Different Families

by George Opacic

A small electric vehicle backed into a driveway from a quiet neighbourhood street. The garage door opened as the EV slowly moved toward it.

Next door, a person was pushing his smoky, noisy lawnmower along their short adjoining fence. The young muscled man in a bright-coloured tee-shirt with a bold saying on the front (“OIL IS GOOD FOR YOU!”) grinned over at the driver in the EV. He shut off the gas engine to wait for his neighbour, Faheem, to emerge from the garage.

Faheem smiled at Lance as he walked to their fence. “How are you doing on this fine day, Lance? Is that old lawnmower still working?”

With an intense scowl, “What do you mean by that, Feemy?”

The neighbour has never approved of Faheem’s family moving in next door. When Lance and his family moved up from Houston to what they thought would be a better life in Kelowna, they didn’t expect the area to be harbouring what they called FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat). That may have been one reason to explain why they rarely went out, except to buy groceries. Bags and bags of groceries that consisted primarily of salty, greasy manufactured things. All of which constantly filled their garbage cans to overflowing.

In fact, Faheem’s family was from Montreal, where they had settled over a hundred years ago.

Lance’s family came from Venezuela with their toddler, Leonardo, to start a new life in Houston. In school, Leonardo had been picked on by everyone because he didn’t fit into any of the predominant cultural groups. He found his way onto the high school football team and became locally famous for his strong arm as a quarterback. That was where he was given his nickname, Lance. US Immigration caught up to the family after a jealous team-mate secretly complained to the authorities. The family had to quickly relocate to Canada.

Faheem’s family had moved west from Montreal when the grandfather was offered an engineering job in Vancouver. Faheem’s father decided to leave engineering after his firm was involved in a tragic event after a harried apprentice made a calculation error with the strength of gussets integral to a high-rise steel building.  He opened a tire shop in the Lower Mainland then expanded to the Interior. They did well in business.

The family had purchased a cabin in the Kelowna area so they were familiar with the different climate. Faheem’s father decided to move his family to Kelowna to grow their business further and to be closer to the comfortable cabin on the lake into which his grandparents had retired. Their now-elderly grandparents enjoyed the drier summers at their cabin. Faheem later took over operation of their Kelowna store while a cousin handled the stores they had around Vancouver. Faheem’s parents slipped into semi-retirement by cruising the world. Life was good.

After the senior grandfather passed away, grandma stayed in the cabin. Faheem and the young family visited her just about every weekend.

Shortly after establishing themselves in Kelowna, Faheem moved into their quiet neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kelowna after their second child was born. Faheem’s wife, Sharron, told him they needed more room for their first child, five-year-old Noor, and their infant son, Numa. Faheem let her handle the house purchase while he was occupied with supply chain issues at work.

The neighbours on one side, Chris and Elenore, were very busy with their respective careers. She was an executive who traveled often for her company, while he was a night manager at a local hotel. He spent more time in the bar than at home. They hired a gardener to do their lawn.

On the other side, Lance lived with his parents and did the lawnmowing, though it was a pro-forma cut with no work on border flowers or shrubs. Lance’s parents bickered too often. During their loud bickering, Lance would close his upper level bedroom door. Even after his parents retired to their separate corners, Lance kept his door shut. He became adept at a host of electronic games. As he approached thirty, his life became more and more digital.

The family that had owned Faheem’s house had been fastidious gardeners. Early on, Sharron worked very hard to keep up the front and back gardens. Her worsening arthritis made that a sometimes painful task so Faheem convinced her to accept the help of a landscaper for the heavier jobs. The result was a lovely front yard and a delightful oasis in the back – almost as pleasant as their cabin property.

This made Lance jealous, on the occasions that he emerged from his house. Indeed, Lance’s simmering distemper after a life of being bullied and of bullying, did not make him a pleasant neighbour. He took every opportunity to pepper his brief conversations with Faheem with disrespectful comments and needling about Faheem’s lifestyle.

