PERCEPTION

In 1966 Charles Whitman was a former Marine and an engineering student at the University of Texas. On August 1st. he murdered his wife and mother in their home. He entered the University Tower and shot to death three people. He climbed to the top of the tower and started randomly shooting people walking across campus. He murdered 11 more people from the top of the tower. He wounded 32 others. He was finally shot and killed by an Austin policeman.

In a few hours of that August afternoon Charles Whitman murdered sixteen people and wounded 32. He deserved to die. He did an evil thing. He deserved our hatred.

Or did he?

He was no different than a rampaging grizzly, a Midwestern tornado or a killer whale. He was killing people and had to be stopped and put down like a wild animal. He was evil.

Or was he?

I know I hated him and his evil act. It was quite a shock almost 50 years ago to read, listen, and see reports of this heinous crime. We had not become accustomed to school shootings, mass murder or random evilness. I detested this dead evil monster.

But then the aftermath…we discovered things. I discovered things about myself

Reality wasn’t what I thought it was.

Progess quoteWe found that Charles Whitman wasn’t an evil person all his life. He truly loved his mother and worshiped his wife, his soul-mate.

What the hell happened?  We find later that Charles had been complaining of headaches and hearing voices. He became depressed. And then his note was found.

His note said he had been begging for help for many months…that he ddidn’tfeel right. He said he was filled with uncontrollable rage. He begged whoever discovered his note to please autopsy his brain because it wasn’t right anymore. The voices and the irritation and the pain had become unbearable. He had to do what the voices told him to do.

The autopsy was performed. Charles had a large Glioblastoma Tumor in the Hypothalamus pushing on the Amygdala. This is a total plausible place where a brain tumor can erode impulse control.

And then, still feeling sadness and sympathy for the victims, my hatred of Charles Whitman turned to sympathy. If he would have just gotten help…

It changed the way I view human-evil. I realized that people are not born evil. It is usually always a case of mental illness. It can be caused by Biological, Environmental or Psychological reasons. In many cases it can be fixed. Fixing it can save lives. Mental Health coverage is as important on health insurance plans as physical health.

We are officially starting Thanksgiving Week today. The preparation, travel, and anticipation builds. We gather with our families, cook, eat, play, laugh and try to avoid talking politics with Uncle Hugo.

But if you do have to argue with Uncle Hugo, maybe soften up a bit. Maybe the reality of the situation is not what you think. We can’t change the world but we can change the way we look at it.
Changing Reality

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Conversations

BoyA Weekend:   1954
1950 boy

“Hey Jimmie, I’m not getting a nibble. Let’s ride over to the river and see if anything is biting there. Then we can pedal on out to your grannie’s for some pie.”

“Good idea, Bobby. That’s over 10 miles. What time do you have to be home?”

“Mom said to be home by eight o’clock tonight. I told her we might ride out to your grannie’s.”

“After grannie’s pie we can ride back to town and pick up Nick and Vince and shoot some hoops until dark.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

 

A Weekend:   1984
1980 boy

“Hey Jason, what’s happening?”

“I can’t come out today, Kevin, Dad said if I cleaned my room he’ll let me play Donkey Kong 3 on the Nintendo. He never lets me have it so I’m staying home.”

“Hey, that’s cool. My dad wants one of those new Mac computers they showed on that weird ad  during the Super Bowl. He says it’s way too expensive, but I heard him tell Mom he wants one really bad.”

“What are you doing tomorrow? I heard Christopher scored some weed.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really, man. Have you done it?”

“Yeah, sort of…Brian had a little roach under the bleachers the other day and I took a puff. It was cool. I was weirded out.”

“All right, let’s get stoned on Sunday, man.”

“I’ll try… Mom always says I have to stay in the neighborhood.  See ya.”

“Don’t forget your Walkman, I want to hear your latest mix-tape.”

 

A Weekend    2014
2014 boy

“Hey Ethan, did you see this new Spoon video?”

“Dude!” I’m texting Joshua about Emily’s boobs.”

“I heard she was sexting everybody, man.”

“Oh, cool, I just got a re-tweet on my tweet about Mr. Porter. His pants were unzipped in math class, dude. I think this is going viral, bro.”

“This is crap, I get a text from mom every half hour. She’s crazy, dude.”

“ Yeah, my mom always has to stop at Starbucks when she’s running me over to Matthew’s house. Like Matthew moved to the other side of town. I can’t wait till I can drive.”

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Not So Famous Names

If you head due west out of Oklahoma City on I-40 you’ll come to Twitty, Texas. If you head due east on I-40 you’ll come to Conway, Arkansas.

I guess if you live in between the two cities, your name is Harold Jenkins, and you want to be a singing star you need to think up a stage name.  Let’s see…how about Arkie Texas.  Nah, that don’t sound right. Try again.

The wonderful pianist and jazz singer, Diana Krall (her real name), is married to a famous musician. His real name is Declan Patrick Aloysius Macmanus. Too long for a record label, so he just goes by “Elvis Costello.”

I have often wondered if Gene Simmons stuck out his tongue at his teachers…you know before he was in KISS.  I can just hear his teacher yell at him, “Chaim Weitz, put your tongue back in your mouth.”
gene_simmons

Stevland Hardaway Judkins was a musical prodigy. He signed with Motown records when he was eleven years old. Everybody thought he was wonderful and he became “Stevie Wonder.”

Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar. He played piano, sang and composed. His vocal range was an amazing FOUR octaves. Most of us love to sing along with him on all of his famous tunes. Tunes like “We Are The Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  Yes, he became “Freddie Mercury” with Queen.
Waynes World

When I first saw Joseph Levitch he was doing a duo thing with his partner, Mr. Dino Crocetti. They had a big fight and broke up the act. They both made it big on their own. Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.MARTIN & LEWIS

 Henry Deutschendorf, Jr was one of the most popular recording artists of the ‘70s. He recorded over 300 songs and composed 200 of those. He sold 33 million records. His band was just his guitar and his voice. He had 12 Gold Albums and four Platinum Albums. His best selling songs were “Country Roads” – “Annie’s Song,” – “Rocky Mountain High” – “Sunshine On My Shoulders.” I know you know.

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Accepting Wacky

The word “acceptance” can have similar but different meanings. If you take a gift from me you did the act of acceptance…the act of taking.
Acceptance can also mean approval or a favorable reception.  “You like me, you really like me.”
You like me

But, “acceptance” is also the act of believing or assenting. I tell you stuff, maybe crap, when you’re a kid and you accept and believe it to be true. You spread the same crap when you get older and you get to tell kids the same stuff, maybe crap.

Then our culture, our society, our group also accepts and believes this stuff, maybe wacky crap.

Obviously the big things we pass down to our children are our political and religious beliefs. So be it.

I’m talking about little things we say or believe and have never questioned why we use a certain word or accept a wacky belief.

“Get to the point, McGuire!”

OK…I’m talking everyday things we say like:

“Grampa had a stroke.”

Everyone knows what a stroke “is” but why do we call it a “stroke.?”
I’ve heard people also say Grampa went to Vegas and had a stroke of good luck. Aha…now we see a weird connection to the word usage…why the word is used.  In the 16th Century when a person was felled by a cerebral hemorrhage, the person was thought to have been hit by “the stroke of God’s hand.”

So we still say it. “Grampa had a stroke.”

Another thing. We call a certain cowboy hat a ten-gallon hat and it don’t even hold a gallon of water. I’m sure the cowboys I know would be really pissed if you told them the actual thing they are wearing is a Mexican ‘tan galon’ hat and the Spanish translation of ‘tan galon’ is “Really Handsome.” Tell your favorite cowboy to pronounce it correctly next time.
ten gallon hat

We also accept wacky things on paper. When something weighs Three Pounds we write, 3 lbs. What the hell is “lbs?” Why not “pds?”  Well, like Spanish we also love our Latin. And the Latin word for weight was (remember it’s a damn dead language) so I say it WAS ‘libra pondo.’ So, we kept the “lb” for pound.

At least we still measure horses by “hands.”
“NOT THAT HAND”
horse examN

Have a great weekend.
Keep me in your thoughts.  Next week my doctor is going to do an “auscultation” on me…in his damn office. I know many of you have had this done so keep a good thought.
It’s OK if you have to look it up. I’m too embarrassed to say

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RC

RC was my favorite cold drink many decades ago. Only back then we called it a Royal Crown Cola. I lived in Indiana and the favorite drink of the South had filtered north by the ‘50s.
Royal Crown Cola

Around the age of ten or eleven I was down south with my grandmother. Every summer she took me on a two or three week vacation. We were in some kind of motor-court (the word motel was still a rarity) and I met this kid about the same age as me. I remember his red hair and his big grin. And he was drinking an RC Cola and eating a moon pie. I’d never heard of a moon pie. He offered me a bite. That’s why I never forgot him. Yummmmy!

Two graham crackers, marshmallow in the middle, dipped in chocolate. What’s not to like?
moon pie bite

What I found out later, an RC and a moon pie was the “working-man’s” lunch down south. They even had a popular song recorded in the early ‘50s called “RC and a Moon Pie.”

The artist who recorded it was “Big” Bill Lister and when I first heard the lyrics I couldn’t believe a song with such dirty lyrics could be released to the public. For years I would hear those words, “Give me an RC Cola and a Moon Pie, I’m playing with Mable on the hill. I’ll catch that freight train on the blind and leave my corn down at the mill.”

It took a few years to learn that a popular bluegrass tune of the day was “Maple On The Hill.” Yeah, it was a song about a tree. And “Big” Bill Lister was saying he was playing “Maple On the Hill.”  My Bad!

So this old timey RC/Moon Pie thing is still huge down south. Mobile, Alabama celebrates New Year’s Eve by raising a 12 foot tall lighted mechanical Moon Pie on a crane to a height of 200 feet as the clock strikes midnight.

There are lots of Moon Pie eating contests down south. In Caruthersville, Missouri a lady won by eating 38 Moon Pies in eight minutes.

Many of the Mardi Gras parades feature Moon Pies being thrown from the floats.

Moon Pie Festivals sound like fun. In fact here’s a quick look at the annual RC and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Check it out: http://youtu.be/R4ZZpdN2zkc

Guess what?  Believe it or not you can buy a 24 count box of Moon Pies on Amazon. Maybe I can get a drone to bring them to me fast.

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New Roots

We recently said good-bye to some dear friends. They moved 1657 miles away. We didn’t see them as much as we wanted when we were 20 minutes apart.

Those of us who have pulled up our roots and moved to a new and different place understand the need we have to transplant those roots. We humans are naturally predetermined to have a need for a tribe. Our families are normally part of that tribe. The tribe also has roots.

Our personal and tribal roots can be in churches, neighborhoods, friends, politics, sports, schools, clubs and organizations. Moving away requires pulling up those roots, settling in to the new “place” and re-planting some of the roots. Some never get transplanted.

We can grow new roots, some more exciting and rewarding then the old roots. New friends can become dearer and closer than old friends. Some neighborhoods are better than the old one. Some are worse.

Old habits, which feel like roots and sometimes are, can wither. If you cheered for the White Sox for 30 years and suddenly there’s no news about the Sox in the new place, that root– that habit– withers. It doesn’t ever die, but it’s just not as important. After all there’s so much new news about the Dodgers and Angels, or the Astros and Rockets. Slowly a new affection, new habits and new roots are planted. They feel as strong as or stronger than the old roots.

Peanuts and Baseball

People who move to new cities form their new opinions about that city based on their new friends, new neighbors and the new job. A failed move can be ugly. The person tells their friends back home how horrible the new place is, how terribly unkind the people are and how unfriendly the whole city is. Maybe she just picked the wrong shoe store.
Fighting over Shoe

If the new job and new neighbors are wonderful, the good news spreads that this is the greatest place to live in the country. What a wonderful warm and loving community this is, etc.

Sometimes these feelings about a “new” place are entirely based on luck. The luck of the draw…the new neighborhood, new church, new job, new friends. There are also new feelings involved. Feelings of security and familiarity are gone and until the new tribe is found and joined successfully, there is a sense of aloneness and fear.

Then as the old roots and new earth bind together, the sun warms us, the sky is still blue– maybe bluer, and we find we are happy, healthy and growing again– maybe taller.

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Discovery

It started in 1985 as a small cable channel showing documentaries related to Science and Technology…and a wee bit of history. It caught on and built a steady audience that made it profitable.

Then Reality Television was invented. Discovery Channel jumped on board with both feet. Now “Discovery Channel” is the SECOND most widely distributed cable channel behind TBS. It is available in 410 million households world-wide. 87% of all pay televisions in the USA have the Discovery Channel.

Reality Television was made to order for the Discovery Channel. “Unsolved Mysteries,” “Best Evidence” and “MythBusters,” had large audiences.Mythbusters

They hit gold with “Shark Week.”

In 2006 they started the year by announcing that the “Nightline” crew of Ted Koppel, the executive producer and eight staffers had joined the Discovery Channel. That year the network received seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations for shows like “The Flight that Fought Back” and “Deadliest Catch.”

The next year, 2007, they won Emmy’s for shows like “Planet Earth” “Dirty Jobs” “MythBusters” and “Deadliest Catch.” “Planet Earth” also won the distinguished Peabody Award.

Now the Discovery Channel is hosting live specials which are some of the most-watched shows. In 2013 they showed the incredible record breaking sky dive from the stratosphere by Felix Baumgartner.

Last Sunday a record 6.7 million viewers tuned in to watch Nik Wallenda’s blindfolded tightrope walk across two Chicago skyscrapers.

And now we have the ultimate Reality Live Event coming on Discovery on December 7th.  That’s Sunday December 7th.

Will you be watching?

The show is called “Eaten Alive.”
Wildlife expert, Paul Rosolie is going to allow a giant Anaconda to swallow him whole. “Not to worry,” he says, he will be wearing some strange kind of protective suit.
giant-anaconda-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anaconda

 

Damn!     Why didn’t I think of that?

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