Looking Back

I never realized how important it is to have offspring and if I could do it all over again, I would have had some children.  When I was younger, I didn’t really want to have children, as I felt that they would just complicate my life.  My wife worked and she was on the pill, so we didn’t discuss having any children, till her biological clock started ticking louder, which was a byproduct of her egg production running low.  Now the race was on and she did get pregnant, but unbeknownst to us, she had a blockage in her uterary channel, which caused her to have several early term miscarriages.  She had an operation to remove the blockage, but she was never able to get pregnant after that and then we spent thousands on fertility treatments to no avail.

We gave up and realized that we were too old, but she really wanted to have a baby and she cried all the time about our misfortune.  I would have gone either way on the issue, as I enjoyed playing with my nephews, but I was always glad to get back to my home where it was more peaceful.  You can’t change the past and you have to stay on the path that you have taken.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #122 which is, “What is your biggest regret in life?”

There is Always a Caveat

This may differ from genie to genie, but the genie will usually tell you that you can’t wish for more wishes, or for more genies, or to be a god/goddess, or to bring people back from the dead, or to have someone killed, or to make anyone fall in love with you, so it is best to use your three wishes wisely.  Fandango didn’t include any of these stipulations in his question today, but I consider all of them to be important, so I will stick with all of these caveats.

I know that I am going to sound like a Miss Universe contestant with my first wish, but I would ask for sustained world peace where there is no more prejudice and everyone gets along with each other, as I really want the world to be a better place.

Wish #2 would be for justice so that bad and evil people get punished 10 times worse than the crime that they committed, thus since Putin is a killer, he would have to be slowly tortured to death and since Trump has done so much damage to this country, he would be locked up forever.

My third wish would be for everyone who supports Trump’s Big Lie to become like Pinocchio and their noses would grow an inch for every lie that they tell.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #121 which is, “What three wishes would you ask the genie to grant you?”

I Watch Real News

I watch CNN, what Trump calls “fake news”, but there are a lot of good places to get news from like NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and PBS and the only one that I know to be dishonest is FOX News and they are a train wreck of shameless opinions.  This station is for people with views on the extreme right and it appeals to many Republicans.  They don’t really offer news; they hand pick what they want to report.  I know this because my sister watches FOX News every night and she told me yesterday that she has never heard of QAnon.  Fox is a dangerous right-wing propaganda outlet disguised as a cable news network that was specifically designed to disinform its viewers and distort any semblance of truth.

CNN calls Trump out on his lies and as his lies pile up, he still insists that he is the most honest man in America and if anyone says anything against him, he calls it fake news.  Trump’s false or misleading claims totaled 30,573 over the 4 years that he was in office, which equates to about 21 per day, and more than one for every hour that he was awake, although I am certain that he could also tell lies while he is asleep.  Every politician lies, but Trump is the worst of the worst and because he is so unhinged, we will all be paying for the consequences of his lies, until he is put behind bars.  Nobody is shouting “lock him up”, but he has done so much damage to this country, that it seems like it will never be normal here again.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #120 which is, “Where do you get most of your news from? Do you consider your primary news source (or sources) to be objective purveyors of truths and facts?”

How to Enjoy Life

I learned the pursuit of happiness from my Dad.  When I was about 10, my Dad let me sip his beer, and he would take me to the tavern with him.  Sometimes he would let me sit on his lap while he was driving the car and he let me turn the wheel to steer it.  My Dad taught me how to barbecue on the grill and he would let me go camping in the back yard.  He showed me how to make mickies (Brooklyn style potatoes cooked on a stick).  He was an excellent story teller and he had lots of stories.  My Dad was different from the rest of the fathers in the neighborhood, as when he got home from work, he would immediately start playing with me and any of my friends that were around.  My Dad taught me how to play golf when I was young and he had a lot of patience.

My Dad liked landscaping and we had many trees on the boarder of my house.  My Dad had the best lawn in the entire neighborhood.  He took pride in how our yard looked and many of the people in our town would ride by to admire how well kept our yard was.  My Dad liked flowers just as much as he liked trees and grass and he lined our driveway with wax begonias.  He planted tulips and roses around many of our other bushes.  My Dad tried to teach me about plants as when we were out driving around town, he might say, “Jim what do you think of that Arborvitae shrub planted over there”, and I learned from him.  I still think about my Dad when I see certain trees and flowers that he taught me about and because of him, I am allowed me to appreciate many beautiful things.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #119 which is, “What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in life and who did you learn it from?”

