Hell of a Guy
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 18th - Update in the Life of a HOAG


Today is April 18, 2006.  It is time I sat down and jotted a few notes as to what is going on in my life since I last posted an entry to this site.  So, here it is.

A few things have passed since my last entry.  I, along with some of my most favorite people on the planet, made a trip to Las Vegas, the land of glitter and silicone, lost souls and people that wish they were as happy as they wish you to think they are.  We arrived in Las Vegas at about 7pm on April 7th.  About an hour and half later, we arrived at Bally’s, about two miles from the airport.  The seventh being a Friday night in Las Vegas – as well as the rest of the world – had the streets filled with vehicles of every make and size.  We moved at the speed of snail for almost the entire trip from airport to hotel.  I, of course, kept my cool.  My intrepid mate did not, but stuck by her assessment it was me and not her who harbored the issue of frustration at the amount of time we were sitting still in the traffic.

Alas!  We made it to the hotel, managed to get into a room, albeit one with a Murphy bed (the kind that folds up into the wall), as opposed to the king-bed room we paid for.  This room was tagged as a “mini-suite” and it was, but being as one rarely stays in the room the “mini” was lost on us.  Nonetheless, we enjoyed the stature of the suite and most certainly the view from the twenty-fourth floor.

Las Vegas is one of those places everyone needs to visit.  I believe you either love the place or could simply walk away from it and not miss it.  I am of the latter group.  Other than the fact that I was there with my favorite person in world and a daughter and son-in-law, I could have not gone and been happy sucking down a brewski or two in beautiful downtown Berkeley Springs, WV, population 711.  The highlight of the trip for me was that I got to see the “Ka” version of the Cirque du Soleil.  That was outstandingly awesome and I will pass it along as highly recommended.

This is a town for all people.  I caught glimpse of the beautiful people, as well as the not so beautiful.  I saw the thin, the fat, the young and the old, people of every ethnicity, color and religion.  I heard many foreign accents and domestic dialects.  I stared at hundreds of beautiful woman and handsome men.  This is the ultimate people watching venue.

I passed by a couple in deep conversation in the lobby of the hotel on Sunday morning.  As I walked passed them I overheard the guy saying, “I would love for you to go to my room, but I am not going to pay you.”  About ten minutes later, as I waited for the valet to bring my car, she pranced out of the hotel and hailed a cab.  Such is life, I suppose, in Las Vegas.  The residents are trying to make a living and the visitors are trying to score a win.

This boy walked away breaking even.  I bet nothing, put no money in any of the ten thousand slot machines parked in every nook and cranny in Clark County, Nevada, and managed not to call any of the hundreds of “escort services” available to tourists, as advertised on handouts passed out by men and women looking very much, a nasty judgment on my part, like the now controversial “illegals” that permeate the nightly news shows.

All in all, Las Vegas was okay.  Highlights included, besides the Cirque du Soleil, a theme park type ride at the top of the Stratosphere Tower that had us hanging over the side of the tower and looking down at the ground 810 feet below, great beer at the Big Dog, walking through and gawking at the opulence of the mega-hotels (gamblers wonder who is paying for them, since they always leave with more than they brought).  I would go back, perhaps not any time soon, but I could go there again.  If that should eventuate, my sole purpose would be to see the other Cirque du Soleil shows and maybe grab a couple more beers at Big Dogs. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Las Vegas Adventure


I need to write this, so stay tuned.  I am on vacation this week and getting ready for some guests from out of town who will grace my doorstep tomorrow afternoon, and stay for the weekend.  Too, busy to post right now.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Making A Difference


Have you read Five People You Meet in Heaven

by Mitch Albom?  If not, you need to read it.  This little book’s message exercises the tears ducts very well.  It may take you a couple of hours, but it can be read in one sitting.  It is about a man and a journey he takes moments after his own untimely demise and the people he meets along the way.

Most people I know want to make a significant difference while taking up space on this planet, a real difference in someone’s life – a child, a relative, a student, a friend or co-worker. 

Five People You Meet in Heaven

is a story about how it can happen, even when we really don’t know it occurred, an unconscious act.  There are instances, no doubt, where we can make a difference without ever knowing about it.  If you think about it, it could go either way – good or bad.

Case in point…

Debbie passed away just a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t know her, at least not very well. I don’t even know how to spell her last name.  She was more of the acquaintance variety, someone I met, briefly interacted with, and waved goodbye out of my life.  We did a workshop together in Dallas, actually two of them.  Debbie was odd…she had an odd look about her; she constantly made an odd movement with her lips, almost as if she was chewing on them.  Her hair was extremely thin and ragged looking, and caused her round face to look larger than it was.  Her breath, if you got close to her face, had a peculiar smell to it…it was bad.  She was reticent to a fault, and when she did speak she didn’t have a lot to say.  Debbie was a diabetic and this is what ultimately took her life.  I believe she may have been about forty, certainly not much older.

I didn’t take the time to get to know her.  I have no idea if she worked or what she may have done to earn a living.  I don’t know if she had family, or friends, or a spiritual side.  Debbie was complicated.  She wasn’t cool.  She wasn’t hip.  She wasn’t a fit for me and my world.  I had not seen nor had I spoken to her since December 5, 2004.  I know the last interaction we had was a perfunctory hug that evening. The workshop was over and we parted ways.  The opportunity for me to make a difference in her life was thrown away, and I was the one who threw it.  I lost out on what could have been an endearing moment for me.  I made a conscious decision and now I regret it.

Debbie was real.  She had wants and dreams, up and downs.  She was an artist.  On the day I heard of her untimely passing, I was hit with a wave of emotion.  And, it caused me to pause.  I can see her now as clearly as I can see this keyboard.  Perhaps Debbie will be one of the “five” I get to meet?  I may not have made a difference in her life, but she has certainly made one in mine.

I am sifting through my memory thinking of all those people with whom I have thrown away my chance to really know.  There is still time to make my difference…but as a very sagacious man I know has told me a few times, “Talk does not cook rice!”

Ponder that… 

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

God, Me and the Quantum World


I cannot pinpoint exactly when I began to give thought to my spirituality and question it, but I can point a finger in the direction of who got me started on the journey.  Sunday school, Andrew Chapel Methodist Church in Baltimore is where the firestorm within began.  My Sunday school teacher was discussing Moses’ journey out of Egypt…where Moses leads the newly freed Jews back to their ancestral home in Israel.  Mr. Gross, a very nice man and a long-time member of the church, was my Intermediate Sunday school class teacher.  He, too, questioned the biblical tale of Moses’ trek (there is no record of the Jews being held in against their will in Egypt other than this one) and the fantastic miracles Moses was to have preformed, one such being the extraordinary “Parting of the Waters” as fleeing Jews were pursued by Pharaoh’s army. 

Mr. “G” explained it to us this way.  He said because Moses had most likely explored this swampy, quicksand riddled area as he was growing up in a privileged life as the adopted son of the pharaoh.  He knew the paths and trails of the low lands near the Nile one needed to take to reach solid ground, without becoming trapped in the quicksand, eaten by alligators, or just plain lost in the tall grasses.  Bottom line, the story of the Jews making their way home appears to have had the facts embellished as it was handed down orally from one generation to another, and prior to it being codified several hundreds of years after the event.  Well, there you have it.  I like things neat and orderly.  It is probably why I am so skeptical of anything with even the hint of the miraculous.  Did Moses get divine guidance, perhaps, but the story told this way seemed more reasonable to me.  I can easily picture the chain-smoking Fred Gross, a tall, rail-thin man, with graying, blond hair and a long thin face.  He had a slight lisp and a terrific smile that accentuated the laugh lines at the corner of his eyes.  His smile lit up as he told the class the story and his take on it, and it was afterward that I began to question the biblical version of events – Adam and Eve; The story of Lot and the Pillar of Salt; Methuselah living to be a nine hundred sixty nine years old; and Abraham becoming a father at age ninety.  I kept my skepticism and opinion to myself until today.

If I were to guess, I was somewhere between thirteen and fourteen years old at the time.  That is when I began my life-long search for God, began reading articles and books on biblical archeology (which is fascinating), and began to explore agnosticism.  For a very long time I was very vague with my beliefs.  I would choose not to believe on one day and saying “what if” the next.  I have read most of the Bible – the King James Version.  I would get bogged down in Numbers – a book probably begun as a genealogy or a census of some kind.  I have dabbled in reading the Nag Hammadi library – talk about repetitive writing.  I have devoured many books on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I loved the DaVinci Code.  I got lost in Holy Blood, Holy Grail.  I have twice read a booklet entitled “Where We Got Our Bible,” although I knew a long time ago the Bible is an assemblage of books codified over a long period of time, and long after the supposed events took place.  Adam and Eve always blew my mind especially when Cain goes to Nod, becomes a farmer and takes a “wife.”  Where in the heck did she come from?  It was very hard for me to accept a book as irrefutable fact that is made up of stories passed down generation to generation in a verbal tradition, then put to paper (parchment, copper scrolls, animal skins) hundreds, perhaps thousands of years after an event was to have occurred. Then these stories were translated from one language to another language by men often interpreting what they read with their own spin, and others then seeing these events as irrefutable truth.  These books, known as “Apocrypha,” where selected as part of the Bible by men looking for a commonality of thought, aka theirs.  These stories were passed down to an illiterate populace for the most part by their elders and leaders, people who believed what was told to them, and because to doubt it may have been deleterious to their health.  Hell, people threw stones at people for violations of The Law as laid down in Leviticus, like cutting the hair of the temples – the guys not the women.  Women didn’t have much say in anything those days.  These early Jews were bad to the bone when it came to The Law.

Not long ago I read a book called A Short History of Just About Everything by Bill Bryson, a fascinating book about the science of how this planet came to be.  He delves in quantum physics and it is really fascinating.  Particle science, quantum mechanics, the behavior of molecules, matter and anti-matter, parallel universes, time travel…whoa, baby!  This is stuff I can buy into.  You have to see the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know.”

A little over a year ago I completed the Millennium3 Education workshops.  During the four months I did this, I came to realize there is connectivity between me and all things in and out of this world.  All the matter that exists today…and this is deep…every particle - electrons, protons and neutrons, has always been and will always be.  Every miniscule particle in your body has always been and will always be, and that may be the promised “life after death.”  I am a part of the whole of the universe.  I am not separate from any of it, and it is God.  Get it?  We are all God.  The earth, the animals, the people, the valleys and mountains, the water, the sky, the moon, the sun, planets, stars, space and time are all God.  WE are here as a result of a vast plan formulated by what, I have not a clue.  And, is does not matter, for we are here.

I don’t think there are words in the language to adequately allow me to describe how free I am these days.  I have finally found God.  I am at peace.


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