The Genesis of A Passion


firstguitar

My earliest memory of playing guitar for the very first time was when I was only a small boy back in the nineteen sixties.  I sat inside that small neighborhood garage on Ridgeview Drive all those years ago, sitting with my childhood friends Phil and Larry Reeves, their father, and some of their family’s friends.  The recollection is that they would gather neighborhood friends from time to time to play music inside the garage of their house.  I think my brother and I were guests in their home while my mother was having surgery, and my father was overseas fighting the war in Vietnam, where Mr. Reeves was at home recuperating from his injury he sustained on duty.  My mother was in the hospital for what might have been a week, so the Reeves’ would care for us during that time.  We all participated in playing country and gospel music in that small garage on Ridgeview.  We were neighborhood friends, and we spent a great deal of time together during those years my father was away at sea.  The first time I believe I picked up a guitar was when I was only a boy of maybe 7 years old.  Phil and Larry were from Mississippi, and their father was partial to country music.

We the kids watched the adults play various instruments around those country jam sessions back in the sixties.  They had guitars and ukuleles, and possibly a bass guitar in those sessions.  I think there were even both electric and acoustical instruments.  There may have been different instruments but my memory cannot recall what they might have been.  The first song I ever learned was Hank Williams “I Saw the Light”.  My first chord I learned to play on the guitar was an “E” that I learned from playing that song.  I still remember how much fun it was the first time they offered to have me play with them in those sessions.  Mr. Reeves most likely helped us along with the chords, and the rhythm while he sang along to everyone playing in unison.  Funny my concentration was so intense that I don’t remember my brother playing with us, or even Phil and Larry, but they must have been there, and must have participated.  To this day I still recall the ambient sounds we made coming out of that small suburban garage.  The coolness of that evening was offset by the warmness of the company we kept inside.

My memory of having Mrs. Reeves’ hometown influence upon my brother and myself was quite a bit different from my own mothers touch.  When you’re that young and not used to other maternal styles you think nothing of it.  She was a direct women with a strong southern accent, but took good care of us kids.  My father loved country music as well, but my mother liked the more conservative classic songs of the time like Bing Crosby, Dorris Day, and orchestral types.  Memories of watching “The High Chaparral” before going to bed was a highlight for us kids when we stayed over at their house.  Our families were only a few blocks apart, Phil’s age was close to mine as Larry was a bit younger, and my brother was a year older than all of us.  We were childhood friends one does not forget about.  Our fathers both served in the Navy,  we all went to the same school, and we all lived in the same neighborhood.  The few years that we were friends still leaves an enduring impression on me to this day.  Sadly I remember them packing up and leaving town when Mr. Reeves either received new orders or possibly they decided to move back to Mississippi.  I still have the flashback of their Van driving away from me from their home never to see them again.  I once tried to look them up, but had no success.

In those years I considered them my best friends.  I learned to play guitar from that experience and I have never forgotten those childhood years.  I would not have ever guessed that the experience of playing old country songs in a small garage back in the sixties would have had an influence on me for the rest of my life.  I could have never calculated its impact, but isn’t that what makes it special?

Unrequited love


unrequited_love_

Turn down the lights, turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me, tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize – don’t patronize me

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these lonely hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

I can’t make you love me – Bonnie Raitt

What do you know about love?  If you ask Google, they will tell you the most searched phrase on the internet is the question what is love,  the literature is filled with written accounts, musicians sing about the aspects of love, and it is thought to have started the Trojan war.  Love has circulated the human condition for eons, reported and retold in fairy tales to our young, discussed by all the classical philosophers and poets, yet for most of us, we still have an inexperienced puerile understanding of what it means to love one another.  A psychologist will delineate love into different types, and as a matter of fact, one can find about three to ten or more types of love displayed on a good search engine.  A therapist on the other hand will examine the problems of intimacy inside a relationship, as to provide the couple with ways to reconnect to that loved one, but ask yourself a question before you read on any further.  Have you been in love?

