Wishing Y’all A Happy Halloween 2013

Happy Halloween

The Sting Of The Scorpion Wishes The World A Happy Halloween

On this Halloween I want to pass on my wishes for everyone’s safety. There will be many of y’all going out tonight to do a variety activities around the country and around the world. So, in the tradition of Halloween, let’s see how everyone around the world partakes. Halloween is most popular in the United States and Canada. Halloween is the holiday when the most candy is sold and is second only to Christmas in terms of total sales. Interestingly trick or treating originated in Ireland. Obviously it is celebrated in different ways.

Austria

In Austria, some people will leave bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before retiring on Halloween night. The reason for this is because it was once believed such items would welcome the dead souls back to earth on a night which for the Austrians was considered to be brimming with strong cosmic energies.

Belgium

The Belgians believe that it is unlucky for a black cat to cross once’s path and also unlucky if it should enter a home or travel on a ship. The custom in Belgium on Halloween night is to light candles in memory of dead relatives.

Canada

Modern Halloween celebrations in Canada began with the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800s. Jack O’Lanterns are carved and the festivities include parties, trick-or-treating and the decorating of homes with pumpkins and corn stalks.

China

In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bondires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Haloween night. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the “pretas” in order that they might ascend to heaven. “Pretas” are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of “pretas” among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the “pretas,” which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.

Czechoslovakia

In Czechoslovakia, chairs are placed by the fireside on Halloween night. There is one chair for each living family member and one for each family member’s sprit.

England

At one time, English children made “punkies” out of large beetroots, upon which they carved a design of their choice. Then, they would carry their “punkies” through the streets while singing the “Punkie Night Song” as they knocked on doors and asked for money. In some rural areas, turnip lanterns were placed on gateposts to protect homes from the spirits who roamed on Halloween night. Another custom was to toss objects such as stones, vegetables and nuts into a bonfire to frighten away the spirits. These symbolic sacrifices were also employed as fortune-telling tools. If a pebble thrown into the flames at night was no longer visible in the morning, then it was believed that the person who tossed the pebble would not survive another year. If nuts tossed into the blaze by young lovers then exploded, it signified a quarrelsome marriage. For the most part however, the English ceased celebrating Halloween with the spread of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. Since followers of the new religion did not believe in Saints, they saw no reason to celebrate the Eve of All Saints’ Day. However, in recent years, the American “trick or treating” custom, together with the donning of costumes for going door-to-door, has become a relatively popular past-time among English children at Halloween, although many of the adults (particularly the older generations) have little idea as to why they are being asked for sweets and are usually ill-prepared to accommodate their small and hopeful callers.

France

Unlike most nations of the world, Halloween is not celebrated by the French in order to honor the dead and departed ancestors. It is regarded as an “American” holiday in France and was virtually unknown in the country until around 1996.

Germany

In Germany, the people put away their knives on Halloween night. The reason for this is because they do not want to risk harm befalling the returning spirits.

Hong Kong

The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.

Ireland

In Ireland, believed to be the birthplace of Halloween, the tradition is still celebrated as much as it is in the United States. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts and children dress up in costumes to spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods. After the visiting, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends. At these parties, many games are played, including “snap-apple,” in which an apple on a string is tied to a doorframe or tree, and players attempt to take a bite out of the suspended apple. In addition to bobbing for apples, parents often arrange treasure hunts with sweets or pastries as the “treasure.” The Irish also play a card game where cards are laid face-down on a table with sweets or coins beneath them. When a child selects a card, he or she receives whatever prize might be found there. A traditional food is eaten on Halloween called “barnbrack.” This is a type of fruitcake which can be baked at home or store-bought. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake which, so it is said, can foretell the future of the one who finds it. If the prize is a ring, then that person will soon be wed and a piece of straw means a prosperous year is forthcoming. Children are also known to play tricks upon their neighbors on Halloween night. One of which is known as “knock-a-dolly,” where children knock on the doors of their neighbors but then run away before the door is opened.

Japan

The Japanese celebrate the “Obon Festival” (also known as “Matsuri” or “Urabon”) which is similar to Halloween festivities in that it is dedicated to the spirits of ancestors. Special foods are prepared and bright red lanterns are hung everywhere. Candles are lit and placed into lanterns which are then set afloat on rivers and seas. During the “Obon Festival,” a fire is lit every night in order to show the ancestors where their families might be found. “Obon” is one of the wo main occasions during the Japanese year when the dead are believed to return to their birthplaces. Memorial stones are cleaned and community dances performed. The “Obon Festival” takes place during July or August.

