Thursday, December 08, 2005

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The EDate

On Line Dating
"The New Paradigm On How We Create Relationships"
From: A Crazy Little Thing Called Love and

I am an “EDate” survivor. Being an Edate, as I call it or online dating has changed the dynamics of how we meet and fall in love. I used to be one of them.

A brief history of online dating. There once was a love story called Linda and Leonard. They met online and lived happily ever after. But wait,that was really not the beginning. It goes back much further to the year 1979. In 1979 I was lucky to a pioneer in the phenomenon of communication via the home computer. I remember sitting at my Apple computer in the laundry room slash office having hooked up my acoustic coupler modem and receiving my first call on my computer. It was an engineer who was testing modems at Arco in downtown Los Angeles. I was amazed. Imagine me, a housewife sitting at my house in Woodland Hills California talking to someone who I didn’t even know. Neither of us knew each other’s age, our physical appearance nor the sound of the others voice. Here we were typing, two pioneering souls in the new cyber society.

I had belonged to the Apple Corp, a grassroots computer club that met at UCLA. A group of computer “nerds” as we were called back then, fascinated with these machines that would revolutionize not only our world, but the entire world. As part of the club, we included our phone number in a newsletter and I became one of 12 Bulletin Board Systems or BBS’s for short, that had sprung up around the country. The phone continued to ring and my little computer continued to bring me new people from all over southern California. I started to see that communication without face to face or voice to voice would change how we view each other. I had days when I sat in my bathrobe, slippers and having a bad hair day. But who cared? I was welcomed and greeted for no matter how I was looking or feeling. The person I was communicating with could only visualize me from what I was typing.

In 1981, our modem bulletin board system went from one user to a 12 users system. The computer community grew. We called it Mail Pac. The Los Angeles Times ran a story about it and more people joined the Mail Pac village. We became a family. A group of people who could sit at their home and talk to each other at one central system, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We started to meet for pizza every month so we could see what each other looked like in person. These were single people, families, children and parents. All these people could see the vision of what the internet would soon become. At the first meeting, I was amazed to see that the little community came in all ages. The faces behind the screen names ranged from ages 8 to age 75. The computer allowed all of us to be “you” without anyone really knowing what color hair you had, how tall you were or even your age.

This community included a housewife from Santa Monica<, one celebrity endorsement agent, a well known songwriter, a television writer for a major network, a retired air force sergeant, an 8 year old from Van Nuys, a corporate sales manager, a sound engineer, a child actor from Encino and yes even a non sighted person. Each could be equally accepted for our individual mind and not our appearance. We forged a bond that we might not have happened if we were neighbors, coworkers or friends. We could say whatever we wanted; we could share our moods, our daily ups and downs, our fears and our hopes. Our lives became interactive all hours of the day, it was real time problem solving. As in life, all other facets of human interaction kicked in. That included online romances for example. When you live behind a screen name, you can be anyone your heart desired. It’s amazing what can happen. You could be any age, any sex, and any martial status. Handicaps do not exist.

The success story was that a woman named Linda Thomas. She met a man named Leonard who called in; they typed for hours and finally talked on the phone. One night he showed up at her door step and never left. They got married and went off into the sunset happily ever after. This was 1983 but soon our community would be gobbled up by bigger giants who came onto the scene smelling profit. The CompuServes.

Moving into the future: The Linda and Leonard love story has changed slightly. Although online dating today is not different in its approach, the gene pool, so to speak, has gone from a handful of singles to millions of singles not only in this country but all over the world. Whether you are listed on, Eharmony, or, you can still be anyone you want to be. And that right there is the first problem. You don’t even have to ever meet the other person You can become what I term a serial Edate just by sitting on your couch and typing away. Charm the potential prince from your kitchen counter or cheer up the lovely damsel from your desk at work. We can live our love life in fantasy.

When beginning your new role as an online availability, most of us must choose the words describing ourselves, or at least in our opinion how we see ourselves. Since there is no one to judge the real facts, you can write down anything you see applies to you. If you are slightly overweight and don’t think of yourself that way, you become “average”. If you smoke but you really you are going to give it up, you might list yourself as a non smoker. You can literally create your persona for the entire world to see and right from the comfort of your own home. Then you go on exhibit.

What I learned about playing the Cyrano de bergerac back then was that most of the people who sign into the services are hiding behind a screen name, a description and a photo and often times not even a current photo. It is our introduction to others, our potential mate and it is so important because it is what we put out as the first impression. And we wonder why things don’t always work out?

I questioned seven people who have been an online dating site for more than two years. Each had the same goal. “To meet the love of my life”. Has each of these people done that? No, the sad part is that out of the seven cases, none have met the perfect match. Actually most had met what they considered their perfect match only to have it end in failure within months and often time after just four dates. Has each person been happy with this dating process? Their answers to what they want and what they actually mean might be two different things. All have been confronted with the indecision of staying another month or taking themselves off. Some actually have removed their profiles and then came on again once a relationship does not appear to be going anywhere. So why do they stay?

Options for meeting singles is primarily bars, single events, friends, family and church. Let’s not forget the workplace then again I’ve heard horror stories about mixing business and pleasure. Each of these people are within the ages of 32 to 62. Most are professional people or people who have had a good education, stable upbringing and are financially secure. The question remains, what goes wrong? The real answer might be that nothing is wrong. It is not the online dating system that has failed them, it is how they treat the online dating system, the purpose of online dating really is about. Did you ever wonder how many people are actually on single sites and how many people do find relationships that last more than one year.

I don’t think online dating is an ending, although most shoppers are looking at each product as an ending. What if they understood it to be a store? A place where you can shop for possibilities and opportunities. Let the happily ever after come later. Looking at every photo and profile as happily ever after can be dangerous business. It leaves out so many factors. But it can be used as exposure. Playing the odds so to speak. Not necessarily an end of the journey. In my test cases, do they represent themselves as I saw them?

Subject Number One: male, fifties, nice looking, and excellent job. How many dates has he secured from his online experience? He said he lost count in year one but it probably has totaled about 70 -75, ranging in all ages. Has any of these encounters worked out on a long term? “No” he answered. He has had a lot of fun, met a lot of woman. Is he carrying baggage in his nifty luggage called life experience? What is he like in his personal dating life in comparison to his online dating life? His photo reflects an accurate portrait of what he looks like. What both ofthese things do not show is that he is an incredible womanizer, attacking any new female face at any party or at any social event. In real life, he is the serial womanizer, never finding the ideal woman he sees in his mind, always looking for Cinderella in the next female he sets his eyes upon. Was the internet really the wrong choice for finding Ms Perfect? I’d say no. The internet is where he belongs.

Subject Number Two. Female, age 58, married for many years, widowed. Faithful in her marriage before her husband’s death. Became an addict to about eight months ago. Has met and dated about 12 men, the longest span being 1 month. She claims she wants only one special person in her life, someone who loves her, someone she can love. When asked why she felt none of the men she met from her Edate worked out, she claimed that they or most of them had flaws. None was as perfect as her husband had been. One in particular did not know how to spell properly, most lived too far away, although she knew exactly where they lived when she wrote to them, some were shorter or taller than she imagined, as if that should make a difference. But the most important fact seemed to be in her response, “there was no personal chemistry” or connection when she met them in person. Is internet dating actually the right choice for this pouncer? Probably.

Subject Number Three: Single, female, 36 years old. Has dated perhaps over 150 men in one year alone on the internet. At one stage she had a breakfast, lunch and dinner meeting each day of the week. I guess she knew how to save on grocery bills! Did any of these men work out? The answer is no. It didn’t work for the three years she was on a number of sites. She once got thru one whole month of one man. She is off the love matches these days and has become a serial dater in real life. The difference is that she meets her men in bars. Was internet dating the wrong choice for this feline stray? The answer is no!

I am a lucky winner at online match making. I tried the all promising, “total match compatibility”. Forget it. I matched 100% with a 26 year old in New York City. The problem was I was a 56 year old in Seattle Washington! After a very few sorted coffee dates with tedious small talk, I found exactly what I had hoped. A sweet wonderful man who far exceeded my expectations physically and mentally. I am perhaps rare in the big scope of things. Why? I looked at this phenomenon as a possibility and not as a direct solution. I knew what qualities I was looking for at the core of a person. I did not judge by someone’s photo nor their typing skills. I looked beyond to realize it would all come down to how I felt when I was in close contact to that person.

I looked at internet dating as nothing more than a dating store. It allowed me to shop until I dropped so to speak with endless possibilities. Not only did I not have to buy, I could try it on as well. Money back guaranteed. It was the door opener not the promise of happily ever after. It saved me from getting all dolled up and parading myself in front of a group of eligible bachelors. I never have liked the thought of feeling as if I was in a beauty competition and I truly believe in time management. Online shopping allowed me a heavy dose of time management. Pick and choose, that’s what it is all about. You can pick and choose until you find exactly the right one. It reminded me of being a kid with a box of chocolates, taking a little nibble out of some of them until I could find the prized chocolate in the middle. Toss the rest in the trash.

From my research as a writer, I knew that chemistry isn’t necessarily a stock portfolio nor size of someone shoe. It is far more greater than that. Chemistry is simple about chemicals. Chemicals that arouse our senses to get those pheromones going. It is not about logic, it is about love. And in reality can anyone ever figure out what love really is?

In conclusion, I think internet dating is a good thing. It allows us a grander marketplace for finding that right person. But remembering, the right person might even be called, the right “people”. Is there really happily ever after in a world of rapid changes? What is happily ever after for a 55 year old when you can see that shorter span in front of you, then the longer span you have already lived. Or for a 21 year old when the marriage statistics say that one in every two marriages will fail? Love and your love life in the millennium sadly might be about chapters and not about one complete romance novel. Seeing the internet for what it is and no more than that, could possibly help those who have these wild eyed fantasies about finding one perfect love. Look at it as the Sears catalog ofpotential and not as the end result of a probability. If you do you, might find that magic will happen.

The Look of Love, Nope Its in the Smell

The Look of Love, Nope Its In The Smell
From the article
This Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Also available in the book
A Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Since beginning of time, man has tried to express himself in song and verse to how he feels about love. Unfortunately, there isn't a class called "Love 101" in neither school nor college that can teach us how to understand this powerful emotion, especially when we are caught in its grasp?Medical science has proven with the use of MRI that our brain activity is more active when in a pleasure state. Blood pressure goes up, our cheeks flush. Yes being in love is magical. Endorphins don't just come along when love is in the air, they are also present during battle, stress, or running a marathon. The heart may play the role songs and sonnets but it's really the brain that is enjoying all this activity.Increase blood flow to the brain, the brain is one happy camper.So in reality -- love is a drug for the brain. Unfortunately like any drug, there are diminishing returns. Pheromones hold the key. A quick whiff can carry our euphoria from eighteen months to three years. At this time our passions are the highest. This love drug is called PEA or phenyl ethylamine. Its effects are similar to speed. When youfreefall, PEA is heightened. By comparing freefalling tolove, suddenly I am seeing the risk of ogling over Prince Charming. Both can be deadly. In a nasty trick of nature along come those pesky little endorphins. They, like morphine tends to calm the pain, dampen the feeling we experience from our love bite. Things are not looking up. Research has shown that at about four years, love starts to wane and that this is a critical time for divorce rates. How can we describe pheromones? Anyone who has a male dog will know that he urinates over his territory to mark his scent and discourage other dogs from his "territory". Well even if you have a nurtured dog, the principle still carries on. It's in the genes.These little scent marks actually contain pheromones. Androstenol are pheromones that can be found on the mouth of a pig. When the male pig puts his mouth on the snoot of a female pig, she become receptive to sex. I guess this is equivalent to a kiss as we know it. Fortunately for human women, it takes a little longer for some of us to prop ourselves into the mating position! And speaking of pigs or eating like pigs, researchers have found that when mice are given the MCH hormone, they have an increase in appetite. Human participants in a program given MCH became hungry for a pizza when they were not hungry before that point.

Yes, there is a connection in falling in love and feeling hungry. Just when things are looking up about love, now we have to think about eating like pigs. Going back to Relationships 101, since 50% of all marriages end in divorce and perhaps 80% of live-ins don't last, why wouldn't we want to get educated to correct these statistics? What red-flags do we need to know before entering into a relationship, love bug or no love bug? Do we want our hearts broken if we know the love affair will not work? What is too much too soon?In the day and age of the internet and personals, the words "I love you" can happen before you even meet the person you are emailing. How do we recognize control freaks, power trippers, gold diggers? How do we seek the truth about the person we want to love? Of course if you have Relationships 101 you might need a follow-up class called Breakups 101.I, like most people, want perfect endings. In the reality of life, happy" beginnings" do not always mean happy endings and that life sometimes isn't fair nor is it a fairy tale. Most of us have a fear of giving our heart completely. It leaves us venerable to the pain and disappointment down the line. We feel like a thief in the night has taken something inside us when we get disappointed in love. Let's face it, love can physically hurt. So what is love anyway? Definitions of love basically say it's a deep feeling of affection toward a person, place or thing. "Thing" might include your pet cat, bird, or even your goldfish.

Love, or what we might call love can also be a feeling of desire and attraction toward a person. Perhaps we should call this lust, not love. Freud saw romantic love negatively. He commented that falling in love was a "craziness, an illusion, a blindness" to what the loved person is really like. On a cheery note, he also saw the positive side of love, at least that of non-erotic love. There is evidence that human pheromones exist, babies show a clear preference for pieces of clothing that has been worn by their mothers. Research suggests that men and women chose their mates in partby sniffing out compatible immune systems.

The bad news is that science has found we are losing our ability to excrete pheromones by the evolutionary process. Are we doomed? No, research is working on substitutes. The problem is that pheromones are characteristic to individual people. Pheromone based perfome has been touted as a miracle, however the reality is that perfumes and scents only cover up the natural process, it doesn't help create the natural excretion.

The delusion of love at first sight may have to be adjusted to love at first whiff. It has nothing to do with the 12 billion dollars that Americans and Europeans spend each year in the perfume industry. It has nothing to do with cosmetics or after shave we buy to attract a mate. The emotions of the heart are really the sensations of the brain and the nose.
Not very romantic I must agree, but it is the reality of science. Personally I think that being in love brings calmness to our world. Make love not war? It is amazing when we are in love, our aggression subsides. We are happy. If we are all in a continual state of love, would it change the world? Perhaps.

A Crazy Little Thing Called Love

This Crazy Little Thing Called Love
By Kathleen Mary Andersen
Reprint from: Opinion Magazine
Exerpt from A Crazy Little Thing Called Love
To win or lose at the game of love. As the song goes, love hurts. Or was that love stinks? Either way what often begins as joy, happiness and lust, turns into anger, distrust and hate. I pondered about these two strong emotions and how closely they are related. We start by loving a lot of things about another human being, then somehow along the way, that love can turn to hate. How is it possible to love someone and yet hate them as well? Can we feel both at the same time for the same person? I had to look at the source of both to find an answer.

Webster's dictionary lists "love" as "an intense longing or craving".
This explanation can hardly give me a clue. No wonder why we can't get it right. Its the mystery that has plagued scholars and philosophers since the beginning of time. If Webster cant give us an answer than who can? We can start by going back to our birth. I, like many people, find a lot of love in babies. They arent really always beautiful when they are born. I looked at my own pink and shriveled son in wonderment when I first saw him. I did overlook all of that and saw the love of the Pureness of a new soul, one that had been untouched with the baggage of lives experience. I dont think we are born into this world full of hate, loathing andresentment. I think us, as individuals create it. Life throws us scenarios, we respond back with feelings and emotions that fall into the spectrum of love on one end and hate on the other. The quagmire of Life can help us create disillusion, disappointment and apathy or it can give us the ability to turn it to understanding, hope and love. In otherWords, we can make lemonade out of lemons or muck it up with mud.

