Urban Legends: Southaven Park

This is not your typical urban legend dating back generations with subtle variations.  It is also atypical in that it is not about the spirit or ghost of someone who was “done wrong”.  This is a UFO story, and it took place November 24, 1992.

Southaven Park is a county park located in Shirley, NY (and less than 10 minutes from my house).  It borders Sunrise Highway, a main drag running East/West and William Floyd Parkway, one of the few roads in the county that runs from North shore to South shore.  It is also important to mention that this park is a five minute ride from the federally funded Brookhaven National Laboratory.

On the day in question, people living near the park and people travelling on Sunrise Highway reported seeing a “tubular object” falling from the sky, which disappeared into the woods in Southaven Park (among these eyewitnesses was the father of a friend of mine).  Within minutes helicopters were circling the park and scientists from the lab were on the scene.  Police and firemen were turned away by military personnel.  William Floyd Parkway and the Sunrise Highway service road were blocked for hours, and the park and surrounding area were closed for weeks, heavily guarded by park and county police.  When asked why the park was closed, the police responded that it was duck hunting season.

During the incident and the weeks that followed, nearby residents reported power surges, electronic interference, drained car batteries, and telephones ringing when no one was on the line.  Aerial photos also showed a large area where the trees were flattened, but residents also reported hearing the sounds of heavy machinery from the park, during this time.

A UFO?  Some experiment from the laboratory, gone wrong?  Town and police records do not indicate ANY type of occurence that day.

Urban Legends: The Lady of the Lake

Lake Ronkonkoma is the largest lake on Long Island, NY and is surrounded in mystery.  A long time ago, the lake served as a boundary between four Indian tribes: the Nissequogues, the Setaukets, the Secatogues and Unkechaugs.  The name ‘Ronkonkoma’ is an Algonquian word meaning “boundary lake”.

Once thought to be bottomless, it is now known that portions of its irregular basin are 65 feet deep or more.  Though it has no outlet and is not fed by streams, it seems to rise and fall with no relation to rainfall.  A study in the early 20th century reports that over a seven year period, rainfall was below average by 52 inches, but in that time the lake rose seven feet. 

But the most mysterious is the story of ‘The Lady of the Lake’.  Though there are many variations to the story, the one most prevalent to us natives is as follows:

In the 17th century, an Indian princess fell in love with an English settler by the name of Hugh Birdsall.  Living on opposite sides of the lake and the princess having been forbidden by her father from seeing Birdsall, the lovers would meet secretly.  Legend has it that one fateful night, the princess tried to swim across the lake to meet Birdsall, and drowned.  Overwhelmed by her lonliness in death, she returns once a year to claim the life of a young man to join her at the bottom of the lake.

Locals, historians and even county police claim that every year for almost 200 years, someone has drowned in Lake Ronkonkoma.  That’s not so unusual, really.  Where there is a large body of water, there will almost certainly be people who have drowned.  What is unusual though is, not only the consistency in which this occurs, but the victims themselves.  Almost every one of them was male.

Freedom vs. Security

What is more important to you?  Freedom or security?

This is a hot topic in the US lately.  It seems that the people of this country are trading their freedoms one by one with the hope that this will enable our government to make us more secure.

Personally, I value my freedom over my security, and I’ll tell you why.  I’ve grown up in a country that told me that I have the right to my own opinion and to voice that opinion, I have the right to choose what religion I wish to follow, I have the right to choose my career path, to make decisions about my own body, and to do pretty much anything I want to do, so long as I’m not causing anyone harm.  I first learned this in school.  They taught me that people fought and died for me to have these freedoms.  I also learned in school, that not every country has the same freedoms, and that I should be grateful for what we have here.  They taught me to love my country and to love my freedom.

Since learning the above, I’ve come to my own conclusions about how MY life should be.  I know what I like and what I don’t like because no restrictions were placed on me.  I always have a choice, and though some of lifes choices may be difficult, they’re mine to make.  I take responsibility for my success and my failure.  I am where I am (and you are where you are) because at some point, this is where I chose to be.

Another reason I value my freedom over my security is that, NOBODY can guarantee my security.  The government cannot keep me safe from every threat no matter how much power we give them.  Nothing in life, except death, is guaranteed.  Life is not always easy or fair.  That’s just the way it is, whether you want to accept it or not.

If I die tomorrow, I may not have lived a long life, but I spent it the way I chose to.  I would know that I spent it with the people I love, doing the things I love, having my own mind.  And that, to me, means more than all the security in the world.

World Politics for Dummies

THE “TWO COW” EXPLANATION

~Author Unknown

A CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT:
You have two cows.
You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

A SOCIALIST:
You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

AN AMERICAN REPUBLICAN:
You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none! So what?

AN AMERICAN DEMOCRAT:
You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.

A COMMUNIST:
You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.

A FASCIST:
You have two cows.
The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the
underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE:
You have two cows.
The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE:
You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE:
You have two cows.
The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, then pours the milk down the drain.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

A FRENCH CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

A BRITISH CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
They are mad. They die. Pass the shepherd’s pie, please.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.
You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION:
You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you.
You charge others for storing them.

A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You enter into a partnership with an American corporation. Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You worship both of them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported on them.

AN ISRAELI CORPORATION:
There are these two Jewish cows, right?
They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, who needs people?

AN ARKANSAS CORPORATION:
You have two cows.
That one on the left is kinda cute…

Optimist, Pessimist or Something Else? (Post a Week – Topic #32)

I usually describe myself as a “glass half empty” person trying to become a “glass half full” person.  That is until a friend of mine said something that changed my outlook on the optimist vs. pessimist perspective.  He said “An optimist may see the glass as half full, and a pessimist may see the glass as half empty, but a realist sees the glass as much too big for his needs.”

He went on to say that, although I may consider myself a pessimist, I recognize that being a pessimist keeps me from enjoying life to the fullest.  The fact that I not only recognize this, but I continue to try to change my thought patterns by consciously being aware of my thoughts, means that I’m more of a realist.

Being a realist means seeing things as they really are, not how we want or expect them to be.  I think in most cases, a pessimist expects too often.  They expect your news to be bad, they expect that in any given situation, they will be burdened in some way or taken advantage of.  Whereas an optimist is more likely to see things the way they want them to be.  This is a generalization, of course.  By no means am I saying that all pessimists and optimists are the same.

I consider myself a realist, now.  By rejecting the label of “pessimist”, I am doing myself a favor, as well.  Thinking myself a pessimist, only makes me more pessimistic.  After all it’s a negative label, and implies there is something wrong with me.

I am who I am.  I may not always see the glass as half full, but I try to look at the good and the bad in every situation.  Seeing things the way they are helps me keep things in perspective.  That may not work for everyone, but it works for me.  What else can I ask for?

Are you an optimist, a pessimist or a realist?

Cell Phone Etiquette (A Public Service Announcement)

Since so many people out there seem to be completely oblivious to the above, I’m going to give some tips on how NOT to use your cell phone.

First, understand that nobody wants to hear your personal stuff.  I don’t want to hear about the wart you just had lanced while I’m grocery shopping (that’s something I actually heard once).  I don’t care how messed up your crackhead cousin is.  If you have something personal to talk about, find a private spot.  Like oh… I don’t know… YOUR HOME!  I realize that you have every right to talk on your cell phone, but do you really want every body to know your personal business?  Do you realize that EVERYBODY can hear you?

Secondly, I know that some of you are not terribly coordinated, and it’s difficult for you to walk and talk at the same time, but could you at least move to a spot where you’re not blocking traffic?  If you’re going to stop in the middle of the aisle at Kmart, I am warning you now, I will run you over with my cart.  If I don’t have a cart with me at the time, I will grab the nearest item off the shelf and huck it at your head!

Those who lack coordination also need to put the phone down when you get to the register.  If you can’t walk and talk at the same time, how are you going to talk and count at the same time?  I fully admit, I’m not a very patient person when it comes to waiting, and you’re making me wait longer then I have to.  If you were to watch me, you’d notice my face turn a bright shade of red as the minutes tick by.

New York is a hands-free state.  You must have a headset to talk while driving.  Most people are not even talented enough to do that (especially people who talk with their hands).  You’re sporadic driving is putting everybody else on the road in danger.  Is your conversation really that important that you would do such a thing?  If it is, could you maybe pull over for a second?  That’s probably better than killing somebody due to your recklessness.

And to all the business people who answer their cell phone and then start talking LOUDER… nobody cares how important you think you are.  I’m not impressed by the numbers you so conveniently throw out for all to hear.  How ’bout you get in your fancy sports car and drive it into the ocean!

Just a few simple rules.  They really aren’t that hard to follow, and it would make the world a little more tolerable for everybody else.  If you could see past your own selfishness, common sense would kick in.  For most of you anyway.  I’m sorry to say that for some of you, there is no hope.

Here ends your public service announcement.

The Best Sound in the World

I love everything related to our five senses.  Sights, sounds, smells, texture… don’t take these things for granted!  They improve our quality of life here on this planet.  Relish them.  Savor them.