Not infatuation, attractions, or crushes, but rather a deeper bonding that you cannot explain.  Every nerve impulse that fires within your body compels to be directed toward that person you desire.  You can’t seem to control this feeling, but it certainly becomes awakened and alive when they are next to you.  I do not speak of the libidinal sexual energies, but the psycho-physiological functions that you cannot easily dismiss and deny at the presence of the other person.  An emotional factor that cannot always be subdued, and rejected by the rational ego.

How has it enhanced or hindered your personal life depending on the choices you have made?  What were the emotional outcomes of the decisions you made?  Were you able to have the courage to tell that special someone that you love them?  More painfully, did you have someone that did not return back the feelings you freely gave up to them?

Many of us have had opportunities to gain experience in building relationships through the years, with our school associations, work associations, and other social networks we call our friends.  The power of observation gives us plenty to digest, and we have learned through trial and error on established etiquette; information given to us by our friends, family members, and what is in the popular culture on how to carry on with a love interest.

love

How are you certain that you are in love?  If you are in love, how much are you willing to give to the relationship to keep it alive, to keep it fresh, to keep it exciting?  Are you willing to commit and sacrifice, face the hardships, and tolerate unforeseen drama?  How much are you willing to except the person you thought you knew, now that you have learned the subtleties of their personality and they have learned yours.  In some cases I believe that some people do not have the hardships as others experience.  I suspect that the particular upbringing and the complications of some lives are accredited for the happenings.

For many that believe love is hard to find I may offer an alternative view.  Finding love is not the difficulty in this life, for there may be some who disagree.  I’m going to state that the hardest thing about love is not in the finding of it, but rather in the maintenance of it.  The nurturing and caring for it, the devotion to making it a successful philosophy in your relationship resides largely in your own hands.  A relationship is like a living entity.  It will grow when nurtured.

Finding love is not the most difficult part of the quest.  It is rather that most people seem to be challenged by keeping the loved one close to their heart.  The time it takes to invest into the relationship, maintain, and cultivate that relationship is where much of the hard work will come into play.  The risk initiates itself when the romantic levels diminish into the every day routines, and if you are smart you will not let it get to that stage without being proactive.  Make time for one another, stroke your loved ones hair, and when they are resting next to you, softly touch and caress their skin as they sleep.  Give of yourself showing them that in what you do honor’s them.  Being passionately interested in something positive within your life, sharing your life with them even when it’s the simplest  of things, paying attention to their needs over yours will all be appreciated by that special someone if there is a connection.  Take time for them, continue to be romantic through out the relationship, even when you have been with that person for years, since we all love to be loved.  Paying attention to your loved one is essential.  The list can go on and on, but the point is that we seem to lose our focus in the relationships we engage in that frankly can be good for us.  The fact that it didn’t work out the way we wanted may be due to the effort we placed into the relationship, and not so much that we were not well suited for one another, etc.

closeyoureyesnotyourheart

The human condition is a very peculiar system when dealing with the emotional/rational aspects of relationships.  The case of unrequited love, the possibility will not be the same.  Many of us have suffered through such trying times.  I have personally suffered but learned a great deal from my experiences with another not returning my affections.  As the reader has their own experience with this topic, you know very well how you felt, the effects it had on your life, and the intensity that you experienced it with.   The emotional challenges and the social challenges it placed on you.  The denials, the lessons you learned, and the choices you made during that time shaped much of who you are today.

As one author puts it…“I had discovered that there was something more painful than falling in love with someone who hasn’t fallen for you; hurting that person-hurting him and not being able to do anything about it.”
Elizabeth Chandler, Legacy of Lies & Don’t Tell

love_quotes

People crave attention.  Most people crave love and affection universally unless they are damaged soul’s that have sustained some emotional and physical trauma growing up.  In general they still crave what we crave, but the possibility for the many strange manifestations become astronomical.  Our affections can be manipulated, and shaped depending on the modeled type that we learn from.  As in the study conducted below, our attachment becomes imbedded into our learned behaviors.   In Attachment style: we develop styles of love that are based on expectancies developed from childhood experiences with caregivers: Secure; Anxious/ambivalent; and Avoidant (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Shaver, Hazan and Bradshaw,1988).

unrequited

Many have learned with experience through the process of having others in our lives that we deeply care about, that unexpected outcomes may occur.  It is self evident that caring deeply means that we tolerate, except, and forgive others who may unintentionally cause us emotional discomfort.

In the Three Dimensional View: The experience of love is a function of levels of intimacy, commitment and passion (Sternberg, 1988).  In the Table below, for each type of love, a plus sign indicates the presence of each dimension of love, and a minus sign indicates that the dimension is not present. Descriptions of what these combinations of the various love dimensions should tend to be like can be found in the following chart.

Combinations of intimacy, passion, commitment
Intimacy Passion Commitment
Nonlove
Liking/friendship x
Infatuated love x
Empty love x
Romantic love x x
Companionate love x x
Fatuous love x x
Consummate love x x x

.Triangular Theory of Love.svg

chart
the pendulum

Liza Misra, a psychotherapist, says, “Those who dwell on feelings of unrequited love are generally those who assume that true love is necessary for ultimate happiness and this need to love before one can feel happy is called dependency.  Interestingly, unrequited love can actually last a very long time, for many years or even decades – paradoxically the lover’s feelings usually reach a breaking point as they continue to deepen. Unrequited love may end when the lover receives reciprocation from the loved (consummation), develops less intense feelings for the loved (starvation), or channels his / her feelings towards another, more reciprocating person (transformation).”

 

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.   Helen Keller

 

We can’t always predict who will fall in love.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and how we meet this world and come to terms with it depends on us and our understanding.    Be assured that the universe will provide in times of need if one is receptive.  Sometimes it will be in the form of a movie that allows you to reflect differently on things, or it might be someone you meet that takes you by surprise.   The idea that we suffer when our love is not returned is ironic and does not wholly encompass love’s meaning.  Love is to be given freely without expectancy.  The highest form is agape, or unconditional and is given without expectation regardless of circumstance.  I myself have learned that one must move forward and allow the soul to heal.  To keep oneself attached to a love interest in an effort to win them over is futile.  The best thing to do is allow the soul to move on and experience positive energies elsewhere.  Like in the movie below….

one of the best movies with the theme of unrequited love
one of the best movies with the theme of unrequited love

Where the Ragged People Go


face of homeless

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station running scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know

Lie la lie …

Life on the street is a little different when your address is the street and does not apply to the postmaster, living from day-to-day on either what is collected from donations of others, or from collecting recyclables from the trash cans around the corner market. The impact of the homeless person on many people depends just on how they see the situation. We either choose not to pay attention and dismiss them, pity them, or host many different feelings and reactions to this growing population of the downtrodden. Often the surrounding environment does more to corrupt them from enabling them to pull themselves out of destitution.

Neighborhoods containing grocery stores, shelters, mental institutions, clinics, alleys, dumpsters, recycling centers, open parks, beaches, vacant lots, and outpatient centers will be frequented by such members of this population.

As a result of methodological and financial constraints, most studies are limited to counting people who are in shelters or on the streets. While this approach may yield useful information about the number of people who use services such as shelters and soup kitchens, or who are easy to find on the street, it can result in underestimates of homelessness. Many people who lack a stable, permanent residence have few shelter options because shelters are filled to capacity or are unavailable. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 12 of the 23 cities surveyed had to turn people in need of shelter away due to a lack of capacity. Ten of the cities found an increase in households with children seeking access to shelters and transitional housing while six cities cited increases in the numbers of people seeking these resources (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2007).

On an average night in the 23 cities surveyed, 94 percent of people living on the streets were single adults, 4 percent were part of families and 2 percent were unaccompanied minors. Seventy percent of those in emergency shelters were single adults, 29 percent were part of families and 1 percent were unaccompanied minors. Of those in transitional housing, 43 percent were single adults, 56 percent were part of families, and 1 percent were unaccompanied minors. Those who occupied permanent supportive housing were 60 percent single adults, 39.5 percent were part of families, and .5 percent were unaccompanied minors (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008).

Homeless in Rome
Homeless in Rome

The average length of stay in emergency shelter was 69 days for single men, 51 days for single women, and 70 days for families. For those staying in transitional housing, the average stay for single men was 175 days, 196 days for single women, and 223 days for families. Permanent supportive housing had the longest average stay, with 556 days for single men, 571 days for single women, and 604 days for women (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008). The homeless population is estimated to be 42 percent African-American, 39 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian, although it varies widely depending on the part of the country. An average of 26 percent of homeless people are considered mentally ill, while 13 percent of homeless individuals were physically disabled (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008). Nineteen percent of single homeless people are victims of domestic violence while 13 percent are veterans and 2 percent are HIV positive. Nineteen percent of homeless people are employed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008).

In addition, a study of homelessness in 50 cities found that in almost every city, the city’s official estimated number of homeless people greatly exceeded the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing spaces (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2004). Moreover, there are few or no shelters in rural areas of the United States, despite significant levels of homelessness (Brown, 2002). The Council for Affordable and Rural Housing estimates that about nine percent of the nation’s homeless are in rural areas (The Council for Affordable and Rural Housing). As a result of these and other factors, many people in homeless situations are forced to live with relatives and friends in crowded, temporary arrangements. People in these situations are experiencing homelessness, but are less likely to be counted. For instance, of the children and youth identified as homeless by the Department of Education in FY2000, only 35% lived in shelters; 34% lived doubled-up with family or friends, and 23% lived in motels and other locations. Yet, these children and youth may not immediately be recognized as homeless and are sometimes denied access to shelter or the protections and services of the McKinney-Vento Act (U.S. Department of Education).

photo courtesy of Lee Jeffries
Homeless in Manchester

Many forms of poverty exist in our world; poverty of the soul, various poverty-stricken minds, and the impoverished ridden communities of nations.

Poverty of the intellect, and the flawed logic of our bureaucratic administrators, legislatures, and politicians defies our confidence in governance, and is yet another example demonstrating that politicians cannot truly act to solve any human problems, and contribute greatly to the despotism that propagates market economies based on scarcity. Scarcity based economies have been the basis for our market system since the dawn of civilizations. Fiat currencies and the central banking corruption of governments around the world, is somewhat of a more recent development in the last 4 centuries probably germinating from around 1743 when Mayer Amschel Bauer, born Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Moses Amschel Bauer, a money-lender and the proprietor of a counting house placed over the entrance door a red sign. The Red-Shield known from the house of Rothschild.
A shell game that continues to divide and devour the municipal populations albeit: debt slaves of our current society are now a global phenomenon and only showcase just how the socialist countries fail to improve human life.

One limited measure of the growth in homelessness is the increase in the number of shelter beds over time. A 1991 study examined homelessness “rates” (the number of shelter beds in a city divided by the city’s population) in 182 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000. The study found that homelessness rates tripled between 1981 and 1989 for the 182 cities as a group (Burt, 1997).

Skid Row Los Angeles
Skid Row Los Angeles

A 1997 review of research conducted over the past decade (1987-1997) in 11 communities and 4 states found that shelter capacity more than doubled in 9 communities and 3 states during that time period (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1997). In two communities and two states, shelter capacity tripled over the decade.

These numbers are useful for measuring the growth in demand for shelter beds (and the resources made available to respond to that growth) over time. They show a dramatic increase in homelessness in the United States over the past two decades. Additionally, in the U.S. Conference of Mayors report from 2008, 19 of the 25 cities reported an increase in homelessness from 2007. More specifically, 16 cities reported an increase in the number of homeless families.

Also, due to the recent foreclosures crisis, homelessness has been on the rise. In the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s 2008 Report, 12 of the 25 cities surveyed reported an increase in homelessness due to foreclosures and another 6 didn’t have enough facts to be sure. Thirteen of these cities had adopted policies to deal with the recent increase in victims of the housing crisis, but 10 cities had not implemented new policies.

photo courtesy of Lee Jeffries
Homeless in Manchester

Hunger is a very powerful motivator, especially when one chooses to survive.

Propagation of the welfare mentality – A “hand out” is a different thing than a “hand up”. The notion for not feeding a man for a day by giving him a fish, but rather teaching a man how to fish to feed him for a lifetime comes to mind. The problems with an expanding government giving out entitlements to its people become complex and rife with ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

When the nation or state contributes to the problem, people tend to get angry. People who are actual members of the state, pay taxes, and follow the laws of our legislatures are often dumbfounded by the lack of enforcement for others who are given Carte Blanche and are even legal citizens of the state. They are angry because the governing body does not give them the same benefits that they freely give to the other portions that comprise our populations, such as for example, illegal immigration. Free education, free medical attention, and even today a competing chance to go to our universities (whereby illegal immigrant students are not paying the out-of-state tuition) is frankly cheating many American citizens for that chance to go to a particular university which is unequivocally immoral and egregious. If the university becomes impacted within a particular major, students have to delay their plans on graduation until those course requirements are finally met as students are rated on GPA on entrance into these programs. Or for those children who have to sit in larger and larger class sizes, have to observe the slow progress of the class instruction due to the English-speaking challenged students that comprises more and more classrooms around the country.

The anger one feel when others steal or rob from our communities creates tension within us that is sometimes overlooked.

I see the welfare state contributing to the problem day after day after day.

photo courtesy of Lee Jeffries
Face of the Homeless

On the downside, I see local authorities scratching their heads with their hands tied due to the lack of finding any resolution to this perennial problem. Most of the time they do not respond to calls taken from dispatch due to the nature of the call itself if it concerns a homeless individual that may indeed be breaking the law. Many who are taken into custody are released shortly afterwards (depending on the charges), due to overcrowded jails, and the fact that homeless offenders cannot be prosecuted successfully since they have little or no funding to pay any fines, most have little or no ambition to improve their condition, and some look forward to spend a night in jail to shower, eat and sleep in from out of the cold. Sadly I see the abuse of alcohol and drugs everyday, I see the theft and pandering everyday on my streets. Homeless people’s are divided into several different types. Some are even gang like in gathering although there are many that do not want to cause any trouble or harm to anyone.

I see day-to-day events that saddens, sickens, angers, and astounds me.

Which states have the most homelessness people?

According to PBS, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington State, and Washington, D.C. have the highest rates of homelessness, according to a study released in 2007 by The National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Well, how many of these are children?

Another estimate comes from 1996 data commissioned by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. It says that while most homeless are unaccompanied adults, the number of homeless families is growing:

  • 66% are single adults, and of these, three-quarters are men
  • 11% are parents with children, 84% of whom are single women
  • 23% are children under 18 with a parent, 42% of whom are under 5 years of age

homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-25homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-35homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-37homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-36

What are the greatest causes of homelessness?

Homelessness may be caused by a variety of factors, but the coincidence of increased levels of poverty and decreased numbers of affordable housing often to blame. Other notable causes may include:

  • Mental illness
    Many mentally ill homeless people are unable to get access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services. A 2005 U.S. Conference of Mayors study found that about 22 percent of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.
  • Domestic violence
    In 2005, 50 percent of the cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness.
  • Lack of healthcare
    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004 nearly a third of persons living in poverty had no health insurance of any kind. The coverage held by many others would not carry them through a catastrophic illness.
  • Substance Abuse
    While recent research questions the disproportionately high rates of alcohol and drug abuse among the homeless population, and no agreed-upon statistics exist, poor people who abuse substances are far more likely to experience homelessness than their sober counterparts.

homeless-map

homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-7homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-42homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-40

What have you done? Have you given clothes to the needy, food, money, or a hot meal? Many of us become skeptical and deter from helping because of the scams of people posing as homeless collecting money on the street partitions between busy metropolitan street lights holding out a cardboard sign. Many can be seen holding signs suggesting they are pregnant, have children to feed, or are veterans. Many of course are indeed telling the truth, and unfortunately many are not truthful which places the doubt into many potential benefactor’s minds after bearing witness to those purchasing alcohol in the local store. Those offering to wash your windshield in a parking lot, or those willing to do some type of work on the other hand may just be looking for a little help. When approached by someone looking for a handout, what will you do? Statistically, giving aid will only contribute to their habitual drug or alcohol use, a choice that one day you will have to decide on. Maybe, your contribution will help feed them, or clothe them. Let’s just hope our contributions are given to those truly in need.

Homeless in Manchester
Homeless in Manchester

Be the Change you Wish to See in the World


potential

There are negative forces in the world that we should probably not want to entice.  This negativity that exists tends to be attracted to other negative forces; be them in the form of a thought, or a manifestation of an attitude, feeling or even behavior in the physical world.  The mere act of thinking about such burdens can be a conduit for the convergent potentials of these sympathetic constituents.

In my investigations, it’s been a widely accepted principle by generations of wise thinkers, mystic’s and holly men that if one entertains negativity within their thoughts, negativity is more likely to follow these conscious meanderings.  Life is unpredictable and we often cannot eclipse the realities that result from the world abroad, yet at least we can compartmentalize our thinking and better manage what and how we choose to think.  The idea that we should balance our cognition’s and behaviors so that we do not become overly consumed in dis-favorable psychic energies that may prevent and deprive us from a fuller experience of this world is without a doubt our responsibility to execute.

Ergo, why not rejoice in the positive energies in the world by a celebration of the things that make us happy, joyful, and make us love to embrace life and feel alive.  This post is precisely exercising this point in my ability to speak of the many things that opens me up to a positive vibe in the realm of the universe to cherish what is good, what is healthy and in some ways life saving.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes
Silver white winters that melt into spring
These are a few of my favorite things!

Yes, you have to appreciate Rodgers and Hammerstein’s penning this Sound of Music’s featured classic that Julie Andrews immortalized in 1965.

We should all take an inventory of what makes us joyful, what brings pleasure to our lives and what we appreciate.  We should even more so tell others we love them, tell them we care for them, tell them we are proud and happy we have them in our lives.  Inhale Love; Exhale Gratitude!  We should focus on these things that help make life a little more enjoyable since the bitter tides of nature still seem to always remind us of our human defects and mortality.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Earlier in my life the outdoors and the wonders of nature were a huge attraction to me.  One of my favorite movies was Jeremiah Johnson in 1972 with Robert Redford, and of course  I remember watching Dan Haggerty in 1974 portray John “Grizzly” Adams in The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams on television.  I’m into anything with water…ocean’s, lakes, rivers, surfing, boogie boarding, skiing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, camping, hiking, climbing.  I even remember exploring and romping around in the ponds of my neighborhood canyon when I was a kid searching for pollywogs and frogs.

Listening to music and performing my music is a favorite pastime.  I’ve played guitar since as early as I can remember; maybe since the 4th or 5th grade or quite possibly before that.  I remember bringing my guitar to school everyday and practicing in the morning before classes began with a teacher led workshop in grade school, and sing and play songs like snoopy and the red Barron.  To this day, I believe I still have that mimeographed songbook we used when learning new songs sometime in 1973 or 1974.

Playing in a band has to be one of my all-time favorite things to do in this world.  Playing guitar and singing, songwriting has been a passion for many years.  This ability to self-express has taken hold of my inner desires and is a very strong impulse for me.

thought shaping

So much to be thankful for and enjoy as the list can be seemingly endless.  I won’t mention the pages and pages of blessings I can easily cite here, but I would be amiss to not give honorable mention to the wonderful women in this world.

So to pay homage to the song with my verse, I’d say it would sound something like this…

Movies in theaters with popcorn and licorice

Drama’s and good books, friendships and teachers

Poem’s and proverbs, writing articles for features

Nothing compare’s to my most precious of all

the return of a daughter’s love will forever be tall…

The Dark Souls of Humanity


war2index

This is a prime resource for unpolluted information

What is the History Commons website?

The History Commons website is operated by the Center for Grassroots Oversight (“CGO”), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. CGO was incorporated as a public benefit corporation in late 2006, and received its 501(c)3 status on February 26, 2009.

Can you briefly describe the website?

The website is a tool for open-content participatory journalism. It allows people to investigate important issues by providing a space where people can collaborate on the documentation of past and current events, as well as the entities associated with those events. The website can be used to investigate topics at the local, regional, or global level. The data is displayed on the website in the form of dynamic timelines and entity profiles, and is exportable into XML so it can be shared with others for non-commercial purposes.

What kind of information is available on this website?

  • Information about specific events. There are currently 20,251 events profiled in our database. Visitors can view these events by searching the database, or by browsing through timelines.
  • Information about specific entities. More than 5,000 entities are currently in the database. They include individuals, organizations, businesses, etc. For each entity there is an entity profile page which includes (1) information about the entity; (2) links to related entities; and (3) a chronology of all events in which the entity was an active participant. Visitors can view entity profiles by searching the database, or by clicking on one of the entity links at the bottom of an event.

Who creates the content?

Anyone who registers on the website and becomes a member of a timeline project can submit content. Membership is free. Once a user becomes a member, s/he can edit existing event summaries by clicking the edit link that is next to that event (the user must be logged in to see the edit link). In addition to editing existing events, users can also add new ones to the database. Registered users who add content are called “contributors.” Since the project is still beta, and since we do not have enough editors at this time, membership is restricted to a relatively small group of users.

Who edits the content?

Any qualified individual—an experienced contributor, professional editor, academic, journalist, graduate student, etc.—can become a content editor. Content editors, like all users, are volunteers. They verify the accuracy of entries submitted by contributors. Content editors may reject, approve, or edit and approve, submissions. After approving an entry, the entry is then copy edited.

Who copy edits?

Volunteers.

What is the purpose and significance of this website?

  • To provide a means for members of civil society to monitor the activities of powerful entities, such as governments, large corporations, and wealthy and influential individuals. In this capacity, the website should be regarded as an IT toolset that enables members of the public to operate as a sort of people’s intelligence agency. To initiate an investigation of a certain issue, entity, or event, a user first creates a timeline project. The user then becomes the project manager of that project and begins adding events, entities, and relationships. The data is displayed as a chronology. Project managers can define an unlimited number of category sets and categories that s/he can use to classify the events. This gives the data some structure and makes it more readable for visitors.
  • To further blur the line between readers and journalists. This website, like blogs and other applications that allow self-publishing, allows Big Media’s former audience to assume the roles of content creators, editors, and publishers.
  • To increase the efficiency of information production. This project is premised on the notion that collaboration in a networked “open-content” environment can greatly improve the efficiency and quality of information production in the public sphere as it allows contributors to build upon and improve the work of others in real time as part of a global community. This arrangement allows the production of information to take place at a level of efficiency comparable—if not superior—to that of the capital-intensive efforts of hierarchically structured private enterprises. The Center believes this improved efficiency is socially significant because products resulting from this system of production are inherently more democratic than those of the private sector since they are created by a much broader spectrum of interests and perspectives.
  • To increase the efficiency of information acquisition. Another objective of the Center is to increase the efficiency of research by reducing the tendency for researchers to duplicate the efforts of others. All too often, researchers—largely because of a fragmented historical record—needlessly spend a significant amount of time and energy bringing material together and identifying relationships, even though this work may have already been done by someone else. By collecting a mass of extensively cited data, this website should reduce the frequency of duplicated efforts.
  • To reduce the fragmentation of the historical record. This project seeks to help reduce the fragmentation of the historical record by connecting events whose temporal and spatial relationships are often obscured by a mass of contradicting and disconnected literature, the biases of the media, and the tendency for important past events to be relegated to the annals of forgotten history. By reducing the fragmentation of the historical record, this project hopes to reduce the amount of time it takes for the public to acquire a full and coherent picture of an event or issue.
  • To create a “history commons.” All the data in the History Commons database will be exportable into XML so it can be used by other individuals and groups for non-commercial purposes. As such the historical data collected by contributors and stored in the History Commons database will serve as a sort of commons for historical data.

I would like to learn more about open-content civic journalism. Can you refer me to any other sites?

  • Wikipedia: Wikipedia is a copyleft encyclopedia that is collaboratively developed using wiki software. Wikipedia is managed and operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. In addition to standard encyclopedic knowledge, Wikipedia includes information more often associated with almanacs and gazetteers, as well as coverage of current events. The content of Wikipedia is entirely created by its users. No single person owns the content; no article is ever finished. The license known as the GFDL is intended to ensure that everyone who can accept that license has the right to use and improve the article.
  • OhmyNews: OhmyNews is a South Korean collaborative media outlet run by professional journalists with the help of 26,000 citizen journalists.It has a readership of over 2 million people and publishes about 200 stories a day. Its impact has been profound, being credited by many with helping to elect South Korea’s new progressive president, Roh Moo-hyun.
  • BackFence: “Backfence.com is a new way to find out what’s going on in the world closest and most important to you: Your neighborhood. And the information is written by the people who know your neighborhood best: You and your neighbors.”
  • Center for the Public Domain: The Center for the Public Domain is a philanthropic foundation based in Durham, North Carolina, that seeks to call attention to the importance of the public domain and spur effective, practical solutions and responses. Its work is animated by the conviction that new legal regimes, social institutions and transparent technologies must be created to fortify the information commons. The Center for the Public Domain is enthusiastically committed to this mission—and to the use of innovative philanthropy and catalytic leadership to secure the future of the public domain.
  • Creative Commons: Creative Commons uses private rights to create public goods: creative works set free for certain uses. Like the free software and open-source movements, Creative Commons’ goals are historycommons and community-minded, but our means are voluntary and libertarian. The organization works to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them—or declare “some rights reserved.” Thus, a single goal unites Creative Commons’ current and future projects: to build a layer of reasonable, flexible copyright in the face of increasingly restrictive default rules.
  • Truth and Politics: TruthAndPolitics.org is envisioned as a clearinghouse for knowledge, an attempt to achieve economies of scale in the dissemination and organization of information, both current and historical, relevant to politics and public policy. The project’s primary long-term goal is to help individuals access the current sphere of knowledge more efficiently and avoid needless duplication of effort.

Where can I read more about civic journalism?

What people are saying about the History Commons project

“Absolutely amazing site. Genius. The mind boggles at the amount of work you must have put into it.” – Dean Cavanagh, UK

“This site is so brilliant. Thank you for doing it!” – Suzanne DeBolt

“I’d just like to say thank you. I kept myself quite late one night dreaming of a grand project like this, and you’ve done it. Brilliant. I’m glad there are people like yourselves out there.” – Will Swanson

“Your organization and your Web site truly realize the potential of the Internet for collaborative study, research, and understanding. This is one of the best, if not the best, resource on the Web for detailed, unbiased, and unfiltered analysis of recent events.” – Peter Orvetti

“… absolutely brilliant website, of great value to all! Splendid work.” – Nigel

“I just want to let all of you know what an absolutely amazing website History Commons is.  It has been the most informative site I have come across and I tell EVERYONE about it. I can not even begin to imagine the time and effort put into making this site what it is, and it amazes me how much it has grown over the past year (after finding it while doing research for an English paper for college.)  Keep up the outstanding work, I can speak for many people when I say it is appreciated and making a difference.” – Amanda Rae

“You’ve done a yeoman’s job and your research is important history. Really important. REALLY important. … You are verifying sources and events in a way that none of the majors have done, and which The Grey Lady (NYT) heretofore prides itself as the sole source of. Your work puts the NYT to shame.” – Janie Angus

“…yours is the very best site I have found.  And you gave me hope when it was hard to come by.” – Kathryn Welch, Blacksburg, VA

“I consider your project as one of the most important web-based projects aimed at combating what I call political amnesia.” – Morten Nielsen

“I have to tell you that your information is devastating in its completeness and I have already in about the first 15 minutes of reading the time line learned about Joe T. I didn’t know a damn thing about this character and the role he played in the propaganda of wmd. In short I want to applaud all that you’ve created .” – Debs Bleicher

“Your site is an incomparable resource tool on an important array of contemporary US policies. It is unique, irreplaceable, and of inestimable value.” – Michael B. Green, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Qualified Medical Examiner, Former Professor of Philosophy UT Austin.

“… reports prepared by [the History Commons] team were helpful in my work as a freelance political writer. I am an author of two published books and hundreds of articles in the best of Polish language political magazines.” – Henryk A. Kowalczyk

“I spend most of all of my available time researching material from the [History Commons website]. … I have found that the detailed and accurate information from the [website] can allow a user to build a comprehensive overview of things. There are no quick sensational propaganda write-ups, such as found on some … websites. The [website] is a long hard slog to the real truth.” – Malcolm Bush