Ex-Professional Athletes: Why Does Retirement End So Disastrously?

March 31st, 2012 by Michael Tabor
There isn’t a day that goes by in which I don’t read or hear a story about an ex-professional athlete who has fallen from grace e.g. spent all their millions and are now broke, and worse yet accused of raping, robbing, spousal abuse and occasionally even murdering. Today I read the story of Ryan Leaf (who? Yes he had an abominable professional career so his name may not be recognizable but he was at one time one of the nation’s top prospects and the Indianapolis Colts had a difficult time deciding whether or not to draft Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf back in 1998) who was arrested yesterday for burglary and drug charges. Wow – so sad and stupid.
One particular athlete that comes to mind whose post – football life ended up tragically is Mike Webster – “Iron Mike” the center for the Pittsburgh Steelers with big bulging biceps #52 (now retired) who was a staple of the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing 15 years (1974-1989) 245 games (longer than any Steeler in history), and 4 Super Bowls ended up destitute and was plagued with a host of injuries. Webster suffered from depression, dementia, and amnesia (football violence and injuries – another blog) and ended up living in his truck by a train station. Mike Webster sadly died at the age of 50 and one can obviously see this was the result of the “blows to the head” and certainly not Mike’s fault. This is just a sad and tragic story and the improper headgear worn by Mike and the NFL are to blame.
The list here is just a number of retired professional athletes who had it all and threw it all away:
O.J. Simpson – double homicide

Mike Tyson – bankruptcy, rape, etc.

Rae Carruth  – murdered his pregnant wife because he didn’t want to pay child support

Ugueth Urbina – a rather unknown relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who I included because of the gratuitousness and savagery of his actions: he gathered up a group of ranch workers in his native country of Venezuela and literally “hacked” them with a machete and burnt them alive, simply because he believed they stole one of his guns. (beyond sick)

Jayson Williams – former NBA player who killed his limo driver

Mike Danton – he hired a hit man to kill his former agent

Lawrence Taylor – Rape, drugs, alcoholism

I can go on and on but I believe I’ve amply illustrated my point. With the exception of poor Mike Webster (and others to be fair) were given a gift from God and when the fanfare went away, these spoiled, overpaid, over-privileged men couldn’t handle being a mere mortal human being.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Do you have other ex-athletes you would like to mention? Why do you think that exponentially more ex-athletes behave so heinously?

