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Another Time


My childhood is now but a distant dream and the places where I lived the dream belong to history. From time to time, when the hour is late and darkness has thrown a blanket over the hustle and bustle of the city, I let my spirit drift back to those times. I see the meadows, fields and forests, I see all those places where once I roamed and played. There are times though, when I wonder if I really see those places with the same feelings as I did when first my eyes touched their shapes and colors and printed an image of them in my memory. Have these regenerative images of places, things and events from my youth become painted with brighter and more lucid colors as the years went by?

I still remember events or something that took place a very long time ago and I do so with an intensity I find quite remarkable, especially considering that some of them did not seem to be of any relevance or significance. Why is it then that some events that were important in my youth and of which I should have very clear recollections now at best are faded, out of focus pictures? My confirmation in the Lutheran faith at the age of 14 is a good example. It was a very significant event in a boys or girls life in Denmark, since it was the stepping-stone into adulthood. A big party was given for the celebrant after the church service. No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember more than a few small details from it. I remember getting a wristwatch from my parents, and of special noteworthiness, a fishing rod equipped with a light casting real, which were just then coming on the market. I went fishing on the Sunday morning, a week after my confirmation, when I was supposed to go to alter in the church in the early afternoon. Circumstances would have it that I came home a bit late, and boy, was my father mad. He confiscated my beautiful fishing rod for a month, even though we made it to church just in time. That, by the way, was the last time I ever went to altar in a Lutheran Church in Denmark or anywhere else, for that matter.

At times, something triggers my memory banks into releasing recollections of an event or place or perhaps a person, I hadn’t thought about for a long time, maybe even since the event occurred. It can be a sound, a smell or seeing something, that triggers it and like an image projected on a screen; there it is, laid out in front of me as clear as the day it happened. A hologram of the past, projecting both happy and unhappy events. I had experienced many bad things during the Second World War in my early childhood and sometimes repressed images of them resurfaced.

I guess I’m guilty of using the same old phrase as thousands of generations have. “The good old days” they said, “That’s when life was worth living.” But is this really quite true? I often heard my grandparents talk about it or refer to those times. When I asked them for a realistic assessment, they admitted that life today, in some ways, were better than it had been when they were young. Both my two sets of grandparents said that there weren’t as many poor people today, as then and life was not quite as hard as it had been in their youth. Technology had removed much of the dreary, backbreaking labor they had experienced during a good part of their lives. The quality of life, however, was a different story. The way people lived and interacted with each other were incomparably better when they were young. There was more respect, more politeness and less crime and violence. People depended more upon each other and this dependence lead to a closer-knit society.

Do I agree with all that? Well, yes and no. Looking at life, I find that we are still eating the forbidden fruit. The creative genius of the arts and sciences constantly reach higher into the tree, searching for new fruits with which to tempt the masses. They turn yesterday’s forbidden fruit into today’s daily bread that everyone consumes with a convincing certainty that no harm will come of it. Nothing in life is stagnant. Change is the norm, but change is creation and destruction wrought in the same forge. Evolution in social behavior has made yesteryears acceptable standards or yesterdays forbidden fruits, into old-fashioned concepts, no longer worthy of consideration. To corrupt the basic standards of good behavior and acceptable social ethics with new ideas, new frontiers, and expansionist views on moral limits can only result in severe debasing of human dignity. In this aspect, I agree with my grandparents and I have adhered to those concepts of behavior that they, as well as my parents, taught me. The violence, the sexual immorality, the demand for instant gratification and the complete lack of respect found so prevalent amongst teenagers today, begs an explanation. It’s tempting to begin a discourse on the reasons why, but I won’t. It would take a few hundred pages and I neither have the time, nor feel kindly disposed to the problem. When children start shooting each other or their teachers in the school or kill for the sake of some misconstrued perception that it’s OK to do so, then I get angry at the society that created an environment where such events have become all but trivial.

I lay no claim to the moral high ground. We all have some crosses to bear and I certainly have mine. I will emphatically state though, that the kind of rage and unruly behavior so prevalent amongst today’s youth was unknown when I was a teenager. That’s not to say that I and my contemporaries were considered angels by society when we were young and full of piss and vinegar, and that’s the whole crux of the matter, you see. Good or bad behavior is relative to what is socially acceptable at a particular time and what we did was often considered unacceptable. Compared to what kids do today however, rest quite assured, we were the purists of angels. Will today’s youth be able to say the same when they reach my age? I hope not. Such a society would be utter chaos and calamity.

 

 

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Lamentations

I feel surrounded by a world that I don’t really know or recognize, for it has only faint shadows of what once was a world I understood and loved, a world that spoke to me in a recognizable language.

It was the world of my father’s time, with some preserved images of his father world. It was a realm in which I felt secure, wanted and loved and where I learned what life was all about as I grew from a boy to a young man.  It was in that world my character was molded and my intellect honed by my teachers, my family and the society that I lived in, and in which I lost my childhood innocence.

Now that I’m old and widowed, I reflect upon those times and that world with feelings of pleasure, mixed with a degree of sadness in the realization that it no longer exists.

 

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Heroes


Heroes are not ordinary humans; they are persons of great courage, endowed with mythical abilities as if God-like beings, but worshipped without rational judgement of their actual humanity.

Kenny Beechmount, Nov-16, 2012

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Fall 2011


Fall 2011 

It is November 13, a bad-luck day for the superstitious or a good-luck day for those who have 13 as their lucky number.  The weather here in Nova Scotia has been quite nice during the month, although we had a stormy and very rainy day (96 mm) on Remembrance Day, the 11th, which put quite a damper on the ceremonies, many of which had to be moved indoors. 

Winter will be coming soon and thus my writing season will once again arrive.  I have some translations to English of Latin American short stories planned and will continue working on some of my own stories. 

My blog has now been visited more than 10,000 times.  The English translations of Latin American short stories are the most popular.  The majority of those who use the translations in their studies fail to comment or make suggestions, which is important for me.  I’m always open to requests for specific translations and help for those who need it, so   don’t be shy. 

During the summer, I have followed several blogs, including “The best place is by the fire”http://placebythefire.wordpress.com by Kari Fay, a young writer from England, who published a piece of flash fiction every day for more than a year.  Her imagination and style of writing is most remarkable and inspirational to all who like to write fiction. 

Contoveros and his spiritual blog http://contoveros.wordpress.com are back in action again, after some absence.  His wise, although at times controversial, words are poignant and to the point and certainly gives rise to some introspective thoughts, even by someone whose views on religion are irreconcilable with his. His views on Buddhism and Christianity will challenge anyone who is spiritually inclined.  

Happy fall- if you have fall where you live.  To my Australian friends, it must be “Happy summer”, since that season has just started there. 

Wherever you live, have a happy time and stay in touch.

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Old men are like dogs


Aesop‘s fables are well known to many.  I thought the following has some thruth to it.

The Man, the Horse, the Ox, and the Dog

by Aesop

One winter’s day, during a severe storm, a horse, an ox, and a dog came and begged for shelter in the house of a man. He readily admitted them, and, as they were cold and wet, he lit a fire for their comfort; and he put oats before the horse, and hay before the ox, while he fed the dog with the remains of his own dinner.

When the storm abated, and they were about to depart, they determined to show their gratitude in the following way. They divided the life of man among them, and each endowed one part of it with the qualities which were peculiarly his own. The horse took youth, and hence young men are high mettled and impatient of restraint; the ox took middle age, and accordingly men in middle life are steady and hard working; while the dog took old age, which is the reason why old men are so often peevish and ill tempered, and, like dogs, attached chiefly to those who look to their comfort, while they are disposed to snap at those who are unfamiliar or distasteful to them.

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Tree Disputes


It’s hard to find a clean joke these days.  Well, here is one I just received from a friend of mine

Two tall trees, a birch and a beech, are growing in the woods. A small tree begins to grow between them, and the beech says to the birch, ‘Is that a son of a beech or a son of a birch?’ The birch says he cannot tell, but just then a woodpecker lands on the sapling.

The birch says, ‘Woodpecker, you are a tree expert. Can you tell if that is a son of a beech or a son of a birch?’

The woodpecker takes a taste of the small tree and replies, ‘It is neither a son of a beech nor a son of a birch. It is, however, the best piece of ash I have ever poked my pecker into.

Now wipe that smile off your face. And pass it on..

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Just a few photos taken on February 2 and 3, after the snowstorm that affected more than 100 million people in USA and Canada.  We received about one foot of snow and it wasn’t all that bad, compared to cities like Chicago and New York, where white-out conditions played havoc with normal, daily life.

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 To all Australian flood victims:

The devastating floods that have affected so many Australians is heartbreaking to look at. The lives that have been lost and the immense damage to property is difficult to grasp and it appears that much suffering is still to come.

From this blogger, to all Australians who have suffered during the flood, I wish you all the best of luck and a speedy recovery, if indeed this is possible.  It is my sincerest hope that you all will get the help that you need to bring  your lives back to normal again and I’m sure I share that with all my fellow Canadians.

 K.Beachmount

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Unwanted children.

Today I received an email from a friend of mine in India, who had posted a video on his blog site that deals with the terrible world of infanticide and the unjust manner in wich women in many countries are treated.  I was so impressed with the video that I decided to promote it from this site.  .  The following is a link to YouTube and the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxsCk3d-Tiw

The video is very well produced and should be thought provoking and eye opening to many who are ignorant of other cultures and how people live within  social frameworks developed over hundreds of years, if not indeed millennia in countries such as China and India.

Infanticide is to some extent the result of the notion that a male child is more valuable than a female.  In China, a male child will someday look after his parents when they are old, for such is tradition there, where a government pension system has yet to be developed and indeed probably never will, given the size of the country’s population.

In 1938, the year I was born, the population of China was 507 million, India was only 309 million and for good measure, USA was 130 million. Compare that to the present day populations and one can only conclude that the earth is vastly overpopulated.

Overpopulation is one of the main causes of poverty.  Too many people are forced to live under conditions that in the developed world would be unacceptable.  The ideals of a good education, a stable  environment and an opportunity to improve their lives are unachievable goals for the majority and poverty becomes the norm generation after generation.  Infanticide within cultures where a male child is worth more than a female is no longer valid, for women are as valuable contributors to the economic welfare of a family as men, but the stigma of male superiority is still prevalent.

The manner in which Muslim men treat their women is incomprehensible and deplorable to say the least and I speak from several years of personal experience in Muslim dominated countries.  Religion unfortunately has a way of misguiding people, especially those who are uneducated.  It is the Mullah or the Priest standing on the pulpit, pounding on a book they say contain the “words of God” and anyone who does not “follow the ways” are infidels, doomed to damnation, who will never get to greet all those virgins who supposedly are awaiting the faithful in “paradise”.

It is imperative that we preserve the natural environment for we are the children of it and it has nurtured us since the dawn of our existence.  Without it, life as we know it cannot exist, which brings into focus the impossibility of maintaining the natural environment in the face of an ever increasing world population, who needs space to live on and resources to live off.  To reverse the trend, the world must rid itself of some 5 billion inhabitants, something that will only come about as a result of major natural disasters or climate change due to global warming.  The latter will most likely be a major contributor to reduction in the world population.

We live in an interglacial period in an ice age that began some 2.58 million years ago.  Interglacial periods are characterized by very rapid warming, with occasional spikes of colder periods, followed by a slower cooling leading to a new glacial period in the northern hemisphere.  The extent to which human activity is contributing to global warming is the subject of much debate, but the total CO2 contribution by humans to the atmosphere is less than 3 per cent of the total. The greatest damage we do to the environment which causes increases in CO2 in the atmosphere is cutting down the jungles and forest that, together with plankton in the oceans, are the sponges that absorb CO2 as part of their life cycle.

How do we change the way in which we humans mindlesly keep living and reproducing beyond what our natural environment can sustain?  How can we change the world so that children become precious and wanted, rather than disposable as if they were trash?  How can we free women who exists in bondage to religious and cultural dictates?  Your opinion is valuable, so let’s hear from you.

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The Year That Went.

We are nearly at the end of a year and it is time to take a look at what took place during the last 12 month. The first thing, of course, is to review last new year’s resolutions and many of them are now relegated to the “chimera”, category, since they kind of fell by the wayside as the month went by. The proverbial excuse is “try again next year”, but then, perhaps not. To fail twice is to fail miserably.

Around the world many things happened, too many to mention here, but a few may warrant a line or two.

In The United States, President Obama remains very popular. 63% liked him last time they took a poll, which, of course, is frustrating to the republicans, even though they gained a majority in the house. Unemployment runs at near 10 percent, which probably won’t change in the foreseeable future, since so many companies now have their products manufactured under contract in China, rather than on the home turf. The US treasury has borrowed so much money on the international market that not even the grandchildren of the present generations will be able to pay it off,–so goes the complaint among many Americans and who knows, perhaps they are correct. Climate change may finally become a subject of interest amongst ordinary citizens, following a host of weather calamities during the year, the last of which was the big snow event along the eastern seaboard, which caused chaos and 4000 flight cancellations.

Then we can go south of the border to Mexico. Welcome to the land of tourist resorts, drug lords, mass murder and ingrained poverty. Perhaps someone will suggest to the grand chiefs that if they set the minimum wage to $5.00/hour or more, the poverty stricken would not need to head for Yankee-land to survive and Mexico would be able to create a consumer oriented economy.

We can head further south, all the way to Venezuela, where the magnanimous president Hugo Chavez has invented a new form of democracy. It is called “Dictatorial democracy” in which he claims that all Venezuelans’ will get lots and lots of democracy, as long as he is allowed to dictate what form it takes and who is in charge of it. Granting him the right to rule by decree set a precedent not seen since Hitler was in power in Germany and we all know what happened then. One must wonder if indeed Chavez’s ego is not founded in some form of extreme narcissism, but then who knows. My guess is that in the long run, “Cubanismo” won’t work in Venezuela. It didn’t in Cuba, so why turn the clock back Senor Chavez?

Before I leave the North and South American continents, it may be worth checking in on Canada, the land of snow, stable banks, US dependent economics, hockey and a minority government. Someday, the hope is that the honourable leader of the opposition would gain enough courage to declare a non-confidence vote against the government so that new elections could be held, but alas, he fears that the liberals would lose once again. Why is it that so many people would like to see both the Conservative Prime Minister and the Liberal opposition leader quietly disappear from site? Perhaps they would like to have someone worthwhile to vote for. Well, whatever the political situation, Canada is the greatest country in the world to live in.

On to Europe and Ireland, the green isle, where the shamrock grows and the little people played havoc with the economy. The luck of the Irish ran out and now they must go and search for another pot of gold at the end of a new rainbow. Even the water supply got contaminated and bottled water became scarcer than hens’ teeth. They need all the luck they can get and we must all hope they find it. Why not create a European lottery, where the profits goes to Ireland–nahhhh- it wouldn’t be fair, would it?

To jolly old England. Word has it that they got their economic knickers in a twist and the old empire is of no help to them anymore. Most of the English still say: “Long live the Queen” and as much as that’s fair, the fact is that she already has. Many are wondering if The Prince of Wales, with his 140 servants will be the next person to rule the roost in Buckingham Palace, or will England choose to become a republic instead. Perhaps the Queen’s grandson and his fiancé,-with no servants-, may be given a crack at it. Whatever will be, will be and nothing that the humble people in the former colonies can say or do will make the slightest bit of difference. A lot of people who read this would probably like to “send me to Coventry”.

Spain, Portugal and Italy are still under the radar and until such time they also will need a few hundred billion dollars to bail out their economies, we wish them “Un Prospero Aňo Nuevo” and, in the case of Italy, perhaps Berlusconi should cut down a bit on his teenage chick adorations.

And now for a quick trip to the Middle East and Israel, whose voracious appetite for land that does not belong to it is only outdone by their hatred for anything Palestinian and total disregard for human rights. Those who live by the sword–well, you know what I mean. Don’t ask me if I wish them good luck. I would have to give an honest answer.

If a Canadian wants’ to go to UAE, a long-term visa will now cost $1000.00. With 25,000 Canadian residents in that country, it should give them an extra 25 million dollar income, enough to support a sheik or two for a month or so. All this for refusing additional landing rights for Emirate Airways in Canada. Go figure.

Iraq. Was the cost of the war to the US taxpayer worth it? Thousands were killed because of a US president’s decision to “Rid the country of weapons of mass destruction” which they didn’t have in the first place. Where is the morality in all this?

Iran. Be careful, the Israeli bogyman may want to harm you.

A trip to Zimbabwe will find the country ruled with an iron fist by none other than good old Mugabe ,-you know, the chap that has ruled there since forever. Some people just don’t want to retire and in Africa, the rule is that “The Lion gets it all”, which Mugabe certainly adheres to. Well, mortality comes to everyone and at age 83, his number is near the top of the list.

As for Afghanistan and the never-ending war. All the soldiers and civilians that have been killed there during the last God knows how many years. One MUST ask if this relentless slaughter can be attributed a meaning of some sort. Russia couldn’t win a war there, so why does the US (and NATO) think they can? Why does the US support a corrupt government there? Is it the huge quantity of natural resources present there? or just simply fear that the country could seriously harm the good US of A. Perhaps the military economics that Eisenhower warned about after the Second World War is still at work. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it is no easy task to close it again and a lot of people have to forfeit their lives for something that should never have taken place. This may perhaps be the right point at which to say: “Yankee go home”.

And then on to China, for the world’s greedy corporations are watching this nation with envious eyes, trying to get a piece of the economic cake. How wonderfully well equipped they all are with blinkers that conveniently hide the human rights violations, so they don’t have to complain about them- not that anyone in China’s authoritarian government would listen to them. It is one thing for China to try and improve the lives of 400 million people who live below the poverty line, so they don’t rebel against the government, but the manner in which they achieve it does not consider basic human rights. Climate change will be the most likely cause for interruption in China’s rapidly advancing economy. When you have 1.25 billion mouths’ to feed, drastic changes to the climate can cause mass disruption in the economy and food production patterns. When a country arrests and jails those who object to the manner in which its government runs the country and the lack of freedom of conscience, they do so out of fear, not out of intellectual reasoning. For China, it is not a question of if, but rather of when the bubble will burst.

As for Russia, Since Putin don’t like competition, neither inside, nor outside the government and since he calls the shots, regardless of who is in charge, the best choice is to leave him to his own devices, bearing in mind that politicians come and go. Russia won’t go away, if he does.

There is India to say something about,-the largest democracy in the world and one of the oldest civilizations. It has problems similar to China, with respect to poverty and a less than admirable relationship with Pakistan. Both having nuclear weapons is an ever present danger to peace or perhaps a deterrent, given that an attack   by either nation with nuclear weapons is certain to mean annihilation of millions of people. Should India pursue an economic model similar to that of China? I think not, for only in an authoritarian state can such a model be forced through. India is a democratic country and must find its own model in this increasingly complex global economy and with stable governments and free elections, it will do just that.

There are many countries I have not spoken of, but I have touched those I feel have made some headlines during 2010. It is my sincere hope that 2011 will bring better conditions for mankind throughout the world.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.

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