Princess

By Juliana Lavitola

 

Middle age approached as my dream prince

Appeared and asked if I would be his princess.

Happy was I to answer, “Yes.”

 

As we married and settled into our dream home

Our minds became one–sharing ideas and turning

Our home into our castle.

Love and joy was felt as decades sped by.

 

Then one day, darkness came over our castle,

And took my prince away.

I no longer felt like a princess.

 

Our castle became quiet.

His touch was gone, as well as,

His embrace, his kiss, his voice.

Everything was quiet.

 

Family gatherings brought joyful voices.

Quiet crept back in when they dispersed.

 

As spring ran into summer solstice

Followed by winter solstice,

The castle remained quiet.

 

Mid-winter, I awakened with a start

Thinking the sun woke me; only to see it remained dark.

I dressed and went quickly to the idle treadmill.

The workout added to my feeling of renewal.

Days passed and as I rejoined social group events,

I found energy without tears.

 

I felt my prince was no longer beside me.

He now took up residence in my heart

Guiding and pushing me forward.

Thanks to my living prince,

I feel like a princess again.

#

Inhumanity of Mankind

by Karin Cheney

I know what it feels like to be bullied and abused.  Those memories are always with me.  So when I witness someone or something being harmed or mistreated my first instinct is to protect and comfort them.

Too often, instead of celebrating and appreciating the marvelous diversity of life among us it’s met with hatred, violence and cruelty.  Some people are harassed, abused, ignored, rejected or dismissed because they are mentally ill, poor, homeless, sick, addicts or simply different.

Sometimes they are abused and hated out of ignorant fear or prejudice.  But always, the damage it causes to people and populations that are already fragile, fearful and compromised is heartbreaking.  And it’s always something I will fight against.

But this problem doesn’t end with just humans.  It’s inflicted on other living things as well. The harm we humans inflict on each other, our planet, and other living things is both devastating and heart breaking. The vast amounts of trash, pollution, excess and waste we produce, especially of plastics and dangerous materials, are being dumped into our oceans, land, atmosphere and outer space at alarming rates and are compromising the safety and future of our world and every living thing surrounding and within it.

The inhumanities of mankind on mankind itself and of all other life here on Earth is heart-breaking. Sometimes I think it’s just too easy for some of us to turn a blind eye to these atrocities and continue on in our own secure pleasant lives, thinking that our individual actions are not enough to change anything.

We think the problems are too big for us to make a significant difference or change in the situation or we think that someone else is better equipped to help or there are organizations out there to fix and solve the issues.

But the truth is that each and everyone one of us can make a difference even in the smallest way.   Many hands make easy work, but many hands are made up of individual hands, and together they can do many things to bring positive changes before it’s too late.

So the next time you’re faced with the opportunity to stand up and make a positive difference in the world or another living being’s life, stand up and be the positive change you want to see in the world.

#

Cyborgs

By Robert Cordery

It all began with Superintendent, the nasal spray that cured Alzheimer’s. Perhaps now the technology has gone too far. But how can I get a snort of the advanced stuff for myself?

Supers are the nanoparticles in Superintendent. They are so small that they easily pass through the blood-brain barrier to do their work.  Each Super is specialized. Some break down amyloid beta plaques so they can be cleared from the brain. Other Supers specialize in correcting the mutation of tau protein that causes protein tangles in the brain.

Scientists realized that they could vastly improve the effectiveness of Superintendent if the particles could coordinate their actions like a flock of starlings. Each bird in a flock responds only to a few neighbors. It uses simple rules to decide its next move. The leaderless, aerobatic flock develops a swarm intelligence. It provides protection from predators, warmth and cooperative searching for feeding and roosting sites.

Superintendent V2 uses flocking Supers to improve its effectiveness. Superintendent has been a godsend for people suffering from dementia. But it is the recent, illegal advances that I crave.

The word superintendent is ambiguous. It could refer to a building maintenance person much as Superintendent V2 maintains the brain. Or it could refer to a boss who communicates instructions from a leader. Tech companies saw communicating flocks of Supers embedded in peoples’ brains as an ideal user interface. The user just inhales a nasal spray and they are connected.

Startups soon began developing “iSupers” with specialties including detecting neurons firing, triggering neurons to fire, and sending and receiving messages to an external transceiver.

The first people who tried iSupers became immediately catatonic.  Horrified, Congress quickly outlawed research, development and trial of iSupers.  Of course, illegal development simply went underground. Well-publicized raids on secretive labs and arrests of rogue scientists failed to deter the research.

Now you can find the iSupers on the street. One snort gives users heightened concentration, creativity and awareness. Add an inconspicuous earpiece and the user is a connected cyborg. The integration of the brain with the intelligence of the web and with the swarm of other cyborgs must proceed slowly.  There were tragic failures when users were overwhelmed because they integrated too quickly.

iSupers are still illegal and are expensive to manufacture. The integration process is risky and requires personal attention from several experienced cyborgs. I find the power of the cyborg swarm irresistible.

 

The cost is beyond my reach right now but I am saving. The cost and risk are coming down slowly. Maybe next year.

Happiness

By Russell Hartz

Look Dad, I just bought 10 lottery tickets!

You don’t really think you can win do you?

Some people win millions. I’ve seen it on television.

Not likely, but if you did win millions what would you do with it?

Well, first I would buy me a new car, a Jaguar, a convertible, fire engine red with a white rag top.

And would that make you happy?

Yeah, it sure would. Then I would buy a yacht and sail around the world!

You’d have to graduate from high school first and what about college?

If I had that much money I wouldn’t need an education. The only thing school is good for is to learn how to make a living. If I had all that money I wouldn’t have to work would I?

And what about a wife and children?

With all that money I could afford the most beautiful wife in the world and she would really love me. And our kids would have the best education money could buy.

Would she love you or your money? And you, would you be a loving husband to her or would she just be another of your possessions. There’s a difference you know, in both cases, and why bother to educate your children, with all that money you could take care of them so they wouldn’t have to work either. Would all that make you happy?

Oh, yeah, it would make me the happiest man in the world.

Now let me tell you something son. Happiness is what this world is all about, but you cannot buy, beg, borrow or steal it and no one can give it to you.  Happiness is a personal choice. If you choose to be happy in this world you will be happy with or without any of those things. But if you choose to be unhappy there is nothing anybody or anything can do to change it, not even millions of dollars, fancy cars or luxurious yachts.

I’ve known some poverty-stricken people in this world who were happy. On the other hand I have known some extremely wealthy people who were miserable.

It is all about knowing who you are, where you are at, where you are going and accepting your life as it is, as well as being thankful for all the blessings life has given you. And above all, know the difference between fun and happiness. They are not the same. Fun is momentary while happiness endures as a lifestyle.

Be happy my son. Educate yourself, nourish your curiosities, love your life and the people in it and be happy with your place in it.

That’s what it’s all about.

_  _  _

The Civil Air Patrol

By Ed Baranosky

In September 1942 the U.S .had been at war with Germany, Japan and Italy for 10 months. Daring German submarine captains were sinking an average of seven merchant ships a day off our Atlantic coast. In theaters the Saturday movie matinee started with the Movietone news depicting men covered with black diesel fuel being lifted from lifeboats and rafts. There were reports by fishermen of a U-boat surfacing in Long Island Sound off the sub base in New London.

I was a sophomore in high school. In the cafeteria one day I overheard a girl in my class named Cory Irwin talking to her friend about flying her father’s plane on patrols over Long Island sound on the lookout for German U-boats. After class that day I had a chance to talk to Cory about flying. She told me her father taught her to fly a plane when she was 14. She earned her pilot’s license when she was 15 and had been flying ever since.

She heard about the Civil Air Patrol at the airport and volunteered. She told me if I would like to fly a patrol with her she would pick me up Saturday morning at 5 a.m. and we’d go flying.

We got to the airport in Stratford at 5:30.  While Cory did a preliminary check of the plane
I unhooked the tie-downs. We got in the plane and she started it up. After a few checks we taxied over to a fuel truck. The truck operator asked Cory for her authorization card. The operator wrote the information on his form and had Cory sign it. The government was paying for the fuel.

In the plane Cory handed me a set of earphones. Cory radioed the control tower and asked for clearance. The controller told her she was cleared to Runway 24. She taxied to the apron of 24. Cory went through a takeoff check list, revved the engine a few times to recheck the gauges. She released the brakes and we were rolling down Runway 24. I heard her calling the controller as we began to lift off the ground.

She asked for clearance to turn left after takeoff so we could fly east over Long Island Sound toward Rhode Island. The controller gave her an OK. Over the sound Cory handed me a pair of binoculars. She told me to read and record boat registration numbers in the log book as we flew over them.  We did not see any sign of U-boats on that flight.

The next few months my Saturdays were taken up by flying with Cory. She began giving me bootleg flying lessons. I took ground school classes and earned my pilot’s license.

When WWII was over in 1945 the government was selling factory fresh fighter planes for $100. My regret is not buying a North American P-51 Mustang.

If Money Was no Object

By John-Paul Marciano

Not too long ago I bought a lottery ticket when the jackpot was north of $800 million dollars.  On the way home I thought, “What if I really won?”  What a scary thought that was.  After all, we’re talking at more than $400 million after taxes.  That’s a lot of money.

It took me a while but eventually I became comfortable with the possibility of winning such an enormous amount.  It didn’t take long to start thinking about what I would want to buy.  Of course, with that kind of money there wouldn’t be much I couldn’t afford.  And I could get exactly what I want, exactly the way I want it because I can afford it.  Since the choices would be endless, I decided on a list of my top three choices.

Number one on my list was a black Ferrari, but not just any Ferrari.  I want the one they say, “If you have to ask how much it costs you can’t afford it.”  As part of the deal I would want to buy hot laps at the Circuit of the Americas, the Formula 1 race track in Austin, Texas.  Call me crazy, but what good is a car that can go 200 M.P.H. if you can’t drive it that fast?

Next on the list would be three homes all in warmer locales than my current home.  Of course, I would keep my current home because I like where I live and can think of no good reason to sell it.  You might be asking, “Why three homes?  Doesn’t that count as three separate purchases?”

Well, why not?  I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted a place in Argentina, Australia or the northern Mediterranean coast (preferably Italy or Spain).  So why choose just one when I can afford to buy three?  And I don’t see it as three separate purchases.  For accounting purposes I can just lump them all under the heading “Living Expenses.”

I came up with the last item on my list because I was thinking, “How would I get to my new homes?”  Flying on commercial airlines is such a hassle these days, even if you’re flying first class.  Who wants to check-in and hang around the airport until they board the flight?  And buying my own jet seems a little too extravagant, even if I can afford it.  It occurred to me that an 80 or 100-foot-yacht would do the trick just fine.

But then I started thinking the Ferrari is going to break down, the houses will need to be maintained, and, with my luck, the yacht will probably sink.  And, truth be told, all this stuff will just complicate my life.  Who needs the hassle?  How depressing to have all this money and nothing to buy.

So I decided to sleep on it, hoping I would find something worthwhile.  When I woke up the next morning it dawned on me that what I really wanted to do was find an inner city kid with a lot of promise and a dream without the means to fulfill that promise or achieve the dream.  Why not change the direction of that kid’s life and buy him or her the best education money can buy?  It would be money well spent and a worthwhile endeavor.

The next day I checked my tickets and naturally I didn’t hit the jackpot.  Heck, I couldn’t even manage a $2 winner. Twenty-five years ago the New York Lottery advertised, “All you need is a dollar and a dream.”  In today’s inflated dollars that dream now costs two dollars.  Was it worth it?  For the same two dollars I can place a bet on a horse in the Kentucky Derby which takes about three minutes.  My fantasy lasted two days.  So, yeah, I’d say it was worth every penny.

#