A hundred things went through my head when I saw today’s topic “your favorite sound”.  A crackling fire, crumpling paper, the ‘pop’ that bubble-wrap makes when you squeeze it, the steady ‘click-clack’ of high heels on pavement.  But there is one sound that can put a smile on my face any time, any where, no matter what or how I’m feeling.  That sound is, a laughing baby.  Can you listen to this without cracking a smile?

I definately can’t!  In fact, I can count on this sound to cheer me up.  I keep this video in my ‘favorites’ just for that reason.  The only thing better than this, is listening to my own 3 year old son laugh.  His giggle makes me giggle and his belly laugh practically dares me to be in a bad mood!  There is NO GREATER SOUND in the WORLD!  None.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be.” ~James Matthew Barrie (author of Peter Pan)

I Will Post Every Week for 2011!

I have decided to take on the WordPress challenge to post every week for 2011.  It won’t be easy (or maybe it will), but I will give it my all.  Finding topics will probably be the most difficult part for me.

I could definately use some support, encouragement and inspiration in this, and that’s where you come in.  Please comment, like and/or subscribe as you see fit.  Do you disagree with me?  Please tell me!  I’d love to hear your point of view.  I live for diversity!  My only request is that you be respectful.  Name calling and the like, does not sit well with me.  We’re all adults and I expect us to act as such.

I’m still learning my way around WordPress, so please be patient with me.  I don’t know where to find everything and I get lost from time to time, but what better way to learn my way around then by just being here? 

I’m looking forward to what this challenge will bring!  HAPPY 2011!!!

My Bucket List

Things I’d like to do before I kick the bucket (in no particular order).

I’d like to see the world.  I really mean that… THE WORLD.  I can’t think of any place I don’t want to go.  At the top of my list is Europe, Egypt, Russia, Israel, India, China, Japan, Australia and of course all 50 of our beautiful states.

I’d like to see my boys grow up and have families of their own.  To hold my grandchildren and spoil them rotten.  My mother-in-law always says “I only had children so I could have grandchildren.”  She gets all the fun of the kids and can send them home to us.  The best of both worlds!

I want to see a real, live Komodo Dragon… from afar.  I don’t want to get too close to those bad boys, but I just love them!  The way they walk reminds me of a bulldog and I giggle every time.  Along those same lines, I also want to jump on a gator.  On ‘Dirty Jobs’ they went to this place that teaches you how to do it.  You start with a little guy and work your way up to a 6 or 7 footer.  That would be awesome!

I want to learn another language.  I’m not sure which though.  Narrowing it down would be the hardest part for me.  Japanese, Russian and German are just a few I’m interested in.  I’ve thought about buying RosettaStone or even Muzzy.

And lastly, for once in my life, I’d like to finish something.  It doesn’t even matter what it is.  I have a bad habit of starting things and never finishing them.  Like the blanket I was crocheting when I was pregnant with my first son, the cross-stitch pattern I’m halfway through with, and the glass painting I’m too chicken to even try.  I’d just like to see one thing through to completion.

What’s on your bucket list?

My Window

I stare out the window at the damp, grey sky and I feel the heaviness of this day down to my very core.  I notice the cars as they drive by, but I don’t really see them.  I don’t wonder where they’re going or care what they’re thinking.  I am only annoyed for the inconsiderate interruption.

I notice the light beginning to fade and the shadows shifting.  It will be dark soon, and I will see nothing but my own reflection in the window I look through now… but I don’t budge.  I want only to sit and wallow in my misery.  Staring at the rain helps me wallow and this is why I do it.

Thoughts rush through my head at speeds that would put Earnhardt to shame.  I can’t keep up with these thoughts, they make me dizzy and push me further down the hole I find myself in.

My thoughts are suddenly broken by the sound of the wind whistling, and I again notice the window.  I can still see through it, but I am starting to see my opaque reflection.  And at the moment, my life makes perfect sense.

In the light, I can look through my window and the view is clear.  I see the world and its inhabitants as they pass by.  I live my life based on what I see through that window.

But in the darkness, I see only myself when I look through my window.  In the darkness, I live my life based only on my own selfish motives.

It’s easy to see in the light.  I can get through whatever life throws at me because I can see clearly.  But in times of struggle, it becomes difficult to see past my own reflection.  I cannot see so clearly what life throws at me.  It requires an effort to look past myself.

My thoughts are broken again.  This time by the sound of my children playing.  I turn away from my window to see their happy faces, and my mind stops racing as I watch them play.

My window has reminded me of the importance of what lies beyond myself.  The answer to the question I didn’t realize I was looking for, was in my window all along.