Korea

In Korea, the festival similar to Halloween is known as “Chusok.” It is at this time that families thank their ancestors for the fruits of their labor. The family pays respect to these ancestors by visiting their tombs and making offerings of rice and fruits. The “Chusok” festival takes place in the month of August.

Mexico, Latin America And Spain

Among Spanish-speaking nations, Halloween is known as “El Dia de los Muertos.” It is a joyous and happy holiday…a time to remember friends and family who have died. Officially commemorated on November 2 (All Souls’ Day), the three-day celebration actually begins on the evening of October 31. Designed to honor the dead who are believed to return to their homes on Halloween, many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water and samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks. Frequently, a basin and towel are left out in order that the spirit can wash prior to indulging in the feast. Candles are incense are burned to help the departed find his or her way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of deceased family members, including snipping weeds, making repairs and painting. The grave is then adorned with flowers, wreaths or paper streamers. Often, a live person is placed inside a coffin which is then paraded through the streets while vendors toss fruit, flowers and candies into the casket. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some of these gatherings may even include tequila and a mariachi band although American Halloween customs are gradually taking over this celebration. In Mexico during the Autumn, countless numbers of Monarch butterflies return to the shelter of Mexico’s oyamel fir trees. It was the belief of the Aztecs that these butterflies bore the spirits of dead ancestors.

Sweden

In Sweden, Halloween is known as “Alla Helgons Dag” and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, “Alla Helgons Dag” has an eve which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint’s Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.

United States

Halloween is usually celebrated amongst family, friends and, sometimes, co-workers. However, some areas hold large community events. Parties and other events may be planned on October 31 or in the weekends before and after this date. Adults may celebrate by watching horror films, holding costume parties or creating haunted houses or graveyards. Many children dress up in fancy costumes and visit other homes in the neighborhood. At each house, they demand sweets, snacks or a small gift. If they do not get this, they threaten to do some harm to the inhabitants of the house. This is known as playing ‘trick-or-treat’ and is supposed to happen in a friendly spirit, with no nasty or mean tricks being carried out. However, if your children take part, it is important to accompany them and to check their ‘treats’ to make sure they are safe to eat or play with. Some families carve lanterns with ‘scary’ faces out of pumpkins or other vegetables or decorate their homes and gardens in Halloween style. These were traditionally intended to ward off evil spirits. If you are at home on Halloween, it is a good idea to have a bowl of small presents or sweets to offer to anyone who knocks on your door. This will help you to please the little spirits in your neighborhood!

halloween

The Sting Of The Scorpion Wishes The World A Happy Halloween

When A United States Marine Dies

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Growing up I always was fascinated with the stories my uncle would tell all of us kids. He liked to talk about his time in the United States Marine Corps (USMC), his friends he made, the friends he lost, the places he visited, and his experiences. But, he wasn’t always a marine. Before he was a Marine he was part of a family which consisted of eight sons and eight daughters. He was the youngest boy, born 06 October 1932 in Mandan North Dakota. Coming from a family of Marines he knew early on he wanted to be a Marine and continue the legacy. He enlisted in the USMC on 08 October 1950 and was quickly carted off to fight in the Korean War where he completed multiple tours. In July 1953 with the end of the Korean war in sight he was cycled back to the United States he found himself stationed at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Later in the year, 15 October 1953 he married his high school sweetheart and began his own family. Over the years they had nine children, five boys and four girls. In 1965 he was part of Rolling Thunder, the initial wave of soldiers being sent to Vietnam. He would do three tours in Vietnam, his last one in 1970 falling short since he was wounded in action. He returned home in the summer of 1970 and retired later in the year with 20 years of active service with the United States Marine Corps. At this time, my uncle, a retired USMC vet, decided to open a hardware/feed store where he grew up outside of Mandan. He would run the hardware shop for thirty years and finally decided that it was time to let his children carry on with it. The hardware store remains open today, some 42 years later.

In early June 2013 my uncle was diagnosed with a cancer I won’t try to pronounce or spell. by the time it was diagnosed it was spread to almost 60% of his body. He went into intense therapy to try and attempt to eradicate the cancer but it only put a little dent and then decided to continue to spread aggressively. On 09 October 2013 he was re-admitted to the hospital die to complications with his liver and kidneys which later in the week completely shut down. My mother, his last remaining sibling rushed to North Dakota to be by his side as everyone was fearing this would be his final trip to the hospital. He had recently, the week before, celebrated his 81st birthday a frail, sick, shell of the man he once was. Knowing he was going to die very soon he demanded to be let out of the hospital because he did not want to spend his 60th wedding anniversary in a hospital bed. On the morning of 15 October 2013 he was released into the care of his wife. Upon request, he was helped to get dressed in his finest Sunday suit for dinner in their one room apartment that evening, celebrating his wedding anniversary with the love of his life. In the wee hours of Wednesday, 16 October 2013 my uncle passed away.

His funeral will be this coming Monday, 21 October 2013. I was told that once a Marine, you are always a Marine, and you will die a Marine. His funeral will be a full on USMC service and burial. Many of his fellow Marines he served with over the years will attend to pay their respects as well as family and friends. When I spoke to my aunt this morning and my mother last night I was told that the one thing she is not looking forward to is being present the United States flag which will have been draped on the casket. She thinks the reality of his death will come to pass at that moment. She was very emotional. My mother has requested me to make my aunt a shadow box enclosure to house the flag and a variety of his Marine memorabilia she will be returning home with. As I wiped the tears from my eyes, as I am having to do now, I accepted the task. As I say farewell to my uncle Steven I am reminded what a remarkable son he was to his parents, how he cherished the very ground he wife walked upon, he was a great brother, and how he is a wonderful father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He was many things to many people, he was a man who was the picture of honor and reliability, luckily I knew him my entire life as uncle Steven.

The Things People Say

The things people say right in front of you are sometimes very disturbing, Especially when what is being said is in another language that you don’t understand. For years my wife and now 17 y/o daughter have been coming home telling me they just know the Asian women working at the nail salon are talking about them in a negative way. To be honest, I have always just blown it off. It has been my experience that most women always think someone is whispering something about them. I have seen this my whole life with family, friends, spouses, daughters, co-workers, and yes, even with the strippers I used to work with at the bar. I have always tried to figure out if it is vanity or some kind of insecurity that most women suffer from. I have a simple life and a simple outlook on life, I just don’t care what people outside of my immediate family think about me or say about me to my face or behind my back. So, okay, where am I going with all of this in such a round about way? Well, last night my wife was busy and was needing to break her date with my daughter to go get their toes done. I was asked to take my daughter in a manner I couldn’t refuse, I was asked nicely with a smile, she said please, and there was no guilt trip anywhere in the questioning. So, I said yes, of course.
 
But, it actually was a loaded question, a question which had underlying motives which were made clear to me in the car while we were on our way. I was to be my daughter’s secret weapon against the women at the salon. How could I be a secret weapon y’all might be asking. Well, I spent many years in South Korea, Japan, and in the Philippines. You cannot spend time in these countries without learning some of the language spoken. Which I learned how to speak all three, understand all three, and I could write what I needed to in all three. Now a days, I have to be listening pretty close to what is being said so I can translate it all in my head. I am worthless speaking any of it or writing it any more tho, but I can still understand most of the spoken word, I said most not all. So, my daughter explains to me that she will pay to have my toes done and take me to dinner at the place of my choice if I just do one favor for her. She wants me to listen to the women at the salon and see if they are talking bad about her or not. I agreed. I figure at this point, now sitting in the parking lot at the strip mall in front of the salon, that this will be pointless and fruitless, but I will have my toes done for the first time ever and get dinner at Olive Garden. So, it was a win win situation for me, I have nothing to lose in this entire arrangement.
 
We head inside, take our seat as instructed, and wait our turn since they were remarkably busy in my opinion. There were some 18 stations/chairs and at least two women working at each station. If nothing else, if all else fails, I will end up with the munchies because I can feel myself becoming lightheaded, not unlike being a little high, not that I know anything about that of course. Glad we will be going to eat. While we waited my daughter wandered around the salon looking for the perfect shade of red, she reported to me that there was like 90 shades of red and it was very hard to decide. Hey, I know, let me pick the color, which is more like playing Russian Roulette since I would have to read the bottle. She didn’t like the joke and continued on her quest to find the perfect red. So, no fun for me, this time. Finally, we are instructed to follow the woman that will be servicing one of us. Lucky me, she is speaking Korean and I can understand 80% of what she is saying to the other woman.

As soon as I was seated she was explaining to me to sit back, relax, and use the vibrating massage chair at my leisure. Ok, now I know why women come here. I can see how women like sitting in these chairs, the vibrations and massaging balls hit ALL the right spots. That’s right ladies, I know the secret now, I have infiltrated, observed, and concluded. Y’all are very naughty, here I thought this was going to be an innocent experience. No wonder they charge so much. They know they are hitting all the right spots which turn y’all to jelly and they keep hearing yes, yes, yes, since y’all have a hard time keeping it all under wraps. Ok, enough with the analysis, back to why I am here. Other than the chair being nice, the woman handling my feet is pretty rough. Now, being a diabetic, I take excellent care of my feet. I keep them lotioned, I keep my nails trimmed just at the right length so I don’t get in-grown toenails, and so forth. Plus, I never knew I was so ticklish, someone should have warned me, I am a pedicure virgin here. Which reminds me. As the woman began the soaking process of my feet she was going on and on about how big my feet were and they didn’t exactly fit in the little tub the right way. My daughter immediately started giving me the “look” for me to tell her what the woman had said. Following etiquette of the other ladies at the salon, I pulled out my cell phone and began texting my daughter, who I remind you was sitting right next to me. It was kind of awkward for me, I am used to talking to those who are in my immediate vicinity.

So, we are laid back, relaxed, and suprisingly this salon is noisy as hell. I was trying to pay attention to three diiferent conversations to see if I could relate anything being said to either one of us, or towards others in the chair as well. I watched the woman go after these lady’s feet with grand furver, it reminded me of a farrier who must use brute force to contort and hold the foot he is about to shoe. Those nail clippers, similar to the one I own, are chopping away, toenails flying everywhere, I was kind of worried that I might get an eye taken out or something. As I said, I take care of my feet very well, I have heard way too many horror stories. In the end, I got lotioned, she did push all my cuticles back and applied the antibiotic gel which stops the bleading and keeps one from getting infected. She really had nothing to do, she looked like she was struggling a bit because my feet being well off and thrown her way off. So, in Korean, she begins commenting to the other woman at my daughter’s feet about how I didnt need to be here because nothing was being done. Then there was quite a bit of jibberish about how this was a nice break for her. Then the woman at my daughter’s feet began talking about how short my daughter is and how tall I am. She was talking about how large my feet were compared to my daughter’s feet, but her’s were dry and crack and mine were pretty. I was kinda grinning listening, I get the nudge from my daughter so I began texting her. Before long I was done, my woman had nothing to do, so she dry my feet and slid my shoes back onto my feet for me. However, she decided to stay and “help” the woman with my daughter. The talked about how she must be spoiled because she is in here every 2-3 weeks and always spends alot of money. They chit chatted back and forth while they painted on the perfect shade of red. There was nothing special being said, just frivalous talk about weekend plans, about their kids, and how the one woman needs to make an appointment for her back pains.

We are all set now, they slide on my daughter’s flip flops and stick her under the dryer. I was told, kind of rudely I might add, to get out of my chair and go sit at the front of the salon to wait for my daughter. It was in her tone that it was rude in my opinion. Who knows, it was probably just me, I don’t like being bossed around or rushed when I am doing the paying. Soon enough my daughter emerges to the front. She pulled out her wallet and presented a hundred dollar bill to the cashier. She rang us up, gave my daughter the change and reciept, and then pointed us towards the door. My daughter went to both of our woman and gave them their tips. I had told my daughter to tell them both “Komawoyo”, which is thank you in Korean. I thought they were both going to pass out. Quietly one turned to the other and told her my daughter spoke Korean and they both began to blush a bit. Then they let her have it, my daughter had no clue what they were saying so I approached to help out. I told them, in English, they should be careful when talking in the native tongue because they never know who may understand them. For reference, I told her thank you for saying I had pretty feet and I really didn’t think my daughter was spoiled since she spends the money she earns. Almost instantly both woman got up, turned, and headed into the back room. I have found, with past experiences, this tactic works better when I speak to them in their native tongue, but my spoken Korean is all but broken to the extent I have no real clue as to what I am saying anyway. Better to just tell them I understood and move on.

After we got home my daughter explained everything to my wife. It was funny to watch, those two gossiping to the extent it began sounding like two old hens in the yard just chewing the fat. My wife told my daughter that I was always full of surprises. Which she knows, since we spend allot of time people watching when we are out and about. I suppose the moral to this entire story is that you never know if the person beside you understands what is being said. I have found that people use their native tongue to speak bad about others when needed. I work with many bi-lingual people, Spanish speaking people, and when I am around I hear what they say and understand most of it. One day I will pop off and explain something to them when the moment arrises. But the, my work kids aren’t really worth my effort other then messing with their heads a bit.