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January 27, 2007 [ More archived home pages here ]

Outside Influences

Today's song is Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying, by Gerry and the Pacemakers, released in 1964.

Last Tuesday I went to see the new movie, Letters From Iwo Jima. It is a very moving story.

During the movie I went back and forth with feelings about both sides in that portrayed historic battle. The letters hooked me in, the live battle action shook me back to movie reality. I think this is one of the best war movies I ever saw because there was no congruence of my emotions while watching it.

The movie reminds me that war is understood differently depending on your time, placement, and context of the events. Go see this movie and experience the complicated emotions within yourself.

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Two of my friends have started a Different Slants blog to express their views. They invite comments on their written perspectives.

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Well, I guess it's not a surprise that some tax agencies are now scanning web sites to find tax cheats.

If we all paid a flat-tax or a value-added tax instead of the current tax system payments, we wouldn't need tax spies or the IRS. One of these days I hope America changes to one of those tax alternative collection systems.

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Thirty years ago today, I was awarded my Purple Belt (shown below) in my martial arts class.

Not long after that I earned my Kibadachi badge (shown below).

1977 was a great year for me in many ways. From my martial arts link above, I quote this section concerning the cool event I participated in about this time thirty years ago.

"Sometime in early 1977, the class decided to put on a community demonstration. We would have students from all over the state come to the University to participate in sparring contests, Kata contests, and self-defense exercises. Sensei came up with the idea of having 10 selected students work through the same Kata blind-folded all confined within a small square area simultaneously. I thought that was too simple and suggested that we pick ten different Katas, choreographed to introduce a bit of suspense and danger. Remember, this is to be done blind-folded and using power with strikes and kicks. There was this really nice mannered Yellow Belt in the class who was about 6-foot 6-inches tall and about 300 pounds. His Kata required him to give a front-snap kick towards my face during our closest movements. Any mistake on our sense of positions would be bad news for me. I had confidence where I would be during my movements and he was very focused during his. Many rehearsals helped make this a success. During the actual blind-folded performance, I felt his foot come within a couple inches of my face, as practiced! The audience enjoyed this exciting demo and we all ended each Kata in our respective positions and on time! That demonstration was talked about in other schools for months."

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Forty years ago today, I witnessed my first Chicago blizzard (shown below). The snow came down so hard and I thought it would never stop. I was driving home in my Mom's 1967 red VW as the snow started to rapidly accumulate on the streets.

I made it within a few hundred feet of my house when the car wouldn't go any further. The next day I dug it out and a large area in front of our house too. I was able to get my car to the newly cleared area in front of the house with the help of an elderly neighbor man. I never dug so much snow in my life!

All that digging paid-off because I was the first driver on my block to be able to drive to the store. It would be several more days before the side streets were clear enough to get other cars out.

I remember the snow being piled about 8 - 10 feet high on the space between the sidewalks and the streets. It would stay that way for many weeks.

Although I didn't know her at the time, a girl I would later have a relationship with had a brother born during that blizzard. The Chicago fire department had to come with a ladder truck and take her Mom to the hospital for the delivery. The boy's name is "Stormson", or 'Stormy' for short, a fitting choice. That must have been quite an experience for all involved.

That blizzard brought Chicagoans together for a period of time. We helped each other out for weeks as we recovered from the storm. Those memories are strong and clear for most people who lived through it. I thank my friend, Mark, for sending the picture above and jogging my memories.

Those outside influences helped shape me and the change process continues every day since.

Don


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