December The 7th, 1941

Eighty years ago today, Japan attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbour, and brought the United States into WW2.

As a result, a bitter war was fought in the Pacific, and so many soldiers and civilians died. Some years later, American troops and equipment made D-Day possible, and Germany was finally defeated.

Becuase of Japan’s entry into the war, the allies finally had to invent a super-weapon to defeat that country, and the world went into the terrifying nuclear age.

Let us never forget those who died on that day, and always remember the significance of the date in world history.

Diet, Obesity, and Covid-19

I found this interesting article online yesterday. It is from an American source, and looks at how the administration in the USA appears to be failing to make the connection between obesity and the pandemic. The government there apparently has no visible policy on the national obesity epidemic either, or the related huge increase in Diabetes.

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/31/covid-deaths-diet-diseases-nutrition-america-517076?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

Class Poverty In America: A Documentary Film

My friend Antony sent me this 45-minute You Tube video. It was filmed by a European documentary maker, at a time when Donald Trump was still the President.

Middle-Class homeless living in their cars. People working full-time, but unable to afford to rent anywhere to live. From Hollywood, to Texas, to Virginia, a whole generation with no hope.

(I know this doesn’t apply to everyone in the USA, but at the time of filming, it affected around 40 million people)

It is worth your time to watch it, as any of us could be next. (You can easily turn off the subtitles in the bottom menu)

Halloween-Scmalloween

This is a repost from October the 31st, 2012. With everyone suitably seasonally excited today for Halloween, I thought I would offer an alternative view, somthing of a rant, for the benefit of any new followers since I last reposted this in 2014.

What is all this fuss about Halloween? Does anybody remember when it all started here? Shops full of pumpkins, devil-suits, and tridents; parties with fancy-dress themes, gangs of kids wandering about, begging for sweets. I certainly have no memory of it in London at least, until about 1990. It is yet another unwanted American import, alongside baseball caps, (Who knows the rules? Come on, tell me.) rap music, and McDonald’s. Driven by the Marketing men, Supermarkets, and Television, desperate to fill the gap between Summer holidays, and Christmas.

Why do we always fall for this rubbish so easily? Is there no tradition that cannot be sold on, re-packaged for British taste, and successfully marketed, until nobody remembers a time before it existed? What’s next, Thanksgiving? That would fit nicely into the space before Yuletide, and would increase turkey sales even more. We could all wear stove-pipe hats, and big Puritan collars, trying to pretend it was OK to swindle the Red Indians out of their lands for a few beads and trinkets. It wouldn’t matter that there were no Red Indians here, we could just make that bit up. Or maybe we could call them ‘Native Americans’, to make us feel even less guilty.

Nothing has value anymore. There is no special time left. Hot Cross Buns are available all year, pancakes can be bought anytime, then microwaved to save the effort of making them. Tangerines are no longer a Christmas treat, any Tesco will have them in, anytime you want. We have slowly removed everything that we ever had occasion to anticipate excitedly, and to look forward to as the seasons changed. Once we had lost all that, we had to search elsewhere for something to plan for, and along came Halloween. We can now arrange parties, or the appalling ‘Trick or Treat’ parades (Ask them for a trick is my tip!), and have everything from themed burgers, to pumpkin socks. How did we ever cope before?

I would love to take you back in a Time Machine. You would relish the prospect of Buns at Easter, delight at trying to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and be unable to sleep on the night before Christmas. You would never have heard of ‘Grand-Parents’ Day’, and Halloween would be something that was ‘done’ in America. Brazil nuts and tangerines would appear in December, be enjoyed briefly, and would not be seen again until that time the following year. Baseball caps would be worn by baseball players, and some other people in The Americas, but not in England. If you wanted a snack, you would be happy with fish and chips, or pie and mash.

There is nothing wrong with American cultural celebrations. They even keep some European ones, like Christmas. But the newer ones should stay on that side of the Atlantic. That way those that seek it can travel there to enjoy it, and celebrate the differences in our societies and customs. We might even tell them that we used to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve as part of the Harvest Festival, and that Halloween is a Scottish corruption of that phrase. That would make it ours then, not American at all. Like most things, including many we have since discarded, they were taken to America by settlers. America is doing a fantastic job of re-exporting those traditions, whether we need them back, or not.

Surely it is enough to celebrate the difference in the various traditions and cultures of the many countries and societies in the world, without having to assimilate everything? As the French say- ‘Vive la difference’.

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:

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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