First Impression

I think that most people will look at my belly and wonder how anything could get that big.  My belly is big, but the rest of my body is normal size.  Upon first glance, I don’t have the most attractive physique and I guess people would call me pudgy or chubby.  The simple answer of how my belly got so big is that I don’t exercise and I mostly eat whatever I want.  I have never been a guy with a deeply set of chiseled six-pack abs, so nobody will ever get a first opinion of me being a universal sign of good physical fitness and health.  I am OK with that, as I am not looking for a woman who spends three hours a day working out in a gym and I would much rather date a girl who would share a pizza pie with me, than one I would have to wait 2 hours for her to get ready for a date.  I don’t think that many women are attracted to my dad bod and I will turn down that second Krispy Kreme, not because of the size of my belly, but because of my diabetes.

I am sure that my bald head and my grey hair are also one of the first things that people will notice about me and it has been a long time since I got my last haircut, so I probably come off as being a bit scraggly.  Researchers say that a man with more belly fat, will have more of the female sex hormone estradiol, which helps to inhibit orgasm and thus allows them to last longer in bed.  I read that men with softer bodies make better cuddlers.  Most young girls are more interested in a certain body type, but there is no guarantee that it will stay that way as a man gets older.  All that a woman should be looking for in a man, is somebody who is considerate, responsive, and responsible and you can’t get that from a first impression.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #117 which is, “What impression do you think you give when you first meet someone?”

Elaborating

  1. Best sandwich?
    This would be a sausage and pepper sandwich at Seaside Boardwalk on the Jersey shore with tomato sauce and no onions and the reason why is the ingredients.  It is served on the perfect bread to sink your teeth into and made from a sweet Italian sausage along with green and red fried peppers.  It is actually more than that, as eating this will bring back floods of memories from my youth.
  1. What’s one thing you own that you really should throw out?
    My bed, it is time for a new one.
  1. What is the scariest animal?
    Man, nothing is more frightening, or can do more damage.
  1. Apples or oranges?
    I’m not sure that this is a question.  Do you want to know which fruit I like to eat, or which one goes better with vodka?  Should I make a Venn Diagram to show that they are both spherically shaped fruits that grow on trees?  It is possible to compare apples with oranges, as there are more properties that unite them than those that are dividing them.
  1. Have you ever asked someone for their autograph?
    Yes, my dad used to take my brother and I to see the Mets at Shea Stadium and we would wait till the players headed out to their cars and get their autographs.  We brought our baseball cards with us and the players were happy to sign them.  I got some good ones, but I don’t have them anymore, as my mom threw all my cards away when we moved, saying that I wasn’t playing with them and they were taking up too much space.  I got Tug McGraw, Nolan Ryan, Ralph Terry, Jerry Grote, Bud Harrelson, Ed Kranepool, Ron Hunt, Roy McMillan, Cleon Jones and Ron Swoboda all from the 1966 Mets,
  1. What do you think happens when we die?
    Decomposition begins several minutes after death with a process called autolysis, or self-digestion. Soon after the heart stops beating, cells become deprived of oxygen, and their acidity increases as the toxic by-products of chemical reactions begin to accumulate inside them.
  1. Favorite action movie?
  1. Favorite smell?
    Frangipani, as it reminds me of Key West.
  1. Least favorite smell?
    Shit and dead rats because they are both completely disgusting.
  1. Exercise: worth it?
    I usually avoid it and I am not saying that is a good thing to do.
  1. Flat or sparkling?
    Flat water when I am thirsty, but sparkling mixed in with my orange juice.
  1. Most used app on your phone?
    The off button.
  1. You get one song to listen to for the rest of your life: what is it?
  1. What number am I thinking of?
    Do I look like The Amazing Kreskin to you?
  1. Describe the rest of your life in 5 words?
    My better days are gone.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #116.

A Twinkle in My Dad’s Eye

When I asked my parents where I came from, my dad said that I started out as a twinkle in his eye, which never made any sense to me when I was young.  I know a bit more now and my mother’s eggs formed while she was inside of my grandmother’s womb, so that is where I started.  I don’t like to think of myself as part of my life started while I was inside of my grandmother’s uterus, but everybody has to start someplace.  The other day, this blogger Glyn said something that I thought was funny, well it was more like a question-and-answer joke where he asked, “What’s the bad news about being a test-tube baby?”  He then responded, “You know for certain that your dad is a wanker.”

At a certain time in a woman’s menstrual cycle which is immensely complicated, an egg (maybe more than one) will travel to their fallopian tubes and take a rest there for 24 hours.  All sperm are mobile unlike the egg, and the fellows that are lucky enough to enter the vagina are on a mission, they may get some help from the uterus, but each sperm tries as hard as they can to reach the fallopian tubes and I don’t even think that they are aware of what is waiting for them when they get there.  On rare occasions one is a winner and all the rest will end up dead after 6 days and maybe that is why God rested on Sunday as all that swimming is exhausting.

