Friday, October 21, 2005

A Different Angle On: It Takes A Thief

Have you ever watched "It Takes A Thief" on the Discovery Channel? I will explain just in case you haven't.
The show is a reality program about and starring two former thieves, Matt Johnston and Jon Douglas Rainey. These two dudes roll around a neighborhood looking for people to rob. They lightheartedly argue and compete with each other. Then they pick a house and Matt proposes to the owner that they allow Jon to break in and rob them. (I can only imagine how many people say no, but the only ones they show are the yesses.)
What makes the show so cool is this guy Jon. He obviously works out, so he's climbing all over the place, breaking windows, throwing mattresses and wreaking havoc in these houses while the owners sit and watch on little screens in a van across the street.
Oh, man, people wig out. "oh my god, i can't believe he took my crystal chandelier!" and such other comments resound as this man steals just about anything hockable. He has stolen cars and SUVs, light fixtures, paintings, jewelry, raw cash, house keys, even a golden retriever. On one episode, Jon made off with just over two million dollars worth of property in about ten minutes!!
When the robbery is over, Matt walks the residents through the wreckage of their house and shows them everything Jon did up close. Then, they get to meet Jon when he brings their stuff back to them. People look like they are going to kill him, and he's doing them a favor!
Then, the good part happens. They give the people in the house a complete security makeover. They replace windows, give them safes, security alarm systems, you name it. They do it all so you can see what happens when a real thief breaks in.
The final test is when Jon and Matt come back unanounced to test the house and make sure it is being locked up and protected as it should be. I always like to guess if Jon's going to be able to break in again. Anyway...
Let's look at "It Takes A Thief" from a different angle.
How many times have you been complacent about your property? Come on, be honest...
Yeah, me too. I will sometimes find myself leaving a window open in our shielded, tree shaded backyard. For the entire time we've lived here, we never locked the tool shed, or even wondered what would happen if the wrong person took interest in it.
It didn't even occur to us that we might need a security system when the neighbors across the street from us suffered a break-in. These guys backed a van up to the front of the house, got in through the back yard, took the front door off of it's hinges, and went to town. They stole two televisions, clothes, all sorts of things.
Why are we so lax about protecting ourselves, even when it happens in our neighborhood? My car was broken into, and thankfully the guy was a complete idiot and couldn't hot wire the car, so I still have it. Regardless, I got an alarm/engine kill system installed, and it has made owning my car not only more secure, but also more convenient.
I have a friend who has an alarm system on his house and security film on the windows because he has some expensive electronic equipment. The alarm is an infrared detector, and since he has a cat, it is set for anything over fifteen pounds.
Are we too attached to our physical belongings? Perhaps we are not attached enough? What is the right thing to do? I say an alarm is a good idea, because thievery is never right, and your family will be safer with the alarm on.
How tense is too tense? And when does it cease to be a precaution and become a nightmare?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Different Angle On: Nascar Nextel Cup Racing

Nascar is currently America's most popular sport. Thirty to Forty drivers behind twelve cylinder racing engines, driving in circles for three or so hours. Aah! The only thing better than that to many viewers is a hot Brat and a Bud.

I watch Nascar because I moved to Indiana, Fishers (a suburb of Indianapolis) to be exact. I quickly became a Jeff Gordon fan, and ruthlessly cheered for him. I couldn't figure out why the champion wasn't winning as much as he used to. This was in 2002.

Last year and the year prior I was too preoccupied to pay any attention to the Nascar races, and I was usually working when they were driving, so it ruined all the fun of watching the race replays. I like to cheer for my drivers while they are racing, not after. Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I was minding my own business, watching television, and I couldn't find anything good to watch. Then, I saw that a race was going on. I watched, rapidly falling back into my fierce opposition of anyone who would DARE challenge Jeff Gordon.

Now, a couple of months later, I watch Nextel cup practice, qualifying, special programs, and the races. I watch because it is enjoyable, I love cars, and the races can become quite exciting.
I am by nature a fairly soft person. I am trying to be as compassionate and loving as possible at all times, as I believe it is what human life is made of, and therefore very much the most important thing on earth. However, I can start watching a Nextel cup race and be very interested in the beginning, but, by the end of a race, I am screaming at the television "Greg Biffle, you creep! You better not pass Carl Edwards!" Seriously. What is it about Nascar that is so addicting?

