Past Lives and Titanic


Inger Sheil

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Jim, I must have been you in a past life. Your self-description could be me at eight years old.

I remember being a bit nervous going into the kitchen at night. Never knew whose head might appear in the microwave.

Now, if only I could re-located my well-thumbed copy of From the Devil's Triangle to the Devil's Jaw!
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Your self-description could be me at eight years old.

Times were tough during the 1970s if one's dad worked for NYPD (the bankruptcy thing) and so, sadly, my mother and aunt would spend HOURS shopping for clothing in a Marshall's outlet that specialised in items that, in addition to being out of style, were outre in a way that made the Brady Bunch Costumes seem tame and wearable by comparison. So, I was given the choice of spending 4 hours with mom, incessantly whining and rejecting horizontally striped four-colored Bell Bottoms while being bored senseless, or being given a dollar and told to spend an hour in Waldenbooks. Which I always did, at the risk of not being there at checkout time to finally reject mom's sartorial choices for the month. Which is how I ended up with pair of brown brushed denim bell bottoms with a giant metal butterfly across the seat, but that's a whole other story. So, I'd go to Waldenbooks and head right for the "Occult and Supernatural" section, where the shelves were well stocked with all the best nightmare fodder the 1970s had to offer! Whether it was being grossed out by B&W photos of Mary Reeser's charred legs and easy chair; being freaked out by the whited-out eyes on the cover of Ghost of Flight 401; or secretly fearing that I'd suddenly dematerialise a la David Lang or poor little Oliver Larch as I crossed the parking lot, there was always something new and paranoia inducing in that section of the bookstore. Holzer's books were always 'scientific' seeming and somehow not nightmare inducing, so I gravitated instead to the eerie spirt world of John Macklin, in which 'friends of his' were forever buying things in Antique Shops that carried with them death curses, and so on.

>I remember being a bit nervous going into the kitchen at night. Never knew whose head might appear in the microwave.

...or if it would be your own reflection looking out at your from the bathroom mirror on a late-nite visit, or someone else's. Or if you'd awaken in the middle of the night, roll over,and be face to face with an eerie crone a la the Horror on Adams Street (Detroit USA). And, never let us forget the scar faced "room for one more" man with a coffin on his back who could CONCEIVABLY have appeared in one's own yard just as easily as it happened in Lord Dufferin's.

>Now, if only I could re-located my well-thumbed copy of From the Devil's Triangle to the Devil's Jaw!

It is next to my copy of "Strange Disappearances," a book which produced nightmares so severe that one day it vanished, forever, while I was at school.

One last bit of 1970s supernatural nostalgia. Summer 1978. 12 years old and vacationing in the Hamptons. On the ride home, in an odd fit of bravado I ask my dad to detour past the Amityville Horror house and- for once- he agrees to "go along with it." Bravado soon turns to mounting fear (Red rooms, pig demons, mass murders, James Brolin) as I sit quietly in theh back seat HOPING that by the time we reach the Amityville exit my dad will have forgotten.....
 

Inger Sheil

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Ah, see that explains it...by the time I was reading these books, it was the early 80s and I was picking them up in the second hand bookshops I so loved. I was getting tattered and torn what were new editions for you. At about 10c or 20c each, those paperbacks might well have included your copy of Strange Disappearances after it...well...strangely disappeared.

I do wonder where they all went, though. What happened to the Berlitzes of my childhood? Are they still somewhere in a box, or have they been loaned and never returned over the years?

Those over-anthologised yarns - David Lang, Lord Dufferin, Lord Tryon...the Ourang Medan and Octavia! All old friends! And gospel truth, of course - they cropped up in book after book, and surely one of the occult researchers producing these tomes would have blown the whistle if there was some bolloxology going on.

Sadly over the years I've come across articles and books that got to the bottom of all of these and more.

But the effects on the imagination are lingering. I still can't get into an old-fashioned elevator without wondering if Lord Dufferin's operator might be pushing the buttons...
 

Jim Kalafus

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>But the effects on the imagination are lingering. I still can't get into an old-fashioned elevator without wondering if Lord Dufferin's operator might be pushing the buttons...

True story: my college in NYC (Baruch) had what were probably the last button free, lever-style, elevators in NYC, if not the universe. There was an operator whom everyone called "Free Fall" because he had been running those things forever and ran them in a way that suggested, to the uninitiated, that "Free Fall" had, in fact, snapped and sent the elevator into a free fall. Now, here is the punchline~ Free Fall was as scary looking as Lord Dufferin's night messenger, and the first time an elevator door opened and I was face to face with this man (30 seconds before a simulated 16 story free plunge) I was immediately reminded of the story! Alas, around about 1987, the elevators were replaced with shiny, new, speed controlled models and my college experience was all the less rich for it!

> those paperbacks might well have included your copy of Strange Disappearances after it...well...strangely disappeared.

I recently acquired a 'new' copy of that distinguished tome, and upon reading it for the first time since 1977 was struck by a wave of contempt for my childhood self
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Bound into the the center of it was one of those cigarette ads on cardboard stock that would cause the book to tear in half along the binding if one tried to remove it, and that was the most thought provoking part of the text. One thing that DID strike me, is how many of these stories now fairly scream "serial killer at work" rather than "supernatural." The Forest of Missing Children has several equally unpleasant possible solutions, none of which involve 'vile vortices.' A depressingly 1970s touch was the author's speculating that the Mount Washington disappearances between 1945 and 1950 MAY HAVE BEEN the end result of a series of intergalactic hunting trips, and the missing women and child might well be the centerpieces of small but interesting dioramas (to paraphrase Gary Larsen) in some far off zoo.

Ivan Vassili anyone? Deacon Adolph Hotelling? Franz Ferdinand's cursed car?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Mr. Standart- a word of advice. Try broadcasting Tria with your bare hands on a windy day.<<

Thanks. I'll pass! (And I'm still just plain old Mike!
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) I need to keep my head on straight. Besides, how would I caution people about the Ortho products (Some really tricky stuff there)...if I looked like I was snorting some of it?
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On the matter of books, I read my share of them and Charles Berlitz was right up there with the Golly-Gee-Whiz-Willikers-Wow Bermuda Triangle stories of the strange and the incredible. It was only when I started to find out that a lot of those stories were so badly distorted from the reality that they made it to the dustbin.

The so-called strange and unusual weren't so strange on close examination. Natural causes sufficed and tended to be the case.

Open barrels of Alcohol were enough to prompt the people to take to the boats and since they had only muscle power for propulsion, it's not surprising that the ship took off without them. The Cyclops was far from a happy ship, was in poor condition and was known to have topweight problems which likely are the root cause of her loss. (Storms are merciless with topheavy ships!) The Marine Sulpher Queen (The owners were the same people who owned the ill fated Marine Electric!) was in deplorable enough shape that her loss wasn't hard to figure out and the families even won a lawsuit against the owners.

And if anyone thinks a large ship can't vanish without a trace, need I mention the Derbyshire? All that was left from that one was an oil slick that may or may not have come from the ship. It was a wonder that the wreckage was even found.
 
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Michael, didn't the Edmund Fitzgerald pretty much vanish without a trace? Or perhaps I am badly mistaken. This is what these boards are for, after all.

I have been wondering about the Bermuda Triangle lately. I honestly don't know of any sources that will convince me in one way or another.

I guess my idea on the supernatural is that I haven't seen it (and in most cases, don't want to) so I can't say one way or another. But I tend to believe things likely exist until I am proven one way or another. I guess I believe easier than some.
 
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>>Michael, didn't the Edmund Fitzgerald pretty much vanish without a trace?<<

As I understand it, she did for the most part. There was a little bit of wreckage but that's about it. Since she was under radar surveillance from another ship, pinpointing the location of her foundering wasn't all that hard. The thing is that on any large body of water, bad accidents can and do happen. The sea is extremely unforgiving of human fallibilty and always has been, and very few mysterious disappearances are all that mysterious when the facts are looked at with a critical eye.

>>I have been wondering about the Bermuda Triangle lately. I honestly don't know of any sources that will convince me in one way or another.<<

Try accident investigation transcripts and...wherever possible...primary sources. They go a very long way towards tearing away the mythmaking. The so-called Bermuda Triangle is no more dangerous in and of itself then most any other stretch of ocean and overall, is a lot safer then most. Were it otherwise, you would think that insurance rates for ships would be higher there as they would be in some real high risk areas.

They're not. Ask Lloyds of London.

Most of the disappearances there can be traced back to some very mundane causes. Like "weekend sailors" who go out in small boats without bothering to check the weather forecasts and end up getting chewed up by storms. (What a surprise!) And further, some of the disappearances attributed to this area didn't take place there at all! The USS Scorpion was lost off the Azores and the evidence from examination of the wreck points to a possible encounter with one of her own torpedos! (A "hot run" in a tube which was ejected and circled back on them.) This sort of accident has been frequent enough so that torpedos are equipped with safety devices that prevent arming the warhead until after the weapon has traveled to a safe distance from the ship.

When you crunch the numbers, you'll find that a far higher number of ships have been lost on the same routes the Titanic traveled and were invariably traced to natural causes such as storms, fires, icebergs and the like. And make no mistake about it, the ocean is very good at wiping out traces of human error. It's large and if you don't know where to look, it's possible to miss even the largest debris field.

Don't forget the Virginia Capes either. This zone is just downright nasty and it isn't known as 'The Graveyard of Ships" for nothing.
 
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The Bermuda Triangle is also a testimony to fact that the ocean can make traces of ships and planes vanish with no sign of them ever being there. Apparently there are underwater caves there and the current drags ships and boats into them which I can half believe, but aircraft..

Carla

PS. The Atlantic is so big that it would take probably hundreds of years to find even a fraction of all the ships lost there, if they are still there and not eaten/worn away.
 
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>>but aircraft.. <<

Aircraft sink too, and are subject to the same currents as a ship once they hit bottom. You may be thinking of Flight 19, but again, this one isn't all that big a mystery. The best evidence points to the pilots getting disoriented and in the end, they weren't where they thought they were. The reason nobody ever found the planes is that they've been looking in the wrong place.

The loss of the Martin Mariner seaplane which went searching for them is also explainable. This particular aircraft was notorious for fuel leaks and had a tendency to explode as a consequence...and an explosion was observed shortly after this one took off.

Again...natural causes.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Lucy and Carla: Lawrence Kusche's Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved, one of a handful of rational books on the subject, is a required read. Off the top of my head: Lotta; Miramon; Viego; and Stavenger never vanished because they did not exist in the first place; Suddufco and Anita vanished in what were, respectively, referred to as "massive" storms; transcriptions of Flight 19's broadcasts are available for public reading and none of the UFO-related quotes are in them; the well publicised passenger plane disappearances took place at night (and in one case, with a plane with a defective radio so no one can be sure when it crashed or have more than a relative idea of where it could have been when it did) giving what debris there was hours to disperse before an effective search could commence; several of the "lost" ships turned up safe, later, but the other Triangle writers either did not find the articles detailing their returns, or did find them and chose to ignore them; in one case the ship was lost off the WEST coast of Mexico, in two others (as Mike has already said) they were lost in the North Atlantic closer to the Azores than Bermuda, and so on...

Regarding the plane disappearances~ it may be noted that since the San Juan/Miami DC-3 vanished at Christmas (1951?) not a single one of the millions of passenger flights over the Triangle has been "lost without a trace." As regulations regarding things like functioning radios aboard passenger planes tightened, and as radar tracking improved, it seems that the evil forces that govern the Triangle lost interest in big planes and switched over to claiming only Cessnas (aka "The Doctor Killers") Beechcraft, and other planes that fly below the radar and without filing flight plans. More than just a coincidence?

>Thanks. I'll pass! (And I'm still just plain old Mike! ) I need to keep my head on straight. Besides, how would I caution people about the Ortho products (Some really tricky stuff there)...if I looked like I was snorting some of it?

So, I guess my suggestion about having inter-departmental aerosol Orthenex fights as a time killer during off hours will fall on deaf ears?Maaaaannnnn....how are you going to get into the Sedona grooooooove if you don't loosen up first?

PROUD MOMENT AS AN OFFSPRING: My mother was recently discussing "the Black Helicopters" that allegedly come in the night, and whisk people who "know too much" away, with A True Believer. She politely asked "why bother painting it black if it flies by night~ wouldn't it be more important to make it silent?" and brought the whole inane discourse to a halt. So, all those years of quickly explaining to me why chances were slim that I'd dematerialise while crossing a field or discover that our oven had become haunted, paid off!
 
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Children of the 50's and 60's will recall The Blob (couldn't touch grape jelly for years after), the oozing films of Willlam Castle and Hammer,the masterful Rod Serling (the very theme to the Twilight Zone sent chills racing), the Outer Limits, Way Out, and for sudden death and mayhem, Alfred Hitchcock.(Remember Monkey's Paw?) We were all afraid to take a shower alone after Psycho, then of course there was the The Thing Under the Bed Syndrome, closely related to the hand that could possibly pop up between the crack between the headboard and the pillows, the doppelganger in the mirror which only looked like you, and endless aliens flying by as you nervously twitched beneath the blankets. Voices from The Beyond could also chat you up when you turned on the radio late at night, and then there were those horrid flying monkey from Wizard of Oz which traumatized legions of Baby Boomers as tender tykes. Mostly though, sighing nostalgically here, it was flying saucers I fondly recall, and doing duck and cover under my school desk, which as everyone can tell you, was a surefire way to be safe from atomic attack from the Soviet Union. Oh- then there was Jeanne Dixon. Happy Days.
 
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Shelley,

My younger sister is scared of that sort thing too and she's a child from the 90s, so it's not just kids from the 50s and 60s
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Michael and Jim,

Since you both seem to know so much about the alleged 'disappearances' of the ships and planes, could you explain why people wanted to make other people scared of that area? I don't understand the psychology behind that.

Carla
 
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>>could you explain why people wanted to make other people scared of that area? I don't understand the psychology behind that.<<

It wasn't a desire to make anyone scared of the area at all. The Bermuda Triangle legend wasn't even born until the Flight 19 incident and from that point on, the mythmaking and misinformation took on a life of it's own, all aided and abetted by some vocal writers who had no greater goal in mind to make one helluva lot of money.

They weren't about to let anything as mundane as the facts get in the way of a good story, and it's not as if the credulous would bother to check things out.

BTW, here are some links so you can see for yourself what the Navy has to say about this.

Flight 19; http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq15-1.htm
Note the following from the site: " The weather over the area covered by the track of the navigational problem consisted of scattered rain showers with a ceiling of 2500 feet within the showers and unlimited outside the showers, visibility of 6-8 miles in the showers, 10-12 otherwise. Surface winds were 20 knots with gusts to 31 knots. The sea was moderate to rough. The general weather conditions were considered average for training flights of this nature except within showers." (So much for the clear air visibility unlimited legend!)


Bermuda Triangle FAQ's; http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq8-1.htm

>>So, I guess my suggestion about having inter-departmental aerosol Orthenex fights as a time killer during off hours will fall on deaf ears?<<

Errrr...probably.
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Michael, I sort of think (I am young and naive, forgive me!) that it wouldn't be 100% for the money. I think people want to believe in things so maybe they ignore some pertinent facts sometimes.

I think seamonsters are very cool, loch ness and all that, and I was sad to watch a documentary on them that showed they evidience for their existence. Some people can't handle evidence against the paranormal, perhaps.