Sperm develop in the testicles within a system of tiny tubes called the seminiferous tubules.  The seminal vesicles and prostate gland make a whitish fluid called seminal fluid, which mixes with sperm form semen when a male is sexually stimulated.  A man’s testicles are constantly producing new sperm in spermatogenesis.  The full process of going from a germ cell to a mature sperm cell capable of egg fertilization takes about 64 days.  During spermatogenesis, your testicles make several million sperm per day which equates to about 1,500 per second.  By the end of a full sperm production cycle, a man can regenerate up to 8 billion sperm.  The stimulation results in pushing semen out of the penis (called ejaculation) through the urethra.

Sperm are tiny about 0.002 inches (0.05 millimeters) long tadpole looking creatures that have a head and short tail, which are actually cells.  They eat, they breath, they are living organisms and during sex 1 million sperm might reach the uterus, but only about 10,000 would make it to the top of the uterus where these the fallopian tubes are located.  They are not known to be the most intelligent organisms on the planet, as for the 10,000 sperm that make it to this point, around half of them actually go in the right direction, heading to where the egg is located.  For the nearly 5,000 sperm that make it into the utero-tubal junction, around 1,000 of these will reach the inside of the fallopian tube.  For the 1,000 sperm entering the tube, only around 200 would actually reach the egg.  In the end, only 1 lucky sperm actually penetrates and fertilizes the egg.  In excellent laboratory conditions and in a nutrient medium, they can remain alive for up to seven days, but sperm that is frozen at extremely low temperatures can survive for years.

The magic of conception (creating human life) is believed to be nature’s way of allowing only the healthiest sperm to fertilize the egg and this can happen any time in the week after sexual intercourse has taken place.  Post ejaculation, the time it takes the sperm to reach the egg can take 45 minutes to 12 hours, but sperm are capable of surviving more than six days in a woman’s body.  The lifespan of the sperm inside the vagina depends entirely on the environment they are in.  The vaginal canal is acidic and many sperm die there, but the uterus, and the fallopian tubes are less hostile to these intruders.  The more time that passed after ejaculation, the less likelihood of any egg fertilization will take place.  Research has shown that visible zinc sparks are released along with calcium levels at the time of fertilization.  This fertilization releases a flash of light, and according to scientists, the size of the zinc spark determines the egg’s ability to grow into a healthy embryo.  These sparks, or flashes of light must account for the twinkle that was in my dad’s eye and this is the story of where I was before I was born.

I am actually not very concerned what will happen to me after I die and what ever will be will be, so que sera, sera.  I think that after I am dead that my body will be cremated and put in an urn and probably reside in a mausoleum, someplace where I will be all by myself.  I had my live and regrets I have a few, but I lived it my way like Sinatra.  As far as if I have a soul and where it goes that is very seep stuff and I think I stepped into too much already, but I guess it is possibly that I will continue in some form or another after I perish, but elaborating on that will have to wait for another post.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #25 revisited, which asks “Where do you believe you were you before you were born and what do you believe will happen to you after you die?”

Very Little in Life is Actually Objective

In order to do something objectively, you must do it with an open mind, considering the facts rather than your personal feelings.  People experience emotions and that is part of life, as we are constantly attracted and repelled to certain stimulus, these feelings are pushing and pulling us in different directions.  Our feelings are interpreted by our brains, in an attempt to understand them.  The brain will retrieve memories, evaluate context and then create a coherent explanation, well at least coherent to the person involved in this scenario.  There’s no subjectivity in our physical perceptions, these are all “objective”, but they become subjective when our brains interpret our experiences.  If you could shut off your brain, then you could experience things objectively.  In my opinion objectivity and subjectivity is what separates robots from humans, but artificial intelligence has become a way of bridging this gap.

Ancient Greek philosophers were fond of the aphorism, “know thyself”, and this was inscribed above the entrance of one of the Temples of Apollo at Delphi.  Subjective experience is the quality of conscious experience by which we have the sensation or mental impression that events are happening to us as we are experiencing them.  A subjective experience refers to the emotional and cognitive impact of a human experience as opposed to an objective experience which are the actual events of the experience.  While something objective is tangible and can be experienced by others subjective experiences are produced by the individual mind.  This subjective experience will seem quite real to the person that is experiencing it and it will also be profound it cannot be objectively or empirically measured by others.  Let’s say you fell down and you are experiencing pain.  You can tell others where it hurts, but no one else can fully measure or feel your subjective experience of this pain.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #14 revisited, which asks “Do you believe that anyone can really experience anything objectively? Why or why not?”

