Gray Matter of the Modern Brain overloaded on technology
Media and Culture class has been an educational exercise in grasping the synergy of history, technology and culture with the resulting effects on society. The great expansion of man’s progress, from sitting around a fire telling stories to the computer age, is cataloged somewhere on the World Wide Web. The computing cloud of information is available to an increasing number of people. The task is to find meaning in the sharing of that knowledge.
William Sikes, the author of “Technology: Taking Over the World and Our Lives,” cites a study indicating Americans spend over nine hours watching television, using the Internet, and depending on cell phones daily. He posits or contends this dependence on technology diminishes social skills, adversely affects education, and creates a lazy society. Based on research, determine if this argument has merit.
Since submitting the final project hypothesis that the above statement has merit, two books, numerous articles and all assigned chapters in the text have been read and considered. The answer is complicated and part of a new age culture. The argument has merit; however, the new technologies have benefits as well as drawbacks. The answer is somewhere in a growing computing cloud of information somehow connected on a World Wide Web, and its meaning is as different and varied as the users who view the content. “Our thoughts are powerful creative forces floating in the ether ready to accomplish their purpose when they are concentrated and consciously directed.” PY
Daniel G. Amen, M.D., posits in his latest book, Magnificent Mind at Any Age, that excessive use of; TV, video games, computers, e-mails, the Internet, instant messaging and cell phones, is bad for our brains. Learning is adversely affected in the development stage, “For every hour a day that babies eight to sixteen months old were shown educational videos they knew six to eight fewer words than other children,” according to Amen, citing a report in the Journal of Pediatrics (Journal of Pediatrics 151(4):384-368). He goes on to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for children younger than twenty-four months. Infants and toddlers learn language socially from interaction with other human beings, and in experiencing the real world around them. In another study, the chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is increased ten percent for every hour a day of TV watching (Pediatrics 113(4):708-713). Factors in brain illness including strokes and Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to the higher body mass indices, lack of physical fitness, cigarette smoking and increased cholesterol found in TV watching for 1000 children born in 1972-1973 in New Zealand and followed to age 26 (Lancet 364(9430:257-262). Brain health and learning appear to be affected adversely by excessive TV use. The Office of the Surgeon General suggests limiting TV and other screen time to less than two hours per day (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html).
Doctor Amen has found thru brain imaging that video games use the basal ganglia area of the brain. This area is one of the pleasure centers of the brain and excessive use of these games can hook people similar to drug dependence. Social interaction is affected when excessive time is spent using video games. School work, job performance and interaction with others diminished (Amen, 2008 pg. 36). Studies from the University of Missouri found a connection to aggression and violent real-life situation video games. Delinquency increased and academic performance decreased with increased game use. An increase in violent thoughts and behavior was also found along with a decrease in helping behavior. None of this helps education, social interaction, or brain health (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(4):772-790, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2005 Nov 31).
Excessive use of computers, Internet, instant messaging, and cell phones can become addictive and have an adverse effect on social interaction, communication and connection. Productivity at work and family interaction can be adversely affected by use of modern mass media technology. Time spent using technological connections take away from face to face communication. According to Amen (2008), “drowsiness, tiredness and an increasing inability to focus reached startling levels,” and “research subjects’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges” with each new e-mail. In studies at King’s College, London University, average IQ loss was 10 points in people who felt a need to reply to each e-mail with resulting constant changes of direction and focus.
Answering cell phones or text messages in the middle of having a face to face conversation can hurt relationships. The person present is taking the time to connect and it is disrespectful to put them off to answer an unknown and less personal technical connection. The hierarchy of focused commitment in communication starts with face to face. Focused commitment decreases and is less focused with the use of voice, e-mail and text messaging. In synchronous communication language can be enhanced by inflection, body language, facial expressions and the sensing of emotion. Asynchronous communication as in e-mail and texting is convenient because both sender and receiver do not have to be present at the same time, however, it is impersonal and emotion cannot be conveyed (Snyder, Lawrence. 2008). Other drawbacks with Internet, e-mail, and texting include uncertainty in emphasis, loss of conversational pace, and an increase in ambiguity. Emoticons are insufficient in conveying emotion,JL they are cute but do not indicate how happy and sad, or why the emotion is felt. Blogging (web logs) is an innovation of Internet use which connects people in on-line discussions over subjects of common interest. Information is shared but the quality does not always match the quantity. Some bloggers post well thought out and researched opinions, sometimes with Web addresses for checking. Others post impulsively, without thought or backup information. Learning in this kind of Internet environment is possible but never guaranteed. The positive is in the sharing of language and posts, with the only cost being the time you invest. The blogs are democratic and open to opinions from anyone who logs on and participates. Negatives are found in a stunted conversational pace and ambiguity of message.