So, Faheem avoided speaking with Lance whenever he could. But, that day, there was Lance, facing Faheem boldly, daring him to engage.

Calling Faheem “Feemy” was intended to be disrespectful, of course, and provocative. Faheem didn’t bite. He understood that the sentiment came from Lance’s difficult life. Lance had failed at high school football because of the family’s forced move. He had attempted to join a local motorcycle club but a single-vehicle crash and loss of the expensive bike had nixed that foray. He had begun to bet heavily online, with never a significant win. And he had these new neighbours for the past year whom he could blame for his life being in the shits.

Knowing all that did not make it any easier for Faheem to take more than a minute’s worth of derision from Lance.

“I’m sorry, Lance. I was just commenting on the huge grey cloud of smoke that’s being blown into our neighbourhood by your old lawnmower. Would you care to use our electric…”

“That piece of junk couldn’t even cut my grass! And the cord’d get the way!”

“Well, actually, it’s a battery mower. No cord. And it does have more than enough power to trim heavy grass. When Chris and Elenore went on vacation last fall, their gardener didn’t cut their grass so I did it for them a couple times, if you remember. For the first cut, the grass had to be almost fifteen centimetres…”

“Hah! Electrics can’t do anything as well as a good old gas mower!” He pulled the wrinkles down on his tee-shirt so it could be read easily. “And what the hell’s a sissy centimetre anyway? Talk English if you can, Feemy.”

Without further reply, Faheem shrugged and walked away.

That weekend, Faheem’s family went to their cabin as usual, to let grandma play with the newborn Numa.

With grandma cuddling Numa, Faheem sat with Noor under their backyard gazebo overlooking a quiet lake. Seeing a furry flash in the shadows under the shrubs near the lake, Faheem was reminded of an incident that happened at the cabin.

He chuckled, “That mouse might have been the one on the dresser that scared grandma so much, a couple years ago. She ran out the door with a scream and wild eyes and headed right for the car and grabbed at the locked door. She was terrified and yelling, ‘Open the damn door!’ I don’t remember grandma swearing before…” He grinned broadly.

“You remember that, Noor? You must have heard her and you ran to her with the keys. Grandma flung open the car door, jumped in and huddled, shivering in the back seat. She was going to stay there all night.”

“Was it cold?”

“No, it was a pleasant night. She was shivering because, well, some people do that when they’re really afraid.”

“Oh. Do you get really afraid like that?”

“Not in the same way, Noor.” He chuckled again. “Would have been funny if that was the night the mother black bear from the forest decided to take her two cubs up to the cabin to find some food. Ha ha!”


Chagrined, “Yes, sorry… But… I can just imagine if grandma looked up to see the bear licking its lips at the lunch in the back seat.” He suppressed a laugh.

“Daddy! That’s cruel! Did you leave the lunch in the car?”

“Sorry, Noor, no, it, ah, wasn’t there. Sorry, that was insensitive.” He couldn’t help grinning at the vision. “From the frying pan into the fire.”

Curious, “What’s that mean, daddy?”

“Well,” he thought for a bit, “it means, well, the frying pan might have been hot but the fire was much worse.”

A glimmer of understanding. “So… the mouse in grandma’s room was bad but the bear outside the car would be worse?”

He gave her a hug. “Exactly.” And he thought, So much better to talk like this than for her to paste her eyes onto a screen and watch flashing lights all day.

Noor was still curious. “But daddy, what would you do if you were in a frying pan?”

“Ah…” Caught off-guard, he had to think fast. “Well, being on a hot frying pan is not something to do…”

“But what if you were?”

He stared at the ceiling. “Ok. So, the first thing to remember when you’re in deep, ah, doo-doo, is to not let your mind go crazy. All the signals in your head at that time, in an emergency, can cloud, it can block you from seeing a way out. Like, what I would do is look for a safer way out. Like jump up to the handle and carefully walk away from the fire.” He was pleased with himself for having found an answer.