Mentally Competent

Fandango asks, “Do you believe that terminally ill people should be allowed or encouraged to end their lives via physician-assisted suicide?  If so, under any circumstances or should there be restrictions?  If not, why not?”

I don’t have a problem if somebody wants to end their life if they are suffering.  I don’t understand why other people feel it is their duty to keep everyone alive and they enact laws against people killing themselves and those who would assist them in finding peace.  I know that it is wrong when teenagers get confused and they want to end their lives by suicide, but this is not somebody that is terminally ill, they just have emotional problem, which most likely can be fixed with therapy.  The only person that should have any type of decision in this matter, is the person that is enduring the excruciating agony.

This should be encouraged, but if the person is determined to be mentally competent, and this is their desire, I think it would be wrong to force them to have to endure a life that is filled with pain.  There has to be more out of life, than being stuck on a ventilator and being fed through a tube and once all the joy of living is gone, I don’t see any purpose of sticking around, especially since there is no hope of them ever being cured and they are eventually going to die anyway.  People should have the right to die in my opinion and they should be entitled to end their life or undergo voluntary euthanasia, but only if this person has a terminal illness, is undergoing incurable pain, has lost their will to continue living.  I think it is nobody’s business if somebody who is mentally competent desires to end their own life, use assisted suicide, or to decline life-prolonging treatment.  After a certain amount of time has expired, it should be time to pull the plug.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #11 revisited.

Genuine Memories

Today Fandango asks, although this is supposedly a revisited question, “How do you know which of your memories are genuine and which have been altered over time or even made up?”

I didn’t catch this question the first time it was asked and it looks like fun, so I will give it my best shot today.  I imagine that a lot of people who are suffering with dementia may not know which of their memories are real and which ones are made up, but these people are in a mental void and as long as they are happy, I guess that is OK, however I don’t think that Fandango is asking about people with conditions, as he said that this question popped up because he thinks that his memory is getting worse almost to the point of where it may be incredibly unreliable.  A quick search revealed that, “There is currently no way to distinguish, in the absence of independent evidence, whether a particular memory is true or false.  Even memories which are detailed and vivid and held with 100 percent conviction can be completely false.”

This makes me wonder if memories can be trusted, since we can all have true memories and false memories.  A true memory is the real retrieval of an event of any nature, be it visual, verbal, or otherwise, but these true memories are constantly being rewritten (re-encoding) inside of our brains for some reason or another.  A false memory is defined as the recollection of an event that did not happen or a distortion of an event that indeed occurred.  Your memories can be erased or manipulated and we are constantly being exposed to new information.  The human brain can undergo memory reconsolidation which is the process of previously consolidated memories being recalled and actively consolidated.  It is a distinct process that serves to maintain, strengthen and modify memories that are already stored in the long-term memory.

How in the hell did I let Fandango send me down this rabbit hole, well let’s try to get to the bottom of this issue?  It takes a while for the memory to take hold inside of your brain, and this happens through the process of reconsolidation.  Memories aren’t just written once, but every time we remember them, so every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event.  This means, somewhat ironically, that the act of remembering something creates a critical window in which memories can be erased or manipulated and that your memories can change every time you remember something.

The same way that stories change when you play the telephone game (where a story gets passed from one person to the next), your memory can change events and what you believe to be or wish was true can be very different from what actually occurred in reality.  There is this thing called your mind’s eye, which is actually the place in your head where images are recalled and created, and everything you’ve ever pictured or imagined has come from your mind’s eye and this gives you a mental picture of what happened.  Most people will see images that are slightly unclear or hazy, as if they are looking at them through a dirty piece of glass, and I think this is what is happening to Fandango, but some other people have a condition called Aphantasia and they are unable to picture things in their mind’s eye.

People with this condition would probably excel in math or logic dominated fields, because they can take a more analytical approach to things.  Aphantasia is a phenomenon, but people with this condition will most likely have a stronger spatial memory because of the absence of visual memory.  Their minds are not cluttered with all the images that normal people perceive and they can describe objects, explain concepts, and even rattle off facts that they know, but they would not have any sort of mental image to accompany this knowledge.  This is not an all or nothing, as people can exhibit varying degrees of Aphantasia.  Getting back to Fandango’s question and speaking only for myself who I feel that I do have some degree of Aphantasia, I feel that most of my memories are genuine.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #17 revisited.