The Most Haunted House On Long Island

October 7th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor

Having just received our invitation to Raynham Hall’s Halloween Masquerade Dance, (the theme being the Culper Spy Ring) to be held on Saturday, October 27th, I thought I might fill you in on last year’s event written as follows:
The snow that began earlier in the day was still peltering in horizontal sheets, too wet and slushy to be anything but a hindrance. I almost backed out, relishing the thought of a cozy night indoors with freshly baked banana bread and a bowl of hot soup made from scratch. That, and a scary movie to kick off the Halloween festivities. But Raynham Hall beckoned. Its ghostly garden where I’d sat waiting for Michael a year ago was still fresh on my mind. It spoke to me then as it does now. We would go.
Upon arriving, the house was still. Not a flicker of light glowed from a single window.  No doubt the event was cancelled because of the weather. Maybe we should have called first. But the door opened into a dimly lit corridor already filled with waiting people; prospective ghost hunters, thrill seekers, ordinary folk. One small lamp from somewhere cast shadowy expectance into the darkened recessed corners. Some gloomy music added to the atmosphere. The last few stragglers arrived ushering in the wind and wet.
We were ready to begin our annual ghost hunting expedition. Assembled in the main hall before the fireplace, (the vortex, it was said), where souls enter and exit from the spirit world  into the the house, we stared in anticipation of its next spectral inhabitant to make its grand entrance. But it remained as it was. A fireplace.
Following in single file through an unlit passageway, we found ourselves in the colonial kitchen, a faint redolence of something spicy still lingering. A local paranormal group offered their expertise on the hows and whats used to track our spiritual counterparts. An ordinary flashlight flicked itself on and off intermittently throughout the session much to everyone’s amusement. We were soberly reminded this was a sure indication that the spirits were present and wished to establish contact.
Afterwards, we were extended free reign of the house, the still darkened rooms roped off but allowing us to peer into its depths. After some adjustment to the lack of light, a movement was detected and with prolonged consideration determined that the would be “ghost” was a person in period guise staged to give us a fright. It might have worked but we wondered how the lady in the dark could possibly read her book as she gently turned the pages.
Upstairs in the nursery, the ghosts of children past played with antique dolls in utter silence. Two were playing patty cake in slow motion as though immersed  in a murky sea while chanting in such a low tone as to render the rhyme inaudible. Very creepy. Small black hooded figures sat perfectly still alongside the more distinguishable human (?) forms.
In another bedroom, a woman sat rocking in the dark contemplating her non existence, while a front bedchamber was apparently empty of anyone but for a breath of wind moving the canopy that draped to the floor. I checked but no window was open, yet the motion repeated itself every few seconds like clockwork. Aha! I found the fan I was looking for off to one corner of the room. Nice prop. But later, upon complimenting this act of deception, I was assured they had simply forgotten to turn it off. Very effective nonetheless.
We ended our night with a reading by a kindly gentleman in an exotic version of a Dixie Cup hat embellished with a tassel who saw me as a gardener in his crystal ball. I hate gardening but didn’t have the heart to let on. I do love gardens though, so maybe he was half right. Perhaps next year he’ll see me for the writer I like to believe I am, or at the very least, writing in a garden.
Thanks to everyone at Raynham Hall for another imaginative Halloween event. The black hooded boy was spied by Michael through a crack in the door eating a cookie in a brightly lit back room. It’s comforting to know that even in the netherworld they take time out for a cookie now and again.
So……….whadayathink? Raynham Hall is reputed to be The Most Haunted House On Long Island, beginning with its illustrious connection to the Revolutionary War. With everyone attending this year’s event in period dress, who’s to say who’s real and who is not. Before you answer….May I have this dance?


My Love/Hate Relationship with MMA

October 6th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

There are 2 fights I’m awaiting with great anticipation – the amazing Anderson Silva (still undefeated in the UFC) on 10/13/2012 when he squares off with the “tough as nails” (there are no wimps in the UFC, but Bonner uses his face to ward off punches and won’t stop fighting until: a. you kill him or b. mercifully the ref stops it) and the other is between Georges St. Pierre (pound for pound, in my opinion the greatest all-around fighter to have ever stepped into the cage) and Gary Condit. Georges St. Pierre (22 – 2) hasn’t lost a fight since April of 2007 when the MMA world was shocked (to use a baseball analogy, it was not unlike Bobby Thompson’s HR 10/3/1951) when MY former instructor and all – around GREAT guy, Matt Serra knocked him out in the first round. I was talking to Matt the week before and I asked him if he was nervous, and he told me that he feels butterflies the night before, but the day of the fight he’s “psyched” and can’t wait to get it on.
The title of my blog suggests ambivalence to the sport (Senator John McCain called it human cockfighting in the 1990s and wanted it banned. Sorry Mr. McCain, you’re a war hero and I have all the respect in the world for you, but MMA is mainstream now, and is here to stay – thanks in part to the former boxer/President of UFC and spirited, Dana White). The Gracie family introduced Ultimate Fighting to the United States and Brazilian Jiu – jitsu  became the hottest and most practical martial art after UFC 1. Joyce Gracie, 175 lbs., was the toughest man on the planet (except for other members of his very large family) and it didn’t matter if you could bench press a truck; strength had very little to do with fighting back then, and the gentle but prodigiously effective art had arrived and transformed the Gracies from a poverty-stricken Portuguese speaking family to a multi – million dollar dynasty.
I’ll conclude this blog with my personal involvement with the sport of MMA. I had always been interested in fighting as a kid, I wrestled in HS (sadly, I was a late bloomer and not not very good, but I tried) and took up Kung – Fu (Kung Fu with David Carradine was my favorite show)  and Kempo Karate. In 2004, I finally, with a little trepidation took up the sport of mixed martial arts, practicing Brazilian Jiu – Jitsu at Matt Serra’s academy and studying wrestling, boxing, and Mauy – Thai at Ray Longo’s and other gyms. To be honest, I was not very good except for boxing (I’m sure I had the hardest punch in the gym but the aforementioned does not make you a great boxer, though my private instructor maintained I had very good instincts) and not to make excuses, I was in my 40s and the young guys were just quicker and had more stamina (yes I lost whole lot more than I won). Still, at the age of 42, I had these very quick hands and as I said earlier, if I connected, it was lights for you, end of story. To cut to the chase, I never entered a tournament, but I sparred in the gym, and here comes the hate part of story. Yes, MMA  is fun, character – building, a beautiful art, and as we fighters liked to call it, a physical chess match. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I think my opponent just happened to graze my left eye – I wasn’t knocked out and I finished the fight and felt fine. Two days later, I was slowly starting to lose my vision from my left eye. If I closed my right eye, I couldn’t see my nose if I looked to my right and when I say it was dark, it was dark – SCARY DARK. I left work immediately, saw an Ophthalmologist, and got the bad news. “Mike, you have a detached retina and we have to perform emergency surgery.” I elected to go with the easy procedure, the laser retinopexy.
Well, the operation was a success and I got my vision back completely in two months. Afterwards, I made a very stupid decision – I went back to MMA; what can I say I was ADDICTED ! I couldn’t stop, even though I was 42, was going nowhere with sport, the truth be told, MMA WAS IN MY BLOOD. My rationale was, okay no boxing, I’ll just stick to wrestling and Jiu – jitsu. Stupid, stupid, stupid and STUPID ! Suffice to say, I was in the the hospital again, and this time it was MAJOR retinal surgery (I won’t go into detail, but essentially they took my eyeball out and stitched the retina back on) and unlike the easy laser treatment; I was under, so I didn’t feel any pain during the operation nor did I feel much pain  when I got home (Oxycodone works). However, the next day, still blind as a bat in the left eye, and WOW, EXCRUCIATING PAIN !!!! It was a combination of incredible soreness and pressure. It was so uncomfortable, plus I had to lay on my right side for 6 weeks (I watched a lot movies).
Fast – forward, it’s 2012 and I’m fine. I still have a little blurriness in my left eye and always have to worry about retinal detachment (for both eyes, my retina in my right eye is thin) but I’m very lucky. So there you have it – WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think? I sensibly quit after my second surgery and I stick to weightlifting and Tai –Chi to stay in shape. My position is I still love the sport but I hate the violence (if that makes sense) plus the deleterious effects one may suffer from blows to the head. I also think that because, I am near-sighted, I was more susceptible for this thing to happen. Lastly, I have never met nicer people in my life than the fighters. One might think that they’re violent, etc. but nothing can be further from the truth. MMA fighters are incredible men with character who possess these incredible skills and are second to none in terms of being phenomenal athletes. Another misconception is one might think they take it out on the streets –WRONG, only punks and insecure losers street fight. But, just to be on the safe side, I don’t think it would be wise to say anything derogatory to Randy Couture’s wife – lol. I hope everyone enjoyed my little story.


Was it Really That Lopsided?

October 4th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Okay, Mitt Romney seemed hungrier, more prepared, and a lot more aggressive. However, was it that bad? All of the pundits from both the left and the right seem to think Romney destroyed Obama. I watched the debate twice on C-SPAN (I want impartiality, so I won’t watch FOX or the other side, MSNBC. I’ll make up my own mind, thank you very much). Just for starters, Mitt Romney provided no specifics whatsoever; however Obama didn’t pounce on him, much to my dismay. President Obama was lackluster, leaden, and meandering and didn’t show the spirited vitality he exhibited 4 years ago. Does he even want the job, one may ask – I say yes, it was just a bad night, it happens to the best of us. On the other hand, everyone is saying Mitt Romney looked great, really? I, personally can’t stand the man, he sickens me every time he opens his over-privileged spoiled mouth who incidentally burned investors’ money at Bain Capital, not unlike other Brokerage houses.
I had to laugh when Romney took credit for being governor of the most liberal state in the country, Massachusetts, and claiming that his state is #1 in terms of education.(look out you people who are teachers, he’s coming after you.) Ah, excuse me, Harvard and MIT, the best schools in the world are located in his state and just an FYI for Mr. Romney , Harvard was founded in 1636 !!!! So, Mr. Romney, you’ve been Governor of Kennedy’s state for how long? How dare you – Mr. Romney, cop credit for MA’s educational system. What audacity!  Massachusetts has been #1 in education for eons, and that’s at the local level as well, it’s common knowledge that this liberal state places a HUGE emphasis on education.
The next point: Both candidates agree that middle class and small business success is the key to more jobs and recovery (even though we all saw Romney say to his prodigiously wealthy donors that he doesn’t give a “rat’s ass” about 47% of the population). As Obama, brilliantly pointed out, Mitt Romney thinks Donald Trump is middle class (tongue-in-cheek, but point clearly made) so Romney’s Middle class and small business owners are a whole lot different from Obama’s idea of what’s middle class. I consider my wife and I to be middle class, Romney, as he stated last night, thinks that multi – million dollar-drilling companies are middle class.
Last point – did we really learn anything last night? These debates are profoundly overrated; Nothing substantive, they’re little sound bites like Twitter. We all know what they’re going to say before they even open their mouths. What the country is looking for is whether or not the candidate is polished, presidential, and composed. I leave you with the classic debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960. Richard Nixon, though he answered all of the questions unambiguously and with conviction, was sweating profusely, hence he LOST the debate according to the people who watched it on TV by a large margin, but WON by an overwhelming degree per the polls from people who listened to the debate on the radio.
So whaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Was Barack Obama that outrageously bad last night? We’re on our way BACK to recovery, why erase everything Obama has done thus far? Or do you want a fake, phony, fraud (as Bob Grant would say – right right-wingers?) who looks like a used car salesman or maybe a funeral director who can’t wait to sell you snake oil like he did at Bain Capital – it’s a free country and we’ll see in November. Cheers!

Arnold – You Just Gotta Love The Guy!

October 2nd, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Okay, Arnold has a problem with staying away from the ladies – he’s human, he’s not perfect (and he openly admits this unlike some creepy politician). Arnold is flawed and if you saw this week’s 60 minutes, he talks all about his infidelities in an incredibly candid and straightforward manner. Arnold, despite his prodigious philandering, is a VERY likable guy. I should say lovable – everybody loves Arnold – he is almost “cute” but he’s anything but stupid. Arnold is a Master Marketing Guru, a moneymaking machine, and there’s nothing, I mean nothing that Arnold can’t do, once he puts his mind to it; his story is nothing short of miraculous.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 65, was born and raised in a small town in Austria with no running water and no electricity. His father used to hit him with a belt almost on a daily basis, but in typical Arnold fashion, Schwarzenegger explains that he loved his father, holds no resentment, and believes his dad taught him discipline and went so far as to say, that he would not be the man he is today without the corporal punishment he endured. To fast-forward (this is not a biography) Arnold had a plan: Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be the greatest bodybuilder in the world – mission accomplished. Next – A.S. was going to be a famous actor – mission accomplished; not only did he become famous (beginning with a fascinating documentary on the then very fringe “sport” of Bodybuilding) he was the top grossing action hero, averaging 30 MILLION DOLLARS a film. Next – Arnold went on to marry into money and crème de la crème society, by leading to the altar a KENNEDY – Maria Shriver (is this a dream?). The final goal, which is the most spectacular accomplishment in my mind, is he became Governor of the state of California. All of this (and more – I left out successful businessman, entrepreneur, real estate sage, etc.) from a man from a little unknown town with no connections, a thick Austrian accent, and a long unpronounceable last name.
So what is next for Arnold? Had he been born in this country, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had become the president of the United States. And, Oh, I forgot successful author, Arnold has a new book out called ‘Total Recall’ and you know dollars to donuts, this will be a #1 best-seller. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life is the stuff dreams are made of and all I can say is you just gotta love the guy! So WhaDaYaThink? What do you think?

What is Reality?

October 1st, 2012 by Michael Tabor

The OED states briefly that reality is everything that exists. However, this includes not just material things such as rocks, lampshades, computers, and water but intangible things such as ideas, consciousness, and the fact that 2+2 =4. It also includes everything that ever WAS, including material and immaterial entities. Most people may say that if use your five senses and you’re sane (not hallucinating or delusional), one can discern what’s real by seeing, hearing, smelling, touching or tasting something. However, there are many things that are real and exist that go beyond our 5 senses e.g. bacteria, cells, viruses, and atoms; they’re physical tangible things but we can’t see them without the aid of a microscope.
How about sound? Sound is certainly real but we can’t see sound waves, nor are we aware of radio waves but our radios, televisions and computers reveal to us that they exist. How about light? If we remember high school science we were taught to commit to memory that light travels 186,000 miles per second ((186,282 miles per second to be perfectly precise) and what’s interesting to note is that the very sense – sight, that we rely on most heavily to determine what’s real is not always dependable. For example, Our sun is 8 light minutes away, so if our sun were hit by a gigantic comet and blew it up, it would take 8 minutes for us, if we were staring at the sun, to visualize the destruction; and then of course that would be the end of us too (let’s hope that does not happen any time soon).
I’ll make this a short blog and leave you with just one more thing to think about: We live in the Milky way galaxy (with approximately 100 billion stars, many of which are not unlike our very own sun) and our nearest neighboring galaxy is the Andromeda galaxy, which we can only see with a telescope. However, even with Hubble telescope, we are seeing stars that are two and a half million light years away, so the reality is that you’re seeing the light of stars that have died a looooooong time ago but are only seeing that now. So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Oh, how about dark matter, we can’t even see dark matter with a telescope, okay – another blog. Have fun and please weigh in, I’d love to get everyone’s thoughts.