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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Decisions of a Woman

Decision Time!

Decision-making is as integral a part of life as is breathing, but it occurred to me, a man, that to be a woman carries with it the burden of extra heavy responsibility for many decisions that she will make throughout her lifetime. In common with a man, she will make decisions that are a shared responsibility, such as political, business, health related issues, and what country she would prefer to live in as wife.

Other decisions that are supposedly shared, but usually go her way are what and where to buy a house, where to school the children, and other important choices involving the family lifestyle.

There are decisions that only a woman can make. A man has some similar choices but the list is much longer for a woman. In my own opinion that list is partially as follows:

From the time of personal responsibility, one of the first things she will have to learn is how to dress and to present herself to the public. If she does not take responsibility for these things, then who will? In our society I wonder what some young women could be thinking as they dress to attract stalkers.

She has to decide on what direction her future is to take. That will encompass her educational and career path. She might choose to consult with others but the final decision must be hers.

What will be her personal lifestyle? This is one of the Big questions that will set the pace for her whole adult life, but only she can make this choice. The range from which she can select is very broad and covers Nun to prostitute, and everything in between.

It is her right and privilege to select the type of car to buy. This is a small matter, but in common with a man the car she chooses most likely will reflect her personality and must be a free choice without interference.

In Western societies, who a woman chooses as her life partner is her exclusive right and privilege, as is anyone else whom she wishes to invite into her bed. Although we men grow up with the belief that we persue women and conquer them in our bedrooms, the fact is that we chase them until they catch us. Imagine my astonishment upon learning that little factoid!

In our society, anything less is called rape or sexual harrassment. Therefore, it is the decision of the woman that must be weighed very carefully when considering what to do in matters of a personal sexual nature. In the lighest of circumstances, when she is a single and unattached female, she will have men in her face showing interest in spending the night together. For a man this is not really a decision. He just wants to get his end in with any warm and wiling woman. For her there is so much more to consider, although through the fog of lust most of those things get overlooked.

When thinking more long term, if she is to encourage a man to come around on a regular basis she has to be aware that the relationship could lead him to ask her to marry him, so she would be wise to use the time to get to know him really well. Making this decision could lead to how many children she brings into the world, where they will live, and the other "shared" decisions she will make in the future. It will also determine whether she will experience true happiness, or a married life of misery leading to divorce.

She, and she alone must be free to have control over her body. There will be men who will assume the arrogance to arbitrarily make decisions concerning abortion, but there are no circumstances where a woman might be called upon to make such a decision for a man, with the exception whether to circumcise her baby or not.

One of the most vexing decisions she will make is should she have that extra-marital affair. The problems that can flow from this activity potentially are without limit. Where a woman chooses to enter into a personal relationship where she works, when it becomes evident to management she is usually the one to lose her job, (although they should both have to leave if they have broken the company's rule of non-fraternisation) because it was her final decision that allowed it to happen.

This places the decision that one woman made, to encourage a relationship with a married colleague when his wife also worked with them, into an awful perspective. The wife eventually killed herself and the rest of the staff were deeply affected.

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What a week that Was!

The fertilizer plant explosion near Waco, Texas and The Boston Marathon Bombings

What a hellava week its been for the world around us. The week started normally enough with a Marathon. It was Patriot's Day in Boston, the center piece of that holiday was The Great Boston Marathon, but as the world now knows a couple of very young guys decided to blow things up, with all the attendent horror that brought. Three people died in that event; two young women and an eight year old boy who had previously asked that there be "no more hurting people!" How ironic!

Then, as we all know, Wednesday brought an explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas. two people are dead from that, and dozens have been injured and many homes flattened. That scene is being treated as a crime scene.

Wednesday was also the day that the funeral was held in London, England for ex prime minister Margaret Thatcher. That event got half the country all stirred up because she was a person who was either hated or adored, and both sides were all too keen to make their feelings known. Tensions were riding high, but in the event those who hated her showed their scorn in a very British, understated, and civilized manner. They simply turned their backs on the procession.

Wednesday was the day that Boston held a wonderful "Day of remembering the victims and their familes," service at the catherdal, in which President Obama and his First Lady were in attendance. The president gave one of the best speeches I have ever heard, which was exactly what the people wanted to hear. He promised the perpetrators of the bombing that they would be hunted down and brought to justice.

Meanwhile, someone had sent a letter containing ricin to him. It was intercepted well before it could have reached his office. Who the hell thinks that the president opens his own mail?

No sooner did the president promise whoever was responsible would be brought to justice for the bombing, than the message went out that the FBI were looking for two young guys. That night these two numbskulls robbed a store, shot and killed an officer on the grounds of MIT, and got themselves in a firefight with officers, ending with the one, who I predict was the mastermind, being shot to death. These guys were brothers, and the younger one went on the run, but not before running over his brother with the car, whereupon a couple of small bombs that the brother, that was down, was wearing went off but the impact was limited because he was on top of them. How about the beauty of that as a statement: blown up by his own bombs! Nice one!

We were then subjected to non-stop coverage of the manhunt for a 19 year-old, very misguided boy. Never before in my lifetime have I heard of a situation where an entire major city and its suburbs had been locked down for a whole business day while a manhunt took place. Almost 10,000 men and women were employed in the hunt for this one man who was Public Enemy Number One.  Incidentally, at one point in a live feed, the announcers were saying that the only traffic was that of law enforcement people, when a guy rides across the camera on his bicycle, just as relaxed as could be. I had to laugh out loud.

Sure enough the fugutive was finally surrounded   as he took shelter in a man's sailboat that was ashore in his backyard.

I nust comment on this aspect, because it was reported that the owner noticed that there were bloodstains leading into the boat. Then he is supposed to have gone to the boat and pulled back the covers and noticed the wanted man inside. At that stage he risked having his head shot off. Had that happened he would have died as a result of stupidity. Having noticed something was awry he should have made the call and cleared the area. I suspect that by now even he is kicking himself. Lucky bastard! Perhaps he should check his boat very carefully before putting it back overboard as it most probably won't float.

So, another shootout resulted in the boy's capture alive, which is really good news because I suspect that there are those in the background who influenced the older brother while he was on a six month visit to Russia to make a strike against America. The younger brother, I believe was drawn into the situation by his older sibling. The country needs answers. So far, nothing suggests that North Korea had anything to do with it. Thank God!

The week ended as it began, with another Marathon, this time with 30,000 runners over in London on Sunday, April 21st. As I write this there have not been any incidents, but a 30-second period of silence was held at the beginning to remember the Boston Marathon.

President Obama has promised that there will be a Boston Marathon next year. I predict that the number of runners will be the most ever for such an event, as well the number of spectators will overwhelm the route. That's how terrorists are defeated, even though these two guys left more than 175people injured, and Krystle Campbell, aged 29, Lu Lingzu, aged 23 of China, Police officer Sean Collier, and especially young Martin Richard, all lost their lives.

In his own words, young Martin Richard wrote:"No more hurting people. Peace!" So Young! So Wise

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Boston Bombings

A scene that was supposed to be only one of joy turned into the worst nightmare.
The Boston Bombing of 15/4


Here we go again!

Monday, 15th April, 2013 saw the Boston Marathon interrupted by at least two bombings at the finish line and around about the time that the run was supposed to reach its conclusion. It was similar with 9/11 in that the location was one that was classicly important to America, and there were two blasts that were evidently intended to cause a lot of injuries. As of this writing 176 people are injured, at least 17 of whom are seriously so, and three people have died.

The big question is, of course who is responsible, and why was it done?

To cut straight to a worst case situation the people who have most recently been threatening all-out war with America are the North Koreans.

Let us all hope and pray that this is not the case because the follow-up could well lead to nuclear war, and that would have a result with no winners at all.

Meanwhile, over in London, Wednesday the 17th of April will be the funeral of Margaret Thatcher that will have its own built-in disruptions, and shortly after that will take place the London Marathon.

Suddenly we have a great deal to worry about!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Expedición Imposible

Raquel Sanchez Silva, Presenter of Expedición Imposible
The Best television viewing experience that I can recall in a very long time!

I have just concluded twelve weeks of addictive television viewing with the final of the Spanish version of Expedition Impossible, an American adventure reality show. Both versions were staged in Morocco, but the major difference between the participants was that the Americans had to have certain basic survival skills, whereas the Spanish were a group of twenty people with fairly ordinary lives. I say ordinary, but they ranged from dancers and actresses and singers and models, to people who worked with bulls. One was even the former Miss Spain, 2006.

I have never followed reality shows, or even series, except "Boss" in part. I became interested in this one because of Maria Abradelo, the TV presenter and actress. We became aware of her when we first arrived here in Valencia as a personalty who dominated Channel 9, the Valencian principal television company. Since then there has been a drawing closer between herself and our family, to the extent that we were considering English lessons taught by myself to her. She was entered in the contest, together with her sister and was featured as the principal contestants in the publicity.

For the sake of jogging your memory, if you did watch the program, there were ten groups of two-person teams at the beginning. There were four teams of two women in each: Noelia and Elizabeth, both models; Maria and her sister Rommy; Raquel and Leticia; and Marbelys and Lola. There were two all-male teams: David, the super strong man, and Dani who kept finding courage and strength he never knew he had; and Ismael and Ivan, the oldest participant, for whom I was solidly in his corner as he represented us senior citizens. The remaining four teams consisted of one man and one woman.  They were: Cristina and Alejandro; Rafael and Yolanda; Alex and Roció, the person I most admired for maintaining an upbeat and positive spirit throughout. She is also a very beautiful and charming person as well. And finally, there was Felipe and his girlfriend Mirela.

Canal Cuatro aired the show, and it was presented by Raquel Sanchez Silva, a presenter of reality shows, but even she was over-awed by the complexities and challenges of this particular show. They started off with an 8.0% share which had dropped to 5.9% for the final show. That means a lot of people missed one of the most fabulous shows on televisions. I urge them to watch the re-runs.

Shortly after the contest began, which involved extremely taxing challenges throughout, both Mirela and Elizabeth, the former Miss Spain, found that they could go no further. Normally that would have meant that their partner would also drop out, but an exception was made that allowed Noelia, Elizabeth's partner to team up with Felipe. No one expected much from this change because Noelia is also a slender model, and so evidently way out of her league in the unforgiving great outdoors of Morocco.

As the episodes concluded and new ones began, teams were eliminated due to their arrival at the checkpoint in last place. Maria and Rommy were eliminated/dropped out due to illness in the fifth episode. I was so disappointed for them, yet I found it extremely difficult to understand why they were putting themselves through such agony. Yes, there was prize money to be won, but some of the things they did were dangerous in a controlled sort of way, I suppose, but always a real challenge. There must be easier ways of winning money than that!

By the tenth episode, David and courageous Dani had been eliminated, and in the eleventh episode Ismael and Ivan, the senior citizen were eliminated. Ivan said that he was competing because he wanted his grad-daughter to be proud on him. No worries Ivan, we all are! That left two teams of one man, one woman each. The woman who no one expected to stay the course, including herself, was still in the running. That was Noelia, the model, who was really struggling. She had hurt her leg and was in pain and hobbling. Meanwhile, Cristina, of Cristina and Alejandro was staying strong and cool. This couple had arrived in first place most often, which gave them the privilege of being driven straight to the end of the next episode, as well as winning a 3,000 euro prize several times.

We had come to the final in Marrakesh. The two teams didn't seem to be evenly matched, and every effort was made to break at least one of them because there could only be one winner. However, both teams stayed consistent with one another, with Noelia doing her part and simply powering through the pain. Neither team could be broken, so it came down to a matter of who would be luckier. That part of the contest was inspired, and when it turned out that Noelia and Felipe were declared the winners my eyes misted over, a massive lump appeared in my throat and I jumped out of my seat with joy. Noelia had survived and triumphed over all the massive odds placed in her path.

This is the story of all mankind, of course. In order to achieve something outstanding it is necessary that we choose to do the thing that is difficult, because it is difficult. Once we begin our journey we have to stay focused with our eyes on the prize and simply power through adversity. Everyone loves the underdog. This is not something that can be scripted but it all came together in the end.

Congratulations to Felipe and Alejandro, both very strong competitors, and to Cristina who kept her head throughout. Noelia is an enduring champion and now she is a role model. I certainly hope that all of the contestants have something lasting to remember their extreme efforts because they all contributed to a standard of television entertainment that was a cut above the normal. Congratulations also to Raquel, la Presentadora and the producers and crew.

When I say, "Well Done!" everyone, I really do mean it!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene  Carmichael 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

In Celebration of a Life and a Legacy!

In Celebration of a deserving human being!
Melanie Kiener
Former Area Governor
Toastmasters International
District 59, Spain

When I first met Melanie Kiener she was Area Governor for District 59 that covered at least four Toastmasters clubs along the Mediterranean coast, including Valencia, Alicante, Las Palmeras, and her home club of Marbella. It is natural to form an impression from when meeting for the first time. Looking back, I think I felt her charm and warmth, and I know that I thought she was someone I could work with. What I didn't think about was the fact that Melanie was a person with an infectious energy and attitude that radiated the message, " Be the best that you can be; do the best that you can!"

As I reflect on her personality I see her as a person who went through life like a fine cava sprinkling her bubbles upon all with whom she came into contact, gently, and in a very lady-like way moving us forward, always urging us to do the best that we could.

Toastmasters clubs worldwide are self help groups of individuals who are intent upon growing and refining our inter-communications skills. The Mission Statement of Toastmasters International reads, "We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth."

In my short experience with Toastmasters I have seen people grow from being shy and introverted into confident outgoing individuals. Part of the role of Area Governor is to shepherd all the members in your collective care towards attaining the goal of personal growth. The first requisite must be the desire and the ability to care for each person. In this regard Melanie excelled and set the bar for her successors. She lived a life that was full and she has left a legacy that is wonderful and worthy of emulation.

At too early an age she was given a cross to bear that she bore with strength and dignity, and with a smile on her face. All too soon (March 27, 2013) she passed on to that great Toastmasters Club, District Number One, Club 001 in the sky, where we will all join her, in the fullness of time.

Meanwhile we celebrate her life and her legacy. It was our privilege to have known her and to have worked together towards our common goal. Melanie's life was indeed a life well lived, and that leaves only one thing left to say:

Thank You, Melanie!   

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael