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“Live Your Life With Passion”

August 9th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

When I first heard about 61 year old Diana Nyad’s intent to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, I thought it foolhardy. True, she would be accompanied by a team of 30 people who would be with her every stroke of the way, some whose job it would be to deter the sharks by using harmless electrical impulses, but the feat was estimated to take 60 hours to complete. That’s 2 and 1/2 days. I get tired just thinking about it. It just didn’t seem humanly possible and WHY would one want to push himself/herself to such extremes? For the glory? To get your name mentioned for posterity? What is it about human beings that we feel the need to be recognized as “the first”? Climbing Mt Everest. Swimming the English Channel (accomplished for the first time by Captain Matthew Webb in 1875. It took him a mere 21 hours and 45 minutes to complete). Or do we find it necessary to prove something to ourselves? Why?
I was not rooting for her. I didn’t intentionally want her to fail but I wasn’t on her side either. She had failed the attempt 30 years ago and wanted to prove, she said, that 60 (years of age) was the new 40; that she’s a better athlete today than she was at age 29. I don’t think so. It’s good to be positive but at some point we need to face our limitations. While it’s admirable that she persevered, training for 2 years with up to 12 hour swims at a stretch, the fact remains we are not as young as we used to be. Face it. The very next day, I read about the NYC Nautica Triathlon – 2 not one, 2 people died in the swimming portion of the event. Both died of cardiac arrest, one at age 64 and the other at age 40. Age didn’t seem to be the factor here but the extremes we place on our bodies. Again, know (and respect) your limitations.
Then the news came. Diana failed. Again. And I was sad. So sad for her to give up her dream after 30 years. Forced to give up after only making it half way. Suffering through excruciating shoulder pain to the point of having to roll on her back after every 3 or 4 strokes. And the asthma. Not being able to breathe. She fought the strong winds but the currents drove her 15 miles off course. She was just a paper cup in the vast blue sea. At the 28th hour she made the decision to give up, “deeply disappointed”.
But the memory of the evening earlier, surrounded by dolphins and a beautiful Carribbean sunset is something she can take away with her. Something I would covet more than a “first ever” title. I admire her spunk. I am rooting for her recovery both physically and mentally. Spiritually, she’s already there. Nice going, Diana. Well done. You have lived your life “with passion”. Embraced it. That’s the trophy.

So…………….whadayathink? To what levels do you push yourself? Do you live your life in pursuit of what you love? Now’s the time.

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Happy As A Clam

August 7th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
Living on Long Island, one develops a profound appreciation for water – we’re surrounded by it. The ocean – deep, dark and mysterious never fails to awe. Water courses throughout the island as well, in the form of rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams. Some scientists speculate that human beings descended from the Aquatic Ape. An interseting concept however controversial, the hypothesis can be read in detail on Wikipedia. There is no doubt that water courses through my veins.
One of my favorite things to do is bike to a nearby fishing pier to watch the boats cruise in and out of the neighboring canals. A jagged shoreline of rocks serve as front row seating while dipping my feet in the warm as bathwater bay. It’s a haunt known only to locals and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon lunching on some deep fried shrimp, just the way I like them. The waves splash up against the rocks cooling me off against the hot August sun but already I sense a slight chill in the air reminding me that (No!!!!!) summer will soon be coming to a close. So I’m enjoying these well spent moments while I still can. Some people have the luxury and the relative privacy of possessing their very own beach right in their backyards. For them, it must be especially painful for summer to end. Saying good-bye to their fleet of boats and kayaks that, for now, remain tied to the dock.
Another interesting area to explore is the bike path that runs the length of the Massapequa Preserve. A couple of Huck Finn-like bridges span the well stocked ponds luring the local anglers. The ponds are fed by a creek that runs adjacent to the bike path making it feel like you’re miles from nowhere. The path runs as far as the renowned Bethpage Golf Course on Long Island’s north shore and is part of the Appalachian Trail. However, the preserve itself is a gem; recently restored to provide an even cleaner habitat for the fish and wildlife. Right now, I’m sitting on a strategically placed bench at one of the ponds watching a family of Trumpeter Swans that have made this their home. In spite of the many people attracted to the area, it remains utterly peaceful. I never fail to bring pen and paper should inspiration strike. If you see some lady with a bike scribbling away, it’s probably me.
Dogs love the swimming hole fed with native brook trout. It’s a bit of a hot spot with everyone gathering to watch the dogs retrieve their sticks tossed into the water. I chuckle watching a little dog proudly carrying his stick while his back legs rotate propeller-like. The bigger dogs show off dragging whole branches. I imagine that many friendships between dog owners have been forged right here.
If you continue farther along the path, you’ll find that parts of it resemble a Thomas Cole painting, the 19th century Hudson River  painter. The scenery is accompanied by a heady fragrance of an un-named flower that follows you everywhere this time of year. I take a small clipping to bring home and locate its name on the computer. But a wind is kicking up and the clouds roll in on billowing waves. Will I beat the rain home or linger to watch a Monarch Butterfly dance over a purple gray Weeping Willow’s garden? What’s a little rain anyway when you love water so much? I hope you enjoyed  your bike ride with me. Next time we’ll bike to Jones Beach.
By the way, “Happy as a clam” is shortened from the “Happy as a clam at high tide” phrase . Low tide is the only time you can dig for them. When it’s high tide, he’s safe from the dinner plate. It doesn’t take much for a clam to be happy. If he’s not eaten then you’ve made his day.  Me? I’m just happy to be alive.
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What happened to Good Audio Film Commentary?