Love and hate are born from ourselves. It is internal. They reside inside our Soul and we are given a choice in life what to do with them, how to apply them to our perception of how we view things. They form our attitude not just Toward each other but toward everything that comes across our path. Love and hate. One can be looked at as the positive and other, the negative. One might be considered a high and one might be considered a low. A ying and a yang. The sliding scale like a rainbow, an array of emotions in between that forms our personality and helps us mold our outlook into a unique and individual fingerprint. It is really our responsibility to paint the canvas using these emotions. We can either be heavier on the loving, caring, nurturing category and light on the Cynical, devious, maniacal side or visa versa. Its our choice.
Why is it that when we experience love, everything seems alive? We notice The sky is bluer, flowers smell sweeter, we want to sing, our whole mood Seems to resonate and we throw off love to everything like candy kisses in A parade. Love equates to being happy. On the other hand, when we are Hit with hate and disappointment, we allow another group of emotions to rise: Misery, irritability, jealousy, anger, envy. Our happy mood changes to sad and mad. Hate unfortunately seems to carry far more weight than love. It eats at Our physical body likes a virus. Life isnt so grand anymore. We can clearly see the duality of love and hate. For many, hate will live many more minutes in Their life span than the minutes filled with love.
Wisdom tells us that when we experience love and hate, we need to look at the source of its existence. If someone angers me, does it truly belong? To the person who evoked it or is it something I am projecting from myself Onto that other person or object? We all interpret the interaction with other human beings differently. Did you ever yell at a perfect stranger in the car? Next to you because they didnt let you cut in front of them? Are we really Angry at them or are we angry at ourselves for not getting our way. Did you ever See anyone throw something down when they got anger in a store? When my mother was alive and she said to me "I think Youve put on some extra pounds", I didnt get angry. I overlooked it, For after all, she was my mother and I loved her and I knew it was just Either her opinion or she was only saying it to help me. But if my husband Had made the comment about any weight gain I might have taken it personal, made counterclaims, made excuses or worse case, cried because I thought it might have affected his love for me. This is the reality of life. We all do it. I am guilty of attaching love to exterior conditions versus conditions of the soul.
Love and hate needs an object to attach itself to for its survival. We toss It out to the screen of our choice. For example, the deepest love can turn into the deepest hate when the object of that love we give is not given back in return. Its an emotion coming from us, floating around until it anchors itself onto a destination. You cannot experience love or hate unless its directed at an object, human or inhuman. Love and hate are both natural emotions that help us become unique and different from other human beings. How many people have killed for? Love and how many people have killed for hate? Crimes of passion carry higher statistics than crimes of robbery. Wars are fought for love and for hate. We stay in relationships because of love and despite our feelings of hate. People are killed because they love too much. Aids is a death sentence often times because of love. Control And domination is often mistaken for love but it is born of hate.
In our everyday life we must determine what boundaries love and hate will take. I really hate lobster. Its ok, sometimes hate or dislike has a place In our lives. I love fudge brownie ice cream. Unfortunately that kind of love Isnt always good for me. We think we love someone but in reality is it that We need their approval for our self esteem. We need their validation that I am ok? Our society has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Men were loved for being providers and mates for the procreation of life. Women have progressed in the job ranks to be self sufficient on their own income. They dont need to fall in love for someone to provide for them. And as harsh as it sounds, anyone can select a set of genes At the fertility bank these days to produce an offspring. Do these now Play an important factor in whatwe think and feel is "love".
If we are really honest we can see that love sometimes is very shallow and fickle. It is sometimes miscast as "I feel incomplete and inadequate on my own and I am hoping that if I get connected with you, l will feel complete and worthwhile." Hate on the other hand is strong, rooted and destructive. We are taught from the time we are children that love is good and hate is bad. It is wrong to hate and right to love. Realistically I think both have a distinct purpose in who we are. We just have to learn where the boundaries are. I am an animal lover. I think animals were put on this earth to give us Lessons in unconditional love. I recently spent the holiday with my sister and her three dogs. One is one years old and one is 8 years old. They play once in a while but the older dog gets testy and loses his patience with the younger dog. But together, they forge a team of defense when anyone tries to come into the yard. Its just a natural flow of teamwork. Theres no big dog, little dog, old dog, young dog, you take the front, I take the back routine. No egos here. She just took in a puppy that someone dropped off in the neighborhood...
The poor little guy had obviously been beat. When you raise your hand, he is frightened of being hit. He is responding nicely to love. Someone Did their best to make this dog learn hate but in the end, love stepped in. In exchange for her love, they love back. They dont care what she looks like When she gets up in the morning, how old she will be on her next birthday, or Even if she comes home late from work. They will unconditionally love her and Protect her domain, working as a team of three now without question. The "I" of life, our ego, plays an important part in the drama of love and hate. We often hate due to fear. We hate because our self esteem or ego is being attacked. Sometimes we think people say things to be malicious and Hateful to us when in reality they may be acting out their ignorance, fear and hurt They have experienced themselves. We often take it as hate. We anger back because it gives us the illusion of feeling better, having control. One thing about love and hate, its free. Its energy that we can create instantly, doesnt have a time schedule and its not owned by a corporation. It exclusively belongs to us. We throw it out and then become entangled in its web. I have to take a hard look at love and hate. I have to address my own attitude. I might always keep my loathing of the color chartreuse green and my adoration of chocolate truffles. I can live with those loves and hates. But I do feel a need for all of us to look at our usage of love and hate in our daily lives. Is it acceptable to love someone for their age, their looks, like money?
Or what they own? Or is this type of love that represents a shallow extension of our Ego? A false representation of love that hides the inner soul? Is love just a give thing and not a take thing? Does love mean not finding the perfect person but By seeing an imperfect person perfectly? Buddha said, "Everything that is alive is deserving of love." I think so. Understanding the difference, the boundaries, the acceptable application are the hard part. We are not given a road map to love and hate when we are born. The Bible says no matter how angry we are at someone, we should always still love them. That is a tall challenge I must admit. As I glide thru the mysteries of life, trying to get it right I have to look around. I believe mostly everyone on this planet wants to love and be loved. I dont believe we are born wanting or looking to hate.
I think we acquire it. How many will actually get the brass ring Of love is the question. How many will be victims buried in the flood of hate Is another. As in Ecclesiastes, "To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven." "A time for love and a time for hate, a time of war and a time of peace". The challenge we face is determining How to balance both as we wake each day. How to juggle the forces that Love and hate can take in our hearts, our minds and our attitude as well.
Vampires in America -
Have you been bitten?

By Kathleen Mary Andersen
reprinted from Opinion Magazine
Vampires are alive and well in America. Believe it. They are here. You could be one of them and not even know it. They could be your co worker, your boss; they could be your in law, your neighbor or, yes the worst you can imagine - you could be in love with one. Don’t laugh, I am not kidding. Before you conjure up images of Bella Lagosi or you run out in your yard looking for a wooden stake, let’s take a look at the vampires I am referring to. Vampires exist in corporate America. Vampires have always existed in business, but lately, it seems that business cannot survive in the millennium unless it hires vampires. Unfortunately, for us, vampires make wonderful bosses. They feed and are motivated by one goal - company profit. They never look in the mirror because as you know a vampire will never see a reflection of who they really are. You might remember how it starts. At first your job is enjoyable. You are new, you don’t have many obligations.
Ground work. This is the ground work that is needed to take you in. Gradually your enthusiasm is converted into the pressure called "company loyalty". Do it for the company so they say. "Hey", I ask, what about for the pay!" In today’s weakened economy and high jobless rate, fueled by global competition most companies are forced into one purpose and one purpose alone -- to make money and make money now. The dark foreboding castle on the cliff of yesterday where Dracula lived has been replaced with a store front. After all, this modern day vampire has to survive and it does with your hard work. The corporate vampire boss is caught up in titles, promises of future promotions and power and so they don’t mind selling your soul "to the company store" as Tennessee Ernie Ford sang in "Sixteen Tons". Vampires in corporate America are an epidemic. If you don’t take the bite, you are in today’s terms, "history".
Circle of Victims. Now let’s go home circle and family vampire. Yes, each time you move, you risk living right next door to a vampire. In all the years I moved around the country, I canremember a few times my neighbor turned out to be a vampire. Who knew? It’s only after you are bitten that you realize what has happened. The neighborhood vampire is the kind person and often times the first person to greet you to their social circle. They welcome you with open arms, introduce you to everyone on the block, and entice you by bringing over a plant, some home-baked cookies or even a wonderful casserole. You see, vampires really do have charm and panache. It always starts with kindness. Once you have your defenses down, they pry on every detail of your life and your background so they can focus in for the kill.
When I was younger, I had a beautiful woman who became my neighbor. She was charming, funny, and couldn’t do enough to help me feel at home in the neighborhood. Her husband was always out of town on business. She must have seen me coming. I was a trusting soul. Little did I know I was being courted by a vampire. For this she-devil didn’t really want my friendship; she wanted what I had, and what I had was a husband who was home all the time. Hers was out of the country, so mine would do in the meantime. It took me about six months to finally catch on, and I eventually did. It was a painful lesson of the bite from a neighborhood vampire. I later found out she ran off with another neighbor’s husband. Perhaps I was the lucky one to escape her clutches.
Neighbors who are vampires are not always promiscuous women looking for love with your spouse. They can be the vampire of words. The queen of the neighborhood gossip mill. These are insecure people who live in your neighborhood and get their sustenance for survival on "gossip". In order for them to get it, they must inch their way into your life and find out every small detail, so they can collate the information to their priority and pass it along to others in the neighborhood. Gossip is power, and those who know the most about the personal lives of others hold the audience in the palms of their hands. We trust these people, for often these vampires are friendly, willing to offer you help when you need it, making us drop our guard, and going along for the ride. It’s when you laugh at something they might have told you about someone else in the neighborhood that it becomes a horror of realization that "you" are the brunt of her jokes when your back is turned.
Gossip vampires don’t take pity on you. Talking about others is their drug. If someone talks incessantly about others, the odds are they are talking about you as well. If you know someone like this, think again. You may have a mark on the side of your neck! The guidelines of the neighbor vampire are synonymous with those of the co worker vampire. Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows that those friendly, smiling souls who seem so concerned with how you are each day may just be a vampire in disguise. It gives them power to keep a bag of tidbits about everyone and offer you one when you need it, those days when it’s more enjoyable to hear about someone's else’s problems than deal with your own. After all, it makes us feel just a little better when you know someone else’s life is more screwed up than yours.
Other neighborhood vampires, but sometimes called the "not so dangerous" vampires, could be the down to earth - guy next door. It might start out that Charlie wants to shoot the breeze about the recent baseball game or talk about his recent tune-up. With all vampires, it always starts out as subtle and easy. That is part of the ritual, and that is usually why we cannot see them coming. Maybe there is some common sense that to the idea that fictional vampires first flutter into your life as small bats. Chatting over the fence becomes borrowing a hammer or a screw driver, minor things that aren’t an inconvenience. And they return them so that you keep your guard down at all times. It all appears harmless. The next thing you know, they come over one day and ask if they can borrow your lawn mower, skill saw but, hopefully, not your car or your wife. Maybe this is all starting to make sense.
Home Circle of Vampires. Let’s come a little closer into our home circle and family. The rules of neighborhood vampires apply also to in-law vampires. Family gossip and relatives who borrow things fall into the same category, and we all have them in our life at one time or another. Unfortunately, in-law vampires we inherit so are harder to get rid of than our neighbor. They come with the territory called love. They can attach themselves into your personal life as painfully as a carbuncle on the side of your neck. It’s the material for mother-in- law jokes. Your vulnerability to protect yourself from these vampires isonly weakened by your mate’s attachment to their advice. When anything in your relationship goes wrong, they run to this vampire and feed the fire with more information that the vampire needs to use against you. You in exchange become a victim.
Dating Vampires. I was inspired to write this article as I had a friend who had an encounter with the worst vampire in not just America, but the entire universe! He is what is called the "love" vampire. It is a bite that you might not recover from. In coming to understand the persona of the vampire of famous novels, they don’t necessarily fly in the window and bite their victims on the neck. Vampires are charming, good looking creatures that smolder with sexuality. In real life, that is what happened to her. Her vampire didn’t flutter his wings and land at the foot of her bed. This one knocked on the door and waltzed into her life and before she knew it, he captured her soul. She knew her life would never be the same no matter how long he is gone. The bite of a love vampire can be terminal.
When she first saw this vampire, she looked into his eyes and was mesmerized by a lucid, azure pool. It was the eyes of a tormented soul who she thought was crying for love and affection. She fell right in. She was hypnotized. That is what vampires sometimes do. Little did she know that some vampires can present themselves as Prince Charming one moment and turn into Ivan the Terrible when they get you. Emotional vampires are skilled and educated. They are charismatic, and know you better than you might know yourself. These vampires are born with the ability to look over a situation quickly and summarize the weakness right at the beginning. Membership in Mensa does not qualify someone from recognizing a vampire. Think I’m kidding? Love vampires are also known as emotional vampires, and they are the subject of many studies and analysis of psychologists. They can be male or female and once they steal your heart, the rest is history. This vampire whisked her off my feet within weeks, he succeeded in killing her off from her friends and relatives and she was his. This was after, of course, he got rid of the last victim…his wife.
She was there at the castle, stunned like a deer in the headlights, she threw away any practicality. Vampires are like chameleons because they can change quicker than you can say abracadabra. Either way, once she was there wrapped in the cape it is not easy to escape. It’s a game and the vampire then moves on to the next victim, sometimes before the body is even cold. This story just doesn’t apply to female victims. It can happen to a man as well. Do you know anyone who has met a sweet woman, only to find out later that Snow White and the wicked witch are really one in the same once they have you? Those first little things they do for you because they "love" you vanish faster than a rabbit in a magic act. Not only that, you find the situation reversed, and you are doing double the duty to keep them happy. The comments of "I love your shirt, your dress, how you look" changes into "you aren’t going out of the house dressed like that, are you"?
The emotional vampire lives on what they can take from your emotions. It’s about control; and vampires, whether it is in real life or in that fictional account of Count Dracula, live on control. Control over you. They are people who have no self esteem or control over their own life, so they must feed on yours. In reality, we are all emotional vampires in one way or another. To fall victim, do we have be insecure to fall into this trap, or was are we sometimes just not educated to recognize human psychology when it bites you in the neck? Love vampires play on our emotions but capture our essence and sometimes our soul. Isn’t that what the underlying theme of all the vampire movies are about?
The lesson here is not just to recognize a vampire in your life but to stop yourself from being a vampire. It’s a chain of creation from one bite to another. It’s easy to become bitter, lose your self esteem, become like them after you’ve had the very life sucked out of you. Perhaps vampires are children of vampires. Their childhood forces them to go through life looking for what is missing in themselves. Don’t despair, there is hope. Understanding that this is what human nature is about is one step to a healthier future. Protecting yourself by not taking part intheir activities can be more potent than a necklace of garlic around your neck.
No matter how old we are, we must get to the stage that we can laugh at the lessons we have learned when dealing with vampires. The evil Count Dracula of the past can be replaced in the future by the funny George Hamilton Dracula as in the movie First Bite. Make no mistake, take a look around you, vampires are alive and well in America.

Myth and Mystery of the Pacific Northwest

Excerpts from
Myth and Mystery of the Pacific Northwest
Available at
by Kathleen Mary Andersen
The Journey Begins
"When the mist rises off the ancient forest floor of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain Ranges, it creates an eerie silence that gives rise to the imagination. Even the smallest sound is carried among the winding and twisting waterways of Puget Sound. When you listen in the night, you can hear the cry of the spotted owl. The thick old trees hide the shadow of many creatures. Legends of giant hairy men, balls of light that follow the lost traveler, large birds that prey on elk. Look around, it evokes the call of the wild.
This is Bigfoot country, home of Sasquatch"
"Lewis and Clark first came to this wilderness area in 1896. They were followed by the pioneers from the east seeking to harvest the timber and look for gold. The Native Americans warned them of unseen spirits that ruled the land, watching from the majestic snow capped peaks. The words "flying saucer" was first whispered here in 1947. We are continually reminded that the tall mountains are active fiery volcanoes."
"In the twilight, the mysterious dancing earthlights dot the hillside of the Yakima Reservation. "Tahoma" or Mount Rainier as we call her is a giant towering into the sky at over 14,410 feet. She is the second highest mountain in the continental United States. Rumors abound of ancient doorways, vortex, unseen powers and the ghost of those who ruled the land before us."
"A miner who has a stake in the Cascades told of a frightening experience in the early 1990s. He had traveled into the backwoods with his family who collected berries while he worked his claim. The miner started to the top of the rocks when he heard a movement on the hillside above him. He knew his family was just below the ridge. He stayed silent as he heard a rustle of the branches. He suddenly became fearful at the thought of no gun against a bear or cougar. He slowly edged over to the path that led to the site and looked up. An approximate 7 foot tall hairy manwas looking down at him. Its eyes glared an eerie red. It started to move at a quick pace to him.
Fearing for his life and family below he started to yell for them and ran down to where they had been minutes before. The beast was in hot pursuit. The miner felt his heart racing and an overwhelming fear that he would not be able to make it. When he got to the bottom, he turned to see his pursuer had stopped, holding a position in a stand off. Before he could get a better look, he turned to hear his wife and children. He turned back to the hairy creature but it was gone. Vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. His family had heard nothing the whole time. This story appeared on the television show Unsolved Mysteries."
"No one knows how the Big Foot Valley got its name. I haven't found anyone who has seen a "Bigfoot" in this remote mountain range. The valley isn't in the Cascade Mountain range famous for Sasquatch sightings; it's in Eastern Washington State on the Idaho border and is mostly a farming community."

"If you take the time to speak to the farmers and people who grew up here, you might find some interesting information. One story going back to similar tale to one out of Yakima. A local resident picked up his daughter at the local prom at about 10pm in 1965. While driving home on a small country lane, he looked out of the back window to catch site of a large light that appeared to be right on his tail. The light followed them into the Bigfoot Valley then suddenly shot up over their car and off into the distance very quickly. He could identify aircraft and this was not something that he could imagine the government had developed. It left both of them with a queasy feeling that they were being watched."
"Light balls traveling down the gullys, lights floating in the woods, dark objects shining lights down on the pastures is a common occurrence. This area is part of the old part of the North American continent. Western Washington is the newer plate with active volcanoes. The area is Pre-Cambrian shield decaying granite and an area with a high concentration of radon gas as well as uranium. Whether or not this might have something to do withan increase of UFO sightings is still a question. Experiments in science recently have been successful with transmitting beams beyond the speed of light using a form of radon gas."
"We can logically say that many people did not know what they were seeing when the first stealth type craft appeared on the aviation front. It can be an eerie, almost creepy feeling seeing this odd shaped aircraft maneuver around the terrain"
"It was in 1998 that Joe Bennett and Michael Kanter decided to sneak some beer and park Joe's car in the woods north of Spokane. This was what some call a "blind" valley. An area that has no roads out and is narrow enough for aircraft to stay clear of the steep mountain tops around it.
As they were laughing and joking, Michael looked up to see a triangle craft sitting just above the tree tops. It wasn't very large, about 10 feet in diameter. The object remained still as if watching them. They could see no lights, nor windows. Joe tried starting the car and they had an immediate flight instinct to get out of there. As they proceeded down the road, they could see the object, still no lights following close behind.
The dust from the road became so dense from their speed that they eventually could not see if the craft was still on their tail. They immediately drove into Michael's parent's home which was close by and ran into the house to tell them what happened. Both parents laughed, shrugged it off as a joke. Joe and Michael not wanting to discuss the whole evening for fear that they would be in trouble for drinking under age, dropped the issue but never forgot that night in April of 1998."

Our Origins in Iraq

Our Origins in Iraq?
By Kathleen Mary Andersen
Reprinted from Opinion Magazine
Our beginning as civilized mankind is in Iraq. I think it is very ironic that the beginning of mankind today, should have its roots in exactly the area at which we are now at war. The "Cradle of Civilization", that area known as the Mesopotamian Valley which lies between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is hardly now "civil". In this region, the ancient and mysterious Sumerians put forth the ground work of the division of our days into 24 hours, our calendar year into 12 months, the wheel, astronomy, cultivated crops and of course the first written language and alphabet. The origin of the Sumerians is one of those great mysteries from our past that now reaches into the present. We learned only in 1853 about the Sumerians, even though they were never mentioned in the bible or by Greek authors.
They did not have the same physical appearance or the same clothing customs as their neighbors, the Assyrians or the Babylonians. They intermingled with the population and became very rich. Historians concluded they came from the mountains or KUR and their temples included stepped ziggurats. We now believe the Sumerians could be the pre bearers of another prehistoric culture before them that was known simply as the "black headed ones". The Sumerians were merely the record keepers. Those simply referred in archeology to as "X". The Sumerians brought to the current peoples, the knowledge of letters, and the sciences. The brought to man the wheel.
They knew how to found cities, build temples, implement a code of law (Hammurabi), and weave cloth and taught how to measure plots of land. They were keen astronomers, gave us "time", the division of the year into seasons, and recorded genealogy. They even brought with them many recipes, domesticated wheat, beer, wine and revolutionized the art of forging metal. Sumerian language has no relationship to any other language in the world. Eridu a city in the southern part of the Mesopotamia was never a great city but according to the Sumerian King List it was the oldest of the Sumerian cities and was the city where "royalty had descended from thesky" well before the flood. In 1946 to 1949 archeologist uncovering a large palace and a ziggurat found an impressive series of eighteen temples built one on top of each other. This was a testimony that the site had long been occupied as a devotion to a God.
His name was Enki and he was the Sumerian god of the waters. So it became that a man, not a god, by the name of Saddam Hussein many years later would drain the marshes from 8000 square miles to 400 to penalize his Shia rivals. Through the writings in the tale of Gilgamesh, the Sumerians left behind, "Dilmun"; a story of a lost paradise that gives us the concept of the oldest account of the Flood. We also learn about the saga of Abraham, Babylon and the Garden of Eden. What was written and recorded as the paradise of the world is now a pitiful shambles of its once magnificent glory. Over 10,000 years ago our genesis echoes back to us - this is the beginning of civilized man.
What happened? The Bible suggests that the original "Paradise" was located at the confluence of four rivers, the Tigris, the Euphrates and two that are unknown. But the Eden of yesterday can no longer be found in a country rifled with land mines, dead bodies and hate. It is a land torn by greed and control. If we look at the records of the Sumerian, nothing has really changed from those beginnings. Man, even back then had a thirst to kill. The ancient city of Ur is known as the birthplace of recorded thought. A pyramid or ziggurat was built by the Sumerians in 2013 B.C.E. It was made of clay and baked bricks to draw closer to the god of the moon. In Genesis 11, it is suggested that Abraham lived here. Many sites that would have provided us with information and rewritten our historyare gone forever. If we can destroy the Cradle of Civilization for the sake of man's righteousness should we be called civilized? Fortunately many of the cuneiform tablets that contain this early history are now housed at Oxford University, University of Pennsylvania and Chicago University. Many have never been translated. Much of who we are and how we began is still open to the scholars. And to make matters worse, because of war, The Iraq Museum of Mesopotamian Art was looted of 14,000 objects out of its 170,000 important objects. Many believe it was an inside job. The mythology and written stories we have decoded tell us that the ziggurat that was known as the Tower of Babel would lead humans closer to one God, Babel. But Babel was long known as a warning that God was so threatened by humans cooperating and possibly becoming "gods" themselves, that he dispersed them into many nations with many languages and of course many differing opinions about who "God", with the big "G" really was. Do the behaviors of the ancient Gods of our past; carry through to our own behavior when it comes to love and war? Are we in fact, Gods with a little "g"? The Divine World - Gods with the little "g"
According to what the Sumerians left us, the world consisted of three places, heaven, the netherworld, and earth. Earth or 'ki'. The universe was populated by gods and demons. Gods lived in temples or "houses". Some gods were represented on a celestial sphere by a constellation or a star named after them. They had bodies, they needed food and wine, wanted to be dressed and washed, traveled, carried weapons and had sex. Their characters had well defined personalities on the scale of human characteristics….ill-tempered, aggressive, cheerful, clever, just, ambitious, skillful, merciful and graceful. Some liked mankind better than others. And they sought to end their disagreements with war. They created man, or "us", to work in their quest for indulgence. The servant race was needed to cater to their whims. I guess you can look at man as being sort of a pet to the Gods.
But man, having descended from the genes of the Gods, got out of hand, wanted to be more like their creators, and ran totally amuck about the place. The Gods, having little patience, decided to punish them in various ways. Flood, pestilence, weapons of fire (sounding very familiar to nuclear weapons). And finally out of pity to humanity, they come up with a plan to keep us in check by dividing us with religion. For after all, our opinions on religion would control us, reduce the population when necessary and keep us at odds with each other so we might not spend our time finding the path of true enlightenment. We would forever be at odds with each other until we figured out what they had done to us. We don't have to wonder that these "gods" were very clever. But they sure sound like Gods with a little "g" as well. Is our quest for war really just a quest for our opinion of truth? For each nation who fights, does so to prove right in their beliefs. And man as a human, is known to fight until his death for that which he believes is truth. If we all born from the cradle of civilization, then we are indeed one in the same. In Tablet Fourteen left by the Sumerians, it is written about two brothers who created mankind, Enlil and Enki. As they debate about the past, Fate and Destiny, they talk of weapons of terror; they talk about the remorse of using such weapons against mankind and upon each other. Zacharia Sitchin, well known linguist and expert at deciphering Sumerian cuneiform has translated the tablet as follows: "How it all began and how it thus far ended, he sat and pondered. Was it all destined, or was it fate." "What had happened will again occur? Is the Past - the Future?" "The record read, the Past remember, the Future as prophecy understand". "Let the future of the past the judge be!" We cannot change our past but if we look to the history of who we are to impact the future of what we will become.
UFOs Now and Then
By: Kathleen M. Andersen
reprinted from Opinion Magazine