March 30th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor


Castle Keeping

March 25th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
I have a long standing love affair with castles, from the time I was old enough to read Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm and lost myself to damsels in distress amidst the beautiful hand colored renderings of the castles and the figures that lived within them.
My parents were/are native Austrians and hail from small villages just north of Vienna. I have often wondered why, coming from such an extraordinarily beautiful country, they would choose to settle here in the U.S. I suppose times were different then, and it was vital to earn a respectable living forsaking  beauty, art and culture. Not to say America doesn’t possess all of these things, but it’s hardly on the same caliber or grand scale as living amongst castles hundreds of years old to stimulate the imagination. Or traveling down cobblestoned winding roads through fairy tale villages to do your daily shopping, eco friendly wicker basket in hand. These are the things we try feebly to recreate at the local Renaissance Faire each year.
However, being born of Austrian parentage, my brother and I were given the rare opportunity to experience this magical existence for real on a trip to Germany and Austria, once when I was nine years old, and again when I was twelve, for a full month each time. My father’s brother lived in the heart of Munich, and it was my aunt and uncle’s good intention to give us the grand tour of a castle, sometimes two, each day for the two weeks we stayed with them. We had hardly recovered from the eight hour flight and I remember saying to my parents, “No more…..I’m sooo tired”, a sentiment my folks fully reciprocated. But let there be no mistake, in retrospect, I am eternally grateful to them, not that I didn’t love it at the time. Remember, I was the fairy tale child if ever there was one. However, to fully appreciate the majesty, you need a break between castle hopping with all of its gaudy grandeur. Of the several we visited, I can only recall three or four, the majority belonging to the Mad King Ludwig. I believe the Nymphenburg castle is the one that bears his horse, which he  had fully stuffed after its death, and which I was able to actually touch when no one was looking. It gave me the creeps upon being told that the mad king had mysteriously drowned,  picturing the murky waters entangled with lily pads about his throat. But I believe it was actually a lake somewhere and not some pond near the castle grounds, so I needn’t have worried.
My favorte castle was one not so ostentatious and was in the Rhein region near another relative’s home. I can’t even tell you the castle’s name but its aura was delightfully brooding. It was a gloomy day as we walked up the steep incline of a medieval road that wound its way to the gray feudal dwelling in the thick of the forest. When we got there, the guide made everyone wear giant brown felt slippers over our shoes making us appear suddenly Hobbitlike. This lightened the mood considerably as we laughed at one another. The purpose of this however, was so that we wouldn’t mar the ancient floors.  I believe this is the castle where the guide, upon learning I was visiting from the States, wanted to present me with a token of remembrance. After rummaging through the drawer of a great, heavily carved oak desk, he produced a black and white postcard bearing a sketch of Christ with his arms spread wide. I still have it. I was so impressed with having been recognized as someone special enough to be given something from a secret chamber in a great gray castle that I felt inclined to keep it all these years.
Besides the many castles of the British Isles on my wish list , there is one castle in Germany I long to see. The fairy tale castle of all time – Burg Eltz, also referred to as Castle Eltz. It’s perched high atop a rocky  crag in the forested mountains overlooking the river Elzbach that hugs alongside it. In fact, the very shape of the castle is owed to its winding river. Gaze upon this magnificent structure is to have entered the pages of Grimms. Incredibly, it’s still owned and lived in by the same family branch after 33 generations. Of the eighty rooms they inhabit, only about eight of them are open for public viewing. What’s in all those other rooms??? demands the child within, the imagination running rampant.
Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales”.  It doesn’t mean you’ll become the most brilliant person, it just means you’ll glow with a brilliance that only the imagination can illuminate. Nothing speaks more to the imagination than a castle, and the history associated with each one. And then, there’s the fairy tale….

March 23rd, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor


War Creates Monsters

March 18th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

Sergeant Robert Bales consumed some alcohol and then without further ado went door  to  door and started shooting and stabbing Afghan civilians, mostly women and children; when the killing spree was over, it left 16 innocent people dead. What an alarming and sickening tragedy this is! When I first read about the story, I immediately thought of the Mai Lai Massacre in Vietnam in 1968 in which 2 dozen soldiers, led by Lieutenant William Calley went berserk and simply cold-heartedly slaughtered more than 500 unarmed civilians. As in the Bales incident, most of the victims were women and children.
Sgt. Robert Bales did not have fangs and breathe fire in fact he was a husband and father who had two children and by all accounts was said to be a solid citizen all around. On the front page of the New York Times there was an article on what it might be like to be married to a man in the military – detailing not just the loneliness of being separated for long stretches at a time but she also elaborated (taken from her personal blog) on the anguish Karilyn Bales felt knowing that her husband was deployed 4 times to the hot spots of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yesterday’s headline read: ‘G.I. Sapped Under Strain’. What surprised me was that Bales had been in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 – more than a decade of hell on earth. This blog is not about exonerating Sgt. Bales for his unspeakably heinous actions but here is a man whose intentions were honorable when he enlisted a week after the terrorist attacks in 2001 and a week ago he had been transformed from being a potential hero into a diabolically mentally disturbed mass murderer. There were strangers in a distant foreign land who were trying to kill him for more than 10 years; the horrors of war he witnessed and experienced I’m sure haunted him day and night. I’m personally left with a feeling of immense sadness and anger over the unthinkable disgust of it all.
I wonder what will become of Sgt. Robert Bales – will he now spend the rest of his natural life in a federal prison cell? I uncovered an article on the web in which Lieutenant William Calley was sentenced to life but he only served 3 and a half years under house arrest; hardly seems fair, does it ? So WhaDaYa Think ? What do you think ? Should we treat Bales just like any other vicious killer or should we take into account the fact that he was completely deranged after serving his country for more than a decade in the heat and stress of combat. For a moment, I feel a bit of empathy for Bales but then I see the dead bodies and all sympathy for the sergeant disappears.


How To Trap A Fairy

March 16th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Everyone knows that fairies can only be found in the enchanted land of The Emerald Isle but their appearance had grown so scarce, it was believed they had been driven to near extinction by over population of the human species. This is not the case. Fairies adapt and have the uncanny ability to conceal themselves pratically anywhere. Just the other day, Mrs. Mulligan spotted one in her pantry next to the Campbell’s Soup, and about three weeks ago Joe Callahan stepped into his bedroom slippers in the morning when he was bitten on the toe. He didn’t actually see the culprit, what with all the throbbing and pain inflicted, but he did glimpse an irridescent wing as it slipped into a crack in the floor. He said he hasn’t caught one yet but was given some very specific instructions on how to go about it:
1) When your honey jar is just about empty, let it stand open on a cool, grey morning with the mist blowing southeast off the Irish Sea. Be sure that the cap to the jar is readily available. Keeping it in your pocket is a good idea.
2) Play the harp but stay out of sight. If you don’t play, then get someone who does. It’s no use faking it by playing a recording since they know the real thing when they hear it. Fairies are so sound sensitive, they can detect the slightest variation in frequency.
3) When the fairy alights on the rim of the jar, contain your excitement and don’t even breathe or it will  dart off never to return. Be patient and wait until it gets inside the jar to taste the honey at the bottom. It will eventually get stuck but not enough to entrap it, so be sure to grab the cap and screw it on tightly.
4) Punch several holes into the top of the cap or it will suffocate within seconds. You might do this ahead of time to eliminate the shock.  Should your fairy suffer with an anxiety attack from claustrophobia, do not be alarmed. This is only a ruse. After all, fairies squeeze into the smallest of spaces so they’re really not fooling anyone.
What to do with it once you  have one? They’re fascinating to observe and very inexpensive to keep but be warned, they’re high maintenance. To keep your fairy in good health, you must insert a drop of honey into one of the holes in the jar every hour for 24 hours. If you’ve other business to attend to, such as sleep,  this can prove to be a bit bothersome.
Fairies have ADD, so unless you can play the harp for at least six hours each day for their amusement, you will have to hire someone who can. If you don’t, they will bug out and begin to hum in a high pitch in conjucntion with vibrating their wings, making the the sound intolerable. Fairies can’t hold a tune which is why they’re so partial to  good harp playing.
Fairies require exercise. To provide this, you will have to let them out of the jar without allowing them to escape. This can be a bit tricky but a simple net will take care of the matter and they can then be released into a space allowing them some mobility. Do be careful that the area is not too expansive or you’ll have trouble finding them. After exercise, they generally fall asleep somewhere and you can simply pick them up by the wings and place them gently back into the jar. Or if you’ve had enough of their company, place them outside somewhere safe and out of the vicinity of any neighborhood cats. They’ll fly off upon awakening, never to be seen again.
If you do decide to keep one, contribute to its comfort by lining the jar with some soft hay that can be purchaed at any Petco, and some flower petals from the florist if you don’t have any in your yard. Insert some clover for snacking, making certain to inspect any that may have four leaves. Remove these! This is lucky for the fairy and will ensure its release from captivity. No one knows how this is done but the empty jar is proof of the four leaf clover’s magical qualities. No one has ever kept a fairy for very long, so enjoy them while you can – they’re bound to get out one way or another. More often than not, you let them out yourself because they keep making those awful faces at you. They can keep it up for hours.
Oh, incidently, if you’re not Irish, you don’t stand a chance with any of this. No one else possesses the ability to see a fairy, let alone capture one. If you’re part Irish, then you may be fortunate enough to see its shadow for one split second. In a  rare case, a Welshman caught one on camera but the film disintegrated upon development. Good Luck!

You are Your Brain – or Are You?

March 11th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Are “you” just a mere physical object of your biology or more specifically – your brain or are you essentially an immaterial “soul.” When I say you, I am talking about the you that really matters like your conscious life or the part of you that smiles, thinks, plans, reasons, feels, writes poetry, has memories, falls in love, laughs, cries; has the ability to build the Hubble Telescope, to be creative and have all sorts of dreams and aspirations. This is the you who is confronted with mini moral dilemmas every single day and who acts on these situations and makes choices that are good or bad, moral or immoral, self – centered or selfless. This is the you that has freewill (or do we? another blog) and who deliberates and is involved in all decision making of how we ought to behave and the very you who can ponder the very question of whether or not “I am nothing more than a product of that 3 lb. grey mass contained within my cranium with its 100s of billions of connections and all of the electrochemical activity that takes place there; or I am certainly more than just some thing or physical object, I have private subjective experience and I am capable of falling in love and in fact love to such a profound degree that I can love another person (i.e. your child) more than myself. ”
I probably know about as much as most lay people about the brain e.g. the medulla is responsible for heart rate and respiration, the cerebellum plays a part in body balance and muscular coordination and the hypothalamus plays a role in hunger, thirst, feeding and sleep – in other words the unconscious things we need in order to survive; but the real action or the thing we call “I” takes place in the cortex and the 4 parts or lobes of the cortex. I think the brain injury to Phineas Gage is probably the ideal case history to ponder and study when thinking in terms of the brain/mind versus the immaterial soul. For those of you who are not familiar with the unfortunate accident that took place in 1848, here it is in a nutshell: Phineas Gage was an American railroad construction foreman who, long story short, was a victim of a horrible accident in which a large iron rod was driven through his cheek bone all the way through and out of his brain and skull and who still miraculously survived. The problem was there was severe damage to Mr. Gage’s left frontal lobe. Yes Phineas Gage survived all right but he certainly was not the same solid citizen he once was.
Before the accident Phineas was respectful, honest, hardworking, responsible and just an all-around good man. After the accident his behavior became very erratic- he started cursing, drinking and womanizing; he began mistreating his wife and children, became a braggart, couldn’t hold a job, started lying, brawling and stealing – he had sadly lost his moral compass and his ability to know right from wrong or if he did he didn’t care. In short, the people who knew Phineas said he was no longer the same man – his personality had changed for good.
Whether or not all the shenanigans Phineas Gage was said to have taken part in may or not be apocryphal the fact certainly remains that the brain is a remarkably complex biological system. In fact a neuroscientist can tell you that there are more neural connections, pieces, and parts in just an inch of brain matter than there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (Wow). So if I snip off a piece of that wet, disgusting grey matter inside your head, will you still be the person with the same hopes, dreams, and aspirations? Surely not but the question still is out there – is there such a thing as an immaterial soul or are we just a brain?  So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ?

The Easter Lagomorph Is Coming

March 8th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Michael and I love our two Lagomorphs. What??? Put simply, our rabbits. In the past, it was thought that the rabbit belonged to the rodent family  but this is untrue and they should not be referred to as such. This is insulting to them. Besides being utterly cute, they make wonderful pets and they’re smarter than you may think. Not quite as bright as Bugs Bunny – more along the lines of Peter Rabbit in McGregor’s garden.
Blossom has quite a personality and if you’re under the mistaken assumptiion that she’s just some dumb bunny, you’re in for a rude awakening, and I do mean “rude”. Never, and I repeat this emphatically with the emphasis on the first syllable, NEV-er be so careless as to place your hand into her domain without placing the other available hand on top of her head. She will invariably bite you. Hard. Her otherwise sweet temperment will be dominated by her territorial instincts, and you (even if you come bearing gifts) are considered to be the intruder. When the cleaning lady arrives (that’s me), it gets even trickier but I have mastered the situation over time. She has to be lured into the outer section of her home (this being the sunroom) while I deftly grab a large piece of slate (used for this sole purpose, readily available) and cover the opening to prevent her from entering her loft (complete with cathedral ceiling). This is accomplished with the use of food as enticement. It works every time. The other day, however, she managed to move the heavy slate aside, which is no small feat when you consider it weighs a good deal more than she does. This would have proven disastrous for the unsuspecting cleaning lady busy about her task, for were Blossom to make her way inside, a set of acutely sharp incisors would have made their presence known. If Blossom were ever featured in a Flintstones cartoon, she would have been utilized as Fred’s razor to shave with in the morning. She even has the audacity to charge at you in defense of her turf and actually emits a small grunt- like noise in the process, stopping just short of you in an effort to frighten. It’s rather effective knowing she will nip you. When this happens, I laugh it off by calling her “The Big, Bad, Bunny”. It’s really very funny because she’s so cute (provided you escape the wrath of her teeth). When we bring her to the vet to have her nails clipped, they think she’s sooooo adorable! They don’t know the real Blossom.
Then there’s our other Lagomorph. Godiva. Whereas Blossom is snowy white, Godiva is like dark chocolate, hence the name. She is docile. Serene. Sweet. Clean. The complete antithesis to “The Big, Bad, Bunny”. That’s it. Nothing more to be said about Godiva. In no way is she the lesser of the two. She’s just “good”. More of what you would expect in the typical bunny.
If you’re thinking of getting a rabbit for your kid at Easter, you may want to reconsider. Rabbits demand a lot of attention and can easily become sick if not properly cared for. They need a variety of fresh greens daily in addition to fresh bedding, hay for consumption, and papaya pills to aid in good digestion. All these things can prove costly but if you’re dedictaed to their good health and well being, go for it – they are a constant source of amusement. They will interact at play, with toys made especially for rabbits. Have you ever seen a rabbit wash its face? Too cute! Or seen one yawn? Hilarious!

If you decide to keep them indoors, be sure to cover all your wiring with plastic tubing or they will disconnect your cable service, or eliminate your source of electricity and quite possibly themselves in the process. But if you choose to house them outdoors as we do, you’ll need to provide a constant source of shade as shelter from the sun and the elements. Many a bunny has suffered heat exhaustion and died as a result of exposure. In winter, a clear plastic covering acts as a sort of greenhouse effect. You may however, need to shovel a path in heavy snow. This is not always convenient but they will thank you for it. Don’t expect an outcry of “Hooray! We’re saved!” but instead, a little dance of appreciation to make you smile.
Never serve them wilted greens and not all greens are suitable. Not long ago, I purchased an assortment of greens from the local supermarket. On this particular day, the kale was so fresh that when I placed it on the kitchen counter, a large, bright green grasshopper crawled out of it! Now that’s FRESH! Needless to say, I was quite freaked out by this display and had to contain my anxiety and act fast before he hopped off into the nether reaches of the kitchen’s recesses. He made a feeble attempt at a hop, having survived the trip from California, to the Pathmark on Long Island, into the plastic  stay-fresh bag, wheeled around for a tour in the cart, ferried down the conveyer belt to be rung up, placed into another plastic bag with a multitude of sundries, back into the cart for a bumpy ride across the parking lot and into the back of the Jeep before reaching our home as its final (?) destination. So, little wonder that by this time he might feel a bit woozy, much to my benefit. I hastily grabbed the plastic bag from which he had just been removed and gently covered him, scooped him up, and raced to the front door. Snow was in the night’s forecast but no matter. He would find quick refuge under one of the many cedar bushes outside. Now, as anyone who knows me can verify, I am not, not, not, a bug person but as Michael often quotes, “All life is precious”. This being said and my duty done, I found it safe at this point to promptly freak  with an audible  “Eeeeeeeee!” shrieked several times in succession while shuddering and stomping my feet at the horrific ordeal I’d just encountered. I hate to think of what would have happened had I put the kale into the refrigerator along with “Grasshopper”. Might he have eaten all of the meat loaf? Or jumped out at Michael during one of his late night binges? I can picture him waking me up to tell me about it, and me saying “Go back to bed, It was only a nightmare”. Oh yeah??? Then where’s all the meat loaf?

In short, if you are prepared to deal with all this for the sake of a cute little, button-nosed bunny, then you are ndeed the perfect candidate for just such a pet. Make the leap only by making the commitment. Otherwise, stick with the chocolate version. Might I suggest Godiva?

March 3rd, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor