Friday, July 31, 2015

365 Project - Day 212 - "Abstract (Soap Bottle Curves)"

July 31, 2015 - "Abstract (Soap Bottle Curves)"

It's just me... and my coffee... and my camera... and a plastic bottle of liquid dish soap... and my abstract morning thoughts.


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Thursday, July 30, 2015

365 Project - Day 211 - "Abstract (Colored Pencils)"

July 30, 2015 - "Abstract (Colored Pencils)"

We are almost finished with our project of cleaning out our fourth bedroom and setting it up as an office/art-space. There's just a few finishing touches that need to be done... and then it will be complete.

My art supplies sit waiting for me!


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TBT: Astronaut Dreams

TBT: Astronaut Dreams
From second grade and on into high school my dream was to become an astronaut. I honestly do not remember what it was that sparked that dream. Maybe it was the film “The Right Stuff”, which I was obsessed with soon after it came out in 1983. Maybe it was some sort of sci-fi film like “Star Wars”. Maybe it was simply a strong desire to get as far away as possible from the life I knew at home. I don’t know. All I knew was that I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything else.
Alan Shepard was my hero at the time. In 1961 he became the first American in space as he piloted “Freedom 7” as part of the Mercury program. In 1971 he commanded Apollo 14, and became the fifth person to walk on the moon. My goal was to follow Shepard’s path by becoming an Aviator in the U.S. Navy… get my degree in science… work my way to becoming the pilot of a Space Shuttle mission… and ultimately become a Shuttle Commander for at least one Space Shuttle mission before retiring to a nice house near Cape Canaveral, or something like that. 
It was a Tuesday, and for some reason my brother Kenny and I were both home from school. I was sleeping when, shortly before noon, Kenny came in and shook me awake telling me I had to come out to the living room right away… that there had been a problem with the Space Shuttle. It was January 28, 1986 when I stood in front of the television crying as I watched replays of the fatal launch of Challenger mission STS-51-L. I cannot put into words just how deeply that moment affected me. 
In 1988 my family moved to Florida to start a new life. Living closer to the home of the space program meant visits to Kennedy Space Center and so much more. My room was filled with posters and pictures of space shuttles, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo craft and rockets, models of spacecraft and Navy planes hung from the ceiling. I began collecting mission patches and anything I could get my hands on that was space shuttle-related. 
NASA’s shuttle program began its new life at the same time. Just one month after we moved, America returned to space with the launch of the brand-new shuttle Discovery. I wasn’t able to see the launch from where I was… but I remember watching it on TV and being filled with intense happiness.
The first launch I actually witnessed was in December of 1988 - Atlantis mission STS-27. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of watching a shuttle launch, especially when your entire goal in life at the time is to one day be a part of it. It was exhilarating! The only thing that equaled the emotion of that first time was the first time I was able to watch a night-time launch. That was in November of 1989 and was Discovery’s STS-33 mission. Seeing a night-time launch is one of the most incredible things you could ever witness! I remember standing there with my binoculars watching as the solid rocket boosters fell to Earth… the external fuel tank was released… and the shuttle went in to orbit - all while listening to the radio transmissions from NASA. In November of 1990 I remember sitting in my room when the sonic booms of Atlantis’ re-entry shook the walls. It was the first time since 1985 that a shuttle mission landed at Kennedy Space Center.
All in all I was able to witness more than two-dozen shuttle launches. The final launch for me was in January of 1993… Endeavor mission STS-54. My family would go on to move from Florida to New York before the next launch occurred. 
And what of the dream? What of the goals? 
When I began high school the dream was still very much alive… but as my freshman year progressed the dream began to fade. The creative side of me took hold. I began to draw more and to take serious art classes. By my sophomore year I was into my artwork full-force. My goals began to shift… and the dream became to move to Manhattan, attend art school at either the School of Visual Arts (SVA) or Cooper Union… and ultimately make it big in the art world by doing what I loved to do.
Part of me never let go of the astronaut dreams, however. In 1998 I watched as Discovery mission STS-95 took John Glenn back into space, and I smiled. On February 01, 2003 I was standing in a Dunkin Donuts in Ridgefield, CT with my brother Kenny, watching the TV replays of Columbia mission STS-107 disintegrating upon re-entry. I was instantly taken back to that Tuesday in January of 1986. 
On July 08, 2011 I sat watching the television as Atlantis mission STS-135 lifted off. After 135 Space Shuttle launches, this would be the very last. I remember a deep sense of sadness… and perhaps a bit of regret. The dream was officially over.
Now all I have left are remnants of what once was. Patches and pictures and commemorative coins… and quite a few memories. Perhaps I’ll go watch “The Right Stuff” one more time, for old times’ sake.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

365 Project - Day 210 - "Role Playing Games"

July 29, 2015 - "Role Playing Games"

I started playing "Dungeons & Dragons" in elementary school. It was the 80s, and my friends Mike, Jeff, Michael, Greg and I would meet up at either Mike or Jeff's house after school or on the weekends and play for hours on end.

In the late-80s my family moved to Florida and I moved from "Dungeons & Dragons" to "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" through my middle and high school years. Other role playing games entered the mix as well: "GURPS", "Cyberpunk 2020" and "Vampire: The Masquerade", just to name a few.

I remember having to defend my role playing games quite often. This was the 80s and 90s... and the general public view was that games like D&D were "satanic" and led to "devil worship", "violent tendencies" and other "evil" things. This was especially true in conservative, evangelical and Baptist areas of Florida. Playing role playing games was thought to be "against God" - and therefore bad. People would actually protest bookstores that sold D&D books and such. It was ridiculous!

Over the years I acquired a lot of First and Second Edition D&D/AD&D books. When I stopped playing, I boxed them all up thinking that one day I would have children and they would be able to use them when they started playing role playing games. Of course, that was pre-internet... and at a time when video games were limited to the rather "safe" games of Nintendo and Sega.

