Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Thanksgiving Post

A few weeks ago, a blogger named Heather Von St. James of Life's A Banquet approached me through comment and then via email about the idea of creating a post having to do with what you are thankful for in observance of Thanksgiving. Heather is a long-term survivor of Mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure. While she was given just fifteen months to live, she is still alive today, despite the fact she was diagnosed in November 2005, which is eight years ago. Reaching out in different methods that include the creation of her blog,, Heather's mission is to encourage us to dig into what Thanksgiving really is. It's more than just a holiday represented by turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. It's a holiday where people come together and cherish the appreciation they have for one another. This was a holiday built on the appreciation the Pilgrims and Indians had with the relationship the two would form when the Pilgrims came to this new land known as America. While this appreciation didn't last between the Pilgrims and Indians, it has lasted among much of America and has since become a national holiday, occurring on the fourth Thursday of every November. I will now take time to just share with you what Thanksgiving means to me.

I continuously keep up with the news, which MSN makes it so easy to do, and I came across a decision K-Mart made with regard to setting up for the Christmas season. They made a decision to open up on 6 AM on Thanksgiving day and will stay open until 11 PM the next day, providing a massive head start for the crowds on Black Friday, which I have always seen as a manic rush of people having the first opportunity at the holiday sales. I mean, thirty years ago, Cabbage Patch Dolls were a sellout during the Christmas holiday, but the notion of eating away at the Thanksgiving holiday in order to get ready for Christmas is not what Thanksgiving is all about. Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving and should be treated as its own holiday and follow its own values.

I operate the Cafe and sometimes serve as a cashier at the ShopRite in my area. One Friday, when I was in the break room, I came across a poster from P.C. Richard & Son having to do with their tradition of closing each Thanksgiving, due to the respect they hold toward their customers and the meaning of family and that those who choose to object this notion are disrespecting the meaning of family. Like P.C. Richard & Son, ShopRite (at least those that are under my owner's ownership) is closed every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. I hold a high respect for the notion of store owners holding the human quality of employee appreciation and that unless they volunteer to "babysit" the store, everyone is off for Thanksgiving. I'm very thankful to be able to work for such a great company and am thankful to have a great group of coworkers to the point that I would never be able to work for another supermarket or ANY job that holds similar wages to ShopRite, because there's just a humanistic quality that ShopRite holds.

On the topic of being provided the ability to spend time with loved ones, I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy dinner and dessert with my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousin, and sister. I have mentioned my opinion about Thanksgiving food, but the fact that I'm spending the holiday with my family trumps all of my opinions about what is being served. I'm sure that plenty of people can say that they couldn't ask for a better family. I am one of those plenty of people that can truly say that I couldn't imagine being in any other family than the one I am in. The love and appreciation I hold for everyone is just endless and I have absolutely no idea what I would do without them.

This year specifically, along with my family and coworkers, I am also thankful for my friends, from high school, college, work, Facebook, Blogger, or Garden State Speculative Writers. I have a great group of friends that I either made this year or continue to hold from years past. I have developed a strong core of "regulars" that I have made at my college. We take multiple classes with one another and this group of friends/classmates makes coming to college an additional reason to look forward coming into class. I enjoy the college experience already, but taking classes with such a good group of people makes it even more enjoyable. My instructors have also taught me a lot about an appreciation for poetry and the art of literature in general. I'm going for my English degree and hope to graduate in 2015. From there, I want to find an occupation that concentrates on writing, but really hope to write fiction in the field of horror, science fiction, speculative, psychological, or situational (what-if) fiction.

This year, I joined the Garden State Speculative Writers association, that meets on the first Saturday of each month at a library. At these meetings, we discuss business about how the club is run, hold writing exercises, read and critique each others work, and have guest speakers (I attended those featuring Linda Addison, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Ellen Datlow) that are in the speculative field in some way, shape, or form, whether as writers or editors. I attended four meetings this year, but hope to attend more when next year rolls around. I'm planning to broaden my writing horizons even further. This reminds me that I have a little announcement about the Speculations of New Jersey anthology I mentioned back in July. My horror short story, "Pity Teeth," got accepted and will be featured along with about nine to fourteen others. I will update everyone on details as we go along, but for now, I know that it will be released to the general public in January 2014. My dream is to be a published author and this is a start. This is inspiring me to broaden my horizons and I plan to explore different outlets to publishing my work.

I also want to express how I'm thankful for the various opportunities I have come across as a blogger. I've been writing my Caponomics column through Blogger for two years and have had over 20,000 page views. I currently have 19 followers and have interacted with plenty of people in the blogosphere, including those that have commented on my posts. I'm very thankful to have an active mentor in Mr. Clark, who pushed me to start a blog in the first place. Caponomics was active in my high school newsletter, the Bulldog Business, and then it went to Facebook for a short period of time before Blogger became my official home. Mr. Clark has remained an active follower and is excellent at everything he sets his mind to. I am also thankful for active followers who are also fellow bloggers. There's Kevin Brownlie, who operates Road of the Month, which was an alternate outlet for his Bulldog Business column. He's been active with providing feedback and questions for my "Questions for Caponomics" posts. Among those I have met through Blogger, I have been thankful to keep contact with bloggers such as Carina Olsen from Carina's Books and am thankful for our interaction on each others posts, which includes her encouragement on many of my posts, whether they were book reviews, celebration posts, or just topics of interact; Michele from The Girl Who Loves Horror, as we have also interacted on a few occasions and she always comes up with some exciting material to post about; then there's Caragh and Brianna from Loaded Shelves, which has become a favorite of mine. They're a growing blog that's looking for a breakout moment and I'm sure that within the near future, they will become the blog that everyone talks about. Beyond the blog, they're very nice people and I'll be excited to serve as a guest blogger sometime during the end of this year or the beginning of the next.