And Shelley, I am a child of the 80s who was scared to death by "the Blob" at the age of nine. And oddly enough also by the movie "Mars Attacks!" because when nine it is harder to recognize parody than in later years.

But I was scared of aliens for years after that, the concept and some of the films about them that is. And I admit it, I still am.

I'm loving "The Twilight Zone" lately, though. Rod Serling was an attractive man.

I still have never liked looking in the mirror at night. I don't know if I am afraid of doppelganers, the mothman, or what but I just would rather not.

I have heard ghost stories from friends. Some from a friend who doesn't even believe in ghosts per say but saw and heard some disturbing things at an old movie theater he worked at.

Jim, I'll add that book to the excessive list of things I want to read after I finish the excessive amount of books I want to read before I get new books. But it sounds very interesting.
 

Inger Sheil

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Lucy, I suspect you're right that money is not the exclusive motivator for all people who relate and re-relate these stories. Some so-called paranormal investigators - including some with a high media profile - I have trouble believing genuinely buy into what they're peddling (in some cases, it's very difficult not to suspect outright fraud). But others do seem to simply have a passion for a mystery and/or a good yarn. What could be more tantalising than possible evidence of, for example, life after death? And, like you, I am also aware of incidents for which I have not heard an entirely satisfactory explanation. That doesn't mean they're supernatural in origin, of course - odds are there's the 'perfectly good' explanation these things demand - but I'm certainly not going to pour scorn on those who are convinced that there are still things undreamed of in our philosophy.

One thing I have become more aware of in recent years are the different standards of empirical evidence required by different people. Since the early disappointments of Berlitz et al, I've placed an emphasis on quantifiable fact. Not once bitten/twice shy....many times bitten, very shy! But I have come into contact with many people who have somewhat lower threshold requirements for supporting fact and evidence. For example, I've come into contact with quite a few people on-line who don't see anything wrong with 'connecting the dots' - reaching suppositions or making guesses, then passing them off as established fact with no caveats about the conjectural nature of what they are relating. Some of them become quite hostile when questioned over sources, and clearly they think you're a dry-as-dust pedant if you make a distinction between what is documented and what is at best conjecture, and at worst outright fantasy.

When this takes place in discussions that touch on our deepest hopes and fears - the nature of the human soul and consciousness - and in an area ripe for exploitation by the unscrupulous, it can be a hall of mirrors.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Concerning the classic books of our youth, Inger, have you noticed that in the 1970s there seemed to be an overwhelming obsession with 'forces beyond one's control?' At least in "post-Gas Crisis; post-Meat Crisis; post-Garbage Crisis; post-Watergate Crisis; post Vietnam; post youth revolution; post having to listen to "Band on the Run" every third song on AM Radio All Summer Long" U.S.A. It seemed like, en masse, there was some desire to be confronted with something insurmountable and horrid at each turn~ so the warm fuzzy eco-friendly Mother Nature of 1969 to 1974 was transformed into a "being" (personified by Killer Sharks, Killer Bears, Killer Bees; Killer Piranha) who not only hated you but wanted to see you dead. Suddenly the afterlife did not seem as pleasant as it once did, and if you did not have the Gateway to Hell in your basement, then it was likely that at some point you'd encounter a haunted oven or at least an "unclean spirit" that would drive you out of your house in the dead of night. And, no doubt, while you were outside of your haunted house you'd either be abducted by a cult or hacked to death by Manson would-bes. Virtually everything you would care to eat was, of course, the worst sort of poison, but that did not matter since we were all slated to die in either a nuclear attack, a nuclear meltdown, or in a UFO invasion. City living would, doubtlessly, transform you into a murderous drone a la Taxi Driver, and fleeing to the country would either see you killed by an animal on the rampage or by your Deliverance-like neighbors. If spared that, you'd only be abducted from an isolated hillside by aliens who would use you as a lab rat. And, all of that paled to insignificance beside the real hovering horror ca. 1978: WHAT IF PRESIDENT CARTER GETS RE-ELECTED?

What did one do in such bizarre and trying times? One sought bizarre solutions. Whether it was through odd totalitarian movements; weird behavior modification; off the wall diets; Pyramid Power; Primal Screaming; Consciousness Raising; Mood Rings; Chanting; communal exorcism; biorhythm; Kirlian photography;past life channelling, the 1970s offered a witches brew of choices for those who sought to smooth out the potholes on life's highway with indulgent histrionics~ it wasn't called the Me Decade for nothing! For those of us not old enough to pay $500 to be dumped nude in the desert and forced to walk home, and those of us blessed with parents who did NOT put us on the "nothing but pureed rice" diet, it all seemed so puzzling and undesirable: uncontrollable forces colliding with horrific solutions.

>And, like you, I am also aware of incidents for which I have not heard an entirely satisfactory explanation. That doesn't mean they're supernatural in origin, of course - odds are there's the 'perfectly good' explanation these things demand

...that is soooooooo un-1970s.
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Inger Sheil

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Ah, but that 'perfectly good explanation' might, as in the case of the Orang Medan, consist of a Soviet-developed sonic deathray!

I think you've done an excellent skewering of the underlying anxieties of the age...some of which persisted into the even more hedonistic 80s. Now that 'Forever Young' is once more playing on the airwaves, there are a few lines that always jar - they belong to another decade:

heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
hoping for the best but expecting the worst
are you going to drop the bomb or not?


The 70s disaster flick seems to resonate very well with the 50s cinema monstrosities...anything could happen when you meddle with Nuclear Power! And it just might! Giant Mutant Ants!
quote:

It seemed like, en masse, there was some desire to be confronted with something insurmountable and horrid at each turn~ so the warm fuzzy eco-friendly Mother Nature of 1969 to 1974 was transformed into a "being" (personified by Killer Sharks, Killer Bears, Killer Bees; Killer Piranha) who not only hated you but wanted to see you dead.
I love it! Spot on! One of those 'Mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle/Devil's Jaw/Devil's Sea' type books posited a scenario that entralled me with the potential terror. What if - gasp! - sea snakes made their way up through the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic? What could stop them? What if they started swarming the beaches on the Eastern seaboard?

It was only a matter of time, the author assured us. Snakes had already been seen at popular swimming beaches. Soon you wouldn't be able to dip a toe in the water without these aggressive, highly poisonous reptiles attacking. People would be dying in their hundreds.

With the benefit of several years and many dives with seasnakes, they're now one of my favourite sea critters. Curious, often colourful, and very interesting.

Although it's been a few decades since the book was written, I'm not aware of any Atlantic beaches closed due to seasnake infestation.​
 
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>>Michael, I sort of think (I am young and naive, forgive me!) that it wouldn't be 100% for the money. I think people want to believe in things so maybe they ignore some pertinent facts sometimes. <<

You may have a point with that. For some, it's true belief and for my own money, I'm not entirely sure which is scarier. A staightforward huckster is reletively easy to understand and deal with. But a True Believer is immune to reason, impervious to any sort of disconfirming evidence (It's all part of "The Conspiracy" to hide "The Truth" )and can drag you right down into the abyss with him.
 

Don Tweed

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A true believer is immune to reason Michael stated. How very true indeed. There are to many groups, factions, and organizations to list that fall under that statement.
And when I said I was Joe Schmoe I was just being funny. Or trying for that matter.
I would never attack or degrade someone elses belief in anything. The way I see it, we are all individuals, and if your lucky, you get about 70 to 80 years to figure the whole thing out on your own. I feel there are so many people so concerned with telling people how to live their lives or what to think, that they don't take enough time to live their own lives.
I am not quite sure of the quote, but ol' Thoroeu said it pretty well when he penned; "let him move to the music he hears, however measured or far away."
Just ask my wife. She knows I will continue to "rage against the dieing of the light"
Which is how it should be in my honest opinion.
Be happy, be well- Don
 

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