More Nightmares

I had lot of nightmares as a child, which was due in part to the fact that I lived/slept in a drafty, old mansion--in a room by myself without a nightlight.  However, I was constantly coming down with some illness or another, and that definitely contributed to the rash of nightmares.  I seemed to be continuously coming down with the flu, a cold, walking pneumonia, etc.  I only attended preschool for 6 days, missed 23 days of Kindergarten, and 16 days in the 1st Grade as a result of these illnesses.  These diseases would always cause me to become feverish.  I think that these fevers helped bring on (at least in part) most of my nightmares. Luckily, my parents took me to a allergist during the summer between my 1st and 2nd Grade years.  He pricked me with a ton of needles (well, it seemed like a ton at the time), which indicated that I was allergic to most things (luckily not to peanuts or gluten).  Anyway, I started taking allergy shots that summer and (perhaps coincidentally) caught fewer illnesses after that point (even achieving perfect attendance numerous times from the 4th Grade through my Senior year in high school).

But I digress.  As I was saying, I had a ton of nightmares as a child.  I was chased by all sorts of things, including beasties, ghouls, and angry parents.  I even managed to find myself (while dreaming) in the passenger seat as a car ran off a cliff (wonder what I had been watching on T.V. that day).  Luckily, I usually woke up before I suffered any serious dream damage.  I could then look around the room (not much to see since everything was dark) and reassure myself that it was only a dream.  I then put the covers back over my head and tried to go to sleep (I figured if I put the covers over my head, then at least I wouldn't see the ghost when it jumped out of dresser drawer to get me--hah).  However, that wasn't the case on one occasion.

I was six years old and dreamed that my parents and other family members were downstairs playing whist (sort of like spades) while I was confined to my room.  My dream self recalled that my Mom had told me to stay in my room and not come downstairs.  In real life, I would have listened to that advice, as I was not a big fan of the game (to a 6 year old, that game appears to be rather boring) and preferred to spend time with my toys.  However, my dream self decided to disobey my mother.  I wanted to sneak downstairs and try to peak in on the game.  So, I left my room and walked down the steps without any problem.  However, when I hit the landing (the floor), I came face to face with the red guy with horns--yes, you guessed it--Beelzebub. 

In my dream, I could hear my family talking amongst themselves in a room not too far down the hall.  I could also see the lights from the room (the hallway I was in was rather dark).  I tried to call for help but no sounds came out of my mouth, and of course, my dream self couldn't run (though I wanted to do it--my feet wouldn't move).  The Devil said, "I am taking you to hell."  He then proceeded to walk over to me and grab me forcefully by the arm.

I woke up at that point and looked around; the room was as it should be, ie. no Devil; however, my arm was hurting where the dream Devil had grabbed me.  That represented the first of several occasions where I would feel residual effects from a dream.  I assume that my mind, while dreaming, had sent a message to my arm that it was in pain (when of course, it was not).  My arm dutifully obeyed my brain's signal even after I had awakened.  Luckily, the pain did not last too long after I woke up. 

To be continued...
Clip Art courtesy of Microsoft



We have all had all them; bad dreams that cause us to jolt up out of bed still shaking with fear.  I quickly forget about most of these nightmares--sometimes as soon as I fall back asleep.  In other instances, the dream is too irrational or fragmented to be of much worth.  After all, who would be afraid of a small frog in their waking hours?  But perhaps it is worthwhile to recount some of my most memorable nightmares; you might learn more about me from these stories than you would from an entire autobiography.  More importantly, I think that we come to understand each other when we recount stories that derive from our subconscious/semiconscious selves.  For deep down, we are all human beings--with the same instinctual ability to love, to laugh, to cry, and to feel other emotions containing elements, which are unique to our species.  I think that our nightmares, as well as our dreams, help us to understand these aspects of our humanness.

These nightmares may also serve to entertain, to humor, or even to scare people (though I doubt the latter) and there may be some value in that fact as well. :-)   At the same time, my recollection of these things may bore everyone to death (pun intended).  So, I'll test out the market.  I will posit one story/recollection.  If you like it and want to hear about the other nightmares, leave a positive comment. :-)  If no one comments, I will assume that it's not beneficial to continue...

