Tea For Two

I sent some strong English tea bags to Cheryl Oreglia, all the way from Beetley to California. I was hoping she would enjoy trying them, and it seems they exceeded my expectations.

Living in the Gap

Today I’m doing a mini-post as I have been traveling and haven’t had the proper time to write but wanted to briefly share a recent experience with you all because although I’ve been accused of being verbose (using more words than necessary), I’m quite reticent naturally. Bahaha.

Not that you asked, but the history of tea is quite extraordinary, and the way it spreads across multiple cultures over the span of thousands of years is the same as it spreads today. It is introduced by tea lovers to their friends and neighbors as an extraordinary beverage of choice, something that will enhance one’s experience of living, and transform an ordinary day into a sacred ritual.

What’s not to like?

Most of you probably already know that tea originated in southwest China, likely the Yunnan region during the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink, because as I found out on Monday…

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Some Historical films

One more 2013 film post that only Eddy and Roland commented on back then. Historical dramas this time. Something for everyone, I hope.

beetleypete

Many films have been set in various Historical periods, or specific events in History. Since the silent days, and up to many of  the latest films of the past few years, History has provided rich ground for the inspiration of film makers everywhere. In my usual five film selection, I have tried my best to recommend lesser known films, and to avoid the obvious epics.

The War Lord. This film is getting on a bit, and it shows sometimes. Nevertheless, this 1965 production, starring Charlton Heston and Richard Boone, still has a lot to offer. Set at the beginning of the 11th Century, in Normandy, it tells the story of a Knight, rewarded for loyal service, with a bequest of lands, and a run-down small castle. The land is poor, and the local villagers resentful. Still, the Knight, and his accompanying soldiers, rebuild the old fortress, and begin to impose…

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Some Silent Films

One more 2013 reblog that not many of you have seen. This time it is an appreciation of silent films, before the introduction of ‘talkies’.

beetleypete

In these days of special effects, green screen, 3-D, and so much more, it is easy to forget the roots of Cinema. They were soundless, save for piano accompaniment, and in black and white. Yet they had magic, mastery, and innovation, all of which can still be as fresh today, as when they captivated audiences in the early 20th Century. Take a trip back in time, and feel free to gasp with wonder.

Pandora’s Box. The marvellous Louise Brooks stars in this 1929 German film. She left America to become a star in Europe, and her trademark severe bobbed hair, and incredible beauty, were well-received by European audiences. The story is somewhat scandalous, given the time, and concerns prostitution, sugar-daddies, and very loose morals. Brooks plays Lulu, a captivating dancer, beguiling rich men with her looks. They will do almost anything to win her favours, and she will do what…

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Guest Post: Lindsey D

Today I am very pleased to feature a new follower, American blogger and writer, Lindsey.
She has submitted a two-part non-fiction article that I am publishing in full.

Here is her bio.

My name is Lindsey DeBorde-Kent though it used to be Lindsey DeBord (no E) but that’s a story for another day. I am a Texas girl, living in Louisiana. I worked overseas for the U.S. Government for many years but returned to the States in 2018 after some really terrible experiences. I am happily (re) married today to a fantastic former Navy Seal. We have a little dachshund who terrorizes us on the regular and a daughter (his) who is just about to turn 14 (also terrifying). I have been writing for a long time but just getting back into blogging. In general, I am keen to help people – to keep them from having to suffer through some of the things that I’ve gone through but occasionally, my wit gets the better of me and I end up writing about the non-sensical. Both are worthy pursuits in my opinion. 😉

What’s Fair?

Moving forward when it seems like the bad guy won.

To throw a pity party or march forward into this world of opportunity? Sometimes it feels almost gluttonous to ruminate over days gone by, circumstances out of your current control, situations and actions you can’t undo, people you can’t (and never could) control. Other times, it feels downright necessary to wallow, to grieve, and to hopefully learn something.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fairness lately. And since I’m the one writing this, it’s my right to consider what has been fair and unfair in my life. Deserved and undeserved. How long is a person supposed to sit in that uncomfortable space where they feel like they’ve been dealt a cruddy hand? I don’t think there’s a statute of limitations on recalling past hurts. And anyway, recollection of those events is largely out of our control. Things pop into our mind and we can either drive them out with force or sit with them. What’s the better tactic? Sadly, I’m here to say, I don’t really know. I suppose the best answer I can give is that it depends. It depends on how you cope with those recollections; it depends on your ability to healthily consider events that have scarred you. Are you wallowing? Reflecting? Healing? Using what you learned to help others?

I’m going to share something and I don’t know where to start. This particular something has affected my life in more ways than I can adequately express here…or anywhere else, even if I was given a lifetime to help you understand.

I’m already dancing around this because it’s just.so.big.

Here it is. Well, here it is summarized and watered down (not out of shame but because I really do have to protect myself still), with pseudonyms to conceal the less-than-innocent.

There’s a person out there, we’ll call him “Avalanche” for obvious reasons (to me, anyway). Avalanche entered my life and brought sweet little snowflakes (see what I did there?) of friendship. Avalanche was in a position of great power and while I yielded power of my own, I was drawn to Avalanche’s strength and the uniqueness of being considered a friend and confidant – something Avalanche did not distribute widely. Like any abusive “relationship”, things soured slowly, over time, and before I knew it what had seemed like deep affection had turned into a snowball running downhill. Are you as done with these analogies as I am?

It feels a little trite but I don’t know how better to describe this dynamic. Think about it. You’re on a hike in the mountains. It’s early spring so there is still a bit of snow on the trail and the mountains around you are covered with that beautiful blinding white powder. The sun is shining brightly and everything seems perfect. But you can’t hear the snow melting and the ground shifting slightly under the weight of it all. The first big chunk of snow that falls is so far away that you only see the birds suddenly popping out of the sky and flying into the distance. They are getting out of dodge but you think maybe they’re just going off to run their little birdy errands? You feel safe but, at the same time, something pricks at the back of your neck. Those birds didn’t seem right but you ignore the warning signs. Why do we always ignore the warning signs?

And then you hear it. The unmistakable rumble of a wall of snow on a mission. It must be a mile away, you think, but you’re in a vulnerable position now regardless. You trusted the day too much. You went a bit further than you normally would, trekked a bit further afield because you felt strong…confident. And now you’re in this valley. And the rumble is getting louder. You can feel it now. Your heartbeat quickens. You start to see slight movement on the largest peak in front of you. And then the unmistakable landslide. Layers of the snow are tumbling together now – headed right for you. You’ve put yourself in this position and only a miracle will grant an escape. The avalanche has you now. You’ll be buried beneath the power of it all and no one will really know how you came to be in that place and why you didn’t use all the experience and intelligence that you had built up over the years to prepare yourself for this moment.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? Emotional and physical abuse is like an avalanche but it’s also like dying of a thousand paper cuts. In either case, you just don’t really know until your buried or bleeding out. You can’t SEE clearly.

So, that’s how it was and that’s as succinctly as I can put two years of misery. Avalanche took everything that I had worked so hard to build but right now, today? Today what bothers me is the fairness of it all. As I consider my future and lately, that has involved trying to find my “twilight career” (yes, that’s a thing), I am irritated that I had to leave everything to protect myself. I dropped an atom bomb on my life and career for the safety of my soul. And even after I was healed enough to be able to talk about it and share the story with the people that should have done something, I am convinced Avalanche was relatively unscathed. I have no idea what Avalanche is up to and I don’t really care but the part that nags at me is that I feel sure that Avalanche’s world did not come crashing down around when I escaped. Avalanche likely remains in power and has probably even risen in the ranks. So, while I sit here, considering jobs that are far below my talents and fiscal value, Avalanche is churning along, as ever.

There are so many things missing from this story. And I’m sorry for that. It’s unique in its subtext and you’ll just have to trust that if I could share more, I would.

Part of me wants to give you a little Susie Sunshine. What good is it to you, or anyone who might benefit from this, if I don’t throw in some sort of life lesson that’s valuable and less dreary than an avalanche and dying of paper cuts? Another part of me just wants to allow myself to be angry for a minute. I think I deserve that. I handled myself imperfectly in those two years. I hurt people who weren’t responsible for how I was being hurt. But that’s what they say, “hurt people, hurt people”. So it goes. Whatever the case, I didn’t deserve what I got.

The truth is, I HAVE learned a lot and life IS good. My heart is happy and safe. But I want to give something to the people out there who think they’re alone in feeling angry or feeling like they’ve been given the shaft. You’re not alone. There are times, and they are usually late at night or early in the morning, when moments pop into my head. Memories of the horrible things that happened to me. Guilt too, raises it’s hand, as does shame. I don’t call on them but they’re still there – like that teacher’s pet who just won’t stop until they get called on. I get through them now but they can still be jarring. Memories are a treasure but they can also be shockingly painful. You can’t erase them. You can’t get over them, not really. You can’t re-watch Grey’s Anatomy for the 15th time and hope that the distraction will make it all go away forever. It’s a Band-Aid on bullet wound. But sometimes, that is survival and survival is paramount to recovery. You can’t get over something if you’re stuck in a corner, rocking back and forth and sucking your thumb – waiting for someone to save you.