Now my son is in his teens... and the whole idea of D&D just seems a bit odd to him. Sure - he loves dragons and wizards and all things "fantasy"... but he'd rather enjoy them through the use of video and computer games... movies... and stuff like that. The idea of sitting at a table for hours on end rolling dice and keeping track of hit-points just doesn't interest him in the slightest. In fact it all seems quite pointless and silly to him.

I do still have friends who play... people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who regularly meet up for game nights and such. I've been invited to join in... but I no longer have an interest in playing. It's just not "me" anymore.

So the books sit on a shelf in the closet. Yet another link to the past which maybe someday I'll sell or give away. Not yet though.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

365 Project - Day 209 - "Storage Unit (Cleaning House)"

July 28, 2015 - "Storage Unit (Cleaning House)"

We have an extra bedroom in our house which is supposed to be an office/art space. For the last couple of years, however, it has become nothing more than our house's giant junk drawer. We don't have a basement or attic... and closet space is at a minimum - so anything we didn't have room for would end up in the office room.

Since January we have been saying that our goal was to get the office room emptied out and usable by the end of this summer. Well... today was the day!

This is our 5'x15' storage unit after the first of six car-loads worth of "stuff". Now the unit is pretty much completely stuffed - right up to the door... but the office is more or less empty now!

Now we've got to clean the carpets... arrange some things... and we'll have our little office/art space once again!


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Monday, July 27, 2015

365 Project - Day 208 - "First College Tour"

July 27, 2015 - "First College Tour"

Today we're at Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts for our daughter's very first college tour.

Dean is her top choice, mainly because of its amazing dance program - but also because it's a small college and is only a few hours from home.

For me it's just hard to believe that it's already time to look at colleges! It really does seem like yesterday that we were bringing her to her very first day of school... and now, well... here we are checking out the size of dorm-rooms and asking questions about student-to-teacher ratios.

Life goes by so fast!


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Sunday, July 26, 2015

365 Project - Day 207 - "Abstract (Queen Anne's Lace)"

July 26, 2015 - "Abstract (Queen Anne's Lace)"

It's a rainy Sunday.

Our plan was to move a bunch of stuff from our house to our storage unit today in an effort to free up some space... but the weather doesn't want to cooperate and exhaustion says we're not getting it done today.

Instead, I find myself playing around with my camera and some Queen Anne's Lace from the front yard.


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Saturday, July 25, 2015

365 Project - Day 206 - "Liliana"

July 25, 2015 - "Liliana"

Today was an absolutely wonderful day... spent with my sister Angel and my niece Liliana, who is one heck of a bundle of energy! She is much, much faster than my camera's ability to focus... but I did manage to catch this moment.

A wonderful day... family... play-time... food... cake... conversation... memories... some tears, many smiles... relief... reassurance... comfort... and happy-ness.

And to finish it all off on a high note, my brother Peter must have heard it when, earlier in the day, I complained about how the Mets have been playing lately. I think he stepped in with a little "help from above" because the Mets played amazingly well and killed the Dodgers 15-2.


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Friday, July 24, 2015

365 Project - Day 205 - "Which one is the right one?"

July 24, 2015 - "Which one is the right one?"

Which one is the "right" one? Do YOU know? Because I've read and studied them all and I'm certain that I don't.

I know which one's core beliefs my heart feels drawn to the most... which one I personally identify with the most. Then again, I've met and known followers of each of the others who have the very same core beliefs as I do, yet they are not walking the same path as me.

What do we really know?

Which one has the strong history of animal sacrifice to appease "God"? Is it the only one that does?

Which one has a history of viewing women as unable to achieve the same level of spiritual fulfillment as men?

Which one promotes a strong view of hierarchy?

Which one views certain individuals as being "lesser" or "unworthy", and thus casts them out of society completely?

Which one is commonly believed to have the most violent followers by the followers of the others?

Which one has, in general, the most biased, prejudiced and judgmental followers according to those on the outside, looking in?

The answers might actually surprise you!

So... which one is the "right" one?

Do YOU know?

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

365 Project - Day 204 - "Abstract (OCD)"

July 23, 2015 - "Abstract (OCD)"

I have OCD.

I'm not just saying that, either. Very often I will hear people say "I'm OCD about ______." That's not me. I've actually been diagnosed with OCD and I'm on medication for it.

For the most part it is under control... but lately I've noticed little things popping up here and there. Most of them are "routine"-based, and involve a very specific method of doing things that absolutely has to be followed or else I will get so anxious, I'll just lose it. Other things are "checking"-based, like having to unlock and then re-lock the door several times just to make sure it's really locked... or having to turn on and then turn off the burners on the stove to make sure they're really off. Yet others are "organization"-based, like needing things to be in a very specific order or position... or for things to be separated with no mixing aloud.

Today's photo is a perfect example. Everything is separated, but I'm very much on edge about the order. The Blue paperclips should be where the White ones are and the White paperclips should be where the Blue ones are. Why? Red and White makes Pink - so Pink would be in between Red and White. Blue and Yellow makes Green - so Green would be in between the Blue and Yellow. Part of me "needs" to dump out the blue and white paperclips and put them in the "correct" position, and then re-take the photo. Part of me "knows" why it is that such a simple and unimportant thing that most people wouldn't even notice is bothering me - and that part absolutely refuses to allow me to go through with "setting things right".

It sucks, but I've actually got it pretty easy. My OCD is more-or-less under control. There are many people with much, MUCH more severe OCD than me... and there are people dealing with far more difficult things in life than OCD. In the long-run, me having OCD is a very small thing and is the least of my worries.

It's just part of me... part of who I am. So when you hear me make a comment like "I'm OCD about making sure the car is locked", I'm being completely serious. I have to push the button on the key fob a half-dozen times or else the car is NOT locked to me. I'll joke about it and laugh about it with my wife... but inside I'm dead serious about it.

It kind of bothers me when I say something like that and the person I've said it to goes on to say "I know what you mean, I'm OCD about my peas not touching my mashed potatoes, and then I've got to sit there and pick them out before I can eat them."

I mean, yeah... it sucks to have your peas touching your potatoes and all... but when you go ahead and eat them anyway you're showing that you're not really "OCD" about it - you're just "picky as hell", and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you were OCD you'd probably have a panic attack that the person who is serving you might let your peas touch your mashed potatoes and then you'll have to embarrassingly send them back - and then you won't be able to eat the new plate of food they bring you because in your mind all they did was push the same peas away from the same mashed potatoes... so your peas and mashed potatoes have already touched and you can't even function because you're too focused on that at the moment!

Sounds pretty ridiculous yet funny, right? Well... it's not. Not when you're the one going through it and the people around you - even if they know you have OCD - don't understand why you won't just "get over it" and eat the freakin' peas and mashed potatoes that are obviously no longer touching one another!

So today's photo is meant not only to reveal a bit about myself... it's meant as a challenge for me to not let my OCD take over. I really don't want to post this photo without "fixing" it first... but here goes...

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

365 Project - Day 203 - "Abstract (Lock & Lock)"

July 22, 2015 - "Abstract (Lock & Lock)"

Alright... I admit it: We're a QVC family. Not all of the time, mind you... but sometimes. The is especially true during the holidays or whenever we happen to notice that "In the Kitchen with David" is on.

We've bought a lot of stuff from QVC over the years - ranging from NASCAR die-cast replicas of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s race cars (I used to collect them) - to kitchen appliances - to bareMinerals makeup.

Yesterday our latest QVC purchase (made during a recent episode of the aforementioned "In the Kitchen with David") arrived at our door: An awesome set of "Lock & Lock" storage containers. We needed new containers for food and such... we happen to love the Lock & Lock system... and they happened to be really freakin' cheap.

So yesterday they arrived all shiny and new. This morning I'm making them pose for my camera, taking abstract shots looking through the berry-colored lids.



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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

365 Project - Day 202 - "Letters from Heaven"

July 21, 2015 - "Letters from Heaven"

I'm often asked (mainly by my wife) why it is that I feel the need to keep just about EVERYTHING I've ever owned or have been given. Whether it's birthday cards or event tickets or notes and letters or random little things from friends and relatives - I tend to horde it all in boxes and drawers and closets and bins.

Part of it is that I just find it comforting to sit and go through relics of happy occasions... and to relive, for even a brief moment, the wonderful memories attached to them.

Part of it is that I just find it so hard to let go of things in fear of them being forgotten. I've witnessed the effects of memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's Disease first-hand... and the fear of losing touch with my memories scares the hell out of me.

But a big part of it - especially where things related to other people are concerned - is that you simply don't know when you will lose them. You have no idea when the only thing you'll have left to cling to are mementos and memories.

Yesterday I came across a binder full of old letters and greeting cards from the 80s and 90s. Flipping through them it suddenly occurred to me that most of the people who sent them... people whom I loved very much... are gone.

I can no longer visit my Grandma and Grandpa Pia on a Sunday afternoon and talk about things while enjoying the best "macaroni and gravy" the world has ever known. There will be no more conversations about photography with Grandpa... or sitting in the kitchen watching Bruce Lee with Grandma while she cooks.

I'll never have another sardine sandwich made by my Grandpop - who never told me what I was eating, and always insisted that I just eat it without peeking between the bread to see what it was. (One day I did... and after that I never ate another sardine!).

I'll never get to sit at my Aunt Pat's kitchen table playing cards and drinking coffee until 3 or 4 in the morning, talking about the most intimate and private things that neither one of us would ever dare to share with anyone else. I'll never hear her read her poetry to me again... and I'll never be able to read her mine.

And - perhaps most painful of all - I'll never get to talk with my brother Peter again. I'll never get to hug him again. I'll never see his smile or hear his laugh... I'll never get to tell him all of the things I should have told him so many times before...

... and now it's too late.

I read their letters and I hear their voices very distinctly in my head. For that brief moment I can feel them with me again.

I look at their photos... or the objects that once belonged to them - and I remember them. I instantly feel all of the emotion and energy I associate with them... and it comforts me. It helps me to feel that I'm not alone. That is more than worth the space that the boxes and objects take up in my home.

I'm a firm believer that the soul lives on. Somehow I just "know" that all of my grandparents, my Aunt Pat, my brother Peter - they're all "up there"... they're all looking down at us and smiling. Someday I will see them again... but not yet. For now I have to settle for these mementos and memories... these letters from heaven.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

365 Project - Day 201 - "Texting in the 90s"

July 20, 2015 - "Texting in the 90s"

While cleaning out our storage unity yesterday, I found my old foot locker filled with nostalgia. I brought it home, but did not open it up until this morning. Inside I found a box absolutely busting at the seams with old "text messages" from the early 90s. Some were from girlfriends... some were from friends... and for some reason I've kept them all for the past 25 years or so.

I doubt I'd ever actually sit down and ready them again... but there's something comforting about knowing that they still exist.

So - to my iPhone obsessed children: THIS is how we text messaged each other when I was in high school!


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Sunday, July 19, 2015

365 Project - Day 200 - "Abstract (Washer/Dryer)"

July 19, 2015 - "Abstract (Washer/Dryer)"

We have an "all-in-one" washer/dryer combo. You put your dirty clothes in... choose the washer settings... choose the dryer settings... press start... and the machine washes and dries the clothes all within the same unit. They're very common in other countries... but not very common here in the States.