Positives involved in Information Society Technology are that computers and Internet access with a broadband connection make available massive amounts of information to search, review, and share. Internet access is available and used by an increasingly large population of individuals, groups, governments, organizations and businesses. The connections have the potential to close distance in seeking communication with people of all nations, races, religions and political bent. The Denver Public Library (DPL) is Tapping Into Media in recognition of how libraries need to compete for attention with advances in technology use. Embracing mass media helps to broaden a libraries appeal. Podcasts are created by teens at the Boulder Public Library which provide news, reviews, and interviews. The Public library of Charlotte, NC, has videos produced by teens and a dedicated YouTube channel. Libraries are tapping into the great expanse of audio and video on the Web to reach out to computer and internet users. DPL has a children’s story podcasting service. The library is branching out to include YouTube, Facebook and Myspace pages. Expanding to the Web and adding Audio/Visual content reaches out to computer and Internet users and draws them into the resources a library offers. Libraries physical hours are limited; however, the Internet is open 24/7 creating a time shifting of programming which can be accessed at the convenience of the user (Library Journal, v133, n15 p22-25 Sep 2008).
Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch, provides an apt and amazing review of how mankind developed and adapted new technologies, and how those technological advances affect modern culture. A big switch is occurring with print and audio visual media moving to digital form. Carr mentions Yale professor Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Nations. Benkler cites three technological advances which make the big switch possible. 1) The physical machinery is available in advanced economies. 2) The raw materials are public goods including existing information, knowledge and culture. 3) the Internet provides the platform to use the goods. These advances allow individual access to the goods in order to improvise, collaborate and create (Carr 2008 p 140). A benefit of Internet technology can be found in what businesses call “crowdsourcing,” the practice of the masses producing without ownership of the products they create through collaboration. Crowdsourcing is a mixed benefit as knowledge is gained and shared, but jobs are lost and the wealth gap grows wider (Carr p 142). The newspaper and publishing industries are struggling to adapt and shift to Internet versions of their products. Many jobs are lost to the information available on the Web. The Web also spies on individuals, using cookies to track sites visited and products reviewed and purchased. The search engine Google uses algorithms to reach deeper as the store of data increases. Privacy loss is an adverse effect of Internet use. Information available in the World Wide Web is obtained easily; however, the data has no guarantee of being correct or authentic. Playwright Richard Foreman discusses the old ideal of a “highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the west,” which he fears is being lost to current technologies. He feels that the complex inner density is lost to an overload of information, instantly available. Foreman fears we are turning into “pancake people—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information….” (Carr p 226-7)
“Sherlock Holmes, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, often amazed his loyal friend Dr. Watson by drawing a correct conclusion from an array of seemingly disparate and unconnected facts and observations. The method of reasoning used by Sherlock Holmes is abduction” (Patokorpi, 2007). Information Technology must be used carefully as we look for clues on the Web by following links just as Sherlock Holmes uses clues. Paths are made by focused searches recorded with technological tracking such as bookmarks, RSS feeds, and the drop down history list. Information detectives need to find information and meaning in that information by forming a feedback loop. The data must be found in replication by following other links to other sources and clues. Forward or back, facts need to be checked for accuracy to find truth in the search. The answer to the question, does Computer/Internet use make us lazy, can be found in this discussion. Information is found easily with the push of a start button and aimlessly following links. Good information requires detective skills and work, in a constant feedback loop of checking and revising (Patokorpi, 2007).
The effects of Information Technology on the family are both positive and negative. Families of old sat near the fireplace, single radio, or TV sharing time together. Today’s families spend less time together but stay connected with technology. A summary, from a recent study of 2,252 families conducted Dec. 13, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, covers the subject well. 1) Technology enables connectedness with cell phone, texting and internet experiences. 2) Families are less likely to share meals and have less leisure time. 3) Cell phone allows parents to touch base and coordinate. 4) Internet use can have shared “Wow” moments. 5) Those surveyed include a majority who believe their family life is as close as when they grew up. 6) The new tools help people stay connected with friends and family, however, technology use blurs the line between work and home with Internet, cell phone, blackberry and texting taking work home and taking time from family. 7) TV use has decreased as Internet use increases. 8) People have less time for relaxing (Kennedy, Wells, & Wellman, 2008).
Information Technology allows all connected to play but few will reap monetary rewards. Connection can be found with communication distance instant over miles. Physical space is increased with face to face connections decreased. Excessive use of technology can have adverse effects on brain health, social connection, family time, and loss of jobs. Knowledge is available but must be carefully researched and used. Privacy must be guarded. Connection is maintained with cell phone, texting, blackberry, computer and Internet use. Nuance in sharing, and emoting face to face lessens. Democracy may expand or government may seek control. There are more questions in flux than fully answered. The technology is relatively new and expanding. The written word remains important because the new data storage requires electricity, a big switch which could take the advances back to old ways. The talented visionaries of our past have developed concepts and ideas while staying warm with others around a fire. The written word recorded and spread that knowledge to others. Today a crossroads, a cusp has been reached. Good or bad, change is here, man and society will adapt in a giant feedback loop started by firing up the computer and sharing separately around the monitors.
Carr, N. (2008). The Big Switch, Rewiring The World, From Edison to Google. New York, NY, USA: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Daniel G. Amen, M. (2008). Magnificent Mind At Any Age. New York, NY, USA: Harmony Books, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.
Jeske, M. (2008, Sep.). Tapping into Media. Library Journal, v133 n15 p22-25 . USA: 2008 Library Journal, Reed Business Information, Reed Elsevier, Inc.
Patokorpi, E. (2007). Logic of Sherlock Holmes in Technology Enhanced Learning. Educational Technology and Society, v10 n1 p171-185 . IAMSR, Åbo Akademi University, Joukahaisgatan 3-5A, 20520 Åbo, , Finland: Educational Technology & Society Peer Reviewed Journal.
Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 9). Is Clicking Around Making Us Stupid? What does information technology do to our brains? NH, USA: Pothier, Term Paper IT 100.
Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 2). Language and Information Technology. NH, USA: Kenneth Pothier, Term Paper, ENG 350.
Richard Campbell, C. R. (2008). Media & Culture an introduction to mass communication. Boston, New York, USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Snyder, L. (2007). Fluency with Information Technlogy. Boston, San Francisco, New York, USA: Addison Wesley.
 Inner Reflections 2009 Engagement Calendar-Selections from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda
Person in the Water—Dedicated to the Fire Fighter/First Responders who gave their lives responding on 9/11/2001—a 911 emergency
The twenty-four hour tour of duty was just beginning. After radio check the crew of three from the outside satellite station had started their assigned tasks around the house. The officer was cutting the grass, the pump operator checking and cleaning the truck and equipment, and the back step firefighter cleaning the station. Bells and radio signal draw immediate attention, and station details are no longer of importance.
The call comes in with two bells and the announcement over the Personal Address speakers “Person in the River,” followed by closest location reported and response assignment.
Crews of First Responders head out the door; the closest crew of three arrive on scene where they are signaled by waving arms of the location. Just past the old stone arch bridge the river bends by a grassy field and is bordered by a line of trees and brushy growth, a place where there is a view of the river and shelter from the summer sun. A place where the old man who waved us over had been fishing until a passing pleasure boat transiting the river sighted someone floating in the water. It is a place where a homeless person known to the district fire company and police had been living recently.
Years of experience tells the initial crew that it is too late for a rescue. The officer unofficially announces a death over the radio with the transmission, “To all responding companies, this is a recovery, repeat, this is a recovery.” The response continues and the drill is the same as a rescue but subtle sorrow replaces urgency as another pump, ladder truck with rescue boat, command car, police local and state, and ambulance crews arrive. first responders all and the true meaning of 911 where calls for help of any kind are answered and dealt with professionalism and respect no matter who you are, alive, recently departed or those grieving and left behind.
The crews set up on shore at the opening as an inflatable life ramp is filled from one of the same air tanks used to breathe at fires; one firefighter in a bright orange Survival Suit enters the water tethered to shore by a colorful floating safety rope, a ‘Go Rescue’. The firefighter moves quickly and without hesitation. He is the first human contact for the victim. Carefully, condition and death are confirmed. The colorful line is delicately placed around the floating man and held together with a carabiner connector. If it were a rescue the firefighter would also be connected and wrap his legs around as the line tenders pull rescuer and victim to shore. The reality of a recovery is now in some waiting as the colorful line connects victim to shore, to the place where he watched the river.
Yellow hazard tape is set up around the scene to keep onlookers at a safe distance and to cordon off the scene until state investigator, photographer and coroner’s pickup van arrive. The cause of death, ruling out foul play, and recovery await their arrival. The first arriving responders stand by and stand guard over the man in the water near the river bank. We believe him to be the homeless person. Alone in life, he is now the center of attention and conversation to the onlookers outside the tape. The old man who waved us to the scene has strangely gone back to fishing, not knowing what else to do, as helpless as the victim and first responders without a rescue. The ladder company has checked the shore and river in the rescue boat for other victims with nothing found. The family transiting the river in a pleasure boat is questioned over the same cell phone the 911 came in on. They continue down the river to safe harbor and out to the ocean for the day. The day though sunny and hot is not as bright and warm for any of us who are witnesses, waiting, or standing guard. Who is the man in the water? Center of attention in death, he is tethered to land in a subtle noninvasive way by a lifeline. His life and soul passed probably a day earlier. Troubled spirit lost long before today? Who is he?
Clues and Questions
The water he watched from the riverbank had held him in a cool embrace and protected him from the start of a heat wave which followed violent thunderstorms. Embrace released, he now floats facedown like the lily pads across the river hugging the opposite shore in sunlight. His black sunglasses were found in a private place hidden from sight. Next to the glasses a bottle emptied of cheapest rum. He was wearing tee-shirt and shorts, black belt, white sneakers. He was about the same height as the homeless man who always stayed on the shady side of the river by the grassy field. The line of growth between field and river offered cover and privacy from critical eyes. The First Responders had helped him many times in past weeks. Calls for ‘person down’, had brought them to various locations to help him up, tend to injuries, get some history and give a little pep talk before he was taken to the local hospital—cleaned up treated and put back on the street. –911 responders get to know the regulars, ‘frequent fliers’, they know the present problems and get hints of troubled pasts. The regulars come and go, always to be replaced by another broken spirit standard-bearer. First responders can only help with immediate medical and emotional needs. First responders can not heal broken spirits and find lost souls. But they try! The clues point to the homeless man, the questions remain. The field, wood and river are the homeless person’s companions without judgment or criticism. A place where swans occasionally transit the river, nature in its perfection and the human nature of imperfection in uncomplicated unquestioned connection.