So, my conclusion? It isn’t fair. IT IS NOT FAIR.

But what to do? For me, well, I have to change my calculus a bit. For years, I worked 70-hour weeks, lived thousands of miles from family and friends and my only priority was whatever mission was presented to me at work. I have this opportunity now – to live the life that only I can design. It’s going to look a little different than my former life and that is ok. It’s more than ok – it’s great. It’s what I wanted and what my battered heart needed. There is nothing in the way of my living a happy and fulfilled life. I have the support network that Avalanche tried to isolate me from. It’s akin to the best shelter you can find on a dangerous trail. No manner of huffing and puffing can’t break it down. Whew – is anyone counting the analogies? Do I get extra credit if I exceed 10? I am the teacher’s pet of analogies!

I don’t have to push those memories out anymore. I can talk about them now. And if you are safe in the company you keep, you should try to talk about them too. It’s really the only thing that makes them less scary. If you’re still in the Grey’s Anatomy phase, that’s ok too. You’ll get there. I promise.

And sweet reader, if you happen to be in the midst of your own personal Avalanche, please do not make the mistake of thinking you have to do it all alone. There are so many resources out there. Use them. I know I am a hypocrite. I didn’t. Not for a long time. Part of that was situational. I couldn’t use many of them. But I could certainly have done something to help myself, long before I did. If you need a friend, someone outside of your immediate circle, and you’re not ready to call a hotline, go to a therapist or press charges, find me. I’ll listen, without judgment or pressure.

There are also some more professional organizations that offer a variety of services for those seeking help:

Home

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Death and Exotic Dancing

He told me he wished I had died.

In a fury of text messages after telling him there was no possible way he could actually be in love with me – that it was a crazy and impossible notion – he ended with, “I wish the cancer had killed you.” He meant it. He was angry and hurt and blinded by the passionate rage that he had somehow talked himself into. He was also pure evil. Previously, I referred to him as Avalanche. Now you are starting to understand why. Even knowing that he was in a frantic state of emotions, I could feel the honesty in what he said. He really wanted me dead. The old adage was never more true – “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

So, there’s that.

Fast forward to a few months later. I’m sitting across the table at a patio restaurant in the middle of Las Vegas with the person I had known as my best friend for twelve years. I confessed all of my missteps, the lies, the broken promises and he looked at me and said, “It’d be easier if I were married to an exotic dancer.” I didn’t laugh. It wasn’t a joke. He meant it. Side bar, I hate Vegas now…

Two moments in time. Two truths that were articulated in such a brutally candid way. Two statements that are now a matter of emotional record and will stay with me forever.

It’s amazing to look back over those snapshots in our lives that become burned on our souls like some sort of brand. You can color over them with better experiences but they’re never truly gone. So, I am stuck with this – did I deserve it? Did I deserve to be forced to carry those memories around with me like a backpack full of rocks in an otherwise happy existence? I don’t know. It depends on who you ask, I suppose.

As I reflect, I can see the helplessness in both of their statements. Two men with broken hearts who didn’t know what to do with the pain. One girl who didn’t mean to break them and who was broken herself.

What is the point of this?

I guess it needs to be said. There’s something about sharing that lessens the pain of bad memories. When they’re trapped in our heads, they grow roots and just live there. If we put them out there and talk about them, I don’t know, they just seem to have less power. And maybe, I think, it will help someone else deal with hurtful things that have been said to them that they just can’t seem to shake.

I don’t have an agenda for this one, friends. It just is what it is. Two people who I cared about wished that I was gone or that I was someone else entirely. Just like that. Poof! No more me and their lives would be better. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done but when someone says they’d rather you not exist, that’s a tough pill to swallow. And so I didn’t. I just shelved it. Honestly, at the time that both of these things happened, it was such a small part of what I was going through, it didn’t occur to me that it would be something that I later remembered regularly. Who knew eh?! Funny how the noggin works.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t die and I am surrounded by people who know my worth and tell me all the time. At the end of the day, what they said – they’re just words aren’t they? Yes, words are powerful and can be destructive but you know what we have to combat them? More damn words!! So, here I am, trying to minimize the power of some ugly words with some that are a bit more hopeful and inspired.

I didn’t and don’t live and die by names I’ve been called or threats that have been levied. Sticks and stones and all. There were some sticks, though, but I managed to dodge those as well. Point is, as always, our wounds are not our worth and other people’s pain and heartbreak? That’s not who we are either. So, if you’ve been told you’re worthless just know this – That person..whoever it was…took the time and energy to tell you that. They decided it was something that needed to be said to make them feel better. They were looking to make you feel small. They thought they needed to break you down. Which, dear reader, means you were already above them. So step back up on the stool, get the upper hand and get that chin up so high you can sniff the clouds.

P.S. I have absolutely nothing against exotic dancers. You do you girl!

If you would like to connect with Lindsey, watch her You Tube channel, or read more from her, here are the relevant links.

Blog: https://littlegirlfound.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lindsey_D_Kent

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1biGWzhzdgux-71dQBODwQ

India Beats Britain!

No, I am not talking about test cricket, though we lost that series too.

Checking the stats today, I was surprised to discover that views of my blog from India are now in second place behind America.

Britain is now in third place for views.

Am I being deserted by my own country?

Anyway, thanks very much, India!

New Beginnings?

Tomorrow sees the swearing-in of a new President of The United States. Even allowing for the issues surrounding the recent protest in Washington D.C. and the risk of more disturbances during the inauguration, that must feel like a new beginning to most of my American blogging friends. (I know there are some who are not that happy about it.)

I don’t live in America, as you know, and I have never even visted that country. But everyone in the world lives under the influence of America in one way or another, like it or not. So I would like to see the USA heal its divisions, take care of its poor and unemployed, provide better healthcare systems, and try to do something to stop the constant shootings that happen there.

It would also be nice if they stopped using military solutions to try to solve problems in other countries, and to forge good working relationships with countries that they currently see as enemies.

Is any of the above possible? Well anything is possible, but it remains to be seen if it happens. Whatever the Biden and Harris team manages to achieve, one thing is sure. They are not Trump and Pence, so that gives them a head start as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

Could the worldwide vaccination programmes herald a new beginning too? Or more like a return to how things were. We can only hope so. But it is going to be a long time before we find out. Even in Britain with its relatively small population, it will be October before all the people over the age of eighteen have been vaccinated. Then there will be those who decline any vaccine, and cannot be compelled to have it. They will potentially remain a danger to the rest of us.

As it stands, I cannot see that 2021 will bring universal heath care in America, or that I will be able to enter a shop of any kind in England without wearing a mask.

But I live in hope.

Some Good News: Less Serial Killers

Your chance of being being the victim of a serial killer is one less thing to worry about in 2020.

Some good news for once is about the decline in serial killings in America.

Since the ‘boom times’ for serial killers in the 1970s and 1980s, the trend has shown a dramatic fall, reaching rock bottom recently.

This article explains it in more detail, in case you are interested.

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/what-explains-the-decline-of-serial-killers?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my lovely blogging friends in America.

It will be very different for most of you this year, I’m sure.

So I hope you can celebrate as best as you can, given the social restrictions we all have to deal with in 2020.

We don’t have this holiday over here, so I usually give thanks for that fact.
One less thing to worry about. 🙂

My very best wishes to you all, Pete.

Featured Blogger: Pete Springer

American blogger and writer Pete Springer is a retired teacher. He has only been blogging for less than two years, but has already become a great asset to our blogging community.
https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/

He has published a book that he hopes will interest and inspire new teachers, based on his own memories of a lifetime as an educator.

Here is one of his recent posts, giving some idea of what you will find on his blog.

An Impressive Young Man

There are times in a teaching career when you wonder, “Was it all worth it? Would I do it again?” My answer has always been a resounding “yes” to those questions, but I don’t think there is a teacher alive who hasn’t wondered about those things on occasion. All teachers inevitably have bad days, and it can leave you feeling, “What am I doing? I must be the world’s worst teacher.”

One of the mysteries of teaching is that you can have one of these awful days from nowhere. With experience, you learn that these things can happen randomly for no apparent reason. Many times, it has nothing to do with you but difficult situations that are going on in your students’ lives that you are unaware of. Sometimes you discover why things went amiss, but many times you don’t. Just as often, the following day, everything goes according to plan, and you feel like the consummate professional. Such are the ups and downs of being an educator.

I’ve written previously about some of my favorite post-teaching moments. One post was entitled The Delayed Rewards of Teaching https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2019/08/15/the-delayed-rewards-of-teaching/ and, most recently, an article called Our Future is in Good Hands. https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/our-future-is-in-good-hands/

This past week I had one of those beautiful post-teaching experiences that reminded me why I became an educator. When you’re in the middle of a school year, you have these memorable experiences when you see a child accomplish something remarkable or observe a fantastic transformation in a child’s academics or behavior. While these accomplishments are rewarding, the big payoff often comes years later.

I taught Samy Awwad in third grade several years ago. He was a bright and sometimes mischievous (never mean) boy with a great deal of potential. I had the pleasure of teaching Samy’s brother the year before him, and his younger sister two years after I taught Samy. They all were exceptionally bright students with promising futures. Unsurprisingly, their parents set an excellent example by being educated, kind people, who put tremendous value on education.

Just because a student is intelligent is no guarantee of future success. I saw bright students get sidetracked for various reasons as they became young adults. The most common reasons were dysfunction in the family, childhood trauma, lack of motivation, hanging out with the wrong peers, or substance abuse problems.

Then there are students like Samy Awwad, who not only do well in school but take their natural ability and run with it. Imagine being a sixteen-year-senior, having already received preadmission to Stanford, and starting up a nonprofit organization for young people.

Awwad’s nonprofit is called IMMUNIGLOBAL. http://www.immuniglobal.org/ His primary focus is to bring education and awareness of the importance of vaccinations to the community in fighting preventable diseases such as the measles or flu.

Immuniglobal is not a small undertaking. Awwad built his nonprofit from the ground up, including website design and development, workshops, outreach, and phone education.

He approached the problem of vaccine education logically by first building his website from scratch to provide information regarding immunizations. A couple of the most startling facts on Awwad’s website are that according to the World Health Organization, between two and three million deaths are prevented each year by vaccinations. According to the CDC, a savings of an estimated 42,000 lives occur in the United States per year.

Awwad sees the big picture and comprehends that real change comes at the grassroots level while also understanding the need to work with huge companies. He has partnered with large organizations and institutions such as the CDC, CLOROX, and UCLA.

The level of thought and action that Awwad has taken is inspiring. He recognized the lack of immunizations that were happening in Humboldt County, his place of residence. Humboldt was recently ranked 54th out of 58 counties in California in terms of vaccination rates.

So why do some people choose not to get their children vaccinated? There appear to be several reasons. According to The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the four most prevalent anti-vax philosophies are:

Religious Reasons
Personal Beliefs or Philosophical Reasons
Safety Concerns
Desire for Additional Education
According to a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey, the top reasons for not getting a flu vaccine are:

36% feel they are healthy and do not need the shot.

31% do not like needles.

30% do not think it works.

27% worry about the risks.

While 70% believe it is vital to get an annual flu shot, only 46% say they typically get vaccinated.

Perhaps what is most troubling is that diseases that were once mainly under control are becoming more prevalent again. Measles cases are on the rise. The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.

Beyond the probable life-saving gains, vaccines have an economic benefit and cut medical costs throughout the world. When diseases occur, more hospitalizations are the result. The COVID-19 pandemic has added considerable costs and added higher risk to medical professionals.

Awwad realizes that one of the most effective means of communication is to take his knowledge to the community directly. He has made several presentations in K-12 classrooms in Humboldt County. (Most of these have been at the high school level.) His approach helps young people become more educated about vaccines and encourages them to become involved in vaccine education and other current critical issues.

One of the most important local programs that Awwad became involved with was a vigorous vaccine education program at McKinleyville High School. He organized an Adolescent Immunization Poster Contest with the Humboldt County Department of Public Health and some local pediatricians.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the importance of developing a vaccine has come to the forefront. Worldwide deaths have now reached over 600,000 people with several times more than that becoming ill. Even those who make a full recovery from the Coronavirus may have long-term health effects.

Awwad looks at the present and the future to see how he can use his talents and energy. Once a COVID-19 vaccine is released to the public, he would like to present a series of vaccine-related workshops and activities in schools and other places around Humboldt County.

As far as what comes next for Samy Awwad, the possibilities are endless. He is one of thirty undergraduate fellows selected recently at Stanford’s chapter of an organization called “Effective Altruism.” The goal for this two-month fellowship will be to identify the most pressing issues in the world and then decide how best to implement this resulting knowledge in his career.

Awwad plans to take a gap year to continue his work with ImmuniGlobal before enrolling full-time at Stanford. The most likely path for him will be a future in medicine as a physician. Another possibility is for Awwad to study and conduct research in the field of brain diseases. He is always thinking several steps ahead and has several other irons in the fire unrelated to vaccinations. He hopes to use his voice to help minorities and find ways to tackle important issues such as racism and classism.

I find great inspiration from Samy Awwad’s selfless acts to improve his community and make a difference throughout the world. I can’t wait for the next chapter in his life, and I know that his teachers are all proud of the young man he has become. If ever you doubt America’s youth, perhaps Samy and others like him will help change your mind.

Please find some time to check out Pete’s blog, and get to know him and his writing.