The Ghost of the Old Sailor

I lived in an old, Victorian style mansion (5300 sq. feet or so) from the time I was born until the end of my 2nd Grade year. Now, before anyone goes ah and ooh, it's probably worth noting that the house was situated in one of the worst areas of town.  My grandfather had purchased the mansion during the Depression (he amazingly paid for it in silver dollars and silver certificates) when the neighborhood was still rather upscale.  Things had changed by the time I was born.

The house and staircases were made of hardwood, which seemed to always creek and groan.  Combine this noise with the house's size, the antique furniture in my room, and the fact that the residence was always drafty, and you can imagine how scary it would be for a child of four or five (or even of six and seven).  Every night the same ritual occurred.  My parents would force me to turn off the lights in my room, and I would become scared.  I would sometimes lay in my bed with the covers over my head until I fell asleep.  At other times, I would try to sneak into my parents' room, but that didn't work out all that well.  The creaking of a floorboard would usually give me away.  Heck, my parents should have bought me a nightlight--but noooo... ;-)

Anyway, this first nightmare, like most dreams, contains some contradictory elements.  Alas, that is the case with most of my dreams.  My subconscious mind just can't get all the details right (wrong time period, etc.).  This is the earliest nightmare that I can still remember; it occurred when I was around 5 years old.

I dreamed that I worked for a newspaper and had entered an old, two story house with a female reporter in tow to interview the widow of a famous pirate.  I can no longer recall the face of the female reporter [I was only 5 at the time] nor the interior of the house with any clarity.  The elderly woman had white hair and a large frame.  I had the impression that she was describing the life of her late husband, the pirate, but few details remain (if my mind had ever bothered to create those narrative elements), though my dream mind did see a (recreated) flashback as she was speaking of her husband's dying moments in a hospital, no less (haha--see, the 5 year old dream mind wasn't that sophisticated yet).  And of course, her deceased hubby had a peg leg [what else did you expect ;-)].  At the end of her story, she told us that her husband still haunts the house, blah blah, and lo and behold, we hear footsteps upstairs.  The footsteps kept getting closer as the ghost started to walk down the upstairs hall and down the stairs.  My dreamself was rooted in place by fear...And that is when I sat straight up in bed.

Unluckily for me, my conscious mind rarely takes over fully immediately upon waking up.  Usually, I can see everything around me clearly but some dream elements remain.  In this case, I could just make out the dim outlines of my cedar closet and kiddie rocking chair (red velvet covered rocking chair) via the faint moonlight coming in from the cracks in the window shade.  I also espied the peg-legged pirate standing next to my rocking chair.  He started walking towards my bed and only disappeared when he reached the foot of my bed (about five steps).  As you can imagine, I immediately got out of bed and started to sneak into my parents' room. 

This nightmare has something in common with all of the ones that stick in my memory.  It has some component that links it to my waking world.  In this case, some of the dream elements didn't immediately disappear when I opened my eyes.  With the Thanksgiving Day nightmare (see my "11 Things" post), I received a stuffed clown that resembled the characters in that bad dream.

The next nightmare is unique (for me) in that it didn't have any imagery attached; it is the only dream of any sort that was... (to be continued?).

Clip Art courtesy of Microsoft (and Istockphoto).


11 Things about Me

Ok, Sujana tagged me in one of her blog posts.  You can find her post here:

According to the rules, I am supposed to posit 11 random things about myself; answer the 11 questions that Sujana posed at the end of her post; and at the same time tag 11 other bloggers and ask them to answer 11 different questions (which I have created).  The official rules are below.

Rule#1: Put the rules on your blog.

Rule#2: Every person tagged should tell 11 things about themselves, answer the 11 questions asked by the one that tagged you, tag 11 other people and ask them 11 different questions.

Rule#3: Let the people whom you tagged know you've done so.

Rule#4: Don't tag anyone who's been tagged before.

Rule#5: Really do tag 11 others, don't go all ''if you want to take this tag''

Ok, well, considering the fact that a) I currently only have 30-37 followers and b) most of you have already been tagged at one point or another. I will edit rule # 5 a bit. ;-)

Revised Rule #5: If you want to be tagged (and have not already been tagged), put a note in the comments section stating "Tag me :-), " I will then edit my blog post to include you among the tagged.  When I receive the first "Tag me :-)" comment, I will create 11 questions for you and all future tagged individuals.  I will also include your name/pseudonym and link to your blog in the body of this post.

Hmm, now that I have bent the rule a bit to better suit me (hah aha), I can move on to the next, without further ado, here are 11 random things about me.  I have even added in some totally random color schemes to add some authenticity. :-)

Random Things About Me (or that I did/do)

Randomness #1: I eat one square of dark chocolate per day.  Studies have shown that eating one square per day can help an individual maintain his her cardiovascular health, and blah, blah, blah...Anyway, lots of people love dark chocolate; however, I am not all that fond of the taste (especially 90+% dark).

Randomness #2: When I was a very young child, I had a dream (on Thanksgiving night to boot) that I was being chased by people who had lost half their bodies (so chased by people without anything more than a head and chest area).  Lo and behold, without knowing anything about my dream, my nanny (yes, I was very young) handmade a doll/toy for me of a clown that had only half a body (no stomach, legs, etc.)...She presented this to me at Christmas as a gift.  Ayeek.

Randomness #3: When I was a young child (but not "very young" so about the 4th/5th grade), I received an indoor basketball set.  The ball was a sponge about 4 inches in diameter and the net hung on my closet door.  Well, I created a game in which I would control the ball by bouncing it up in the air with my hand.  I would use this technique to bounce the ball into the basket.  If the ball dropped on the ground, my team lost.  Of course,  I usually represented both teams, so I lost/won either way ;-). 

Randomness #4: Writing a blog entry which lists random things that I do/have done.

Randomness #5: The last time I was in Las Vegas, I walked the entire strip (and past the traditional strip sections) just to do it.  Of course, I am not sure what I gained by this action.   Actually, I tend to do a lot of walking when I am in Vegas.  I bet I walk 5-7 miles a day while there.

Randomness #6: Speaking of Vegas, how much more random can I be than when placing a bet on black or red on a computer simulated roulette table.

Randomness #7: As a child (see a theme?), I sometimes made a decision by flipping a coin.

Randomness #8: I have to wash some of my clothes today.

Randomness #9: When I was a youth (7th grade), I once caught a touchdown pass in P.E. class because it bounced off of someone else's shoulder.

Randomness #10: I just recently finished writing my first original article/post for Yahoo Voices (not sure how random that one is):  I also edited and posted the piece on my aunt and Facebook:

Randomness #11:  As a child, my room as a perpetual "mess."  

 1) What's your favorite place?
Las Vegas (physical location) my mind (metaphysical location)

2) If you had to marry a celebrity, who would it be?

Jokingly, I'm not really picky...Any female celebrity that would agree to give me 1/2 of her wealth   once the inevitable divorce occurs.  Actually, maybe Brittany Spears or Kim Kardashian--then I won't have to wait all that long to collect.  Seriously, I don't know if I would marry any celebrity.  Of course, I don't know much about them as actual people, so who knows...

3) Do you want a twin?

Hmm, given that any "twin" would be a cloned version of myself, probably not.  Though I don't know...perhaps a "mini-me" would be kind of cool...having to raise that twin, not so cool.

4) How long is your oldest friendship?

I would have to say the ones with my family--since I've known my Dad and sisters the longest. ;-)

5) What's your greatest achievement?

Being born within the last few decades.  Just think what life would have been like for me as some hunter gatherer type living, in say, 5000 B.C.  I would have been hungry often, sick even more often, and likely dead by now--killed by disease, a rival tribe, an unfortunate hunting accident, or some other calamity.  At the same time, I wouldn't be able to sample a variety of foods, including dark chocolate (haha), pizza, ice cream, etc.  Additionally, I wouldn't be able to play any fun games--well, pin the tell on the cave bear might be fun for a bit--until the bear ate me.