Lets look at NASCAR from a different angle.

People are competitive by nature. We are continually exposed to material fun nowadays, whereas it was more artistic a few years ago. Cars have recently jolted into high gear in the entertainment industry as a result of "The Fast And The Furious" and "2 Fast 2 Furious." Not only this, but street racers are building virtual works of art called "rice rockets," essentially stock cars. And since NASCARs are stock cars, they naturally fall into the same category.
Like breeds like. Apparently Americans like the idea of taking a regular old average every day run of the mill car, and turning it into a bottle fed projectile. I do, too. I think it is a healthy hobby for some folks, because it demands you understand mechanics, and the proper application of many different mediums and materials. Of course, safety is important too, so I'll just watch the pros race in a controlled environment. Safer that way.

People take these cars and take them apart, put intercoolers in them, rearrange them, polish their ports, blueprint the blocks, and basically breed a monster of their own hands and money. I mean, really, how much effort does it take to buy a Lamborghini? Now, the average Joe with mechanical skills can own and operate his very own, lightning quick car. In other words, how special is it to own an expensive car that you didn't create, design, or really play any part in?

Nascar fans will all tell you that they have a favorite driver, they watch whenever they can, and they have loads of fun. They love the accidents, the fights the drivers get into, and watching Carl Edwards do back flips off of his car after driving donuts and doing burnouts. It is fun. It actually is fun, unlike movies, which frankly are not so good these days as Hollywood is making fun of our intelligence as viewers. NASCAR is just a bunch of regular Dudes and Chicks who love the smell of gasoline and motor oil, racing one another for a bunch of money and a trophy. What could be more American than that?

I think today's American is generally looking for something wholesome, fun and positive to sink his or her teeth into. Americans are tired of the media constantly bombarding us with negative info such as Brad Pitt's divorce and how the French hate us. We want to see the good ole boys pit fast. Seriously, watching the pit crews work on a car during a race is like watching a swarm of bees attack a bear. It's fun. People just want to have fun.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Different Angle On: Golden Retrievers

Dogs. They are possibly the most beautiful creatures known to mankind. They are profoundly emotional animals, capable of both intense hatred and unbound love. Dogs are commonly referred to as "man's best friend", and yet they are still treated by many as guard dogs and a lesser life form.

My dog, Bellezza Abaggliante, is the coolest dog I've ever known. My family has owned many pets, but they are all overshadowed by my Golden retriever. First there was Wormin. He died after only a few days of life. I don't remember him because I was very young. Then, a while later, we got Roger. Roger was a mutt and a half and he was sincerely ugly. He was funny, the way he used to throw the ball for himself and go chase it. He would run in circles when we'd come home. We had to put him to sleep when he was twelve because he had some sort of stomach cancer. We waited a few months and decided it was time to get a new dog, Doug. Doug was a pure bred beagle, and the runt of the litter. He wasn't an especially nice dog, but he chilled out after a time, and we loved him greatly. He also developed stomach problems (I am convinced it was the Pedigree brand dog food) and we put him to sleep.

I went for a few years without a pet, moved to Indianapolis, and got my own place. I had two cats by the time I got there, but I was still lonely, and living in a home with sub-standard construction. The windows were flimsy to the point that it would take no effort to break into my home. So, I asked God to send me a dog to protect me. I got exactly what I asked for.

I am still not completely sure about why, but Bellezza stuck her head out of a box of puppies at my place of work, and barked at me. I picked her up, and we were instantly bonded. She was funny from the very beginning. She climbed the couch like a mountain-climber, attacked the roses I planted in the garden, and bit my toes. She was cross eyed for a little while and her face was full of fur. She was so cute that the lanscapers 'gooed' when holding her. My boyfriend at the time took her for a ride in the Bobcat, and she sat in his lap, looking as though she were driving.

I took Bellezza on a long, long, long road trip. She got car sick a couple of times, but she figured out how not to be nauseous and stared at the oncoming highway. At one point, she was tired of sitting there, so she leaned back against the seat just like a person. It was so funny I thought I was going to wreck.

She is everything I need to keep me going. She is thoughtful, playful, funny, happy, and understanding. She knows when my heart aches, and gives me all the love and patience I need. You can tell when she's playing with me that she is trying to make me laugh. She had figured out what tickles my legs and feet, and does it just to get me to crack up. It is hilarious.

Lets look at dogs from a different angle.

A very unwise person once said that animals have no souls. He was wrong. My dog has a soul, I can feel it wash through me when I pet her. She has a sense of humor, she shows fear and the need to preserve her own life. She is self aware, makes conscious decisions on her own, and loves. That is called sentience.

All animals have birthrights as we humans do. They should be treated with compassion and honor. Pigs, cows, chickens, dogs, cats, snakes, spiders, ants, you name it; they all have souls. My life would be relatively empty without my Bellezza. I can't stop thanking God for her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Different Angle On: Family.

Family. It is a word that describes so many things including the people we are raised around, related to, or work with. Scientists use the word "family" to sometimes articulate the way plants and animals relate to each other, even though they are not actually related. How funny is it that we humans have such a strong tie to our families, yet so few of us are proud of them, or even like their relatives?

For years I have been trying to understand why I cannot seem to understand my family. My Mother is not the person I have known all my life; she has changed. My Father is nothing like me with the exception of the way we walk and our impatience. My sister is separate even from these criteria; she is a mother, and a wife. She is also Christian of late, and I am a Medium. So, you can see how it would be difficult for us to identify with each other on a consistent basis.

I get the feeling that I am not the only American woman in her late twenties who is not married, pregnant, or belonging to a group of any kind. I don't make pronounced claims of affection for certain members of my family, and a few of them seem only to proclaim their disappointment in my lack of Authorial success. I constantly find myself saying: "How do I feel about being a disappointment to my parents?" After all, in this country it appears that if you don't have a job, regardless of your reason why, you are looked at as being lazy or unsuccessful.

I won't stray from the subject here, but I do want to bring up a point I feel quite strongly about. I am not a failure because I don't handle employment well, don't own a house, and can't pay my bills. I am working on something great. I have written my autobiography for the purpose of helping people similar to myself overcome terrible depression, and to help them understand my view of "God." I mean, I haven't been sitting on my laurels for a year, pondering the good life at ole Mom 'n' Dad's. I wrote a BOOK; a big one at that. I have a wonderful friend who is going to help me get it in with a big publisher. "Blessings in Strange Places" is by far the largest accomplishment of my whole life, and yet, my parents and their pals sit around talking about how unhappy they are with me.

Families are interesting entities. I know a family of folks who are perfectly nice people when you get each of them alone, but as soon as they are in a group together, they are hateful and negative. I know another family who can't stand to clean, so they lump it all on one person. Yet another family makes excuses for the person in the who is causing the problems, and they yell at the sensible one for being just that: sensible. Seriously, think about YOUR family. If you could sum it up, what would you say?

I try very hard to be understanding and compassionate, but I find it so hard to do that it is counterproductive to try. I can see that being a family trait. Yeah, somebody else's family, maybe. Nope, in my family, if you remind someone of another family member, they start treating you like you are that person. There is a drug addict in my family. She has nerve damage as a result of the drug use. I did ONE thing that was similar to her, even thought the worst thing I've ever been addicted to was smoking cigarettes, and POW, they look at me like I'm going to be just like her. That's not fair, but hey, that's family.

Look at family from a different angle. We all have spirit families almost completely separate of our earthbound fam's. They forgive everything and try to nudge us in the proper direction. I am in constant touch with my spirit family because I Channel (meaning I am a Medium of sorts) and can see and hear them. My spirit family is very amazing to me. They have saved my life a number of times, kept me from assaulting the last boyfriend I had with an aluminum baseball bat (nice, huh?) and have managed to pull me through some horrible times in one piece. I don't know what life would be without them.

It is hard to know who's advice to take, physical Dad, or Master Guide. Hmmmm?

In actuality, it really isn't that difficult. I listen to my Master Guide because she is standing on a higher plain of existence than my physical Father, and she may have access to better information than he. I don't know what you believe, but I know that this physical family is temporary to a point. Yeah, I love them, but I'm not going to allow them to run my life, or change the way I think about living just because they don't like what I do. After all, I don't see any of them with big plans.

Final thought. Are we Americans so whipped by the money subject that we've forgotten to be freedom thinkers? Is that the American way?