Thursday, October 23, 2014

Youth, Bath Salts & Terrorism

I watched a documentary on designer drugs using the name or term 'Bath Salts' and at first I was a little concerned that people were swallowing, smoking, snorting or injecting actual 'Bath Salts' and to be frank I'm still not sure but I had a look in Wikipedia for a little more information.

Now there are a ton of designer drugs, none of which are good I might add and there is ample evidence of this readily available to anyone who cares to check before consuming these party drugs but this documentary was focused on the families of 'Bath Salts' addicts.

What struck me was the anger by the families of these drug addicts directed at authorities. The anger was focused on two key points;
  1. Authorities have been far too slow to act in banning 'Bath Salts' causing the acquisition of these drugs to be far too easy. (The primary issue that authorities have is defining the drug. No sooner is the pharmacology (chemical makeup) identified and listed and the pharmacology is altered by some enterprising low life chemist.)
  2. Authorities are too tough on soft drugs. The thinking here is that if soft drugs were readily available there would be no market for the harder drugs. (This is as delusional as a drug abuser believing that they are in control of their addiction. This says "Let us make it easier for more youth to become drug addicts" and is plain stupid.)
At no point during the documentary did anyone take responsibility for the situation that they found their family in, nor did they lay any portion of blame on the addicted drug user. One father actively supported his daughter by driving her to drug buys because he believed that he could control her and minimise the addiction. The mother on the other hand preferred the tough love approach and would pay for rehabilitation through an approved centre. This divide had of course caused the family to break up with the mother retaining custody of the younger children.

At the same time we have a number of youth, not just here in Australia but worldwide who are off for a little adventure and are making their way to the Middle East to join ISIL. Listening to the multitude of talk shows with their interviewing of experts on this type of youthful behaviour. The number of excuses, primarily directed at low socio-economic members of society are quite astounding. 

There is no excuse (in my opinion) for anyone to get into a situation where they are taking these drugs. There is a plethora of information available through existing educational systems, the internet, social (and in fact all) media to warn of the risks involved. The bulk of responsibility lies squarely with the drug abuser!

As for any 17 year old with the romantic idea of heading off to join a group of desert dwellers and become a leader and martyr of world liberation. This is not a game, a fantasy or a dime store novel. This is life and death, there is no glory in war and certainly not in terrorism. One thing is certain and a fundamental lesson - it matters not the age of the finger on the trigger. Or the age of the hand holding the bomb, grenade or whatever. The devastation delivered by a younger hand will not be less catostrophic, nor will it be easier to bear.

People make their choices and must accept the consequences of those choices, the drug abuser is responsible for their addiction and the impact of this on their family as is the terrorist. If they are old enough to make the choice, they are old enough to accept responsibility for the consequence of that choice. No excuses!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I awoke this morning thinking about my circumstances, feeling a little sorry for myself. I have a touch of flu and nothing is going my way, blah! blah! blah! Oh poor little old ME! ME! ME! Oh man I wanted to have a mega pity party and invite the world - Wow seriously! I didn't even notice that the beast was gathering momentum,,, at first. It starts with an unhealthy inward look, unhealthy because one is not looking for positives but rather the negatives and so begins the journey to deep depression - for me anyway.

Self pity gradually becomes self doubt and moves steadily toward self loathing but the common denominator is always, self! self! self! Sometimes this journey can take days and at other times it can take only minutes but one thing is certain, if I don't grab those reigns and pull this beast in quick smart it could be a long hard journey back, assuming that I can gain control of the beast in the first place. If the beast is not gathered it will take me to it's lair and that is where hope is devoured and once this happens, I know that there is no way back. The light at the end of the tunnel is 'hope' and once extinguished there is no escaping the dark.

Even writing about this is putting a lot of focus on self and this is always a dangerous move. Yes you may question my sanity, why not? I do! We often joke about the voices in our head's but this is not too far from the truth as we do justify ourselves which requires reasoning and what is reasoning if not opposites to a notion or 'an argument', often referred to as the 'voice of reason'. How do we get into this predicament in the first place? I can only speak for myself and I know that for me it begins with desire - "I want" and here too is positive and negative desire. Examples would be. 1) Positive; love, good relationships, happiness. 2) Negative; covet (why use many words when one will do) 'lifestyle'.

Fortunately as I sat at my computer catching up on social media almost every story I looked at not only handed me the reigns, but lent strength to pull the beast up short.  The first, a 10 year old girl with her little brother, hungry and scavenging for food scraps in the dirt of a worn torn country wishing blessings of gratitude to those who 'have'... like me! Reality check - it's not all about ME! for a start and secondly I should be grateful for the many blessings I do have. Time to give thanks for all the positives and there are an abundance of these, blatantly obvious when reality is actually 'In focus'.

There were many other examples today but the second story which captured my attention was that of a beautiful young lady who was robbed of her tablet by a couple of criminals, what made this story special was that the young lady felt sorry for the criminals whom she had forgiven and said had "bigger problems than me" - the problem she was referring to was the fact that she is wheelchair bound by Cerebral Palsy. Her primary concern is for the rest of us because they (the criminals) may target us.

I thank my friends and family on social media who have taken an interest in these stories because it is they who have empowered me through their empathy. The beast is well and truly under control, back in it's cage where it belongs.

Till next time - take care and stay safe!

Saturday, August 9, 2014


I awoke this morning with this topic in the forefront of my mind and I feel compelled to put my thoughts to paper (e-paper in this case). 

Friendships - we all form them, some good, long term bonds as strong if not stronger than family bonds between brothers and sisters or even child and parent. Some are short, fleeting but life changing in a positive way while others are negative, draining and can leave one feeling robbed, exhausted, as though the life has been sucked from one's marrow.

My youngest brother once said to me of his friend "Dave" (whom I never met). "Dave was a better father to me than my own father!" Dave was an older man, but I couldn't help wondering if my brother was a better son to Dave than he was to our father? He also said, "I don't know you, you were always in the army - then you left for Australia when I was 18!" This is true and whilst I "know" him being 8 years his senior, he would have very little memory of me as our development was almost a decade apart. So yes he had a much stronger relationship with his friend than with me.

The best friends and strongest friendships are those that just bring people together without any expectation, in my opinion. True friends don't need to be in each others space all the time but can communicate without words, some may even intuitively know the other person's needs. Above all the strongest friendships are those that feel super comfortable, a bit like a well used favourite coat on a cold and windy day - one really appreciates the warmth, smell and comfort offered.

So what has brought this compelling need to write about this? Well... friendships are not only about comfort, laughter and good times, especially where those friendships have spanned decades. These friendships will involve not only the person whom the bond has been formed with but also other members of the friends family. In many cases this may include multiple spouses, children, grand children and even great grand children. Such is the case with my Bonnie Ronnie's closest Australian friend "Lynn" of almost 30 years and whilst this friendship has had it's tumultuous moments it has had tremendous laughter and good times. However, sadly Ronnie's friend has that terrible insidious disease 'Cancer' and her time in this life draws to a close.

My Bonnie Ronnie is no stranger to tragedy. There is no tragedy greater than the loss of a child and there is no greater feeling of impotence and grief than watching your own child carry the small white casket of their child, your grandchild, from the chapel. 

This now is a different kind of tragedy, this is not sudden or distant but immediate, excruciatingly painful and slow. Ronnie and I have been helping the family for quite a number of months with hospital/doctor/treatment trips and the like. Ronnie has spent many hours at her friends bedside nursing her and attending to her personal needs as she loses weight, strength and control. The family are struggling, they have jobs, homes, family, children and grandchildren. This has been compounded by Lynn's compassion as she brought a stranger (who has this insidious disease and is in the same condition) home with her from hospital, when it was determined that nothing further could be done for either of them, other than to make them as comfortable as possible.

Ronnie too needed a break and we were preparing for our weekly shopping yesterday when we received a call saying that the doctor didn't think Lynn would last the night. This saw Ronnie back at her friends side immediately. A family who themselves are ill as a result of the stress no doubt, welcome the help, love and support that Ronnie offers and all of them are very grateful.

I've watched my Bonnie Ronnie of late as she quietly goes through many of the old photographs from the good times and there were many. Occasionally Ronnie would bring a photo to me and relate a story of some mischief that the two of them had experienced. One evening recently I heard a song playing repeatedly and on investigation found that Ronnie was listening to her friend Lynn singing whilst accompanied by a piano. The recording was on an old 4 track tape that had seen better days and some parts were rather badly distorted. Ronnie said how she wished she could copy it to a CD for Lynn to listen to. I thought that this was a lovely idea and offered to see if I could do something with it.

I am no audio engineer but I have the software and so it's just a case of learning to use it quickly. A couple of years ago I found a bunch of Super 8, Standard 8 and old Video cassettes of home movies that I had saved and decided to have them converted to digital and placed on DVD in open source format (in case I wanted to use bits). Amongst the resulting clips was one of Lynn's 50th birthday party which we had taken 20 years ago so I though it might be nice to see if I could put Lynn's singing onto this clip as background music. Well there was a lot more audio than movie so I though I had better get a little creative. I added a number of beautiful sunset's and sunrises with a little animation and some nice soft transitions. I was able to clean up and repair the audio to a degree (not a professional job by any stretch of the imagination) once I had figured out how to digitise it.

We presented the completed DVD with menu's titles, photo's and audio clips to Lynn and the spark in her eye causing Ronnie to beam like a Cheshire cat made the two week project well worthwhile.

Back to the present. Ronnie called a few minutes ago and it has been a really, really bad night with Lynn's pain rating a constant 10. However the call was to inform me that Ronnie had forgotten her charger so her phone battery is flat, no I'm not required (I'm on call) yet, but I should call Lynn's mobile if I should need to speak to her. I've decided that I'll go up there if nothing is heard by 12:00 because Ronnie needs to get some rest too.

Friendship - where would we be without it?

Till next time, take care and stay safe.