Recently the pump system on the machine completely died... which meant that it could not drain water, and became nothing more than a huge paperweight. Thankfully we were able to have a brand new pump installed and the entire machine cleaned for a heck-of-a-lot less than it would have cost us to get a new washer and dryer.

So now that everything has been fixed... we're back to doing several loads of laundry per day.

This morning however, while everyone else in the house is still sleeping, I've got my head inside the machine - playing around with my camera... capturing the way the light reflects as swirls of color.

Yep. Time for coffee!


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Saturday, July 18, 2015

365 Project - Day 199 - "Abstract (Black Velvet Doc Martens)"

July 18, 2015 - "Abstract (Black Velvet Doc Martens)"

Yes... I own a pair of black velvet Doc Martens Tall Boots.


Because I like them... and also because this particular design was called the "Vincent" boot, so naturally I had to get them.

It has been quite a long time since I've worn them last though. They were my boot of choice when I was going down to Manhattan on a very regularly basis. Now they just sit on the top shelf of my shoe rack... hanging out with other Doc Martens and lots of pairs of Converse Chucks.

So maybe it's time I dust them off and clean them... put them on and lace them up... and head out and do something crazy!

We'll see.


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Friday, July 17, 2015

Lauren Hill or Caitlyn Jenner - Who is more deserving of the term "courageous"?

This is Lauren Hill. In 2013, during her senior year of high school, it was discovered that she had an inoperable tumor on her brain stem... and she was given just two years to live.

Lauren - a forward on her high school's basketball team - continued to play throughout her senior year - even while undergoing treatment. In September 2014 it was discovered that the tumor had grown, and the prognosis was that Lauren only had to the end of the year to live. Lauren continued treatment... while beginning her freshman year at Mount St. Joseph University in Ohio.

Her goal was to play in just one NCAA basketball game. Just one. That was all she wanted. One game.

That game occurred on November 2, 2014 as the Mount St. Joseph Lions played the Hiram Terriers at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. Over 10,000 people were in attendance as Lauren ceremoniously scored the first points of the game - after which the game was stopped, and the crowd gave her a standing ovation. Due to the side-effects of her treatment and medications, Hill spent the majority of the game on the bench - but with only 30 seconds left to play a timeout was called, and Lauren was sent back into the game. She scored the final points - and the Lions won with a score of 66 points, versus the Terriers' 55.

Five months after the game, in April of 2015, Lauren Hill passed away at the age of 19.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, first and foremost, because her story is truly inspirational. That should be reason enough!

However there is another reason I have chosen to share Lauren Hill's story. In response to the post I made yesterday about the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, it was again suggested that Caitlynn Jenner was undeserving of the award... and that Lauren Hill's story was far more courageous than that of a wealthy celebrity choosing to make a very public transition from one gender to another. It was also suggested that A) The decision to give the award to Jenner instead of Hill was based on money and exposure/publicity, above all else... and B) that the 2015 ESPY Awards should have honored Lauren Hill.

Apparently those who shared said thoughts did not actually watch the 2015 ESPY Awards Ceremony. If they had, they would have known that Lauren Hill was in fact honored during the ceremony... and her parents accepted the "Best Moment in Sports" Award on behalf of their daughter. The award was given for that moment when Lauren Hill defied all odds and reached her goal... playing in at least one NCAA basketball game.

So - Who is more deserving? Who has the more courageous story? Who has the right to decide? Is it YOU? Is it ME? Why did the people from the ESPY Committee and the Ashe Foundation choose to give the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Jenner instead of Hill? I don't know the answers... Do you?

The truth is that BOTH stories are incredibly inspirational and courageous. BOTH deserved to be recognized.

The world needs more people like Lauren Hill and Caitlyn Jenner. We could all learn a lot from their stories. I know I have.

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365 Project - Day 198 - "Abstract (Corn)"

July 17, 2015 - "Abstract (Corn)"

It has been a very quiet and calm day so far.

Spent most of the day working on computers... getting things done on mine... helping my daughter to set up her new laptop... clearing off her old laptop and setting it up for the person she has sold it to.

Meanwhile dinner slowly cooks in the Crockpot... and several ears of corn await the kids wonderful shucking ability so they can be tossed in some boiling sugar water for tonight's meal...

... but first my camera has to capture their beautiful green abstract-ness!


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Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award

The very first Arthur Ashe Courage Award recipient was Jim Valvano, a NCAA basketball coach, in 1993. The second person to receive the award was Steve Palermo, an umpire for Major League Baseball's American League, in 1994. The third person to receive the award was Howard Cosell, a television sports journalist, in 1995. Over the years the award has gone to marathon runners, boxers, coaches, tennis players, and even the president of South Africa. In 2013 the award was given to former ESPN sportscaster and current "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts.

What is my point in telling you all of this? Every single one of those people received the award for a valid reason. For some it was recovering from extremely difficult battles with diseases or disabilities. For one it was for taking a bullet to the spine while intervening in a mugging, resulting in his paralyzation. For another it was given for her efforts to promote sports for women in a male-dominated world.

Still you ask, "Vin - What the hell are you getting at?"

Well... not a single one of the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the first 21 years that the award has been given has ever had their "Courageousness" questioned. They haven't had their "courage" compared to that of a Veteran of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan... or to that of a 9/11 First Responder. They haven't had to face questions about their level of "manhood" or "womanhood". This hasn't happened... until last year.

Last year the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was given to Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by a National Football League team. It was given to him for his courage to live as himself openly and proudly, knowing that he was also opening himself up to attack after attack after attack. As a result, there was an uproar. Facebook posts showed up comparing his "courage" to that of an active-duty soldier. Posts showed up questioning his manhood and masculinity. He faced attack after attack after attack.

As I am sure all of you are aware, last night the recipient of the 2015 Arthur Ashe Courage Award was two time Olympic Gold Medalist Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner came into this world in a male body... a body which she never once identified with. As the decades passed she made the incredibly difficult decision of transitioning - knowing that every single moment would be scrutinized and criticized due to her celebrity. She finally felt comfortable with who she is, and stood there proud, opening herself up to attack after attack after attack... and those attacks came immediately.

Once again Facebook is a blur of posts and memes questioning Jenner's "courageousness"... and comparing her "courage" to the "courage" of combat soldiers... firefighters... police officers... and so on and so on. My newsfeed is a blur of posts and memes questioning her "manhood", her "masculinity", her "womanhood" and her "femininity". So much anger and hatred over how someone you have no actual connection with chooses to live her life.

So I want to know? Why wasn't Robin Roberts' "courageousness" questioned? Where were the memes comparing HER to a combat veteran? What about when Muhammad Ali received the award in 1997? Why aren't there memes questioning his "courage"? Why wasn't he compared to a combat veteran... I mean, after all, he DID dodge the draft and all. Why wasn't his "manhood" questioned for "being too scared to fight"?

If you feel that Michael Sam or Caitlyn Jenner did not deserve to be recipients of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award because, in your mind, their "courage" wasn't "courageous enough" - ask yourself why you feel that way. Come on... be honest. Why are you speaking up about it now... while you didn't seem to be bothered by Robin Roberts, Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King, Steve Palermo or Jim Valvano receiving the same award?

By the way, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is, of course, named after Arthur Ashe. Do you even know who he is? Ashe was an amazing tennis player who, in April of 1992, announced to the public that he had AIDS. Keep in mind that this was during a time when the social stigma surrounding the disease was still so horrible that in some parts of the country it was still being referred to as "The Gay Plague" and even "God's Punishment". Ashe died of the disease less than a year after his announcement... but during that time he set up both the "Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS" and the "Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health". He worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the disease... to remove the social stigmas attached to it... and to educate the truth about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent them. No, he did not take a bullet in the field. No, he did not enter a building he knew could collapse at any moment in an effort to carry someone out amidst flames. Instead he simply lived his life, courageously, in a world that was mostly against him. Just like Michael Sam. Just like Caitlyn Jenner. Just like countless others whose names are not known to us.

So, I guess what I'm saying is - While you're sitting behind the safety of the internet judging whether or not Caitlyn Jenner or Michael Sam are truly deserving of the title "courageous"... do the world a favor and keep your words of hatred to yourself. Try promoting what you love instead of focusing on what you don't.

If you'd like, I'd be more than happy to introduce you to one of the many people I know personally and care about very much who happen to be homosexual or who happen to have been born the wrong gender, and made the transition. Then you can feel free to tell them directly to their face just how "wrong" they are, that is - if you're "courageous" enough... because trust me, they could very easily drop you on your ass!

Oh, and if you feel the need to do so, please feel free to visit my profile page and click the little button to the right of my name that says "Friends" and scroll down to the line that says "Unfriend".

Thank you.

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(This originally appeared on my Facebook profile on Thursday - July 16, 2015 - Hence the part about "unfriending".)

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365 Project - Day 197 - "Anxiety (More Meds)"

July 16, 2015 - "Anxiety (More Meds)"

It's a tough thing, anxiety. Some mornings you're too anxious to convince yourself to get out of bed, worried that something might happen... but you do it anyway.

Then you spend the day anxious...

Worried that the phone might ring or that there might be an unexpected knock on the door...
Worried that you'll have to interact with people you don't know or are not comfortable with...
Worried that your tremors are noticeable again and the meds are no longer working...
Worried about the questions you might be asked...
Worried about what others are thinking...
Worried that you've said or posted the wrong thing...
Worried that you are not really liked...
Worried that you are actually resented...
Worried that you're not doing or contributing enough...
Worried that you're doing too much or trying too hard...
Worried that you're doing it all wrong...
Worried about who you're going to lose next...
Worried that it might be yourself...
Worried that it might be your Self...
Worried because once again you've begun to unlock and re-lock doors and turn on and turn off burners, just to be sure...
Worried that your entire routine is about to change because of something that is out of your control...
Worried that the day will come when your disease takes over and you cannot function anymore...
Worried that you're becoming who you never wanted to become...
Worried that your worries are going to get the best of you...

Night comes, and you're too anxious to fall asleep... worried about what will come in the darkness. Then morning arrives and you're too anxious to convince yourself to get out of bed, worried that something might happen... but you do it anyway.

*   *   *

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

365 Project - Day 196 - "Abstract (Milkshake Straws)"

July 15, 2015 - "Abstract (Milkshake Straws)"

The kids are still asleep...

The house is nice and quiet...

I've got a nice mug of coffee...

... And I'm playing around with a box of colorful milkshake straws.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

365 Project - Day 195 - "Abstract (Water Bottle No. Whatever)"

July 14, 2015 - "Abstract (Water Bottle No. Whatever)"

It's early in the morning on a Tuesday... and I'm playing around with a giant plastic water bottle and my camera while the kids are completely passed out in their beds.


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Monday, July 13, 2015

365 Project - Day 194 - "Peter's Albums"

July 13, 2015 - "Peter's Albums"

I now have two boxes of vinyl record albums that belonged to my brother Peter.

Based on the small sampling of his albums in this photo, can you tell where I got my taste in music?

Peter was a HUGE influence on my life in so many ways, I can't even begin to count them. Music was just a small part of that influence. While my brother Kenny was definitely more responsible for my love of Iron Maiden and of heavy metal in general... it was my brother Peter who got me into The Doors, Pink Floyd, James Brown, Maceo Parker, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and just about every Motown artist there ever was.

In the 70s and 80s Peter was obsessed with The Doors and, in particular, Jim Morrison. He looked exactly like Jim for a very long time. (We're talking the mid-to-late 1960s Jim Morrison... not the pot-bellied, beard-wearing Jim Morrison of the early 70s). There were Doors posters and stickers and banners and such all over the place. I remember that Peter's first car had a black and white Jim Morrison banner pinned to the headliner. At one point Peter started doing a self portrait painting using nail polish. It ended up being Jim Morrison.

In the early-90s he gave me a copy of "No One Here Gets Out Alive" by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman. I devoured the book... and became absolutely obsessed with The Doors. Peter told me that it wasn't just about the music though... that I had to really listen to the lyrics because it was all about Morrison's talent as a poet. He got me a copy of Jim Morrison's "Wilderness"... which I fell in love with. That led to me tracking down copies of "The Lords and the New Creatures" and "The American Night". Jim's poetry and his biography led me to reading about those who influenced him, such as Jack Kerouac - which got me into the whole Beat Generation writings of Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg and others.

Later on Peter would spark my interest in James Brown and Maceo Parker. I knew their music already, of course, but I hadn't REALLY listened to it until Peter gave me some copies of their stuff. The next thing I knew I was listening to James Brown and The J.B.'s just about every day.

I spend each and every day listening to music. My iPod has just over 1,500 albums and just shy of 20,000 songs on it... and my computer has even more. I can't even begin to count how many CDs and vinyl records I have now.

Music is a very big part of my life... and I owe that to my brothers... especially Peter.

So today I think I'll be blasting some of this music while thinking of my brother.

I love you, Bro... and I miss you so much! This soundtrack is dedicated to you!


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Sunday, July 12, 2015

365 Project - Day 193 - "San Marzanos (Sunday Gravy)"

July 12, 2015 - "San Marzanos (Sunday Gravy)"

It's Sunday... and that means two large 6-lb cans of imported San Marzano tomatoes wait to be crushed so they can simmer for hours and become a huge pot of "Sunday Gravy".

It's the Italian-American way!


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Saturday, July 11, 2015

365 Project - Day 192 - "Abstract (Plastic Forks)"

July 11, 2015 - "Abstract (Plastic Forks)"

Today we're in Oxford, CT celebrating my niece Frannie's high school graduation.


Beautiful weather for a party for a beautiful girl.

Family and friends and great conversation.

Kids swimming in the pool.

Lots and lots of food.


And this box of plastic utensils that seemed to be calling to my camera.


(My beautiful nieces Frannie and Liliana)

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Friday, July 10, 2015

365 Project - Day 191 - "Bike Night"

July 10, 2015 - "Bike Night"

Tonight I'm down in Norwalk for "Bike Night" - hosted by the Eagle Riders 588 at the Eagle Club on Mott Avenue.

Lots of great people...

Lots of beautiful bikes...

Cheap beer...

Burgers and Hot Dogs...

Trophies and Raffles and games of Horseshoes...


*   *   *

August 26, 1995 - One of the happiest days of my life!


It was August 26, 1995… a Saturday, if memory serves me correctly. My brother Peter came up from Norwalk to pick me up so we could spend the day together. He told me to bring some sketch pads, drawing supplies and my new watercolor kit - which I had yet to use. So I gathered my supplies… hopped in the car… and we headed north.

We drove up Route 7, heading to the old Hart Bridge which crosses the Housatonic River in West Cornwall. Most people don’t know that it’s called the “Hart Bridge”, actually… they simply refer to it as “The Covered Bridge”. It has always been a bit of a landmark for my family. Every summer when we’d go camping at Housatonic Meadows we’d make it a point to cross the bridge and go into West Cornwall. There used to be a general store there where we’d buy some supplies for our camp. There was also a great spot on the southern side of the bridge to go trout fishing. Over the years the bridge became sort of a symbol of happy memories for our family. When we see the bridge, all of those memories return.

And so on this particular summer day, Peter and I crossed the bridge… parked the car… and made our way down to the river. It was an absolutely beautiful day weather-wise… clear blue skies full of sunshine. Warm, but not too hot. A nice breeze now and then. It was perfect!

The river was low. The Housatonic Dam was not open at the time, keeping the water levels low and slow. On the north side of the bridge you could walk out into the middle of the river hopping from rock to rock without ever getting so much as a drop of water on your feet. So that’s exactly what we did… we sat on the rocks right smack in the middle of the Housatonic River… and faced Hart Bridge. We set up our supplies next to one another and got to work. 

Peter was primarily sketching… using charcoal, graphite pencils and some colored pencils. I started sketching as well… but Peter made me stop. He told me that he wanted me to give the watercolors a try. So I broke out my little watercolor kit… only to realize that I had forgotten to fill the water bottle. I thought that I had just found my way out of having to paint! I turned to Peter and told him that I couldn’t paint because I didn’t have any water. He looked at me with this strange look on his face, and said “Really?” in that “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” sort of tone. He then pointed to the river that was around us. I was stuck!

I went over to the edge of the rocks and filled my little bottle with cold river water. Back to work…

I began painting… not having the slightest idea what the hell I was doing, while Peter was sketching away beside me. The way that we were positioned I could not see what he was sketching… and he could not see what I was painting. 

We sat like that for a good long time… sketching and painting… chatting away… bringing up memories… talking about life and love and music and picture framing and everything else there was to talk about. At one point a snake slithered its way right in front of us, making its way to the water to cross the river - causing us both to jump back. A short time later a beautiful Rainbow Trout splashed through a narrow opening in the rocks between us, heading downstream. 

Eventually we finished our pieces and, stretching and yawning, we started mumbling about lunch. So we packed up our stuff and headed to the car. I suggested a little place I knew - which has long since closed. He agreed… so we went in and ordered lunch.

The conversations continued over some amazing sandwiches. Peter was drawing while we ate and talked… sketching other diners in the restaurant… and doing little still-life drawings of objects on the table and such. When we were finished eating he asked to see my painting. I was so incredibly nervous about it… and didn’t want to show it to him because I was sure that it was absolute crap! Very reluctantly I pulled out the watercolor pad and passed it to him. He opened it up… looked at the painting sitting there on the first page… looked at me… looked back at the painting… looked back at me - and then asked me if this was really my first time using watercolors. I said that it was… that other than using Crayola watercolors as a kid, I had never once touched the “real” stuff. I expected him to then say a comment like “Yeah… I can tell it was your first time!” or something like that. Instead he put the pad down and said “Dude… this is fucking incredible!”. 

I didn’t believe him. To me I just saw blobs and blotches and such… and thought it was crap, crap, crap… but he kept insisting that it wasn’t. He told me that he frequently saw and framed watercolors by professional artists that weren’t nearly as good. He told me that the gallery at his job sold watercolors for hundreds of dollars that were “shit” compared to my “first attempt”. I figured he was just blowing smoke up my ass… and so I kind of shrugged it all off. I took the pad back, put it in my bag, and the conversations continued in other directions. When the check came, he reached for it but I beat him to it. He was shocked… and said something about how weird it felt having his little brother taking him out for lunch. I put the money on the table… we left… and laughed our way to the car.

The day slowly came to a close. We headed back to Danbury so he could drop me off before heading home to Norwalk. As I was exiting the car, he told me he loved me… I told him I loved him too and thanked him for the day… then turned to walk up the stairs and into the house. He called out to me, saying “Hey! That painting really is good! Make sure you do something with that gift!” - or something  similar to that. I smiled and went upstairs as he backed out of the driveway and drove away. I put the watercolor pad away in my portfolio case and did not look at it again for a very long time.

Time passed, and eventually I began working with Peter. One day he told me I should bring in that watercolor painting of the bridge and frame it up… I shrugged it off. This happened several times until finally I agreed to do so - and finally dug out the watercolor pad and brought it in to work. As soon as I took the painting out, Peter took it from me and proudly took it around to everyone who worked there so they could see it. He then took it into the gallery to show it to the owner - who absolutely loved it and didn’t believe my story that it was the very first time I had ever used watercolors. He then showed me a bunch of unframed watercolors that were for sale in the gallery… pointing out how much better mine was than these paintings that were selling for hundreds of dollars. I didn’t see what he was talking about… and still didn’t believe it. I still just saw a crappy painting.

Eventually I framed the watercolor and gave it to my mom as a birthday gift, knowing that she loved that bridge and the memories associated with it. It hangs in her living room, even to this day. I still don’t think it’s a very good painting at all… but every time I look at it I think of that day - August 26, 1995 - and how incredibly wonderful and special it was. It truly was one of the happiest days of my life!

I haven't used watercolors even once since that day.

One day I will pass… and my body will be cremated. For many, many years I’ve listed one special request in regards to what should be done with my ashes: I want at least a small portion of them scattered in the middle of the Housatonic River… upstream from the Covered Bridge… right at the spot where Peter and I sat that day… so a part of me will be linked to the river forever, as the ashes make their way under the bridge… down the river… past the Housatonic Meadows campground… and on into eternity.

(I didn't take this photo... I found it on the internet - but it shows the bridge and the river - and out there in the middle, closer to the bridge, is where Peter and I were sitting that day.)

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

365 Project - Day 190 - "Abstract (Hair Brush)"

July 09, 2015 - "Abstract (Hair Brush)"

Sitting in the salon... waiting for my name to be called for a haircut. I notice the display of hairbrushes for sale... and find myself drawn to them.

Pull camera out of pocket... focus... snap... capture...

My name is called... it's time for a trim!


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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

365 Project - Day 189 - "Abstract (Twisted Twigs)"

July 08, 2015 - "Abstract (Twisted Twigs)"

Spent the majority of the day at my mom's house... helping to fix things on her computer and her iPhone.

(Have I ever mentioned just how much I freakin' HATE Windows-based computers!?!)

Saw this stack of twisted twig-branch-thingies that she has in a vase, and decided they needed to be captured by my camera.

That's all... except...



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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

365 Project - Day 188 - "Abstract (Hula-Hoops)"

July 07, 2015 - "Abstract (Hula-Hoops)"

Today I'm out-and-about with my mom... shopping at Family Dollar... searching for bargains.

I came across this stack of brightly-colored Hula-Hoops... but my son Brandon refused to buy me one, even though I asked REALLY nicely.

Oh well!

I guess this photo will have to do for now.


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Monday, July 6, 2015

365 Project - Day 187 - "Abstract (Jellied Cranberry Sauce)"

July 06, 2015 - "Abstract (Jellied Cranberry Sauce)"

Making some lunch: Sliced turkey breast with some cranberry sauce on wheat bread. After shaking the cranberry sauce out of the can, I became mesmerized by its shape... so I had to grab the camera.

Focus - Snap - Capture.

Time to eat!


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Sunday, July 5, 2015

365 Project - Day 186 - "Red, White and Blue"

July 05, 2015 - "Red, White and Blue"

Running some errands today. While grocery shopping at BJ's this afternoon I turned the corner and saw this display of cases of Pepsi stacked upon one another. I had to take out the camera and snap a quick photo.


Because there's lots of Red and Blue next to each other... playing tricks with the eyes... looking like they're moving. My brother Peter would have loved this!


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Saturday, July 4, 2015

365 Project - Day 185 - "Independence Day"

July 04, 2015 - "Independence Day"

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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Quint's USS Indianapolis Speech - Fact vs Fiction

"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, chief? You tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent, huh. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, chief. The sharks come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know it's... kinda like 'ol squares in battle like uh, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, the shark goes to the nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark would go away. Sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high pitch screamin' and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin' they all come in and rip you to pieces. Y'know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men! I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand! I don't know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday mornin' chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player, Bosun's Mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up and down in the water, just like a kinda top. Up ended. Well... he'd been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us, he swung in low and he saw us. He's a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper, anyway he saw us and come in low. And three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."

It's one of the greatest speeches in movie history - but it isn't entirely accurate.

* Yes, it is estimated that the ship sank in a mere 12-minutes... However, there were 1,196 people aboard the USS Indianapolis. Approximately 300 went down with the ship - leaving approximately 900 who went into the water - not "eleven hundred". The vast majority of these men did not have life jackets - and were forced to tread water.
* Distress Signals were, in fact, sent - however they were not acted upon, despite the fact that three separate stations received the signals.
* It was three and-a-half days before the Ventura happened to see survivors in the water - not five days like Quint says. The Ventura was built by the Vega Aircraft Company, a division of Lockheed. It would have been known as a PV-1 Ventura - not a Lockheed Ventura.
* Yes, a "big fat PBY" aircraft did arrive on the scene for rescue. It was supposed to just drop rafts, rations and a transmitter. The pilot saw men being attacked by sharks and decided to land - against orders. The wings of the plane were damaged during the rescue and the plane had to be sunk.
* The USS Cecil J. Doyle was the first ship to arrive at the scene, and was the main rescue vessel. Other ships arrived later and continued the search for survivors.
* Of the 900 men who went into the water - 321 were rescued, not 316. Four of those men would not survive, however, so the actual number of survivors is listed at 317.
* The sharks did not take the rest. While it IS true that there were many shark attacks (mainly by Tiger Sharks and Oceanic Whitetips) - most of the men who died did so either from exposure, salt water poisoning, dehydration, etc. - while others were reported to have killed themselves... and some were even reported to have killed other survivors while in a state of delirium. Still, there were many who were attacked and killed by sharks... and the sharks did attack the corpses that were in the water as well.
* The sinking occurred on July 30, 1945 - NOT "June the 29th".

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The (not-so) true history of the "Fourth of July"


In a recent poll, 82% of Americans believed that the "Fourth of July" was actually created by Steven Spielberg, Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb in the mid-1970s purely as plot/focal point for the film "JAWS". The film was released in 1975 - and, in 1976 the United States celebrated this new holiday by releasing a special Quarter with a scene from the film on the reverse (it clearly shows one of the drummers from the brief parade scene, when Deputy Lenny Hendricks tells Mayor Larry Vaughn that there was a shark attack that morning).

Another 17% of Americans believed that the "Fourth of July" is the day when the ghost of George Washington emerges from his tomb at Mount Vernon. If he sees his shadow, it will be about a dozen weeks before the nation elects a "non-white" and/or "non-male" President. This has only happened twice in history: In 2008 and 2012. Some astronomers and paranormal historians have already predicted that there is a strong chance that this phenomena might happen again in 2016 and 2020 as well. It is believed to be the result of something called "Global Warming" - as ghosts don't usually cast a shadow.

And yet the same poll found that 7% of Americans believed that the "Fourth of July" was created by Nathan Handwerker - founder of "Nathan's Famous" in Coney Island, NY - as a gimmick to sell frankfurters - marked by a nationally broadcast frankfurter-eating-contest.

So - to sum up - 82% believe the "Fourth of July" was created for the film "JAWS"... 17% believe it has to do with George Washington's ghost seeing his shadow... and 7% believe it's all about who can eat the most hot dogs in 10-minutes. Unfortunately these numbers just don't add up!

Apparently the truth is that on this day in 1776 the Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted something called the "Declaration of Independence" - which formally declared that the thirteen colonies would be breaking away from the British Empire (and thus "British Rule"), to become a new and independent nation. Of course the same Continental Congress had actually already voted to become a new and independent nation two days earlier on July 2nd... but it wasn't until the 4th that they agreed upon and adopted the Declaration of Independence - which was to be shared and decreed to old King George III. What a lot of people don't know is that the majority of signers did not do so until at least one month after the Declaration was adopted.

In another poll - 5/4 of those polled believed that the Declaration of Independence has a hidden treasure map on its reverse which can only be seen using freshly squeezed lemon juice and a Conair hairdryer set to "high". Again... this just doesn't add up... and most historians now agree that the map is actually on the back of the original draft of the "Gettysburg Address" - which we all know was simply a slip of paper that said "89 Steinwehr Ave, Gettysburg, PA" - which is the address for the Dobbin House Tavern.

Regardless of which story you believe - have yourself a Nathan's frankfurter today while watching "JAWS". After all... you're FREE to do so in these here United States of America!

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Friday, July 3, 2015

365 Project - Day 184 - "I Carried A Watermelon"

July 03, 2015 - "I Carried A Watermelon"

Ahhh... "Summer"!

Nothing beats a nice cold chunk of watermelon sprinkled with salt!


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Thursday, July 2, 2015

365 Project - Day 183 - "Abstract (Sweet Tea Bottle)"

July 02, 2015 - "Abstract (Sweet Tea Bottle)"

Early morning...

Playing with an empty plastic bottle from some sweet tea.


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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

365 Project - Day 182 - "Three Months"

July 01, 2015 - "Three Months"

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." - Matthew 5:4

Three months. Today marks three months.

Three months... and still seeking to be comforted.

They say that the first year is always the hardest... and here we are, with one-quarter of that first year having already passed. It seems so surreal.

The pain and emotion are just as strong today as they were three months ago... and I find myself missing you more and more with each passing day.

I talk to you every day... and I know that you hear me... I only wish I could hear you... just one more time.

I love you, Bro!

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