“Yes, but what if it was the Giant on the beanstalk who was holding the handle?”

“Well… The Giant has long sleeves on his shirt, doesn’t he?”


“So I’d run up his sleeve and start tickling him until fell into a fit of laughter! Then I’d scurry the h…heck out of there!”


Noor thought for a minute then nodded with a smile. “You’re so smart, daddy.”

Who Are You?

In the dusk, Gorman could have become lost. The gullies of the mountain’s higher slope conceal hidden dangers. Gorman, however, strides confidently. This was where he had spent most of the previous year as a recluse. He is making his way quietly along a familiar gully toward a plateau on the only part of the mountain that connects to the formidable range of snow-topped peaks behind.

Pinpoint lights above shine steadily. Gorman glances periodically to his right to confirm the location of the One Constant Star.

From the distance, a clinking sound carries in the breeze that comes down the gully. He stops. Another sound – a thunk. Then hoarse whispers, “Damn! Thought my robe was on the ground.” “It is, dummy. And so are the rocks.” “Quiet!”

Gorman stays still for several minutes, listening. Hearing no more noises, he carefully steps up the side of the gully toward his hidden cave. The moon shows a three-quarter face as he steps around an outcropping of the mountain. In a flash, an animal rips past him. Being too low for the moonlight to see at his feet, all he knows of the animal is that it is the size of a smaller dog and that it slashed at his legs as it ran past.

Alert to any other animals that may be in his hidden cave, Gorman lets his eyes adjust to the darkness inside while standing to the side of the low opening. He slowly slips a hand down to his calf. The leather front is tough but past the lower strap that holds the leather to his leg, the skin is moist. Sooner than he wants, Gorman reaches for where his candle should be on a ledge. It is not there. He pushes around at the base of the stony wall and feels what is likely the remains of the candle. He tries to place it back on its shelf. It flops over.

Gorman feels around the shelf for the flint and its frizzen. “Still here. Whatever that animal was, it gnawed into the candle.” He feels for the hole higher up where he had kept a ball of kindling. “Drier than ever. Good.” Placing the kindling into a small depression on the shelf, Gorman prepares the candle by rubbing down its base against the wall to be flatter, then readies the flint and frizzen to make sparks. A few hard, practiced knocks against the flint by the steel chunk produces bright sparks that fall into the kindling. The dry material catches fire quickly. Gorman sees that the candle has been eaten at both ends but the wick still pokes out. He lights the wick and, once started, he quickly puts out the small knot of fire in the kindling by pressing down with the frizzen.

Satisfied with his light, Gorman scans the cave for eyes that may be glaring him. None do. Then he slips down to lean against the cave’s inside wall. Undoing the strap that holds the leather piece to his leg, he sees blood dribbling from cuts made by the animal to the side of his leg.

“Damn. Have to use Auntie’s medicine.” He places the candle onto a boulder, first dripping some melted wax onto the top of the boulder, then quickly sticking the candle onto it. He awkwardly pulls off his personal bag from his back. The arm movement sends the candle into a quiver, shaking, and sending shadows around the cave and outside. Staying still with his arms raised, holding the bag, Gorman waits for the nervous flame to calm down. He watches its smoke rise in a straight line. Satisfied, he moves carefully to remove the bag and place it next to his uncut leg. He sorts through wrapped packages, pulling out a still-green leaf and a salve. Gorman finds a ribbon of scrap cloth that will reach around his leg twice. He uses the front side of the leaf to rub down the wound, cleaning off the still-leaking blood. He uses the clean side of the leaf to hold a small amount of salve then daubs it delicately against the scratches. Finished with the medicine, he wraps it with the cloth ribbon.

All this is being witnessed by Leeloo, hiding as still as a mouse from behind a shrub to where she had crawled from nearby after noticing the flint flashes.