Some people think that ufology in the United States began on June 24, 1947, when Kenneth Arnold, an experienced pilot from Boise Idaho reported 9 flying objects over Mt. Rainier in Washington State. Arnold was not a novice to the skies. He traveled that route on many occasions. But this clear, crisp, June day would change not only his life but create a question to everyone "where is our place in the universe." What happened before the "Big Bang" and the beginning of the universe and what will happen when it dies. The Mt. Rainier sighting was not the beginning. It was only the start of the public interest and media to the subject of where we fit into the grand scheme of things. Who are we?
As a writer and researcher I have spent the past 13 years studying the Arnold case. I have driven many logging roads, hiked numberous trails, flown over Mt. Rainer and interviewed countless people who knew about this case. Kenneth Arnold was a credible citizen, a sheriff’s deputy, a business owner, a father and husband who had nothing to gain with his story. In actuality, it became a bur he often resented in the years that followed his sighting.
The real question about what has appeared in the sky can be traced not to the Pacific Northwest but back in the rubble and decay of the ancient cities of Persepolis, and Nineveh where the oldest form of the written language, cuneiform tablets presented a written history of the earth. We knew nothing of the Sumerians, a mysterious group of people known for not only their material progress and technology but for their ideas, ideals, and values. Even today we have not resolved the question of where they actually came from and about their strange language. We do know that they "showed up" in the Mesopotamia Valley about 5,000 B.C.
They contrasted with the long haired and bearded Assyrians with their long heads, plump hooked noses and fleshy lips we see so often portrayed in archeology reliefs. The Sumerians in contrast were round headed, had prominent but thin noses, thin lips and shaven heads and chins.
They were clear-sighted, levelheaded, rarely confusing fact with fancy, wishwith fulfillment or mystery with mystification. They talked of "The Gods". Human form descending from "heaven" in their fiery chariots, lording over man at the time, making him the servant and instilling a sense of fear and destruction if man did not obey the rules of the their masters. The Sumerians, some believe were just the pre bearers, historians of a prehistoric culture before them simply known as "X".
They brought to us the wheel. They knew how to found cities, build temples, weave cloth and how to measure plots of land. They were keen astronomers, gave us "time", the division of the year into seasons, and recorded genealogy. They even brought with them many recipes, domesticated wheat, drank beer and revolutionized the art of forging metal. They wrote about the Gods, their chariots in the sky, their weapons of destruction, their loves and their wars. The Gods ruled the earth always pondering the difference of "fate" and "destiny". The sky or heavens belonged strictly to them. Their stories are the basis of the Bible. They brought us the tale of "Gilgamesh", a story that recounted the flood. I have questioned on many occasions, where is the line between the truth and myth. Is there truth in the myths of our past?
As time went on archeology showed us questionable artifacts that would not always match logic nor fit into a common path of evolution. Eric Von Daniken in his book "The Return of the Gods" wrote about "The Book of Patriarch" found in the abbey of the Sacred Berlitz. Every chapter in the book starts with, "My father told me….."
My father told me about a world of devastation, a world of plague, a world of floods.
One chapter in particular, Chapter 19, Verse 2
"In my time, there were birds 200 times larger than that bird."
Chapter 19, Verse 3
"In the stomachs of those birds sat men who feasted and drank"
Chapter 19, Verse 4
"Through small skylights they could view the earth below them"
Again, when did our quest for objects in the sky begin? If you look we’ve received hints and clues throughout the history of mankind. Ancient documents such as the bible tell us the stories of many flying objects and also of "angels". Heavenly bodies with wings, floating effortless inthe air. What did Ezekiel see and who was Elijah and why was he taken to "heaven"? Joseph Blumrich, former chief of systems for NASA and also a primary scientist in the Gemini Space program has done careful analysis of these stories and has agreed that the vision of Ezekiel was that of a UFO. Not just any UFO but a craft that could easily be a counterpart to today’s rocketry and space vehicles. If UFOs exist, are they a product of another world or planet or are they from "here", "something" that coexists with humans and perhaps occasionally appearing now and then within our eyesight. Intersections I call it. We know little about the etherical world or for that matter the complete picture of physics. My saying has always been, "until we invented the microscope we did not realize such a minute world was in existence with us, until we invented the telescope, we did not realize the vast wonder of life beyond this planet." Will we someday invent a device that will allow us to see a world that exist simultaneous to our existence?
We can now conclude that something happened in classical times that cannot be explained by historical theories. The winged disk is a frequent of ancient symbolism in art. Scenes often suggest flying objects, flying disks with beings emerging. In 400 BC, a blazing disc burned and destroyed an entire city in India. In 222 BC, Rome reported three moons that appeared at once.
9 BC brought 9 moons over the night skies in Rome. Japan in 1134 BC reported a large silver disk close to the ground. Moving on to 1200 England, a minister at the Newburg Abbey reported a silver, flat disk that hovered off the ground frightening the nearby residents.
In 1896, hundreds of residents in the San Francisco bay area saw a large elongated dark object carrying brilliant searchlights. Between January and March 1897 it vanished completely and suddenly emerged in staggering numbers in the Midwest of the United States. The object was similar to that reported years later in New Hampshire by Betty and Barney Hill.
These historical sightings were no different than what is reported today. "Ships" that have the capacity to maneuver quickly to the left, to the right, up or down or shoot off at a rapid pace as if shot off by a gun. Small beings were reported even back in these times.
UFO’s and history: Let’s go back to 1947 and Kenneth Arnold. His report was only the first in a wave that his the news , a brief story of a crashed saucer in New Mexico.. Jesse Marcel an Army officer made the front page with evidence that something "not of this world" was here. His son, Jesse Marcel Jr. a boy of 8 at the time and now living in Montana still remembers the day his father came home with a piece of material of the wreckage. Marcel Jr is a credible man, he is a physician, and he has a family and is hard working citizen. The story of what happened in his childhood is known as "Roswell".
Marcel Sr.’s story was quickly replaced with another press release from the government that what Marcel found was a case of "mistaken" identity and the rubble in New Mexico was merely a weather balloon. Was the press directed to cover up the truth? The Roswell story lay dormant until a nuclear physcist from Canada Stan Friedman opened the case in 1967 with his article "Flying Saucers are Real" and has spend his life telling this story to the world
By 1947, not only did Arnold’s sighting make the news but other reports from the Pacific Northwest made the national newspapers. St. Marie’s Idaho experienced 8 flying saucers landing on a mountaintop and witnessed in full view of 10 people. Nearby Spokane Washington then had 8 shaped objects the size of a house reportedly flying over the city at 1000 kilometers.
The reports continued into the 1950’s as UFO popularity hit the country. People were convinced they had contact with alien beings. The brotherhood, cigar shaped, disc shaped, glowing balls have always been a part of the skies. The government started a committee to investigate what is happened, the Condon Committee but reached no firm solution.
The question that has always remained is "are UFO's real or a product of our mind". As most witnesses will tell you they see hard and cold material. We have to wonder about the physics of reality. What is reality? Is it a product of our thought? Science will tell you that the most powerful force in the universe is "thought". Everything created has begun with a "thought".
As Dr. David Jacobs of Temple University and Dr. John Mack of Harvard in their continued research into the UFO phenomenon might imply, ufology might represent a part of a large picture of growth, the growth of mankind and earth is simply a nursery. We might be given these experiences, these mind altering "visions" in order for us to open our minds so that we can perceive a much bigger picture of how things work and to grow to become citizens of the universe not just this planet.
Robert Monroe, founder of the Monroe Institute, the fore runner of "remote viewing" wrote that a major feature in a meditative state has been a beam of light coming down from a cloud or from the sky. He had experienced a light or beam that came from the north about 30 degrees above the horizon. It left him powerless but he knew this beam was controlled by some intelligent force and that it was giving him the thought that he had some sort of "job" to perform here on earth. Monroe was not a ufologist, he was a man who dedicated his life to understanding how the brain functions.
He also went on to explain that this force or these beings were far beyond our own intellectual capacity and that the things we possess in our lives, love, hate, emotion was lacking in theirs. Could these visitations or visions be the basis for man’s religious beginnings?
We have a past with UFO’s and we will have a future. Where we are headed is anyone’s guess. Why they even exist in our life is a big question but in Kenneth Arnold’s last statements he simply said,
"It is my impression that everyone, no matter what part they play in our existence has a special purpose, a special task or a special reason for being what they are and for doing what they do. Perhaps it is a personal reason: -- merely to add to our own experience, our mental growth, our ability to become a functional part in a whole of society which may be far more vast than we dream."

The Real Cost of War

The Real Cost of War
By Kathleen Mary Andersen
Reprinted from Opinion Magazine
On April 16, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."Over 50 years later have things really changed? A website started at the beginning of the Iraqi war, ticks away at a frantic pace the estimate of what the cost of our presence in Iraq has been each minute since it started. As of June 16, 2004, the tally was running over $118 billion dollars and was originally anticipated to reach $135 billion on September 30, 2004. The product of Elias Vlanton, a computer programmer and Niko Matsakis, who spent decades researching and writing government documents and archives is based on actual government outlay of funds and the interest costs over the next 10 years. The site compares the cost of other important items in particular education and health care.
The current war chest for example could pay for 2,254,195 new teachers for our school system or could insure 50,726,662 people with health care cost per month. It was Bush himself who stated that the budget deficit this year would be 50% higher than previous forecasts. The question remains, can we afford a higher deficit since a majority of Americans believe charity begins at home. What is the truth? With signs of glowing red ink blamed on a slow economy and our fight against terrorism, when will the free fall money pit end?
How do we find the truth behind what the war in Iraq has cost us, and more importantly what it will cost our future generation? Josh Bolten, the budget director for the Bush administration stated in 2003, "We do not anticipate requesting supplemental funding during '04' ". We are"well below $50 billion for the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan". However, as changes go, in May of 2004 Bush asked for a fresh 25 billion for our occupation in Iraq. Before the war began, the White House guard dogs were let loose when anyone wanted to predict this war could cost more than $170 billion. But when Larry Lindsey, the Bush economic adviser said the war might cost between $100 and $200 billion, the White House cried "very high" and Lindsey was out of a job a few months later. The World Bank has estimated that it will take an estimated $56 billion over the next 4 years to rebuild Iraq. That is 1/7 of the US deficit. Before we start to spend another country's money perhaps we need to look at some statistics on how the Iraqi spend their own money. Some people would like to take the bulk of the oil shares to pay a large share of this debt but 72% is already slated for food, medicine and humanitarian aid. That's a conflict in the making. Iraq earns about $16 billion per year. Previously 70% of that has gone to the UN Oil for Food Program, monies Iraq still owes for the Gulf War and a bilateral debt it still owes and pays on. 3% of oil reserve is left for other needs. Bringing Iraq oil production up to speed after this war will take another 10 billion. A difference of opinion seems to be prevalent in Washington with how much the war actually will cost. While Eric Shinseki, Army Chief of staff claimed it would take several hundred thousand troops to win and keep the peace, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary shunned it. He claimed, "The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 billion and $100 billion over the course of the next couple of years. Is he implying that the US is looking at making Iraq's income its private coffer to pay for our military cost?Cost of Human Lives. Let's put aside dollars and cents and not ignore the loss of human lives since this war began. We could not put a dollar sign on losses to date. This is not to mention what we don't always see on the news, people whether Iraqi and our American military who have been injured. The death statistic range show 820 Americans, 60 British, 22 United Nations personnel, 10,000 Iraqi military, 10,300 Iraqi civilians, 17 journalists, 3 Russians and no French. Of 771 injury claims filed by U.S. Contractors so far this year, 345 occurred in Iraq and out of the 66 deaths, all but nine occurred in Iraq. Under Federal law, U.S. government contractors and subcontractors must obtain worker's compensation insurance for civilian employees. Could this war against terrorism make us, as Americans around the world more vulnerable to attacks, especially those living and working in other countries? Our World Credibility. What has been the cost of war in terms of our credibility with the rest of the world? The United States is at one of the lowest points in its relationship with Arab and Muslim people. Trying to change the Arab world in its thinking and mold it fit American interest has not been one of earth shaking transformation. When we face facts, the average Iraqi is not involved in acts of terrorism nor has been engaged in the resistance to U.S. occupation. What has taken from our credibility has been a lack of effective post-war administration and escalating violence. If we are going to fight a ground war, which we are, man against man, we need to have a military that is prepared to fight in a country where dying is considered a glory for the cause. This is their way of life, not ours and it is their strong religious conviction.
Democratic indifference has taken precedence with these lives we have entered. Anger towards the United States remains persuasive among Muslim countries. Hit and Run. It is an obvious dilemma that we could not start this invasion and now run off. Especially during a presidential election year. How the US handles Iraq in the months ahead will be a major test of our willingness to meet our challenge of being a superpower. Perhaps we have yet to remember the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, its withdrawal in 1989 and the empire's collapse as the defeat of the world's second superpower.
Al-Qaeda is alive and well, mutating into new forms and adapting itself with the changing operational environment as quickly as a chameleon in a bush. On the home front, the war against terrorism has created a growing concern and perception about our freedom within our own country, our loss of privacy and if the US is closing its borders to foreigners. Our military victory does not translate into the elimination of the ideology of the Arab nations. For it is but a few fundamental Islamic groups that create the breeding group in its war against the United State, not the entire Arabic society. What is the real cost of war? We need to look at all the ramifications of our invasion of another country. Did we allow ourselves and our government to spend money on a wild goose chase that still has not turned up the so called "smoking gun"? What will be the delayed tally of dollars over the next five years and the worst thought of all, how long will be adding to the already growing dollars and loss of lives for what we call the price of peace?

Are You Rich or Are you Poor?

Are you Rich? Or Are you Poor?
By Kathleen Mary Andersen
reprinted from Opinion Magazine
Are you rich or are you poor? That is how the world sometimes categorizes us. "Rich", according the dictionary says: "having an abundant supply of desirable qualities or substances". I admit I have an abundant supply of good friends. I also have an abundant supply of plants. That makes me rich with friends, and rich with plants. Obviously, these things don't pay the rent at the end of the day as the saying goes. When it comes to dollars and cents I consider myself not "wealthy". I am a person, like most who must take that pile of bills every month and figure out how to pay them. And lately this requires not just logic but a bit of magic. No, make that a lot of magic. Better yet, call me a certified magician.It seems like most of us were more flush with cash in the 80s but the introduction of the 90s took away that cushion. We can attribute it to losses in the stock market, higher prices or fewer quality jobs. I make what is an average income. I am primarily a mortgage broker. I took a test recently that said I fall into the .779% of the world's richest people and that there are 5,953,222,435 people poorer than me. This looks wonderful on paper but is it a reality of every day life? No! The statistics are just figures that can be juggled to represent whatever we want to believe them to be. The people count clock says there are approximately 6.4 billion people on the planet. It sure makes me think I am up there with the richest. However, I would be missing the reality of rich and poor if I was to believe these numbers.
First of all, I don't live in the entire world; I live in the United States. So I must look at rich and poor, here, not Sweden, nor India nor Saudi Arabia. Ten years ago, I had a more pocket money than I do now, even though my income was considerably less. Simple math. More pay, less money. Obviously the answer to the mystery is in the cost of living. Being a mortgage broker I get to see a cross section of people's every day money life. I've been doing this for 14 years. Although I don't have all the statistics of everyone buying or owning a house in the United States, my information does represent a cross section of finances in the United States. So where does our money go? Food. Love it or hate it, we all need it. It's mandatory. According to statistics, if will believe them, food prices have only increased 2.5% per year since 1998 and is expected to continue at that rate until 2007. Funny, my grocery bill has tripled just in the past couple of years. Does anyone notice that there is hardly anything in the store under a dollar these days? What ever happened to the twenty-five cent candy bar? The statistics continue to say, 19% of our grocery budget goes to meats/poultry/fish. Beef with the least increase in pricing. A couple of years ago, beef sales were down, the beef industry had to resort to television advertising. If I remember it ended with "eat beef". Beef sales were down because of fears of mad cow disease, health warnings about high cholesterol and heart disease. The ironic part is that now that America is obsessed with low carbohydrate eating which promotes beef and chicken, we hardly see those warnings. Yes, now its good fat, bad fat, inherited fat. So bread is out and beef is in. Maybe we will again see those old Wonder Bread commercials -- "Fortified with iron and other important minerals". 15% of our budget goes to vegetables/grains. What this tells me is that buying carrots and lettuce is almost as much as buying a steak and if you have been to the grocery store lately, that's about how it goes. Let's not even compare it to a box of cereal. I think realistically I can buy a steak cheaper than a box of corn flakes if I am to match package weight to package weight. The statistics also say that 47% of our food expenditures is on the outside of the house, not the inside. Meaning we spend almost half our food budget on eating out. This is hard to believe unless you take into consideration that most people work and that they eat their lunch at some type of restaurant or takeout.
That sounds decadent but it really isn't. Are we really out there dining on escargotand filet mignon? No, we are probably out ordering our $6.95 sandwich and chips from Subway or a Big Mac from McDonalds, if we are lucky to call that dining out. Are we really spending almost half our food budget eating out or are these statistics not matching up? I am having trouble with the math. Half our budget to eating out, restaurant business across the country is down. "Show me the money" (bold) as the saying goes. I know that my electric and gas bills have doubled over the past couple of years. Yes, we've all heard the story about how Enron forced electric prices up but I am not talking solely about my electric bill. You can believe some people that utilities are still "cheap" but cheap in comparison to what, not having any at all? My basic phone bill is $66.98 per month. What I actually have to pay the phone company is $105.54 a month once I get done with "network access, local number portability, taxes, interstate" this and that.
The mathematical genius in me says 36% of my bill goes to taxes not service. We don't complain or try to change it, so I guess each month more taxes will be added until the American public starts thinking about what the ratio of taxation was at the time the colonist threw tea into Boston Harbor. It was far less than we pay in taxes now. Our assets. (Bold) What assets? What have I seen in the cross section of assets? Since 1990, I have not seen a large rise in wages on the average person. But I have seen credit card debt not only increase but quadruple since then. A $4,000 average credit card is now more in the neighborhood of $12,000. "Ca-ching", the banks love it. Have you seen those catchy little ads on television? Especially ones pushing "0%" interest. Does anyone know what "0%" interest is? There isn't really "0%" interest. Having worked at a bank, I can tell you there is no such thing as free anything in the banking business.
Or any business for that matter. Simple logic, banks make money. Plenty of money. Interest makes banks rich. Interest makes you, the consumer,poor. Automobiles now carry 7 year mortgages. Banks love those longer term interest payments. And savings? What savings? Who has a savings account anymore? The days of the bank paying you interest for your savings has now become, you pay the bank a service charge to "maintain" your savings. Pricing Index. (Bold) This is the statistic that basically looks at consumer goods and compares how prices have changed over the past 10 years. It's what they tag "inflationary figures". What the statistics don't say is that the objects used in this report are things like refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, automobiles and televisions. Well I don't buy a refrigerator, a stove or a television every year. I don't buy a telephone every year, I buy the service, I don't buy the car, I buy the gas that runs it, I don't buy the light bulbs, I buy the electricity that takes to power it and that is not included in the statistics that tell us what inflation is. And I pay for those things on not only a monthly but a daily basis.
What I am seeing is that the price of necessities for living has increased far more than 3% each year. Purchasing power over the past 5 years is not measured as it used to be and therefore not an accurate indicator of what real life and expenses are about. Credit Cards. (Bold) Going back to credit cards, I have done a poll of my customers to see what they buy with their credit cards. Are they in the mall buying the latest in purses, shoes, ties, or jewelry? No. Sadly I am seeing that people are using their credit cards to make payments on their utilities, their automobiles and yes, even their mortgages. Simple logic. The sale of consumer goods only increase "x" amount while credit card debt increases triple that amount. No brain surgery needed, credit card debt is being used for something other than durable goods.
It's often being used to survive. It's starting to make sense. Reading between the lines is paying off. Do I need a fancy poll to tell me about where my money goes? No, I have to simply open my checkbook to see how much it really cost to live and unfortunately my position in the worlds richest seems to be nothing more than a distorted statistic to make me feel better. I am rich in my life experiences, I am rich in my family and friends and I am rich with a lot of good fortune. That is what rich and poor should be judged on. Not how big your bank account is, but who you are as a person. We should start a poll on how rich we are in kindness, forgiveness and honesty. I am basically a happy person and I am told to be happy is worth all the riches in the world. As the songs go, "money can't buy you happiness", or can it. Do rich people really have as many problems as poor people or is this some hype we receive so we don't feel bad when we have no money. Whether we want to agree or not agree, I think money or lack of it, is attached to how we are judged as a person in the general public. Until we start educating our children about self worth, not your pocketbook, things will always be the same.