signs. Finally, I saw it.
            It is indeed small, and the tiny replica of the house nearby the parking lot and Route 2A that divided the lot from the grounds of Walden Park, is indeed probably quite accurate, in terms of size, as well as what was stored inside – a bed, a desk for writing, a fireplace and some logs, and that was just about it. But it's easy and efficient to heat during the winter time, surely, and seemed rather quaint.
            But this, this was the actual site where he stayed. I had assumed it was set deeper in the woods, but it was quite close to the pond. Makes sense, since he would have needed to water, on many levels. The site of the house itself has clear borders around it, to mark where the walls once stood. There is a gap to mark the entrance, and you can step inside, and look at the memorial in stone.
            Nearby was a pile of stone, some painted and with design. Many were stacked together, there were numerous such stacks. Next to this pile of stones, on the far side of the house from the piling, there was a wooden placard, with a fitting, and rather famous, quote from Thoreau.
            "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essentials facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
            I remember the first time I had heard that quote and having it made an impact, was seeing the movie "The Dead Poet's Society". Since Walden, I have had the urge to once again watch this beautiful movie. That particular line of Thoreau's had really given the boys pause for thought, and they had been very impressed.
            A lot of people gather here, obviously. But it is strange, because although there is an air of reverence and solemnity, it is, nonetheless, not exactly a tomb, or a memorial, or any such thing. In fact, it had been lost for some time, but discovered midway through the twentieth century, when the remnants of the fireplace gave clear indication of where the house.
            Perhaps people were simply paying respect to the man, and his unique efforts in the woods of Concord. Mostly, I think there was a sense of awe at the power of his words and his thought, which was quite unique and ahead of his time. Like the quote that was on the wooden placard, there was much in poetic quality in Thoreau's words. Yet, on some levels, he was just reiterating (or recycling, if you will) something that others had said before him. Specifically, the natives of America that had resisted the advance of our "civilization" had largely stated many of the same things, albeit in different wording. They, too, had been quite critical of the lifestyle that we have inherited. I am writing this, and you are reading this, and that means that there is a connection between you and me in terms of our culture. We belong to this "civilization" that surrounds us. Thoreau can be credited with being the first member of our culture to make an attempt at thinking differently than the conventional wisdom of the time, and taking an entirely different approach.
            Perhaps the most ironic thing about Thoreau was that he was in the shadow of the much more famous (at the time) and established Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was also a Concord native. In fact, many felt that Thoreau was rather a cheap knock off of Emerson, if you will, and so Thoreau was not really given much credit until much, much later. In many respects, their relationship was that of master and student, or perhaps rather that of master and underling. However way you want to put it, Thoreau was clearly in the subordinate position. Emerson had fame, was well known for his writings. He owned a house, and was more firmly rooted in the community, while Thoreau seemed forever the outsider. People of his time simply did not take to him, and perhaps not only did not understand him, but did not try. This defined him for some time, but things change.
            These days, it is Thoreau who is likely the most famous writer/philosopher to have come from Concord.
I hiked on after stopping at the ground where the house had once stood. The earth was soft under my feet at points, leaving that soft impress in my wake, much as Thoreau himself had written. At this point, I should admit that I did not take Thoreau's advice, and leave things alone, but rather took a small but colorful rock (more like a pebble) that I had found, as well as an acorn, a bit of water from the pond in a recyclable bottle that I had spotted along the way. While I had been gathering the water, my copy of Walden accidentally fell into the pond. I quickly scooped it up, but not on time, as the pages got wet. It seemed the book was ruined.
But it wasn't. The pages did not get soaked, they just got a bit wet, and they were still legible. The book could still be read. I was thankful for that. In a few days, much to my surprise, the pages dried out entirely, and you would never know that they had fallen into the pond, or had even been wet. Sometimes, if they get completely soaked, that ruins the entire book.
I hiked around the pond, getting vantage points of it from various angles. It was truly beautiful, sparkling in the summer sun like jewels laid out on a blue canvass. It was so bright, that I had to squint a bit and shield my eyes, another thing that Thoreau himself had mentioned in his writings.
The track around the pond is about 1.7 miles. I usually hike at least 2.5 miles to 3 miles, when I hike, and I had a lot of energy (and still had some time before needing to head back), and so I went back to the site where his actual cabin had been, soaked it all in, and then finally, turned back, heading back to the beach by the entrance near Route 2A, then crossing that, back to the parking lot, to my car, which would take me back to the modern world, and my modern life.
My stay at Walden had been nowhere near as long as Thoreau's, of course. He had stayed for two years, two months, and two days, and I had stayed for a bit more than two hours (actually, probably more like three and a half, and it was not my first time there, but who's counting?). Still, I had the book, and I felt compelled to finally finish it this time around. And that is exactly what I managed to do, too (it will be the subject matter of a new blog in the very near future).
The thing is, although I physically left Walden Woods and Walden Pond, Walden itself is more than that. Yes, it is the physical location of the woods and the pond within. But it is also the book, and it is also the spirit of the ideas, and the place, in your heart (if you allow it, of course). And so, with my copy of Thoreau's Walden to read, I kept it close to me for a few weeks, which made me feel close to Walden, even when far – even when I took a trip quite a bit farther west. I took the book while hiking, and would stop at times in whatever piece of wilderness I happened to be in (there is one place that I love to hike which has an idyllic waterfall, and that wound up being a favorite place that I would go to sit and read with that specific book a few times).
Now, I am done with the book, but Walden still somehow feels close to me…

A Weekend at Walden Woods

The first time that I really learned about Henry David Thoreau and Walden Woods, I was a young man fresh out of high school, and had joined the Environmental Club at my new school, Bergen Community College (BCC). Oh, I had learned about Thoreau in high school, officially. But as surely was mentioned here in previous posts, I was a truly terrible student back then. And so, while we were studying Thoreau's most prominent works, "Walden" and Civil Disobedience," my mind was elsewhere, and there was only the vaguest sense of what it was all about. The name might have been familiar, but anything more detailed would surely have been a mystery.

That would change in time, and it started to change not long after I graduated from high school. On the January after I graduated high school, I began to attend that aforementioned college, and wanted to find a way to be active. Having joined the Environmental Club at my high school for the final two years of my time there (it was the only club or activity that I was ever involved with there), it seemed natural to follow that up by getting involved with the one at the BCC. 

There was a girl there, a cute girl who I was attracted to, and she had a kind of pet project. Being a big fan of Don Henley, she was following his fight to save Walden Woods from development,  This made her feel passionate for the Walden Woods Project, and she got involved by selling copies of the book "Heaven is Under Our Feet," a book with numerous celebrity contributions designed to help raise funds to buy Walden Woods in order to preserve it from development. Needless to say, I purchased a copy. 

It took me years to read that book, but I did peruse it, and was impressed with many of Thoreau's quotes. Also, Walden Woods began to be on my radar, and I began to want to visit it. At the time, I had only been to New England, or particularly Massachusetts, once. But I would wind up going up there several times in the mid-nineties, and always wondered where Walden Woods was, if I was close (I wasn't). Before long, it began to be one of those places that was on my bucket list, if you will. 

Yet, it took me years to finally manage to go to Concord and visit Walden Woods. Probably, I first reached it in the early 2000's, even though trips to New England were, by then, fairly commonplace. It felt almost sacred to be there, recognizing this as the place where the modern environmental movement began. Recalling how Thoreau had withdrawn from the world here in these woods (more or less), and come up with some of the most brilliant insights and passages that have been quoted frequently ever since, 

Of course, it should be noted that Native Americans had a strong appreciation for what we would nowadays view as environmentalism. They understood that all life in this world relied on a delicate balance, and that human beings were not exempt from this, but were a part of that cycle of life. They understood that we needed to embrace the wilderness, that it was good for us, a part of the natural order of things, and that we destroyed a part of ourselves when we grew used to destroying the natural parts of the world. Yes, they understood all of that, although their thoughts were dismissed, simply not taken seriously. At least not until Thoreau, who expressed respect towards Natives and their way of thinking and doing things. 

And so, Thoreau's writings, which initially were largely ignored during his own lifetime, came to have a life of their own. Came to hold a certain measure of power among those who read his works. And while he remained hidden in the shadow of obscurity in his own lifetime, and seemed at times to bow down to the master, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau's words ultimately began to grow in influence, resonating with many. His descriptions of the actions he took, and why he took them, began to be appreciated as his works finally, and deservedly, found their way to a broader audience. Eventually, his works were translated into many languages and spanned the globe, and his writings influenced some of the greatest thinkers and doers of the 20th century, among them John Muir, John Burroughs, Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.. 

For my part, I began finally reading on a more serious level, although two books relating to Thoreau kept escaping my grasp. The first was by Thoreau himself, which is his most famous work, and the work which took it's name from the woods and the pond that he retreated to for two years and two months. The other book was "Heaven is Under Our Feet."

Also, now I have visited Walden Woods and Walden Pond numerous times, and have swam in the water. I remember the last visit, back in 2012 or 2013, I believe. It was a cool, summer morning, and I went swimming in those waters. It felt purifying. Afterwards, I took a hike around the pond, and upon returning, began reading Thoreau's "Walden." Finally, I read the book all the way through, and was glad for it. 

This year, I wanted to make a point of taking my son there, telling him about the significance of the place, and making sure to swim and hike there. He loved it! And once again, after swimming in the pond and hiking around it, I opened up my old, beat up copy of the book, and began reading it, as well as "Heaven is Under Our Feet," which I have read several times now, and which has had an impact on me. 

It felt special, taking my son here. It would be nice for him to have a deeper understanding of the place, and perhaps, to get used to coming here. Maybe it can be an annual tradition.

Afterwards, we went to the town of Concord, and I told him how this was the town where the Revolutionary War began. The town always has held a certain charm for me, and as we walked around and ate dinner at a nice, quaint little inn, 

What a special weekend!

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

My son swimming in the chilly waters at Walden. 

My son giving Henry David Thoreau a high five. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Terror Attacks at Turkey's Ataturk Airport

Another terrorist attack in an airport. 

Yes, although this time, it was in Turkey's largest airport.

Istanbul's Ataturk Airport saw terrorists launch a triple suicide bombing yesterday, and the casualty numbers have risen to 41 dead and well over 200 people injured. The bombings were orchestrated in such a way as to draw the maximum number of people. 

This is the fifth major terrorist attack on Turkish soil since just the last nine months, and the fourth one in this calendar year. 

For it's part, the Turkish government has suggested that ISIS was behind these latest attacks, and they have questioned the world's reaction following the attacks, suggesting that it was muted. That seems particularly the case after the very public outpouring and shows of solidarity and sympathy following terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels in recent months.

Still, the airport managed to reopen today, despite the deadly attacks having just occurred yesterday. 

More details will surely emerge, and the ramifications of this attack still have yet to be clear. 

It must be said, although it sounds increasingly sterile and formulaic, but my thoughts and heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims of this latest attack. 

Iceland Eliminates Stunned England From Euro 2016

I know that I just wrote about this yesterday, but it was such an amazing result, that I decided to go ahead and write about it for the Guardian Liberty Voice, as well.

This article is a lot more based on facts than my previous entry on the "Charbor Chronicles" yesterday was, and I hope you go ahead and take a look at it, by clicking on the link below:

Iceland Eliminates Stunned England From Euro 2016

Iceland Eliminates Stunned England From Euro 2016

I know that I just wrote about this yesterday, but it was such an amazing result, that I decided to go ahead and write about it for the Guardian Liberty Voice, as well.

This article is a lot more based on facts than my previous entry on the "Charbor Chronicles" yesterday was, and I hope you go ahead and take a look at it, by clicking on the link below:

Iceland Eliminates Stunned England From Euro 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Iceland Eliminates Mighty England in Euro 2016

I was really hoping that this unlikely scenario would play out, but it seemed a bit too much to ask for.

Tiny Iceland, with a population roughly comparable to that of greater Newark, New Jersey, has been hitting far harder than it's weight in this Euro tournament. I remember how amazing it was for Iceland to even qualify. But then, they started to play quite well, and managed to even qualify for the second round, against all odds.

Still, they now would have to face England, and the English are one of the traditional bullies in this sport, particularly within Europe. They might not be on the level of Germany or Italy, but they are perhaps one tier down, at most. This is one of the powerhouse countries in the sport, with a World Cup title back in 1966 that makes them one of only eight nations in the world to have won this most prestigious title, and one of only five European countries to have done so.

Plus, they always make a lot of noise in these kinds of tournaments. Always, they seem to be one of the countries to watch.

That was the case again this year, although surely, England's tournament this year will surely be overshadowed by the unlikely success of their cousin nations, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In large part, that's because England managed only to make it past the first round, but got knocked out in the second round in what surely has to be one of the biggest upsets in Euro history, if not in the history of this sport!

Iceland is a tiny nation, with a small population. They certainly cannot draw the kind of big name talent as the much bigger nations in Europe or South America, and they also surely cannot usually generate the level of talent that those bigger countries have. That is why the same few teams - Germany, Italy, Spain, for example - always seem to be the big players in such tournament, and why they win so frequently. Germany has won four World Cup titles, and three Euro titles. Italy also has four World Cup titles, and one Euro championship. Spain has one World Cup title, and three Euro titles, including the most recent two.

Iceland cannot possibly hope to compete with all of that.

Yet, for one day, they did.

More than that, they beat England, and some are already saying this is the greatest upset in soccer history.

Now, I cannot fully speak of that, but I was very happy to hear the results of this particular match. Maybe it had something to do with karma. Who knows?

Live  England v Iceland Euro 2016 reaction: Roy Hodgson resigns as manager after humiliating exit to Iceland by JJ Bull,  28 JUNE 2016:

Five greatest upsets in soccer history by Elliot Almond, 

First Brexit, Now This: Iceland Bounces England From Euro 2016 Tourney by Bill Chappell of NPR, June 27, 2016:  


Monday, June 27, 2016

Why We're Attracted To Certain People by Michio Kaku

Did you ever wonder why you have been attracted to the people that you have been attracted to? Sometimes, it hardly seems to make sense. For me, I remember finding certain girls in high school, or women once I was an adult, strangely attractive, while numerous other guys would kind of make a face and shake their head. Yet, the object of their desire was often not particularly attractive to me, either.


Sometimes, you wish you could be attracted to other types of people - particularly if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in love with someone who really seems intent on breaking your hear and making you suffer.

Yes, you may wish that you could feel as strongly for someone else as you do for that person, because you know, deep down, that this person really has not been good for you, and if you allow it, then can continue to do tremendous damage to your life. Chances are, you feel that you could probably be happy with someone else - and, in extreme cases, it may feel like almost anyone else could make you happier.

And yet, you know that it is not so easy, that emotions cannot be trifled with so effortlessly, so easily. As much as you may desire to move on, you just cannot believe that you will feel that level of attraction, and thus, you will not be able to be nearly as happy as you feel you ought to be.

Obviously, this is not a comfortable position to be in. Yet, many of us, if not most of us, have actually been there in our lives. I know I have. And it really can drag you through the mud, can feel like a living hell. Your head tells you what may even be obvious to everyone around you, that this object of your desire has not been good for you, and will continue not to be

Well, Dr. Kaku has studied this very thing, and he has come up with some interesting theories as to why this is, and why this should continue to be the case.

Here's the link:

Why We're Attracted To Certain People by Michio Kaku

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Many in Britain Were Googling What the E.U. is Right After Voting in Favor of Brexit

Here is one of those typically depressing stories that highlight the general ignorance of the majority of people in a modern, industrialized nation.

For once, it wasn't the United States doing something like this, either.

Yes, hours after Britain's landmark vote, where a majority of people opted to leave the European Union (EU), many Britons were apparently Googling some basic information, in an attempt simply to find out what the EU is, and what the ramifications might be for leaving it.

That is the textbook example of much too little, and far too late.

Now, what is done is done. And it seems safe to say that the damage has already been done. The Prime Minister promised to resign by October, and being in favor of remaining within the EU himself, he left the process of formally announcing Britain's intentions to exit the EU to what he termed as "fresh leadership."

Feelings have been hurt on both sides, however. JK Rowling tweeted that she wished their were more magic in the world, betraying her own depressed reaction that so many of her fellow countrymen wanted to leave the EU. In the meantime, EU leaders, with hours of the election results coming in, called for top level meetings of EU leaders, although Britain was already excluded in those talks. They are saying that while they are obviously unhappy about Britain's decision, they do not want any delays in the negotiations for Britain to leave the EU, and that it might be done in less than the two-year process that is the given time frame once Britain would invoke Article 50, which is the process for a member nation to leave the EU. No nation has ever before opted to do so, marking Britain as the first such nation. There is a lot of speculation that EU leaders will give Britain the harshest terms possible, in hopes of dissuading other member nations from flirting with the idea of leaving the EU (which some other nations have flirted with in the past).

Already, the United Kingdom received a downgrade of their credit rating in reaction to it's decision to withdraw from the EU.

Obviously, emotions are running high after such a landmark vote.

And let's face it: right now, all of the emotions are running high, and no one really knows what the full ramifications of this vote are going to be. It seems almost a certainty right now that Scotland will hold another referendum on breaking itself away from the UK and remaining a part of the EU. Also, Northern Ireland's overwhelmingly favorable vote to remain a part of the EU has drawn considerable speculation that it might hold a similar referendum to secede from the UK and join a unified Ireland. That possibility seems a lot less likely to me, but you never know.

In any case, we shall see. What remains a depressing thought, however, is this notion that many people - far too many people to ignore - apparently did not know enough about what they were voting for, and just how huge of an impact it would have - at least until it is too late. In that, Britons (and surely other nations) are similar to Americans, who have found themselves with one mediocre set of "leaders" after another, often stubbornly holding onto their backing of a leader (such as George W. Bush) well after he had proven to be incompetent and unworthy of the faith that the American people seemed so willing to lend him.

Still, the British made up their mind now, much like Americans made up their mind back then. Things had to get worse before they got better for Americans after they voted Bush another term in office in 2004, and my suspicion is that things will get worse for Britain before they eventually get better. And by better, I mean it will take a while before they fully overcome this disastrous decision to leave the EU.

Let's just hope no other nations opt for similar decisions that would hurt their own country.

The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting to leave it  by Brian Fung June 24, 2016:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

LeBron James is Great on Basketball Court, But is He Great Off the Court?

The self-proclaimed "King" of the basketball court has continually reminded anyone who will listen of his own greatness, and indeed, what he has managed to achieve on his court has been quite amazing, worthy of placing him among the truly elite names in the history of the sport.

But is he a king outside of this particular court?

My issue with LeBron is that he seems, frankly, quite full of himself. Anyone who calls himself "The King" and tattoos "The Chosen One" prominently on his back seems to suffer from a particularly severe case of a total lack of humility.

I know this probably makes me sound old, although this kind of thing existed throughout my life. I've just never been a huge fan of bragging and trash talking, with very few exceptions. I like the fact that Muhammad Ali was so great, and had a mouth that perhaps surpassed his talents in the ring. Also, I always liked the story of Joe Namath guaranteeing that his New York Jets would beat the prohibitively heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, and then going ahead and leading his team to victory in the biggest game of his life. In 1994, Mark Messier predicted that his Rangers would win Game 6 in New Jersey, after New York fell behind 3-2 in the series and faced elimination by the Devils. Down by two goals in the final period, Messier himself scored a hat trick, and the Rangers found a way to win. They would go on to win Game 7, and then would win the Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver, also in seven games.

Yes, there are some athletes who were cocky, but somehow, they remained relatively subdued despite their cockiness.

LeBron is not one of those, as far as I am concerned. He takes it to another level not just on the basketball court, but also with his worshiping of self, as well. And when you look at the results, it is not a pretty picture.

Of course, this probably is not the time to mention this, since everyone is in love with him. He promised to bring Cleveland a title, a long awaited sports championship for a city that had not seen one since 1964, for a city that had grown used to seeing spectacular sports failures and epic, unlikely heartbreaks instead. The fortunes of their sports teams went down, coinciding with the downfall of the city itself. Once upon a time, Cleveland was a city with a huge impact on the American economy, and it was seen as a model American city. The success of their sports teams underscored that excellence. But times had changed, and Cleveland became the butt of jokes, derided as the "Mistake by the Lake."

Yes, the long suffering fans of the city of Cleveland deserve this moment, deserve to celebrate their championship team. And indeed, LeBron obviously earned the right to celebrate with his home team.

All that I'm saying is that LeBron has not always been a class act on and off the court. He plays on the court, and acts off the court, like he's entitled to something. When he complains about a player, they get ejected from the game, like in Game 5 of this series. And getting back to predictions, let us not forget that bringing a title to Cleveland was not his only guarantee. Just a few weeks ago, he predicted that the Cavs would not just win a title, but would achieve the perfect postseason record in the process. They would sweep everybody. That goal fell short when Toronto won two games in a row against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals, and then the Golden State Warriors went up 3 games to 1 against them. Since that is not a glorious story that magically came true, people seem to have forgotten. But they should not forget. What if Cleveland had lost, which they came close to doing? Would people not point to this silly prediction and perhaps suggest that LeBron's boasting cost Cleveland dearly, once again?

So, people forgot that prediction, although I think it is every bit as relevant as other failed predictions, such as the various Knicks of the 1990's promising titles, or Bret Favre's prediction that the 1990's Packers were a dynasty (they only won one title), or the Broncos promising a victory over the mighty 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV (Denver lost, 55-10), or of various players in each sport essentially guaranteeing championships, and then failing to deliver. Gary Browne of West Virginia guaranteed that his team would be the ones to beat unbeaten Kentucky, but he got ejected in the game, which saw Kentucky embarrass West Virginia. Rasheed Wallace guaranteed that his Pistons would beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, no problem. They lost. Carlos Zambrano guaranteed that his Chicago Cubs would win the World Series in 2007, but they fell far short of that. Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators liked how his team was playing so much, he guaranteed they would hoist the Stanley Cup at season's end. They made it to the playoffs, but took the first exit, losing to Toronto in the first round. Alex Ovechkin promises that his Capitals would beat the Rangers in the 2015 playoffs, after watching his team fall well behind. Washington did force a Game 7, but they were eliminated by New York in that decisive game. The 1994 Steelers following in the footsteps of the 1985 Bears in making a video, but then failing to even make the Super Bowl, unlike those Bears. Ray Buchanan predicting his Falcons will beat the heavily favored Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII (they lost convincingly). Matt Hasselbeck actually guaranteed results during a game, promising his Seahawks would score at Lambeau field again his old team, the Packers, and then failing to do so, instead watching the Pack celebrate in victory. In 2007, Anthony Smith guaranteed that his Steelers would beat the undefeated New England Patriots in Foxboro. They got a beatdown instead, losing by three touchdowns. Former Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf made a guarantee about his entire career after being introduced to San Diego fans. And what of Rex Ryan's numerous guarantees about leading the Jets to the promised land? Not once did they make it to the big game under his tenure.

And in Cleveland, of course, comes another infamous failed guarantee. Some suggest that it was the worst sports guarantee ever. After LeBron departed his old team in 2010, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert promised that the Cavaliers would win a title before LeBron ever would. Two years later, LeBron hoisted the trophy with Miami, while the Cavaliers were still basically one of the worst teams in the NBA. Fail!

Which brings me back to what I feel LeBron might be remembered for as much as his titles. That infamous announcement of where he was going to bring his talents to, handing Cleveland one of the most painful and degrading sports heartbreaks of all. True, he came back eventually. Still, his arrogance and sense of entitlement in joining a star-studded team to get his first rings will carry on. And let us not forget how heavily favored that Miami team was in the 2011 NBA Finals, and how LeBron and teammate Wade made fun of Dirk Nowitzki's illness during the Finals, only to watch helplessly as Nowitzki ultimately led his Dallas Mavricks to victory over LeBron's Miami Heat team.

All of that showed a decided lack of class, not to mention maturity, on the part of LeBron James, although his announcement, while Cleveland fans watched helplessly, will remain one of the most enduring moments in Cleveland sports history. Cleveland fans forgave him for leaving for greener pastures, and perhaps the title this year was all the sweeter because of it, but I still think that is a major blemish on his character, even if he did ultimately return to Cleveland. After all, he made a ton of money, and earned rings with a star-studded team. He got what he wanted, and only after that, he decided to come back to Cleveland.

So, while I cannot detract from anything that LeBron James has done on the court, particularly during this year's NBA Finals, I think that there is still plenty to criticize off the basketball court. And there's enough there that even leading Cleveland to a long awaited sports championship cannot entirely eclipse.

And let me just say it: Michael Jordan never failed to deliver on guarantees, particularly as often as LeBron has managed to do it. Frankly, that too, is a decisive knock on LeBron's overall legacy.

Friday, June 24, 2016

UK Votes to Leave EU, Results May Spark New Scotland Independence Referendum


Sometimes, you don't really see it coming.

I'll admit, I was wrong in assuming that the British would vote to remain a part of the European Union. That the reports of this being a tight race, to the point that it was just too close to call.

But as I followed it through the night, it became clear that the Brexit vote had won, and that Brits apparently wanted to leave the European Union.

And then, all sorts of other scenarios came into play. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned. Scotland is apparently going to have another referendum on independence. And now, Northern Ireland will have a referendum on becoming part of a unified Ireland.

That's a lot for just one night, from just one vote!

So, how did it all happen this way?

Well, the most understandable is Prime Minister Cameron resigning by the fall. In Europe, after some huge political failure, leaders actually will resign following a spectacular failure, unlike here in America. So, Cameron had staked his entire career, essentially, on the vote to remain in the EU. When that failed, so had he, and so it was time for him to step down.

Then, we look at Scotland. Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain within the EU, marking a clear distinction between Scots and the rest of Great Britain. And so, here comes another referendum on independence.

Likewise, support for remaining within the EU was quite a bit higher in Northern Ireland then in the rest of Great Britain, and so Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has called for a border poll on uniting the two Irelands into one.

That's a lot of amazing news all in one night!

Now, I'm not going to lie: I was hoping that the British people would vote to remain in Europe. That said, I kind of saw something like this coming, although I did not think it was necessarily going to be Great Britain, and I did not think it was going to happen now. But within the next few years, some country or other making history by leaving the European Union seemed very likely. One wonders just what the process will be now to have a nation leave the European Union, and if this will propel other countries to go ahead and leave, as well.

Not surprisingly, the British pound and economic markets sank, and I am guessing that this will be a common trend throughout this day, in particular, as the backlash to the shocking results continue.

Obviously, there are still a lot of ramifications on this just absolutely huge story, so we need to stay tuned!

Live  EU referendum results live: Brexit wins as Britain votes to leave European Union by Michael Wilkinson, 24 JUNE 2016:

Live  EU referendum live: David Cameron resigns as UK shocks the world by voting for Brexit Michael Wilkinson, political correspondent  24 JUNE 2016

EU referendum result: Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness calls for border poll on united Ireland after Brexit by Siobhan Fenton, June 24, 2016:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

United Kingdom & the European Union: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Yes, this is the big international news as of late. The vote which may potentially result in the United Kingdom leaving the European Union (EU).

Last week, there was a rising star in the British parliament, Jo Cox, who was killed after being attacked by an extremist opponent of Britain's membership in the EU. Up to the point, those advocate for Britain's exit from the EU (known as a Brexit) were gaining steam, and had just taken a narrow lead, for the first time. But advocates for the Brexit felt that they have lost a lot of momentum since the attack.

Prime Minister Cameron is one of many voices urging Brits to stay within the EU, and the general consensus is that it would be generally best for the economy of Britain, Europe, and indeed the whole world for Britain to remain. To that end, tons of easily recognizable personalities have come out in favor of remaining, and Europeans across the continent showed their support by symbolically kissing neighbors in a show of just how much they love and appreciate the Brits being among them.

Still, as of right now, the polls have shown that this race is just too close to call. The percentages for or against have been separated by such a small margin that it is virtually negligible, falling within the margin of error either way.

Right now, Britons are voting for their future, and the vote, as I write this, is virtually wrapping up now.  The weather was supposed to be a potential factor and, not surprisingly for Britain, much of the land is seeing rain.

Results are expected by tomorrow morning.

Such a huge vote, and we shall see what will happen within the coming day or so! This is the second major vote that has affected Britain in less than a year, as the Scottish vote for independence also took place last year, in 2015.