Gorman leans back to relax. He knows he should raise his leg to reduce the blood flow. He knows this because it is one of the many things Auntie taught him. He mumbles, “I do love Auntie.”

Before Gorman can lift the leg over the other, the bush outside speaks to him. “I love my mother.”

Staying still, Gorman uses his calm voice. “Yes. Who are you?”

A shuffle gives Gorman a general direction of the voice. “I’m Leeloo. Who are you?” She half-rises, staying behind the bush.

He smiles. “I am Gorman. From the village down there.” He nods down the ravine.

“Are you the shepherd?” Leeloo rises to stand beside the bush.

Gorman shakes his head slowly, trying to make out who Leeloo is with the moonlight shining from behind her.

“My mother and the others want to thank him for the sheep. We want to help him with the herd.”

He shifts uncomfortably on the hard rock of the cave floor. “Leeloo, can you help me?” She takes a step forward. “I was scratched by an animal…”

“A marmot. It was probably frightened when you came to its cave.”

“Well, actually, this is my cave. I was going to let it sleep here if it played nice. I guess you are right, Leeloo. I must have frightened it.” He slowly shuffles to his feet, checking that the girl has not run away. “The candle is pretty frightened, too. Do you mind pulling it off that boulder and putting on its shelf, here?”

Leeloo steps to the cave entrance.

“Does your mother have candles?”

She shakes her head. “The light? No. We had to leave everything when we were chased into the mountains by those horrible monsters.” She starts to pout.

“Well, a candle is a really frightened little thing. If you breath in its direction, or wave at it at all, it will die.”

Leeloo’s eyes grow wide. “Die?”

“More frightened than any marmot.” Gorman nods emphatically. “It wants to stick to a rock and just while away its short life in peace.”

“Poor thing.” Leeloo takes short steps toward the candle.

“Remember, Leeloo. Don’t breath at it.”

She averts her head quickly. Stepping to the boulder, she is about to reach up a hand. “Will it die if I touch it?”

Smiling, “No, it enjoys your warm hand. Carefully snap it out of the wax at its feet. Yes, that’s good.”

Leeloo chances a face-on look at the candle in her hand. Breath from her nose causes the candle to quiver. “Oh!” The candles stretches away from her exclamation then settles down as Leeloo stays still.

“Good. Now let some of the wet wax on top drip onto the shelf and quickly place the candle’s feet into the wax. It will cool right away.”

She obeys, keeping the candle’s flame from too much disturbance. It is stuck, though not fully vertical.

“Should it be straighter? Will it fall over? Should I fix it better?”

Gorman has shuffled to the soft sand where he had slept for many months. Smiling, “No, that will be fine, Leeloo. Now…” He slips down and arranges himself so that his wounded leg can be elevated. “Tell me all about who you are and about your mother and the others.”

Here’s Us


This is a lovely picture from a science site (? Science) of the covid-19 virus.

I put together a rather rough video on how the virus thinks of our bodies, and how to keep it from becoming as bad as the 1918 Spanish Flu.

After we come up with a vaccine and we can escape from our fearful isolation, what are we as a world population going to do? Are we going to party as crazily as we did in the 1920s? Remember October 1929?

Petition to Support OK Attorney General

I have composed a petition to support Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Mike Hunter as he leads a coalition of 48 attorneys general against Big Pharma.

Can you please support the petition by going to this link:

Here is the petition:

The opioid crisis had several causes. The primary cause was the rampant greed expressed by Big Pharma, as detailed in the cases against Johnson & Johnson, and Purdue Pharma. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, supported by 48 other attorneys general, has taken on Big Pharma and won.

Even so, the people behind the corporations like the Sacklers are twisting and turning to try to hold onto their billions of blood money. The loud voices of the people must be heard saying, “That is enough!” The deaths of thousands is enough! The suffering of hundreds of thousands is enough!

Suckering the medical community into the role of shills for Big Pharma must stop!

Spreading addiction, destroying families, creating zombies of honest people must stop!

While opioids could have a place for alleviating suffering caused by certain diseases, opioids and benzodiazepines have been unwittingly prescribed for things like anxiety-related disorders. These are of the mind, not the brain. The brain may be treated with invasive measures but the mind should not be. That would be like taking a scalpel to a thought. That is not the way it works. Books such as Anxiety: Debug It Don’t Drug It, by Dr. Michael Catchpole explain the difference.

Send your support to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter by signing this petition. Help him carry on the fight for reason.

Punishing Your Body

The jaw-dropping cache of documents made public by the Washington Post – [paywall]- and reported further in Ars Technica – can hardly be believed.

The article starts with this paragraph: “Between 2006 and 2012, opioid drug makers and distributors flooded the country with 76 billion pills of oxycodone and hydrocodone—highly addictive opioid pain medications that sparked the epidemic of abuse and overdoses that killed nearly 100,000 people in that time period.”

Should these prescriptions even be given?

Any medication that punishes the body when one tries to stop taking it needs to be prescribed with extreme caution.  The current and tragic opiate crisis is a direct result of such caution not being exercised.  As I explain in my book Anxiety: Debug It, Don’t Drug It, published by Rutherford Press, the next shoe to drop will be the massive over-prescription of benzodiazepines (“tranquilizers”) for anxiety.  Many people say these drugs are even harder to give up than opiates. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has a proven track record as being far more effective for treating anxiety than do these medications, especially over the long run.   Both the rationale for CBT’s application as well as a step-by-step process for enacting it also are outlined in my book.  :Dr. Michael Catchpole.

Squids and Free Will

(from Quantum Events)

The absolute quiet wakes Simion with a start. Not wanting to let the least bit of heat out of his sleeping bag, he moves very carefully to face the pingo’s door. It looks OK.

The little ceramic heater is clicking its way toward cold.

He makes a minor but critical adjustment to a flap of blanket that covers the back of his head, up to his night toque.

Minutes, or tens of minutes, go by. Simion goes over in his mind what happened during the day; what he could have done better; what he wished he had been quicker about doing; the hot, monstrous mouth that was inches from his neck…

“This is going to be one of those long nights,” he mumbles.

“Dah,” answers Andrei.

“You awake too?”

“Heater wake me. Click, click, click. Never end. Get warm, get cold. You snore. Never end.”

Smiling, “I try hard. Perhaps if I lay on my back I can manage to let out some formidable snorts for you… At least it could keep the animals away.” Simion debates whether he should speak frankly. Something, anything to take his mind off that hot gaping mouth.


“Still here, my friend.”

Pensively, “Good… Do you ever wonder, ah, if people can hear, like, what…” He trails off.

“Like what what?”

“Things have happened to me, sometimes, so that I’m certain that, well, people can sometimes hear some of what I think.”

Andrei tries to remember the word. “Telepathy.”

“Yeah. Probably silly…”

“Know about squid?”

“Eight slithery tentacles; good camouflage; whales consider them a delicacy.”

“Speak with colour. Every cell on skin can change colour and, and texture. When nearby squid look sexy, colour shimmers in pattern. When food come in big bunch, squid tells other squid with shades of colour. When you catch squid for table, turn red ‘cause it mad as hell. Very smart – to control all of skin needs lots of neurons.”

“I didn’t know that, Andrei. I promise, the next time I have sushi, I’ll give it some thought.”

“What about colour-blind squid?”


“What if one squid see no colour? Only grey. This squid see other squid talk and do thing, but colour-blind squid only see grey. Think other squid know what they say ‘cause of telepathy. Must be something like telepathy, ‘cause language of grey say little. Everybody must speak with telepathy, he think. He is wrong.”

Simion is stunned by the analogy.

Andrei carries on, “Is like Asperger symptom.”

“Ok. Ok, but I might have a little bit of that, yes, but why can people hear me?”

Andrei ponders that. “If true, prove. Think word. No – need science study…” He is about to launch into a research proposal.

“Thanks, Andrei, but never mind. I’ve already gone through that at a university. Did an intensive four hours of trying to beam my thoughts at research subjects. Nothing. Then, when the oh-so-skeptical assistant prof was wrapping up and telling me about random chance and probability, and I was so tired I just wanted to go and flake out on a couch, I was thinking, what the hell time is it? And he looks at his watch and says, ‘Four o’clock.’ I asked him why he said that. He said, ‘Because you asked me.’ I said, no I didn’t. The argument went on for a while, but nothing good came of it. So I’ve never brought it up before…”

Now, Andrei is wide awake. He tries to make a conscious effort to not think – which, of course, entails strenuous thinking. Soon he slips back to sleep, exhausted.

Simion ponders the Aspergers analogy. He thinks that it explains a few things… Sleep.

Next morning, Simion is still thinking about the colour-blind squid. He puts it into a letter to Laura. His and Andrei’s letters are saved in a mail packet.

Another listless night for Simion in the pingo. It is warmer, so he rolls over with less care about his blanket.

Warmer! What’s wrong?” he thinks, sitting up with a start. “The amount of light bleeding in around the door looks ok . Andrei is… breathing ok . Did the weather change?”

Listening intently, he hears nothing out of the ordinary. He settles back down, causing the plywood under his sleeping bag to creak against the gravel.

Andrei’s head turns toward him slowly. “Shto?”

“Nothing. Too warm. It woke me.”

Now Andrei does a perimeter search with his head raised. “Ok?”

“Yeah, I think so. Must be warmer outside.”

“Dah.” He rolls to his other side.

Several minutes pass.

“You’re not sleeping, are you?”

“No, my friend. Adrenalin do good job to keep head spinning. Thank you.”

Pause. He carries on, “Jebem. What is? Smell wood cell burning.”

“Grey cells. Just… thinking.”


Simion sniffs. “About, well, I have this funny way of thinking.” He cuts off Andrei’s retort, “Yeah, and you’re crazy too, but it’s like…”

“Like vodka fog?”

“Shiraz is better for you. No. You know, I have this feeling/idea/certainty someplace in the back of my mind that if I can only take time to drag it out from back there, that there’s something that’ll be really important… That it’ll be an important contribution to how we see our society in the context of why we’re here.” He started slowly but ends with real feeling.

Andrei’s mind is thrown into visions of Paluntov saying the same thing, then he frantically races his mind in a dozen directions at once to avoid what he imagines is “transmitting”. Outwardly, Andrei is tensely stiff, focusing on a sliver of light from the door.

The lack of a voiced reply makes Simion think Andrei is ignoring him.

“Andrei! This is important!”

He relaxes a bit. “Three times important. Good job. Thank you – you make me sleep now.” He produces a snore, wide awake, still on the defensive.

A minute passes.

The effort is exhausting. Andrei rolls to his other side to calm down. He uses Simion’s technique of tossing out a non sequitur. “At night, I wake up sometime and think, ‘Bozhe moi! Is brilliant idea! Have to write idea down! Do in dark. In morning, words and scribble make no sense. Think grand idea in sleep. In morning light is all mish-mush. Mean nothing. Just nice dream… Go to sleep. Have more nice dream.”

Simion shakes his head. “Something weird is going on, Andrei. It’s not like I can hear voices in my head…”

Nodding, “Is good.”

“It’s that I find myself – I don’t know how; mostly when I’m tired – I’m actually inside somebody’s mind…”

Renewed panic scrambles Andrei’s thoughts. Simion waves at a buzzing sound around his ears.

“Is dangerous. Very dangerous, my friend.” Andrei sits up awkwardly, focusing on the outline of light around the door. He pulls his legs from out of the sleeping bag and sits on the box next to his bed.

Suddenly Simion feels a hot panic that he hadn’t felt since the three bullies from the block near his house caught him in an alley contemplating a twenty-dollar bill he’d found outside the local pub.

Heart racing, “What… what do you mean dangerous? Andrei?” Unwelcomed words push forward in his mind: cold death-trap, Russian soldier, rifle, middle-of-friggen-nowhere. He fumbles franticly with his sleeping bag, getting the extra blanket caught around his good arm.

Andrei turns toward him. Quietly, “Stop.”

Simion finally extracts himself, standing and breathing heavily on his side of the beds.

Staring back at the door, Andrei pulls out thoughts he never knew he had.

“Do not know if you hear me in ears or head. No matter – in pingo, in Mofin, attack by bear, we are friend, always.”

He turns again to face Simion. “Have poor English. But need to tell important thing. Man from Oceanographic Institute, Director Paluntov, very smart. More smart than anybody I know. He study philosophy, like you. He know much more.” Andrei smiles kindly at Simion. “Maybe you learn more in future.”

Simion is about to say something but Andrei holds up a hand.

“Paluntov tell me this philosophy very hard for understand. When he say this, I think he joke. Is impossible for simple Andrei to understand. Can say this. Philosophy guys always try understand what means person and what means community. And what connection is.”

Simion lights up. This is his favourite topic, with which he has turned many a party into stone.

“Ok. Like the presocratics, and then Sophists…”

“Only Sophis I know is last name Loren.”

Completely undeterred, Simion catches fire. “So the Greeks started the rational movement by questioning what an individual could do to change the course that their fickle gods had put him on. They came up with the idea that free will was something separate from the will of the gods or even the will of the community. And that it must be some thing that went along with your body but wasn’t really part of your body.”

“Paluntov have same eye like you. See thing not there.” Andrei, at this point, dearly wants to be speak and understand these concepts with Paluntov in Russian. He wants to engage intellectually with Simion, and yet the language barrier is palpable.

“The monotheistic religions…”

Andrei jumps in, “Tradition guys. Close-mind tradition…”

“Ok ok. You’re right. It was the traditionalists in the main religions that always took power away from the thinkers.” Simion shakes his head. “Why do we always end up getting led by closed-minded, as you say, power-hungry people with only enough vision to stay in control! Self-appointed gatekeepers!”

“You read this? My, my teacher say…”

When Simion is excited about a topic he forgets to be respectful of the other’s opinion. “I took this in university. Philosophy, religion, anthropology, biology, psychology, linguistics…”

“All interesting class. Problem I give you at start is why you want to jump both shoes into my mind?”


“If punch face, I punch better. Or put on mask. Can do nothing if you stomp in brain.”

“Huh?” Simion is taken aback, like someone just told him to get his hands out of a lady’s purse.

“Is hard.” Andrei tries to dredge up Paluntov’s argument about free will. “What you think is your private. What I think, my private place. Want no stomp. Want no eyes, comment, troll. Private… Friend tell friend, if want, what private thing is in mind. If not want, must be locked door. Yes-no?”

Chastened, Simion rolls it over on his tongue, nodding as the concept coalesces. “Your private thoughts are… private. We all have those things that we must keep that way. So, as you say, when a friend decides to tell you those private things, it is that person’s free will to do so.”

“Is not free will if someone see everything private. Is dangerous. Get you dead.”

Simion is having an epiphany. Stepping over this line, he looks back to see how blind he has been to people around him. Not simply in the matter of wanting to look into their minds. He sees that he was imposing his own will on them in so many ways, without giving it a thought.

“Respect is at the heart of it.” He nods again. “Everybody has their own private thoughts and their own desires. If they want – if they want – to engage with me as a friend, it is their free will to make that decision.”

They sit on their boxes thinking it over.

Andrei flashes an impish grin. “Not all have enough brain for free will.”

Time to Recycle (or Dump?)

Pile of Letters

Isn’t the internet great? Anything you want to know is right there at your fingertips!

There are a few problems. Wherever people and their ideas congregate, somebody wants to make money out of it. So, there are ads coming out of your keester, hucksters trying to spam/phish/scrape/? your i.d. and your id. Grumps and haters YELLING AT YOU!

And there are just too many new words and terms to keep straight – ah, correct.

We all have vague memories of some really neat stuff that we read. Somewhere. Sometime. Maybe. If only all that miscellaneous disconnected data would just stop flying at my aging greying cells!

Where was I? Oh. Recycling. Well here are a few facts that were posted in the last century. They have each been debunked – which is to say, “proven to be factually untrue”. But that won’t stop the internet from recycling them (wry grin):

In the 1500s baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.  The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children — last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”.

True or false?

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old”.

True or false?

If you would care to see the debunkers at work, check out these two sites:


“History Magazine”

Discovered in a Scream

What is your breaking point? Perhaps it is not a point for you. Do you bend under adversity, then slowly bend again, then again? Until the world appears upside-down?
Ben found his mind so contorted by what others did to him that he was not certain of reality.
It took the simple nature of a garden, finally, to heal his lifetime of deep wounds.
Here is an extract called Fairies and Little People
One day, crossing the footbridge, I saw an “enormous” fish and ran home to tell my dad. The next morning, the fairies left a packet of fishing hooks in one of their circles in the garden.
My dad helped me dig for worms. Off I went to the bridge, pole and string and baited hook in hand. Before long, a sudden tug pulled the rod from my hand. The enormous fish swam off, line and pole in tow, never to be seen again.
The little people were elves, gnomes and leprechauns who sometimes played tricks like hiding Daddy’s watch or Mommy’s lipstick. When they came to play with us in our bedroom under the eaves, our parents sometimes caught us out of bed. I’m not sure about my dad, but Mother didn’t believe us when we told her about the fairies taking things. She couldn’t see them, of course, and smacked our bottoms really hard for lying. When my sister and I came down with German measles, Mother hired a nurse to look after us. Nurse kept the fairies away. I still looked for them when we went for walks in the woods. I looked for them at the bottom of the garden. But they never came back.
I can still picture the elves. They were smaller than my sister and me. Though they didn’t look like the pictures of fairies with wings we’d seen in books, we knew they were fairies. They seemed older than we were: much older. Their clothing was ragged and colourful. They all wore tiny cloth shoes with pointed toes and hats with small feathers.
The fairies laughed and chatted in happy, bright voices. They sang nonsense songs in a strange language. We tried to join in and ended up falling down in fits of giggles.
Their laughter was high pitched, like Christmas bells. Sometimes, they flew to the window to see if grown-ups were coming. When they danced around Naomi and me, we danced with them. Then they would spin in a circle and disappear in a puff of sparkles. Sometimes, they got really small and slipped through the crack under the door.
Childhood was an adventure in all kinds of weather. On winter mornings when we woke up to snow, we went on long walks and got buried in enormous drifts. Then the snow melted and we got stuck in the mud. In summer, we went with our parents to pick mushrooms in the cow fields. Or we picked blackberries and wild gooseberries. Then on a most exciting day, Dad hitched the caravan to the family car for our trip to the seaside.
Oh, how I remember my first view of the ocean. When we reached the top of a hill I felt such wonder at the beauty of the blue sea, and miles and miles of long, sandy beaches. With spades and buckets, we dug in the sand. Our dad helped us build gigantic castles. We got sunburns that blistered and peeled and Mom had to rub our backs and legs with Vaseline.
The fairies left money in a wishing well in Wales. Naomi and I bought ice cream and liquorice all-sorts with it, and Dad bought petrol for the drive home. I sensed, even then, that it was bad luck to take pennies from a wishing well. Our lives would change because of it. Of course, Naomi and I never did tell.
But things did begin to change.

“Discovered in a Scream”