Monday, December 19, 2016

Sprinkle Sprinkle Little Jar

I went to Dollar Tree last week. I purchase things like bar soap, body washes, and household cleaning stuff. Greeting cards are great buys, too. Everything's a buck! Sometimes, I take my mother because she always finds deals on things whether she needs them or not, and it's those little pleasures that make life more fun, even when she buys glittery pre-teen nail polish she ends up detesting.
This is a relatively new store in Longwood, FL. It's a little bigger than the one I usually go to, so it's better stocked. The manager described it as a showcase store. Usually, I saunter down each aisle, basket in hand, just to make sure I don't miss out on anything new. On one of those aisles, I found a couple of shelves stocked with spices. When it comes to dollar store spices, I pretty much treat them the same way I treat dollar store vitamins and supplements, like B-12 and fish oil. Quite simply, I don't buy them. Why not? Because I don't trust the source – and I don't know how fresh and pure any of it is.
While perusing those “exotic” spices, I stumbled upon a container of kosher salt. I don't know what prompted me to pick it up because I never put salt on anything. Nope, no sprinkling for me. Never. Perhaps, it was the large and impressive Star of David emblazened on the front label. Whatever the reason, I simply picked it up out of curiosity and probably because of one small detail that caught my eye, somewhere around the far left corner of my peripheral vision.
Upon careful examination of the container and label, I saw that it contained one simple ingredient: Salt. That's reassuring. It means the salt, of the common rock salt variety, is just what the label proclaims it to be. Sodium chloride. Halite. NaCl. I don't know if I have to write a short history of where salt comes from, but it's safe to say that salt mines (where most of it originates) are in abundance throughout the world, and many of the deposits are millions of years old. Maybe older.
That leads me to a very simple question. Please take a look at the image I provided because it's this one little detail that caught my eye. What you see is the exact container I picked up to examine. Note what its only ingredient is. Nothing more. Ancient salt extracted from an abundant source from beneath the ground. Pure and white. For something that's millions of years old, why is there an expiration date stamped on the bottle? Best by 03/10/20. Are you kidding me???

Friday, December 16, 2016


I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2005. There's no telling how long I had it prior to finding out. It could easily be eight years or so, one of my doctors once told me. During that time, I smoked and drank and ate whatever I wanted, with no knowledge of the damage it could easily have been doing to my organs, particularly the kidneys. That's because of the tiny blood vessels that feed them. Sugar makes the vessels very brittle. If they're brittle, they snap. Kidney disease is the one thing that frightens diabetics the most. With five stages of chronic kidney disease, one being normal and five being complete failure, I am holding steady at stage three. Age itself diminishes function, but diabetes is the silent killer if you're not careful.

Fortunately, I was sensible enough to quit smoking in 2007. Cold turkey. Just like that! After nearly forty years, I did it and never looked back. A few years later, I stopped drinking alcohol. I don't remember the year because I slowly weaned myself away from it until I simply lost the desire. I wouldn't say I'd never have another drink; I just don't have an appetite for it and it's been like this for many years.

When I reflect on all that's happened in my life since the diagnosis, I sometimes ponder how boring my life has become. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not boring and I’m never bored with myself, but it’s a far cry from my days of youth. After all...

It doesn't seem like so many years ago that, in my 20s, I could stay up partying until 4:00 AM, sleep a couple of hours and go to work like it was nothing. Heck, I could do this for the rest of my life, right? Well, not every night.

In my 30s, I could party with the best of them until 2:00 AM.

In my 40s, it was more like midnight.

In my 50s, I might be able to handle 11:00 PM on a good night, but...

In my 60s? Heck, I'm 64-years-old now, and I start thinking about going to bed soon after watching Jeopardy!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Another Beat on PULSE?

This past June, the 30th to be precise, my mother had an appointment to see an eye specialist located next to ORMC, the Orlando Regional Medical Center. It's right up the street from the LGBT-themed Pulse nightclub, scene of the nation's deadliest mass shooting of innocent civilians by a single person. 49 people died and 53 were injured before the killer was neutralized by law enforcement. I took my trusty camera along for the ride. It was 18 days after the murderous spree on 12 June, 2016.
Rumors rapidly spread that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was a disgruntled, closeted gay man. People who frequented the club said they had seen him there before. Others who came forward claimed he used gay dating sites and apps. There was a problem with the allegations, though. Like witnesses at the scene of a car accident, no one could give the same story. After careful examination of the facts, the FBI found no evidence on his cell phone or elsewhere that any of it was true. No real evidence existed.
During one of his 911 calls, Mateen swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State. He said the shooting was triggered by the US killing of Abu Waheeb and that we must stop bombing ISIL. The CIA conducted an investigation and found no link between him and Islamic State. As a matter of fact, the shooting was classified as an act of domestic terrorism, although IS did release a meaningless statement. Mateen's pledge of allegiance to ISIL was interesting because he had once claimed to be a member of Hezbollah, a Shi'ite militia based in Lebanon. The Islamic State is affiliated with the Sunni sect, and are at war with the Shi'ites. They hate each other. That made Mateen a thoroughly confused individual.
I wonder if there's a third possibility; something that could be added to the other two – something that might paint a more complete picture. Many years ago, I knew an Egyptian family that fled their homeland because of religious persecution. (They were Christians.) The Masoods were genuinely lovely people; very caring, giving, hardworking, and everything you'd hope for in people coming from a foreign land to live the American dream. They would give you the shirt off their backs. When I met them, their children were in elementary school. I watched them grow up and after their son graduated high school, he enrolled at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The first time he returned home on break, he was a bit disgruntled and resentful about something. Now, mind you, he was merely complaining, not angry. He was a good guy and not at all violent or vindictive. He said that, because his skin-tone was a bit darker, he passed as Latino and many of the students addressed him in Spanish. “¿Cómo está Ud?”
“Dave,” he said, “I don't speak a word of Spanish!”
Is it at all possible that Omar Mateen had a hatred for Latin Americans because he was always confused as one? Proud of his Pashtun heritage, it served to enrage him? And wasn't that fateful Saturday night/Sunday morning “Latin Night” at Pulse?