Of course, there are so many people and outlets to be thankful for, but that would be a list so long that this post would never end. The concept of being thankful for what you have, even if they're just the simple elements of life, is a trend that we should follow. I can go on and on about the issues people have with the feeling of complex entitlement, but I don't feel like it. I have a great family, great friends, a great job, a great college opportunity, plenty of writing opportunities, and there's just so much good I have in my life that no matter how bad it gets, the good outweighs it all. In addition to all of this good, I have the gift of life and have the opportunity of write this post today. That in itself is something to be incredibly thankful for.

I want to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you enjoy the holiday with those you love most in your life and are thankful to be around. Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, my "thank you" is just as strong as it would be for one who celebrates. I hope you have a wonderful day and God bless you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years Ago

On Friday, November 22, 1963, the United States of America and the world were shocked when they learned about the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy was in Dallas, Texas promoting what was slated to be his campaign for the presidency in 1964 and had chosen to ride in a convertible vehicle with an open roof in order to reach out to the people. Unfortunately, this would set up his immediate, but tragic demise. The death of John F. Kennedy, who was just 46 years of age, was one of the few times within the last fifty years that shook the country to the point that a drastic change would come about due to such an event. The other event being September 11, 2001, in which suicide planes crashed into the World Trade Center and ultimately resulted in conflict with Iraq. Indirectly and in more ways than one, conflict came about from the Kennedy assassination, but it also came with plenty of questions...

The man that was responsible for the majority of the bullets shot at JFK was Lee Harvey Oswald, who would inevitably be arrested and was ready to be tried for the murder of the president. While heading to his case, he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. On one hand, this act could have been due to fury of the president's assassination (in the way of "an eye for an eye"). On the other hand, the murder of Oswald could have been a cover-up. Oswald deemed that he was just "a patsy" and the evidence came about with his own murder. The question at hand is: Did Lee Harvey Oswald solely assassinate JFK? It's very hard to stand by the point that Oswald was in fact the lone shooter.

Many of other groups and individuals were connected to the assassination. This ranges from the mafia, the FBI, the Cubans, even Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson is connected. Kennedy and Johnson did not see eye to eye, but the ticket was created in order to level out their areas (Kennedy's Massachusetts to Johnson's Texas) and provide them with a vast range when it came to winning the election. Kennedy, unlike most political figures, disagreed with the notion of being in Vietnam and was taking steps to backing out. Soon after Johnson was sworn into office (immediately on the plane ride back to Washington D.C.), he sent more troops into Vietnam. The Vietnam War was another attempt at opportunity that began during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, continued into the Kennedy administration, escalated during the Johnson administration, and came to a head during the Richard Nixon administration where it ultimately died down before ending during the Gerald Ford administration in 1975. People constantly ask that if Kennedy had lived, would America stayed in Vietnam as long as they did? There are strong inclinations that this would not be the case. There may have been other issues that brewed in the process with other countries, but interference with Vietnam could have ended and the takeover would have occurred sooner. Vietnam seemed to be an opportunity for the political figures during that time, so involvement was within their interest. Whether or not this had to do with Johnson wanting to eliminate Kennedy from office could not be determined, but we do know that the view Johnson had with moving forward was not the same as Kennedy's. Recent studies from a FOX News special point out how the bullet that caused the death to Kennedy was not shot from Oswald's gun, but from a county building. The information behind the shooter was not provided.

John F. Kennedy was not a favorite president of mine. Some of the decisions he made with regard to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion seemed to show less assertiveness when it came to foreign policy. The two best traits Kennedy had and made him perhaps the most notable president of the 20th century were his charm and his ability to move crowds by being a great public speaker. When running against Nixon in the 1960 election, he visibly presented himself much better, even if he didn't possess knowledge like Nixon. This allowed him to go forth with winning the presidency in what was a brief, but notable era. Among his foreign policies, he also developed the Peace Corps and had his hands in civil rights (for black citizens). It would be Johnson, however, that got the credit for signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and go on to become the champion of being the man that ended segregation in America (according to federal law). His speeches, along with his brother Robert F. Kennedy, are always powerful to listen to, which I have taken the opportunity to do whenever I found the moment. He always had a message that he presented very passionately, whether I agree with it or not.

I am going to leave you with two powerful videos that relate to JFK. One of which is the powerful, poignant report that Walter Cronkite gives, struggling to keep his composure as he reports the death of the president. The other, a more positive notion, is how JFK discusses his intention to send a mission to the moon and how he not only wants to accomplish such a task, but accomplish it before any other country. This notion shows an incredible amount of passion for America.

Cronkite's Report:

Kennedy on Space Race: