Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Window

There were once two men, both seriously ill, in the same small room of a great hospital. Quite a small room, it had one window looking out on the world. One of the men, as part of his treatment, was allowed to sit up in bed for an hour in the afternoon (something to do with draining the fluid from his lungs). His bed was next to the window. But the other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

Every afternoon when the man next to the window was propped up for his hour, he would pass the time by describing what he could see outside. The window apparently overlooked a park where there was a lake. There were ducks and swans in the lake, and children came to throw them bread and sail model boats. Young lovers walked hand in hand beneath the trees, and there were flowers and stretches of grass, games of softball. And at the back, behind the fringe of trees, was a fine view of the city skyline.

The man on his back would listen to the other man describe all of this, enjoying every minute. He heard how a child nearly fell into the lake, and how beautiful the girls were in their summer dresses. His friend's descriptions eventually made him feel he could almost see what was happening outside.

Then one fine afternoon, the thought struck him: Why should the man next to the window have all the pleasure of seeing what was going on? Why shouldn't he get the chance? He felt ashamed, but the more he tried not to think like that, the worse he wanted a change. He'd do anything! One night as he stared at the ceiling, the other man suddenly woke up, coughing and choking, his hands groping for the button that would bring the nurse running. But the man watched without moving - even when the sound of breathing stopped. In the morning, the nurse found the other man dead, and quietly took his body away.

As soon as it seemed decent, the man asked if he could be switched to the bed next to the window. So they moved him, tucked him in, and made him quite comfortable. The minute they left, he propped himself up on one elbow, painfully and laboriously, and looked out the window.

It faced a blank wall.

By Author Unknown


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

save yourself.....

(originally posted by someone I follow on twitter, who got it somewhere else)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How To Be Happy

Give Lavishly!
Live Abundantly!
The more you give,
the more you get;
The more you laugh,
the less you fret.
The more you do
The more you live
The more of everything
you share
The more you'll always
have to spare.
The more you love,
the more you'll find
That life is good
and friends are kind.
For only what
we give away
Enriches us
from day to day.

-- Alma

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Should have taken a Mulligan

A little old lady was walking down the street dragging two large plastic garbage bags behind her. One of the bags was ripped and every once in a while a $20 bill fell out onto the sidewalk.
The policeman noticed this and stopped her, and said, “Madam, there are $20 bills falling out of that bag.”
“Oh, really? Darn it!” said the little old lady. “I’d better go back and see if I can find them.. Thanks for telling me officer.”
“Well, now, not so fast,” said the cop. "Where did you get all that money? You didn’t steal it, did you?”
“Oh, no, no”, said the old lady.
“You see, my back yard is right next to a Golf course. A lot of Golfers come and pee through a knot hole in my fence, right into my flower garden. It used to really tick me off. Kills the flowers, you know. Then I thought, “Why not make the best of it? So, now, I stand behind the fence by the knot hole, real quiet, with my hedge clippers. Every time some guy sticks his thing through my fence, I surprise him, grab hold of it and say, 'OK., buddy! Give me $20, or off it comes.' ”
“Well, that seems only fair,” said the cop, laughing. “OK. Good luck! Oh, by the way, what’s in the other bag?”
“Not everybody pays.”

(OKOK, not my normal fare ... this one is from my dad via younger brother )

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Freedom Is Not Free

By Major Kelly Strong

I watched the flag pass by one day,
it fluttered in the breeze,
A Young man in uniform saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform -
so young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
he'd stand out in the crowd.
I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mother's tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom is not free.
I heard the sound of taps one night,
when everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
and felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
that taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
of mothers and the wives
Of fathers, sons and husbands,
with interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
at the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom is not free.

(Yep, got another email)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The National Anthem

By Dr. Isaac Asimov

Editor's Note- Near the end of his life the great science fiction author Isaac Asimov wrote a short story about the four stanzas of our national anthem. However brief, this well-circulated piece is an eye opener from the dearly departed doctor......

          I have a weakness -- I am crazy. absolutely nuts, about our national anthem. The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time.
          I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem -- all four stanzas.
This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.
          "That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff."
          I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas. Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before -- or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem.
          More recently, while conducting a seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And again, it was the anthem and not me. So now let me tell you how it came to be written:
          In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.
          At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." However, the weight of the British navy beat down our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession.
          Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a three-pronged attack.
          The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England.
          The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west.
          The central prong was to head for the mid-Atlantic states and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.
          The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D.C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1,000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.
          On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.
          As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.
          As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, "Can you see the flag?"
          After it was all finished, Key wrote a four stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defense of Fort McHenry," it was published in newspapers and swept the nation. Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called, "To Anacreon in Heaven" -- a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem of the United States.
          Now that you know the story, here are the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key:
Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep, Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream 'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war's desolation, Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven - rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just, And this be our motto --"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I hope you will look at the national anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance, with new ears.

(sent to me via email)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

  Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
  Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
  Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.  Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
  They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.  What kind of men were they?
  Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.  Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated.  But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
  Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy.  He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
  Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.  He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding.  His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
   Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
  At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr, noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters.  He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire.  The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
  Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.  The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
  John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying.  Their 13 children fled for their lives.  His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste.  For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.  A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
  Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.  Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution.  These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians.  They were soft-spoken men of means and education.
  They had security, but they valued liberty more.  Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged:  "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
  They gave you and me a free and independent America.  The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War.  We didn't fight just the British.  We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!
  Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.  So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots.  It's not much to ask for the price they  paid.

(Received in an email)