August 6th, 2011 by Michael Tabor
I relish good audio film commentary and it saddens me that the quality and the quantity have diminished significantly (monumental understatement). The reason this is the case is obvious – demand and MONEY. DVD sales are way down and practically obsolete; it seems as if we would rather stream our movies than buy the physical product. The headline is really a rhetorical one and I could very well have stated ‘why consumers are no longer interested in DVDs, CDs, and books’. That is a whole other Op-ed blog and in this particular blog, I just want to write about how much I miss those great film commentaries.
I will not spill much ink on the history and demise of the DVD and the onset of film commentary but I just want to point out that the film commentary was initially a marketing tool for the laserdisc. It could obviously hold so much more information than VHS and so to justify the price disparity and available space, the early laserdisc and especially the Criterion Collection provided first-rate film commentary. After the laserdisc, the DVD continued with the special features and the outstanding film commentary, which is the very gist of this blog.
I was so incredibly spellbound with the audio commentary. Imagine the director or a film scholar for the older films walking you through scene by scene with so much information that going to film school seemed superfluous and maybe even a waste of money (self-taught, right?). I am not in the motion picture business but I am a film aficionado and my favorite class of all time was film studies in high school. Our teacher was passionate and intelligent and though I was an avid and zealous film buff since childhood, Mr. Robert Sippie (my teacher) disclosed to my very naïve eyes to what depths serious film study could reach. I realized that film could be just as important as literature. “Citizen Kane” was no longer just a boring old movie about some American newspaper magnate but, it was a movie, abounding with pioneering, unprecedented film angles, images, symbolism, allusions, and everything one would expect if he were reading James Joyce or Nathaniel Hawthorne. (Incidentally this may seem ironic but I don’t like the film ‘Citizen Kane’ nor do I particularly care about many movies made before 1970 but, Orson Welles transformed mere motion pictures into an art form.)
I mistakenly thought that Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Hearts of Darkness’ was the progenitor and the success of which was the reason for inserting audio film commentary onto a DVD. It’s true that very often the behind the scenes stuff is better than the actual movie. Especially if the commentator is great at shedding light on the film and the movie perhaps has some esoteric elements. I have literally seen movies I initially thought I disliked but, after having watched the commentary, I sometimes could see a film over with a new eye and understanding.
There are a handful of directors who are consistently superb with audio commentary: Francis Ford Coppola of course; I think he is the paradigm of the art. David Fincher is always very interesting and William Friedkin (The Exorcist and The French Connection) directed a movie called ‘Bug’ which I thought was good but his commentary was absolutely outstanding; he covered every part of the film posing interesting questions, universal questions and issues regarding good and evil and the choices we make and the consequences of our actions. This apparently small movie was evidently deeper and more profound than I initially thought.
So whadyathink ? Are you a film audio commentary fan? I sometimes like the commentary better than the movie itself, are you like me?
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Color My World

August 6th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
My favorite color has always been turquoise. It stems back to my first day in Kindergarten. (Yes, I vividly recall the moment). There was a community crayon box – a big cigar box full of crayons of all shapes and sizes in varying  degrees of use, and of course, colors. There was only one crayon I was interested in – a 2 inch nub of turquoise. Judging by its diminutive size, it must have been a favorite amongst my peers. Each day I searched until I found the turquoise prize in the jumble of assorted crayons. It was labeled “Aqua”, a color related to the sea, shortened from the Greek Aquamarine. On the color wheel it is precisely halfway between the colors green and blue, making it a secondary color. I remember the day I searched in vain for the bit of crayon that made my day for many consecutive days stretching into the first few weeks. I was horrified to discover “my” crayon in the childish fist of a classmate. I could only watch in envy waiting for my chance to snatch it from the crayon box after she’d finished.
What is it about color that heightens and brightens our mood? Scientifically, we are much more cheerful on sunny days as opposed to when it’s overcast. In summer, with nature bursting in the vibrancy of color we find ourselves mimicing her in our choice of clothing. Winter dresses us in subdued shades of neutral greys and browns reflecting our surroundings. Ever wake up one dreary, bitter cold morning to choose a bright red sweater? It instantly picks you up, lifting your spirit. A woman I once knew would keep an orange on her desk at the office for the sole purpose of its effect on her mood. She had heard that the color orange was a “pick me up”. (I believe at some point during the day she may have actually eaten it).
Helen Keller’s major breakthrough had color connection. She finally channelled communication when her teacher related her sense of touch to a specific color; for example, the color red was associated with something hot; blue related to something cold. Thus Helen developed a sense of what the sky might have looked like. This discovery evoked such excitement in opening up her world that there was no holding back to what she sought to achieve. Amazing.
In the animal kingdom, the male is typically the more flamboyant in color, a tool used by nature to attract a mate.The same is to be said of the human species, only in reverse; the female wearing beautiful, colorful clothes while the male is less inclined to do so. (So, you see, honey, it’s our God given right to go shopping. Yes, I know you like my little black dress but I need…..).
What would the artist be without color? Monet’s Water Lillies? Van Gogh’s Starry Night? How dull would life be if everything was in black and white? Out of the five senses (and I’m sure there are more), the gift of sight must surely be the most precious. My longtime friend lost her sight due to a stroke several years ago – I grieve every time I think of it. To gaze into the turquoise water is, for me, one of life’s simple pleasures. The restorative nature of color.
So…………….whadayathink? What’s your favorite color and why? Did you carry it into your adult life from the time you were a child? By the way……what color are your eyes?

If you love the color turquoise and/or turquoise jewelry, buy this book by Mary Emmerling or anything else you might want instead.

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Schmetterling

August 6th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

We wear our tissue paper wings
Expecting to fly.
Butterfly or moth
The danger lies in the flame.
Wingless words.
A colorless lens.
Squinting into the sun.

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Getting Old is Not For Sissies

August 1st, 2011 by Michael Tabor

I just had a birthday a few weeks ago and I am now 48 years old; my life is more than half over or is it? Maybe I am exactly middle aged, after all, we are living longer, and I do not have to look at a chart or be a professional actuary to know this; I can noticeably see it. My parents are alive and are in their eighties and my mother –in-law who is 83 is just swell.
When I tell people my age, I know exactly the responses I will get. The people who are older than I will say I’m still a baby (well maybe not a baby anymore, but surely a young man). The youngsters – the pups who are in their teens, twenties, and thirties will say – “yes you are old” but they will usually politely continue and say “ you look good for your age” and “you still have a lot of life left” (which is true at 48 barring some illness, or heart attack, etc.)
What I really want to write about is what the title of the blog implies – the aging process and when you are old and no one could possibly deny that you are not.
Everything in existence dies (except for cancer cells – they will keep on dividing for eternity until you kill it or the host dies, etc.) and we all have a built-in ending. Apart from an unexpected accident, this means that there is a specific year, day and time when you will cease to be. However, before we die our bodies are declining at a steady and clearly programmed pace. I recently read that we actually don’t die of old age (or we would live to 120) but rather because our immune system is aging our ability to ward off disease decreases. Our weakened immune system prevents us from staving off infections, cancer, and other diseases.
The reason that getting old is not for sissies is that once you have outlived your reproductive years, nature does not care about YOU one bit. It’s not unlike a man who kicks his wife to the curb because she lost her looks and is no longer attractive.
To begin with, some of the things you have to look forward to when you get older is that food doesn’t taste as good as it used to – because your taste buds deteriorate. We all know our vision declines and I’m not talking about just correcting your eyesight with eyeglasses but the eyes just don’t see brilliantly anymore– the subtleties between the shades of color no longer exist. Another wonderful sense that goes with age regardless if you listened to heavy metal is your hearing. You will be saying ‘what’ and ‘what’s that’ a whole lot and just like vision the subtleties of fine music will be lost.
The largest single organ your body has –your skin, obviously loses moisture and elasticity, and it sags, and wrinkles (because of the tug of gravity? I’m not sure I believe the gravity tug theory.) After menopause, women physically take on male characteristics (facial hair, etc.) and men as they get older, acquire wider and fatter earlobes and noses. They simply become droopier. The bottom line is nature hates old people. It’s making us unattractive as we age so we won’t attract a mate and reproduce. The good news about intelligence and memory (as long as you don’t get Alzheimer’s) is that though your ability to retrieve information wanes, there is sufficient evidence that you can retain information and learn right up until death.
Now as if the aforementioned weren’t bad enough, you might think that you will take it easy and get a lot of restful and luxurious sleep in your mature years. Well, sadly after the age of 65 you’re lucky to get 5 hours of sleep and it’s fitful and restless, not like when you were young. So you see – as my parents say you’re still young – enjoy it, it doesn’t get any easier. Getting old is not for sissies.
So WHADAWETHINK ? My opinion is life is a mixed bag for the average person. It can be good, bad, happy, great, sad and awful. That’s life.

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