Who knows what defeats the spirit? What starts the downward spiral of hope and loss of faith? Why do so many get lost in a bottle, a drug, a bet, abuse and trauma? How the human nature of imperfection can let us think that we can find our spirit in imbibing substances? That we can find solace in anything that brings relief no matter how temporary or futile? Why did the homeless person leave the perfection of nature, walk past the health food store, the coffee shop and go instead to the liquor store? Was his last walk back to his natural shelter, the last spiral down the bank in drunken stupor into the cool embrace of his river? Did he die alone and frightened during the violent thunderstorm?
The investigator arrives and agrees with what the First Responders already know. The photographer arrives and takes his pictures of the scene. Both have a tough job in giving some closure and finality to the task at hand. Outside the tape the onlookers, bored, find connection and chatter with others who pass by and stop. They are told to move on, to move back, that this is nothing they want to see. Some of them have their children with them in a place no child should be. They move on but still gawk from a distance so the ambulance is moved closer and in their way. Bored curiosity and open indifference could be better spent. Children should be playing! Did the onlookers care at all when the man was alive? How many times was he told to move on, to be someone else’s problem? To find shelter in nature where questions were not asked and some peace found.
The minivan/hearse arrives. The coroner’s body recovery person is a young man wearing shorts, tee-shirt, black belt, and white sneakers. He is so relaxed and casual that his identification is checked. Already too experienced at a ghoulish but necessary job he covers up in a throw away white coveralls suit and the end of the recovery nears.
The line is cast to the rescue boat and they move to slowly bring contact with shore. Fire fighters and the ambulance crews grab the rope, belt, clothes and sneakers and carefully move him to a white body bag on the bank of the river. Pictures are taken, it is his tattoo, we cut open his back pocket to remove the wallet, and it is our homeless person, though with loss of life, spirit and soul he bears no resemblance. The bag is zipped up and six of us in procession move his body with care and respect to a stretcher. He is placed in another black bag, zipped in and strapped down to the stretcher. The responders are silent except for the commands to move and the sound of zippers and click of strap connections. He is moved into the back of the minivan hearse and the driver who is dressed the same but for the color of the tee-shirt leaves the bank of the river, drives across the grassy field, by the health food store, coffee shop and liquor store. He carries our once frequent flier over the river across the old stone arch bridge and along the sunny side of the river to highway and mortuary. The rescue boat crew follows the river back to the launching point and return to service as a Ladder Truck Company One. The onlookers disperse and all but the initial crew move on to other calls and duty. The first due company removes the hazard tape and retrieves the colorful lifeline. First to arrive are often also the last to leave. They return to quarters and the details of fire house keeping, cutting grass and mopping floors, checking equipment to ready for their next call, the next run out the door.
The Downward Spiral
We know from past calls that he is from the same neighborhood. We know he once owned a house in another town and lost it. He grew up not far from the river. He lost home, house, business, jobs, cars and license. He made and lost friends family and connections. He played ball on the grassy field as an adolescent, hung out as a teen. He returned to his old neighborhood because he did not know where else to go. He returned for the memories of that childhood to teen home as a lost adult. Lost in a river of troubles he ended up in the water’s cool embrace. He found fleeting relief in a bottle but no answers. He slowly buried his spirit long before he became homeless. His troubles were just the marking posts of the loss.
Will the trees, field and river remember his passing? The river flows to safe harbor to ocean where it is freed to be part of the whole. From the ocean waters clouds rise and become rain. The lake fills drains to the river that flows by the shore. It washes a wooded bank by a grassy field. The rain splatters on lily pads as swans seek shelter where a boy played and a homeless person lived. The water carries a spirit and soul to find restful peace.
Who Is The Homeless Person?
The person is Everyman, who everybody knows and everyone has inside. He is in every family, in every town, village and city. He is everywhere we go.
He is us! He is the homeless guy, the alcoholic, the druggie, the lost soul, the village idiot, the gambler, the abused and the abuser, the trauma and the tragedy. He is your neighbor, your friend, your partner, your spouse.
He is the human being, the spirit, the soul, the body, the connection to us all, to the whole that we are all a part of and he is everyman. He is everyone who can see, feel, and care for the nature of it all.
He is hope, faith, love, charity.
He is connection, communication, caring, empathy, sympathy and warmth. He is commitment and truth. He is all of us and he is a broken spirit and a lost soul without us.
Up until the beginning of winter I lived in Raymond, N.H. and saw turkeys everyday. On day early in the morning the Tom jumped out into the road and I stopped. To my amazement he proceeded to fluff up all of his feathers and produced an imposing figure to see. He then told his brood of hens to cross the road. He yelled at the last couple to hurry, closed up his feathers and followed his entourage into the woods. Weeks later the following article appeared on the first page of the UNION LEADER newspaper. I had not seen TOM in awhile and was saddened by the thoughtlessness of those involved. We must respect other living things and allow them to live in peace!
Vehicles go off-road to run over turkeys in Raymond, Kingston
By JASON SCHREIBER Union Leader Correspondent
RAYMOND — Two recent cases of wild turkeys intentionally being run over by vehicles have ruffled some feathers. “Unfortunately, it’s more common than we’d like to see,” Fish and Game Conservation Officer Chris McKee said.
McKee is investigating separate incidents in Kingston and Raymond that left four wild turkeys dead. Two people were recently charged in connection with allegedly mowing down three wild turkeys with a vehicle on Hunt Road in Kingston. McKee said the vehicle was driven off the road to strike the turkeys.
In mid-November, a neighbor told authorities that he saw a man in a sport-utility vehicle drive onto a private field on Harriman Hill Road in Raymond and attempt to run down a turkey flock. “He tried to chase it down, but was unable to catch up to it,” McKee said.
One of the turkeys was struck and killed near an area along Harriman Hill Road where a school bus drops off students. McKee said the man who witnessed the incident picked up the dead turkey so the children wouldn’t be startled when they arrived at the bus stop.
The turkey killing has angered Harry and Sally Richard, who own the property where the turkeys were chased. “It’s very frustrating. I love the turkeys. They’re like pets to me,” Sally Richard said of the flock of nearly 50 turkeys that often hangs out around their property.
Intentionally killing wildlife with a vehicle can result in a charge of “unlawful method of take,” McKee said. The charge is a violation-level offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. A person could also be charged with reckless operation, he said.
Last year, Ian Gamble of Francestown was issued two violations for taking a turkey with a motor vehicle and for hunting without a license after he allegedly raced through a flock of turkeys along a road in Greenfield. One of the turkeys was killed in the incident, which was captured on video.
McKee said he sees incidents like these about once or twice a year. “Apparently they’re just getting their kicks out there,” he said. Harry Richard doesn’t think it’s funny. He said the tire marks from the turkey chase are still visible in his field.
“I’d like to see them caught and punished,” he said. According to Fish and Game Department statistics, there are 40,000 wild turkeys in the state. From 1854 to 1975, wild turkeys were extinct, but a flock of 25 turkeys released in 1975 restored the population. In 2012, hunters took 3,873 wild turkeys.
All pictures taken with a NIKON D50 digital camera
Pawtuckaway Wetland Beavers
I am aware of our mortality and strive to make the most of each day. We can’t take it with us so we must walk our paths with love, hope and understanding.
The paths taken on walks in differing season give me pause to take in the lives of some of my natural neighbors. The Beaver population in the wetland system of Pawtuckaway State Park has fascinated me for the years lived in its midst.
Enjoy the simple things and you can feel the grand connection to it all. The old stone walls seen all thru New Hampshire and New England were put in place slowly, stone by stone walls were made day by day.
They framed old forest and field, stream river and lake shores.
The stone walls were made with great effort and persistence. They held the makers hopes and framed their dreams. The walls are not unlike the beavers den and winter food supply, it was all part of survival.
We can’t take it with us, but just as the ancestors we can leave our focus.
Whether framed in stone or words or decisions it remains after us,
Weathered by wind, water and time
With stones added and landscape shaped by those who cross this path.
This den is downlake from where I live. The branches you see sticking up are the tips of a winter food supply that is reached underwater, OUCH!
A one foot radius tree that the beaver is working on in an attempt to get at the rest of the tree. If only they could climb it would be easier.
Closeup of the tooth marks and work that goes into downing a tree with your teeth. I get tired of chewing downing a large meal!
The beaver has cut all of these sections in an attempt to down one tree which is still hung up in another tree. This shows the persistence and determination to survive which is inate in nature.
A closeup of the beaver den and the nights snack material.
I leave you on this path with the stream that fills the pond. This beaver has built a house with running water! Peace to all!
I have written this letter in my head a thousand times for it is either my last hope fulfilled or my lost hope forever. Rebecca you have never been forgotten and you are thought of and loved by me each day. In my minds’ eye you are the one who always tried your best to be a good daughter and steer clear of trouble. I believe that you wanted nothing to do with making a scapegoat and victim out of me. Yes, you and I were both innocent victims of the madness and dysfunction which occurred. I believe you have survived the trauma and built a new life for yourself. I am proud of you now as I have always been for you doing your best under trying circumstances. I am glad that I was able to say, ‘I love you” the last time I saw you.
I reached out to J in November 2010 with a letter. It is 100% the truth but she rejected it outright in a letter from her lawyer threatening me. However, you are my daughter and daughters are forever. I have enclosed a copy of a framed picture of me on a birthday celebrating with my girls. It is next to my desk with other photos which I look at each day. Rebecca the love I see in your eyes is the love I feel for you. It is wrong to let that love be chained and imprisoned by a dysfunctional disconnect. I was never allowed to communicate my truth. I was shunned and abandoned by a family I truly loved and love still.
Each night I still say, “good night I love you.” Each morning I awake to another day without you.
I take some soulace in having kept journals each year of our life together as a family. I have taken a few quotes from the pages,
Journal pg.17-“Our family, It is an absolute wonder watching the girls grow and being a part of it.” [The saddest part is all that I have missed seeing in your lives during these years apart.]
Journal pg.41-“Today is warm, could be 60°with a touch of spring. H and Rebecca are playing make believe with their little people. J is registering Rebecca for kindergarten. I will miss having Rebecca around the house during the day-she is a part of the sunshine of my life. I will savor watching them grow and try to appreciate each trying stage of their development. It only happens once for each of them.”
Journal pg.44 from Girls Bikes and the Park-“Rebecca made an artwork out of junk-she can see the beauty in everything.”
[I too try to see the beauty in life. I live on a lake and the nature of the place gives some comfort.]
Journal pg.63-Rebecca’s 5th Birthday-“I feel wonderful about it being Rebecca’s Birthday-she lights up my life.” [I have missed so many and do not want to miss anymore. I have a hard time on your birthdays but pray you are well and keep you in a special place in my heart.]
Journal pg.81-“Sunny and fair for Rebecca’s graduation from Sunshine Nursery School, we have her home for the summer.” [Congratulations on graduating from UMA with honors in Comparative Literature]
I am doing a lot better since writing the letter to J in November. I had to rebuild my life and move on or my spirit would have perished in depression over missing you and your sisters. I retired from the Fire Dept.early [there were too many reminders in our home town] and returned to University to study English Language, Literature and Creative Writing. I have always been interested in writing and also wished to experience what my girls were doing. Finishing school in 2010 led to a deepening of depression as years had gone by with none of you reaching out to me. In November I started volunteering at the Veterans Health Center during the week. Two or three nights a week I volunteer at a Music Hall in NH and get to see the shows for free. Music has always been a spiritual connection in my life. Volunteering helped me get through the worst of it.
Now on a cloudy, foggy and misty early spring day as the first fisherman casts a line where the lake ice has left the western shore I cast a hope into the new season. Just as with fishing I know not if the line will reach you and if it does if it will be taken. Luck and hope are common denominators. I pray you get the letter and consider my truth with the perspective of critical thinking that you used to get honors at UMA.
I Love You-Dad
daughters and a fathers love are forever
Listen as they play–Play as you listen.
The music menu at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH is varied and delightful. It induces dancing, toe tapping, hand clapping and conversation. It is Americana, a cross–section of the heart of our country in which truth and light exude from the music. You cannot help but be moved by the sound and lyrics. The ‘live’ professional tight yet loose feel which is produced by musicians and artists that are at their best because they are doing what they love in front of an audience that understand and feel that spirit and joy. The Tupelo has fine acoustics in a cozy atmosphere. The musicians can see each face and feel the energy in a give and take that is missing in larger venues.
You want to call your friends and tell them something is going on that should not be missed–bring your enthusiasm, a voice, tapping fingers and feet, clapping hands. Revisit the days of connection, the time before technology took over and changed the way we interact. Rejuvenate your spirit and revel in the community of sharing the country’s past in the present. Return to the kick ass–kick up your heels feeling that helped move this country and gave life and spirit to its heart past. The backbeat of the Tupelo is that of a gathering of community, of friends, family and colleagues on the common ground of heartfelt sound that connects us all in a world wide web of the wonder of that coming together. The common ground of sound!
Come together right now. Dance, sing, move, feel this music from Americas’ Heartland and Heart. A combination of Blues, Folk, Soulful Gospel, Country, Rock, R&B, Southern Rock, Pop and Comic Relief is a taste of what is provided. All shine here in a live light that can touch us all. All are present day visits to our past.
One of the things that kept us moving forward in our national history was in the music of each period moving the generations along. Giving us hope, allowing us to hold to faith, getting us together and inspiring with a combination of words and music that refreshes spirit, boosts us up and pushes us along with the energy felt individually and derived from a synergy of the masses. These days we need this music again to inspire us to roll up our sleeves, go to work, and put the heart back in the heartland of America. So sing out with these consummate and caring professionals. They ‘get it’, and you should join in!
“So get up of your ass and dust off the past
Lift up your chin and turn it into a grin
Pull up your boots and get back to our roots
You live the blues, pay your dues, now go share the news
And kick up your heels in a new pair of shoes”
At THE TUPELO
“Time may heal, time may steal, time to decide and every thought of you casts its own shadow and everything I wanted is subject to review as time the conqueror closes in on a life.” Words paraphrased from the first and title song of Jackson Browne’s newest creation, Time the Conqueror. Many times in my life the language of lyrics have been the music that kept me going in hard times, that helped me celebrate joys and accomplishment, that helped me lift my head when others harsh words beat me down and sucked the life out of any possibility of spontaneous action or creativity. Lyrics well written and found in a timely fashion are an unbroken thread that permeates my long and winding road in getting to this point. A time which finds me lost and searching when I should be enjoying the fruits of past labors, a time when I know exactly where I wish to go and how to get there. I find that word-processing my thoughts while listening to a brand new selection of music and lyrics from one of my favorite singer/songwriters helps heal fresh wounds and leads me back to that road I was on. Once again focus returns and creativity flows. It has always been this way for me, life and people knock you down, you listen learn and move a little to the groove and move on.
The Language of Lyrics, lyrics to go with the music of life, a writers blues survival. Rock and roll rebellion, the angst of punk, rap, hip-hop, the grunge of rainy day alternative rock, the blues based feel of southern rock, dance, and disco, pop, folk, country, reggae, rhythm and blues, soul, the cool of jazz, international flavors and the music of cultures all carry their own language and lyrics for those who listen closely.
Inspired by returning to University, tested, enthused, pushed to creativity and thought in a natural high derived from writing odds and ends, bits and pieces of a life lived, observed. A large part of what has kept me going over the years and the tears is the music of my life pulling me along with the thread of a lyric put to soothing melody or vibrant rock beat. It has kept me sane after separation and divorce from a post traumatic, obsessive compulsive, politically correct, emotionally special needs wife, supported by me in so many ways. She abandoned and left me in the downward spiral of a parental alienation syndrome from my three girls and in an avalanche of emotional pain that I never saw coming. Naïve, I believed that truth mattered when a first, false, unnecessary and unjust restraining order was filed only to be told by two lawyers that truth has nothing to do with the law. A reprimanded judge, (Heffernan-MA) who never should have been allowed again on the bench to decide RO’s “had no choice but to extend the RO” and destroy any chance for communication and connection with my family. My life changed forever though I had never broken the sacred trust between Man and Wife, Father and Child. Truth lost except in the words of my journals righting it out, touching truth and reality in the only ways left. Writing, listening, learning and moving on from an emotionally dead man walking to an inspired man talking, the thread played a large and critical role in my survival.
The thread began with a sleepover listening to the 45 revolution per minute records of an older friend of the family. It was a time when Elvis Presley was King, a rebellious young man from Mississippi ahead of his time, raw, energetic, an original leader of the baby boom generations search for meanings of their own. The rock n roll era began when I was young but far from rebellious, I was hooked when a muse arrived in the guise of a portable record player and two long playing records, Chubby Checker Twist and Introducing the Beatles-VJ Records. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” grasped the thread of lyrics for me and never let it go. Love Rain or Me (The Who), Let it Be (The Beatles), to Great Big Sea (Band from Newfoundland), a palpable connection in 45 flip sides, artist, producer, label, LP-long playing records, album cover art, jacket liner notes expanded my universe and pulled me beyond a household of 9 children and a High School away from my home town which I had no say in attending. It carried me to a job at 16, girls, and a 1963 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport with slush box on the floor, bucket seats trimmed in chrome and best of all a radio with rear speaker featuring reverb. The lyrics of the thread playing in the background were touching and intertwined with first loves. I bought my first three albums with that first paycheck, The Animals-Hits, Dave Clark Five-Best of, and The Rolling Stones. The sound and lyrics of The Animals: House of the Rising Sun with Gary Burton singing blew me away in the power of a bands performance touching words.
Bruce Springsteen strengthened my lyric thread with his life and our times written out, put to music and brought to a climax in concert with the E Street Band. Jackson Browne was contributing writer on a story about Springsteen in Rolling Stone Magazine. I was overjoyed when discovering this connection between two of my top lyric writers and musicians. I have taken selective quotes from the article and cannot outdo Jackson Browne’s portrayal of feelings (shared entirely by me) about the ‘Boss.’ Bruce Springsteen is the “Embodiment of rock and roll…combining strains of Appalachian music, rockabilly, blues, and Rhythm and blues, his work epitomizes rock’s deepest values: desire, the need for freedom and the search to find yourself. All through his songs there is a generosity and a willingness to portray even the simplest aspects of our lives in a dramatic and committed way.”
Jackson Browne on Bruce in concert, “…He had this descriptive power—it was just an amazing display of lyrical prowess live…”“It was drama, his approach to music, something that he would expand on many times over, but it was there from the beginning.” No concert is the same. “It was obvious that they were drawing on a vocabulary. It was exhilarating, and at the bottom of it all there was all this joy and fun and a sense of brotherhood, of being outsiders who had tremendous power and a story to tell…indistinct utterances have been magnified to communicate volumes……Bruce has always had enormous range in terms of subject and emotion…He is always working on a very large scale, a scale that is nothing short of heroic. He is one of the few songwriters who work on a scale that is capable of handling the subject of our national grief and the need to find a response to September 11th. His sense of music as a healing power, of band—as—church, has always been there, woven into the fabric of his songs, He’s got his feet planted on either side of that great divide between black & white gospel, between blues and country, between rebellion and redemption.” The Rising on Columbia Records was Bruce’s answer to the events of 911, a short review from RS follows, “After everything fell down on September11th, 2001, Bruce Springsteen made the rock & roll we needed most–fifteen songs about getting up again—with the greatest backing combo in the world, the E Street Band. This Reborn in the USA swings between extreme despair (“You’re Missing”) and Irish wake (“Mary’s Place”). But in the grainy force of Springsteen’s voice and the muscular exaltation of the music, the power of ordinary men and women to build a new, atop so much loss, rings loud and true.” Healing power drawn from lyrical truth found in focused listening just happens when the music touches you for his is an honesty which comes thru loud and clear. He is someone you can trust and believe in. As a retired Fire/Emergency Medical Response Captain, Springsteen’s lyrics in The Rising were palpable as he describes the thoughts and feelings of a firefighter responding to the twin towers in N.Y. 345 Firefighters lost their lives that day wearing the Maltese cross of their calling and as the men climb the towers their thoughts turn to their loved ones. Parenthesis added by me as the lyrics strengthen the thread.
Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me (duty)
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone (SCBA air tank)
On my shoulder a half mile of line (folded pack of hose)
Come on up for the rising
Come on up lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Left the house this morning (firehouse)
Bells ringing filled the air (alarm bells)
Wearin’the cross of my calling (FF Maltese Cross)
On wheel of fire I come rollin’ down here (Fire Apparatus)
There’s spirits above and behind me (the already dead)
Faces gone black, eyes burnin’bright (fear in others faces)
Not long before the 2004 election, Bruce for the first time took a political stance and endorsed John Kerry for president. An addendum of his words in Rolling Stone, September 2, 2004 is attached. He expresses my desires for a president who, “places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America’s citizens, courage and faith.” This is another juncture where my feelings and the lyrics of Bruce and Jackson Browne intersect. Both write about the historic winds that surround us with focused concern. On the Iraq War of choice Bruce wrote the lyrics to Devils and Dust-2005 and Last To Die-2007 in which he paraphrases John Kerry’s words to a congressional committee during Viet Nam. My wife and I stood up front with the firefighters for Kerry at the last big rally in Manchester days before the election. The rest is History.
Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake
The last to die for a mistake
Whose blood will spill, whose heart will break
Who’ll be the last to die, for a mistake
-From the same album and the song Magic
Trust none of what you hear and less of what you see
This is what will be, this is what will be…
…and the freedom that you sought’s
Driftin’ like a ghost amongst the trees
This is what will be, this is what will be
Jackson Browne’s song The Drums of Warintertwines with the thread of my feelings facing another four years under Bush and at War:
…time comes when everything you ever thought you knew
Comes crashing down and flames up in front of you
Roll out the drums of war
Roll back the freedoms that we struggled for
What were those freedoms for?
Let’s not talk about it any more
Roll out the drums of war
Whatever you believe the necessary course to be
Depends on who you trust to identify the enemy
Who beats the drums for war?
Even before the peace is lost
Who are the profits for?
And who are they who bear the cost
When a country takes the low road to war
Who gives the orders, orders to torture?
Who get to no bid contract the future?
Who lies, then bombs, then calls it an error?
Who makes a fortune from fighting terror?
Who is the enemy of truth and justice?
Where are the courts, now when we need them?
Why is impeachment not on the table?
We better stop them while we are able
Roll out the drums of war
The last line is a call for a revolution of ideas and it has started with the campaigns of 2004 and 2006 leading up to this critical election and the choices to be made by the voters of this country. I feel a need to speak up for the truths I see, a need to build bridges of connection and communication, understanding and reason. The truths of Bruce and Jackson’s lyrics strengthen and intersect with both History and how I feel. They don’t know me from a hole in the wall but over the years they have touched me deeply and I am grateful. It is better to write than wallow in grief, to speak up and stop the thief, to feel the fire in your belly and shed light on the liars. Our country changed with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and John Kennedy. All were leaders I believed in and feel as if we have lost great potential for this country in the years since their passing. Jackson Browne touches on this and the connection of today’s History to the 60’s in the song, Off Of Wonderland:
…there was change in the air
It was love everywhere
Living off of Wonderland
Ankle deep in contraband
Working on a life unplanned
Didn’t we believe in love?
Didn’t we believe in giving it away?
That didn’t really leave us with the love
To find our way
After RFK and Martin Luther King
Do you feel it today?
Love is still on the way
Coming over Wonderland
The world is in your open hand
Once again it’s at your command
Didn’t we believe in love?
Didn’t we believe that love would carry on?
Wouldn’t we receive enough
If we could just believe in one another
As much as we believed in John
Do you want to know a secret? (I believe that) before time the conqueror turns us to devils and dust a rising will occur over the great seas and that love will reign over us. That the ideals and ideas of the founding fathers of this country will be the last to die as the drums of awar of revolutionary idea wins. A global world will be built with magic, off of a wonderland thread of dreams picked up from the language of lyrics in music that connects us all. We will construct a house of the rising sun of reason, live in peace and let it be.
Language is the thread! Peace is the answer!
 2008 Jackson Browne-Time The Conqueror-Inside Recordings. L.L.C.
 Rolling Stone-Issue 946—April 15,2004 by Jackson Browne
 Rolling Stone-Issue 912/913—Dec 26, 2002 by Fricke, David