6) If you could only talk to one person for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Myself...I have the greatest of conversations with that person. ;-)

7) Socks and sandles- yes or no?

Socks yes, sandals no.

8) Choose your power: Mind reading or invisibility?

Invisibility of you really want to know what someone else is thinking?

9) What's your method of transportation?

It depends on the situation.

10) Favorite book?

I really don't have one.

11) Facebook, twitter or neither? Why?

Neither, they are passe.  I yearn for something new.

Wow, that appears to be a long post.  I wonder if anyone will read it all.  Well, as the old saying goes, "We'll see."

 All clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office.


Some Things Never Change....

While recuperating from my cold, I had the opportunity to begin reading Twentieth-Century America: Politics and Power in the United States 1900-2000 by M. J. Heale.  When I bought the book, I noticed that the author is a British historian, so I was hoping that his views on American history might differ from those posited by most U.S. historians.  I haven't read enough of the book to be able to answer that query.  What really interested me, at least early in my reading, was this passage from page 10 of the book.
It seemed to many that the tensions that threatened the peace of American society stemmed in no small degree from the malfunctioning of the political system.  Government no longer reflected the will of the whole community; special interests...had insinuated themselves at strategic junctures...generally warping public policies.  Party political machines too had intruded between the citizenry and the government, illicitly perpetuating their own power and promoting the interests of their particular clients...The idea of purifying politics by restoring power to 'the people'...
If one did not know which era the passage referred to, he or she might think Heale was discussing key problems confronting today's society instead of the sociopolitical environment in the the U.S. circa 1900-1917.  Eerily, other issues, including the power of the courts, unlimited corporate donations to politicians, and voter apathy also figure prominently in this period.  Granted, many of the specific problems facing the U.S. in that period, such as bossism, differ from the conundrums current Americans have to deal with.  However, it appears that the meta-concerns are synonymous.  The same thing probably holds true in other countries as well.

My takeaway from my reading is simple.  Many of the underlying issues that divide Americans are not new.  Rather, they go back decades if not centuries.  However, many of us, including myself, tend to forget this fact due to our short lives and even shorter memories.  With this in mind, it might behoove us to peruse through a history book before we try to devise solutions to our problems or to craft compromises on divisive issues.  Perhaps, via our reading, we will be able to identify some approaches that did work or alternatively some schemes that failed (and will fail again if applied to today's situation).

My review of the book brought home for me the meaning of an old cliche, "The past often repeats itself."

Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble website:


A Tad under the Weather

Hi All,

I had the misfortune to come down with a cold on Thursday night and am still recovering.  I had planned to create a new entry on Friday or Saturday, but I will probably postpone that project until Tuesday.  I have to spend today and Monday catching up on things like job applications, interview follow-ups, etc.  I apologize for the delay.  I hope that all of you are having a great weekend--free of sniffles and coughs. :-)

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office


Why I Hope Genetic Testing Advances Rapidly

Like everyone else (or at least most everyone else), I hope that future advances in genetic testing will help us (and me) both to succeed in preventing diseases and to ameliorate or even cure illnesses when they do occur.  At some point in the future, I would love to be able to take a genetic test and not only learn whether or not I am more susceptible (than average) to getting certain conditions but also to determine whether a certain drug or neutriceutical will work for me.  Heck, I might even one day be able to use my genetic test to help me decide what foods to consume.  However, while I believe all of these (and perhaps other) potential health benefits are important, I am more excited about genetic testing's potential in helping me garner knowledge about my family's past.

To quote an oft used cliche, I have "often wondered where my family came from."  In this case, I am not referring to the last few generations of relatives, as I can trace their histories.  Rather, I am much more interested in determining where my family started out, in say 300 B.C. or even prior to that period, and what path their history took from that point.  I would be happy if I were able to look back a few centuries.  For instance, my paternal grandfather's family were Protestants (probably Anabaptists) who immigrated from German to the U.S. in the 1700s.  It would be nice to trace their ancestry further back.  Did my ancestors migrate from place to place in Germany to escape persecution?  Perhaps they moved from Switzerland or some other area of Europe in the 1500s or 1600s as a result of opportunities (the German population was decimated by the religious wars, especially the 30 Years War)?  It might be possible to answer some of these queries via traditional techniques (ie. looking in baptismal records); however, most of these questions are currently unanswerable.

Both of my grandparents on my mother's side of the family were Lebanese.  My grandmother was born shortly after her parents arrived in the U.S. and my grandfather immigrated to the U.S. when he was between 7 and 10 years old (he was not sure what his birth year was).  Both of their families lived in the mountains/hills surrounding Beruit.  They and their relatives differ from most of the other people living in Lebanon (or elsewhere in the Middle East) in that many of them possess blue eyes or very light brown eyes.  Additionally, they exhibit other features which do not appear to be common to people living in the region.  Perhaps some of my ancestors married Crusaders from Europe or the French (when they controlled the area) or some other visitor from Europe?  At the same time, is it possible that my ancestors migrated to Lebanon within the last few centuries from some other part of Europe/Asia where features like blue eyes are more common?  I would be interested in learning these answers.  I am unlikely to solve these conundrums using traditional methods.

I might be able to answer all of these questions and more if genetic testing comes of age.  I have read reports of research studies that used genetic tests to trace familial lineage to the first few centuries B.C. by analyzing the differences in gene sequences between individuals/families in different regions or via looking at changes in mitochondrial DNA.  Currently, companies like 23andMe can provide some, basic information about genealogy.  However, it will take a lot more work in this area to satisfy my desires.  For instance, researchers, DNA testing companies, and others would have to create massive genomic databases consisting of DNA from people living (and dead) in most regions of the world.  They would then have to isolate specific genes, gene signatures, etc.  However, I feel that these groups will eventually overcome the hurdles necessary to trace personal ancestry back centuries or even millenia.  When that day comes, I might be able to take a DNA test and the results will show that my paternal grandfather's family lived in area A in 500 B.C. and migrated to area B between 100-200 A.D. and then progressed to area C. sometime around 1500 A.D., etc.  That will be a great day!

Photos/Clip Art courtesy of Microsoft Office


Books I Would Like to See Made into Films

I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre.  I read my first fantasy novel in the summer of my 5th grade year and have been hooked ever since.  For a while now, I have been hoping that producers would decide to translate some of the most popular fantasy novels into films.  While Hollywood has turned two of the biggest series (LOTR and Harry Potter) into big budget movies, there are many more, good fantasy novels that could easily be turned into hit movies.  Even people who aren't huge fans of the fantasy genre might agree with me in a few years, as they sit in theaters watching the 5th reboot of the 'Superman' series or the tenth reboot of 'Spider-Man,' etc. 

In an effort to make this blog post more dynamic and to create dialogue (as opposed to a one-sided discussion of the topic), I will only posit one fantasy series that I think would look good on the big screen.  I will let you fill in the remainder.  Feel free to add additional ones in the 'Comments' section (or write anything you'd like in the Comments section).  If you can add pictures in the comments section, even better. :)

The original Dragonlance trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.  

While I don't consider these novels to be literary masterpieces, they are pretty good.  Perhaps more importantly (to movie producers anyway), the trilogy spawned a bevy of other books, including other Dragonlance novels as well as the Forgotten Realms series (whose books once spanned an entire section of the fantasy/sci-fi aisle at my local bookstore).  Millions of readers have either read the Dragonlance series or are familiar with the narrative/world.  As such, anyone who produced this movie would already have, at hand, three good narratives as well as access to a large, captive audience.  The movie would require a large special effects budget; however, I think the money would be worth it.  In saying that, whoever takes this project on must do a better job than the team who created an animated, straight to video version of the first book. 

The book cover is courtesy of Books 'A Million.  You can find the link here: