Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was "Time". The posts are of a more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical bent. No time management tips in this theme, but stuff intended to make you think.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update: Blogging From A to Z Is Taking Off!

The posts for letter "A" have already been appearing and the challenge is on.   I wanted to get this update posted earlier today but for some reason Blogger was down, at least for me.  But here are a few sites I have noted:

Check out Yvonne's Welcome to My World of Poetry  on Tuesday she promoted the A to Z challenge in a wonderfully clever poetic way and then if that were not enough she contributed a second plug in poetic form on Wednesday.  Yvonne's going to be one to watch as she comes up with a poem a day in alphabetical succession.

Fifi Flowers has already started getting ready for her April in Paris virtual trip with two wonderful posts-- you really need to check them out.

Other nice mentions came from Carol's CornerSlushpile Slut, Mary McDonald's Write Stuff, The Watered Soul, This Journey Called Life, Blabbin' Grammy, Bombastic Bandicoot, Porch Ponderings by Rae, Gospel Driven Disciples, Kelly's Home, Patricia Stoltey, and Third Times a Charm .

Also, we have gotten encouragement already from the cheering section with posts like the one The Going to be a New Me,

Thanks to everyone participating.  Please let me know if your link has not been noted on the blog roll or if there are any other problems.  My aim is for this challenge to be fun and also rewarding for you and your readers.    See you next post with the letter "A".

Toronto Oratorio

          When I think of Easter, I think of Toronto, Ontario. It's not because of the o's that are kind of like eggs or the t's that are similar to crosses.  It's not because Ontario is almost like oratorio and when I think of oratorios I think of Handel's Messiah which is frequently performed at Easter.  It's just my weird personal connection.

         Foremost I think of Jesus Christ and what He did for us.  That is what Easter is all about.  But today I am not talking about the meaning of the day, I'm talking about some of the memories Easter evokes for me.  Of course I think of the traditional popular images of bunnies, colored eggs, candies, fancy clothes, and ham dinners--those are images many of us grew up with.  Then, as we grow older, other memories begin to take the place of the childhood memories.  These are memories of times and places and the experiences that went with them.

         So what's with Toronto.  During most of the 1980s I managed a touring show and for some reason our schedule used to always find us in Ontario during the Easter break.  I'm not sure about the reasoning behind this.  It may have had something to do with the fact that the week prior to Easter may have not been a good time for booking our show, but the weeks prior to Easter break week and afterwards were good times.  This was one of my theories.  Also since the Canadian dollar was not very strong against the U.S. dollar maybe the off week worked better in Canada so they could pay the performers and the expenses in Canadian funds to avoid having to exchange too  much currency into U.S. and lose money.  All theories and really it didn't matter that much.  I liked being in Ontario.

             For the off week,  Toronto seemed the logical place to go.  There was a lot to do to there to keep us all entertained.  Toronto's a great city -- one of my favorite places.  Eventually I started arranging accommodations at one of the Marriotts or Holiday Day Inns on the north side of the city right close to the 401 expressway which runs across lower Ontario.  That way we would have easy access to the freeway on the days we were traveling out of town to work.  Also, truck parking was easier and we got better hotel rates.  One day I'd like to talk more about our times in Ontario and Toronto, but today's post focuses on Easter since this coming Sunday is Easter.

          On Easter day, it seemed like almost everything was closed in Toronto.  There were no stores that we could ever find open on that day and even open restaurants were scarce.  It was a day to sleep late.  I recall attending church--a mass at a catholic church--one time in all of those years.  Living on the road is a peculiar life.  When you're not driving or working, you feel essentially homeless, but able to stay in nice hotels and eat in restaurants.  In our time off we might stay in the hotel room for a while, but especially when you have children like we did,  you have to get out some.  In Toronto around Easter this often meant going to shopping malls.  Some years it was warm enough to go to parks and other outdoor environments, but not usually. So on Easter Day we might take the kids and walk around shopping malls, which were open, to look at the stores, which were closed.  Then we'd look for an open restaurant at the mall or drive to someplace where we would find a restaurant open.  There was never a home to go to, just a room. 

          In 1986, the night before Easter, we had tickets to go see Canadian singer-songwriter Murray Maclaughlin in concert.   We were always on the lookout for concerts during the days we were off.  This particular year I noted in some Toronto entertainment publication that Murray would be playing Easter Eve at a college near to where we were staying.  Murray Maclaughlin was an acquired taste--I didn't care for his country style music at first, but then it really grew on me and I began buying all of the cassettes I could find by him.   I was anxious to see him in concert.

           That Saturday evening, when we arrived at the venue, we discovered that the concert was being held in some sort of large classroom or lecture hall.  There were probably about 300 seats with those little flip up desk tops between them.  This was the first odd thing that struck me.  The second odd thing was that there was only a grand piano and a guitar on the stage.  There were no drums, banks of amplifiers, other instruments, or any kind of stage lighting.  It was a simple stage area where a professor would stand behind a podium and occasionally go over to a blackboard and perhaps write something to illustrate what he was talking about.  I realized why the tickets had been so inexpensive.  I was disappointed.

         The concert started precisely on schedule.  Maclaughlin came out onto the stage with no fanfare and picked up his guitar.  For the next two hours we were treated to one of the finer evenings of entertainment that I've ever experienced.  He played most of his most popular songs, switching between guitar and piano accompaniment, and told wonderful stories.  The audience was totally engaged by this talented and affable fellow.  One of the most unexpected surprises of his performance was an extraordinarily beautiful rendition of "On the Strreet Where You Live"  from the musical MY FAIR LADY.  It was a song I would have never expected to hear by an artist like that.

          I don't why I think of Toronto at Easter, but I suppose it is like any other set routine or tradition to which you become adapted.  Even though I watched the 90s pass and I established certain traditions for my children to make their Easters special and then later got married to my present wife and we have made the tradition of attending our church not just on Easter, but every Sunday; the memory of Toronto stays with me.  There is noone there that I know, I have nothing there that is mine, and yet that city strangely draws me and to me it's really just a place, a time, a memory.

The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

I want to thank everybody who has joined up so far.  This was such a last minute thing with no real planning involved.   Please make sure the link to your blogsite is listed in my sidebar if you are a participant or a supporter.  I've been trying to carefully keep up with this, but I may have missed someone and I certainly don't want to do that.

Also, if there are other things you can think of to make this a better experience for all of us, please let me know.  I am not real computer savvy so there may be some tricks that I am missing.  For example someone mentioned a Mclinky thing-- seen 'em but don't know much about 'em.   So if you have a suggestion for poor ol' computer challenged me let me hear it and if I don't know what your talking about please forgive me.

I encourage all participants to jump over to each other's blogs and get to know one another and become followers.  And definitely leave some comments.  The comments make the blogging experience more fun, satisfying, and even educational-- but I'm sure I don't have to tell you that.

I'll continue to add new participants until Monday April 5.   If it looks like we're just having more fun than you can stand and you want to jump in a little late, well, I think that would be okay.  So tell your friends, family, or whoever you think might like what we're doing (and who in their right mind wouldn't?) so they can join us as we go Blogging From A to Z in April.

         

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What State Is Bigger Than Alaska?

             On Saturday I told you that today I'd be visiting Alaska on this blog space, but I've decided to postpone this visit.  What's the delay?  Well, Alaska's a really big state, but I've discovered there's a bigger state.  Wait a minute, you say, what state?  It's the state of Blogs and there's big doings here with the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge and right now I guess Alaska can wait (sorry, Sarah Palin).

           I'm getting a lot of interest in this blog challenge for the month of April and I want to take as much time as I can to make sure we get it off the ground properly and that everyone gets proper credit. In the sidebar I have a list of participants so far.  If you have agreed to blog along with us and your link is not there, let me know so I can get it up there.  If you still want to join up in the challenge then let me know and I'll get your link on the roll.   So far I only have one blogger who has committed to be a supporter by following participants and commenting on our posts.  There have been several who said they are going to follow, but give me the commitment that you wish to be recognized as an official supporter so I can get your link posted to the list.

         Thanks to Dee at THE REDHEADED STEPCHILD OUT OF THE BASEMENT  and  SAY ANYTHING  for creating the very appropriate logo for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.  I'm not too swift when it comes to doing these things but I loaded it on my sidebar right there at the top. I encourage all of you who are participants to add it to yours as well so you can be clearly be identified as such.  Thank you Dee-- I put both of your sites in the sidebar because I could and because you made the logo for us. I encourage everyone who sees this to go to Dee's site and participate in her Taboo Tuesdays or Saturday Sharing -- these are both opportunities to promote your blogs.

        Many of our talented participants have already been promoting the challenge on their sites.  Check out the post by Fifi Flowers -- she's already got her bags packed as she'll be taking the A to Z theme overseas with April in Paris--sounds like a really creative approach to the challenge. 

        Trevor Peck and his Love in the Truth  will be joining us from Canada.  He posted his Blogging from A to Z(ed) I'm a Canadian  yesterday.   As did The Alliterative Allomorph from Athens, Greece--she made her announcement yesterday and she's all ready to go. 

       Then there's Bud Ezekial H. at B-E-ing Transformed --he posted on the challenge topic yesterday as he prepares for the month ahead, but reflects on the challenge that he will be facing personally.  Lisa at the Bombastic Bandicoot had the challenge blaring across her page yesterday and announced that she was in and wanted others to join her.  I got a kick about what she said about the letter "J" and I can relate to that one as well.   Also, Tori Cooper from This Journey Called Life put up a very nice announcement.

        Be sure to check the links on the sidebar to see if there are any additional new posts for Tuesday and Wednesday.  If you post about the challenge on your blog but are not participating I will make sure to add your link to our cheering section. 

       Jump on board with us now if you haven't yet.  The fun begins on Thursday when we start the first topic based on the letter "A".   And if you absolutely don't feel you're up to the challenge, but still want to read the posts and support the bloggers let me know that you are going to do that and I will put your link on that list.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blog Boggled: Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

I Challenge
You

          For those of you who missed my post from Saturday, I have set forth a challenge to all bloggers for the month of April.   Can you post every day except Sundays during this month?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?

       If you subtract Sundays from April, you then have 26 days--one day for each letter of the alphabet.  Using this premise, you would start this Thursday April First with a topic themed on something with the letter A, then Friday the second a topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on Friday April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.  It doesn't even have to be a word--it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself.  The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day.

         Most of you are probably familiar with Sue Grafton and her best selling series of detective novels known as the "Alphabet Series" that started in 1982 with "A" Is For Alibi up to her most recent "U" Is For Undertow".  She has made a franchise with the series and there have been  other authors who have taken similar approaches.  This Blogging From A to Z Challenge will be in the same vein.

      I was inspired to put forth this challenge after reaching my 200th follower on Saturday and as I near my 200th post later this week.  Not one for contests and the like, I thought it would be fun and helpful to celebrate with my fellow bloggers in some special way.  We know that blogging can be fun and what fun we can have merrily blogging together with a common purpose--something where we can keep up with each other's work and share in a common experience.  Any of you who participated in NaNoWriMo know what that can be like.

      But perhaps even better than the fun, will be the usefulness of the exercise.  Several times I've read where bloggers said they couldn't think of anything to blog about.  Writers often engage in exercises which involve prompts, or suggestions for topics.  There are books, blogs, and websites devoted to providing prompts to be used as topic ideas.  Using the letters of the alphabet you can just think up words for each letter and pick one to write about.  If you're still stumped scan a dictionary or encyclopedia.  Come on!--the prompts are everywhere.

       To provide an example:  My "A" topic will be my regular Thursday debate using the topic of April Fool's Day.   On Friday when I often write about mysteries I will be talking about Babylon.  On Saturday I always have a review of my past week's posts and the upcoming posts so on April 3 my topic will be Capsulization.  I will resume the challenge on Monday with one of my Persnickety Penman installments-- D as in Dictionary.  See how easy it is.  I don't really have to change my format of what I normally write, just come up with topics that correspond with the letter of the day.   I printed out a calendar grid for the month of April and x'ed out the Sundays and wrote the letters in each of the daily squares.  In less than an hour I came up with all of my topics for each letter.  And I can still change them if I want---I probably will change some.  It was fun just filling in the 26 topics and imagining the possibilities.

         Try to be inventive and surprise us.  Hopefully your posts will be at least 100 words to show that you really put some kind of effort into your post.  But if all you do normally is post a quote, then keep it in the alphabet theme.  Don't worry about subject matter-- this will work for absolutely any blog.  If you only post about food or animals or crafts or whatever, you can come up with alphabetized themes.

         "But I only post poetry," you might say.  You can easily post poetry about any topic, right?  Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry does it all the time and she's going to be joining our challenge.

          Or what if you have a photoblog or just post artwork?  It still works the same--creativity is creativity no matter what you do.



           So are you up to the challenge?  Do you have what it takes?  Even if you start and don't finish that's fine. Or will you just support us and pledge to follow our challenge?  Mention it on your blog and link back to this post.  If you plan to be a participant or pledge to cheer us on (and give us comments) let me know in the comments of this post and I will add your link to the sidebar of my blog.

          Just one more thing for this tech-challenged blogger:  If anyone knows how to create one of those "buttons" or logo-thingies that participants and supporters can put on their sites, I would love to get your help for that.

         Let me know if I have overlooked anything or if you have any suggestions.  Thanks to all of you who will make this a smashing success.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Holy Spirit In Your Life

           I am hesitant to expound too much upon this topic because of a lack of understanding or perhaps a conflict of understanding between what I have tended to believe and what I am reading in some of the sources of my current Bible study.  This is where I look to some of you who are more adequately studied in this than I.   I hope I can get some answers from my readers or that I will be further enlightened as I go through my lesson.

Today's verses are from Galatians 5:16-25:

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-25 (New International Version)

        The meaning of these verses seems pretty clear to me.  Human nature is inclined toward sinfulness. If we are going it alone our tendency will be to defy God's commandments and be subject to God's judgment of our actions.  However, Jesus Christ died to provide salvation from the punishment of the exacting of the law.  Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we belong to Him and He absolves us of our sin.  To give us strength to resist sin and temptation God has given us the Holy Spirit to live within us.  The "acts of the sinful nature" must be resisted for this Spirit to do its work in us.  If we resist temptation and sin, then the Spirit will produce "fruits" that are listed in verses 22 and 23.

         Here's where I need some clarification.  I know there are different schools of thought on this so my confusion is not unique.  My sense is that the Holy Spirit is a power from God and of God, a distinct personage with attributes that can be defined in human terms.  Whereas, the source upon which my Bible study has been based seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit is an actual person.  This does not sound logical to me unless I'm just misunderstanding the semantics in what is being presented.  If my source is saying that the Holy Spirit is a personage metaphorically speaking, then maybe they and I are on the same page.  But if they are saying that the Holy Spirit is a distinctly one tangible person like Jesus Christ I am not getting it. 

         If the Holy Spirit is a corporeal entity, that is a tangible object that exists in the physical world then how can the Holy Spirit live in all of us? I do believe that the Holy Spirit can manifest itself in a physical form just as evil spirits can. If evil spirits are said to be able to do this, then certainly the Holy Spirit could do the same. Spirit comes from the Latin word for breath which is typically thought of as invisible. Where exactly is the Holy Spirit? 

       Next week I'll have some additional verses on this topic.  For now though I want to see how much more insight I can gain on this topic.  In my Sunday morning study group I will see what ideas come up there.  Then I'll put that knowledge with whatever I can learn from you, any additional points of view I gain in the upcoming week's research, and whatever is revealed to me by the Holy Spirit. 

         God bless you all.

       

Saturday, March 27, 2010

200 FOR ME AND A CHALLENGE FOR YOU

....................200.....................

         
           Sometime, somewhere I had stated that I wanted to reach 200 followers by April 1.  Yesterday I reached that stated goal.  I've tried to find where I made that statement, but I could not find it anywhere in any of my blog posts.  Perhaps I mentioned it in a comment.  I guess it really doesn't matter because I am there.   I want to thank everyone of you who have signed on to follow Tossing It Out and hope that you will continue to stop by every now and then and leave a comment if you have time.  I always like to hear from you.

          Now, I don't do contests or any big whoo-hoos to celebrate my achievement, but I do feel pretty good about it.  Yesterday as I was taking my daily morning walk, I started thinking of something special to do and I came up with an idea for a blog challenge that I am going to do in April.  I would like to invite any of you who are interested to join me in this because I think it could be not only fun, but also an inspiration for your blogging activity.

        Many of you are aware that I've been blogging every day since I first started last September.  April has thirty days with four Sundays.  On Sundays I do my Bible Study and many of you don't post at all.  Since I've got my Sundays covered, that leaves twenty-six more days of blog posts for me to fill--that's one post for each letter of the alphabet.  In April I've decided to do a Blogging from A to Z theme and I'm inviting any of you who think you have what it takes to join me.  In other words, I challenge you to join me--I double dog dare you!

        The challenge would entail that each day participating bloggers post at least 100 words based on the letter of that day, starting with "A" on April 1 and ending with "Z" on April 30.  Does that sound too difficult for you?  Actually I think it gives you a prompt to make inspiration come more easily.  Let me know what you think. I will post more about this on my post coming up this Monday, which will be another in my Blog Boggled series.  I want your ideas on this since I've never done anything like a challenge before.

          If you didn't see my Blog Boggled post last Monday, it was called In a Buggy and Not Even Amish-- okay, I thought the title was kind of clever and if you're curious go back and read the post.  Last Tuesday I talked about End of the World movies .  Next Tuesday I'll be visiting Alaska--on the blog, not for real.  Then on Wednesday we'll go across the North American continent to Toronto where I will talk about some of my memorable visits to that beautiful city.  If you missed my post from last Wednesday, you missed a wonderful visit with L. Diane Wolfe and you must go back now to read it.

         This past Thursday we had a lively debate about taking vacations and we had some really great comments that you might want to read if you missed them. Yesterday I looked at some of the strange creatures that people have claimed to have seen.  Next Thursday begins my Blogging from A to Z  Challenge.   Appropriately, the first post will be A as in April Fools Day and this will be a debate topic.  Friday's post will be B as in Babylon and this will be a topic of mystery.  Then a week from today I will present my weekly blog overview in C Is For Capsulization.  I hope you will be joining me.

And Now Another Award!

                  The Beautiful Blogger Award

           Helen Ginger gave me The Beautiful Blogger Award. Thank you Helen.  Gosh, I'm so embarrassed---blush.  According to the rules I need to link to the person who nominated me for this award (done), share seven interesting things about myself, and nominate seven other beautiful bloggers.

            I've told a lot of things about myself on this blog but I'll try and dig and come up with something, but I don't know how interesting they will be.

1.   I attended the University of Tennessee for 5 years in the early 70s but never graduated.

2.   I got my B.S. in Business Management from the University of Phoenix in 2005.

3.   Dodgeball was my favorite activity in Physical Education.

4.  I was the first chair violinist in my elementary school orchestra.

5.  I've owned two dogs named "Blackie".

6.  I used to drink Tabasco Sauce out of the bottle, but not any more.

7.  I once picked up two hitchhikers dressed in white robes--they said they had sat around a campfre with Jesus the night before.
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Now, to nominate 7 truly beautiful bloggers and certainly more interesting people:

1. Yvonne at  Welcome to My World of Poetry -- she's almost to 100 followers!  Join her blog!

2.  Ron at The Old Geezer  -- he may not look so beautiful, but a lot of folks think the world of him.

3. Leslee at Life at Number 10   she could use some more followers

4. Karen Walker at Following the Whispers  for her caring heart.

5. Greg at Gospel Driven Disciples  -- He puts a lot of thought and care into his posts and his comments

6. Debra at Dream Weaver  she's coming back after a short time away and she's always been so nice

7. Ginny the Sock Monkey  How can I resist a name like hers ----it's beautiful.

Hope everyone will drop by and give these bloggers a word of encouragement.   And you award winners:  relish it, display it proudly if you want to, and pass it on to some others if you want to take the time to recognize bloggers whom you appreciate.

My thanks to all who visited today and I hope to hear some input about my Blogging From A to Z Challenge.  Do you post at least 6 times per week?  Are you ever stumped for blog topics?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Strange Creatures

         In downtown Kelowna, British Columbia, nestled in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of Western Canada, is a merry green dragon-like statue of a creature known as Ogopogo.  The origins of Ogopogo come from old Salish Indian legends of a creature they called N'ha·a·itk or "lake demon", which lived in Lake Okanagan.   From the time of the arrival of the White Man to the region, there have been numerous sightings, including some captured on film and video.  Some sightings have been purported to have been witnessed by thirty people at one time.  However no indisputable evidence of the creature exists.

         The creature bears a great similarity to the more well-known Loch Ness Monster of Scotland.  Some proponents of the creatures have suggested that they might be plesiosaurs or some similar reptilian creature descended from dinosaurs. However, no one knows for sure.  None of these creatures has ever been captured or even examined up close.  Due to the time span of the sightings, one would have to conclude that if these creatures really existed, there would have to have been familial lineages or colonies of these animals.  If there were indeed numbers of large creatures such as these there would be a stronger likelihood of more sightings or some kind of proof.  So far this has not happened.

           If nothing else, the story makes for some great tourist appeal as thousands have pictures taken with the Ogopogo statue each year.   And monsters or not, the Okanagan Valley is a great place for a summer vacation.  Kelowna is a center of accommodations and attractions, but the cities of Vernon and Penticton also are on the shores of spectacular Lake Okanagan.  In late summer, fresh fruit abounds with cherries an especially tasty treat.  There are also numerous wineries in the area.  Surrounded by mountains, the valley has a relatively temperate climate and summers on the lake are conducive to swimming and boating.  The Okanagan Valley is an absolutely wonderful destination.  And who knows. while there you might see Ogopogo out in the lake.

          Why is it that humans seem to have a desire to see fantastical creatures?  There doesn't seem to be a lot of likelihood that most of them exist and yet the stories abound.  I grew up hearing about the "Abominable Snowman" or Yeti.  Later I began hearing the stories of a similar creature in North America called "Bigfoot" or Sasquatch.  These creatures became all the rage in the imaginations of  North Americans and numerous sightings began to be reported.  One of the most famous ones was captured on film in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in the wilds near Bluff Creek, California.  The film stunningly shows a long-armed furry man-like creature walking across a stream and momentarily giving a haunting, fleeting look toward the camera.   Now we had absolute proof that Bigfoot did exist.

         Or did this Bigfoot really exist?   In 2002, Philip Morris, owner of Morris Costume Company in Charlotte, NC admitted to media sources that the creature seen in the film was actually a man dressed in a modified gorilla suit that Morris had sold to Patterson via mail order. The story was taken up by author Greg Long  in his book The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story.  Philip Morris had told the story many times since the 1980s but never made a big deal out of it. He had mentioned the story in a radio interview and it caught the attention of the media, eventually reaching Greg Long. Since then, Philip Morris's account has appeared in print and on television numerous times.

          Bigfoot apologists have had their hackles raised by this admission by Morris, trying to discredit his story.  However, Philip Morris stands by the story and many have been convinced that Morris is telling the truth.  I have known Philip Morris and his wife Amy for over forty years and know him to be quite the raconteur, but always credible in his stories.  I have no doubt that he is telling the truth on this.  All of the details of his story match up to everything I had read elsewhere and what I know as fact, so I am sure that this particular Bigfoot sighting and film was a staged hoax.

          Hairy man-like creatures living in the woods, sea serpents descended from dinosaurs, or blood-sucking flying monsters may be real or they may be figments of the imagination.  For centuries humans have claimed to see amazing and sometimes terrifying creatures that consistently elude capture.  Sometimes footprints and other forms of evidence have been claimed to have been found, but often these discoveries have been proven to be hoaxes.  Perhaps one day the proof will be absolute, but until then these creatures will remain mysteries.

        Do you believe in Bigfoot or Yetis?   Do you really think a serpent-like creature lives in the depths of Lake Okanagan or Loch Ness?   Have you ever seen a fantastical creature or known someone who has?  And if you have seen one, were you sober?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are Vacations Socially Irresponsible?

           Today is Thursday, which means today is Debate Day here on Tossing It Out.    I'm going to toss out the question to you, pose a few arguments, and then leave it to you to toss a response back to me.  Here is todays question:

Are self-indulging vacations that involve leaving home and spending a lot of money selfish and socially irresponsible?

           We are in an era of change, social responsibility, personal accountability--or at least that is what some would have us believe.  Each of us impact our world by our actions.  In absolute reality, the "fun" vacation of taking trips, going to touristy places, and spending lots of money to indulge ourselves and our families is not a necessity for us to survive.  Why do we feel the need to have these unnecessary excesses in the name of relaxation and entertainment?  Why might these types of vacations be a good thing?

        With all the talk about "carbon footprints" and the like, it is probably important to assess the  environmental impact of the travel entailed by vacations away from home.  Said travel uses up fuel for no practical goal oriented purpose.  Often energy used up at vacation destination is frivolous waste as it is sucked up by amusement and entertainment venues and travel for the sole purpose of seeing sights.  If people stayed home instead of traveling to a vacation destination it is probable that a great deal of energy would be conserved.  Also, one should consider the environmental damage done to more sensitive areas like national parks and similar destinations.  Travel vacations are environmentally unfriendly.

       These are economic hard  times for many families.  Many people are out of work, not to mention the huge financial hits that have been taken by many investors and homeowners.  People should probably be putting money away for what may be hard economic times to come.  Charging vacations to credit cards should not even be an option.  And even those who feel a sense of financial confidence might be better off thinking of socially responsible ways to put their money to work helping others.  Why should any of us be thinking about amusing ourselves with frivolity when so many in our communities are in need?   At the very least perhaps it would make more economic sense to use our accumulated savings to invest in home improvements.  Hire local out of work craftspeople and buy building supplies from local sources in order to provide some cash flow to our hometown economy.  Investing in ourselves and our neighbors will have more long term benefits than accumulating a few photographs and memories.

         Also, Americans should consider what kind of message our travel sends to the rest of the world.  Do other countries really want to see Americans in their countries?  Sure, they want our money, but does the money ultimately go to a good place and does money spent abroad help the U.S. economy.  We may be very well supporting political regimes that would like to eventually see the U.S. put down.  So far as spending our money in countries that are U.S. allies, the question as to whether it would be better to spend our money at home still arises. 

          If the financially able truly must go anywhere then they should consider the social significance of their travel choices.   Volunteering for aid missions helping poorer countries to become better or rebuild after disasters would be a merciful activity that would be more important than mere pleasure seeking.   Instead of going to Disneyland we should be taking our families to help build housing in poverty stricken areas.  Cruises should be replaced by spending time on the frontlines feeding and caring for the homeless.  Camping and hiking in the wilderness could be replaced with assisting farmers to bring in their crops.   It's sad to be having fun and recreation when many other cannot afford it or don't have the time because they have to work so much.

        What do you think?  I've just tossed this argument out there as one side of the debate.  I'm not going to say what my real stance on this debate question is because I want to hear your opinion.  But I will give a hint by saying that the arguments that I've presented here would probably be embraced by some people, but I have approached it somewhat tongue in cheek.  I don't want to say anything else right now.  Tell me what you think about this topic.

        Are you planning to go anywhere for a vacation this year?  Where are you going?  What do you like to do on vacation?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Visit by L. Diane Wolfe




L. Diane Wolfe "Spunk On A Stick"
Professional Speaker & Author

http://www.spunkonastick.net/
http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/


       L. Diane Wolfe is probably already recognizable to many of my readers.  Her wonderfully eclectic blog is informative and entertaining.  Her blog offers advice on writing, speaking, and motivation; reviews; stories; links to other informational blogs; and even photos.  Diane is an amazingly talented individual who does public speaking and authors books.  Currently she is on her book tour promoting her newest release in her young adult literature CIRCLE OF FRIENDS series.  She has already visited numerous other blogsites on her virtual book tour and if you are interested in checking out some of those other visits she has them listed on her site.

          Today on Tossing It Out I had a few questions for Diane about speaking in public.  Many of us have a mortal fear of standing in front of people and giving a speech.  However, speaking is often part of the promotional job of an author.  Part of Diane's business is helping to motivate people, but also she instructs people like writers how to promote themselves and their writing.  So with that in mind I have some questions for our spunky expert.

 How did you start? Do you do anything in particular to prepare (classes in school, clubs, church)?

I was involved with a motivational training program for ten years, and that’s where I learned public speaking.


I remember the first time I stood on stage in front of several thousand people. I only had to say a couple lines, but I was so nervous! Microphone in hand, I scanned the crowd and located a familiar face in the audience. That person’s smiling face gave me the confidence I needed and I survived my first ordeal without incident.


I’m a member of the National Speakers Association and they offer many opportunities to grow as a speaker. I always want to continue to improve my craft!

 How do you overcome nervousness (if you become nervous)? Do you do anything special before an engagement to connect with your audience that helps you feel more comfortable?

I’m really only nervous when I give a talk for the first time or if I haven’t done a particular seminar in a while. There’s a little anxiety going on, but I tend to funnel my nervousness into enthusiastic energy. I may feel uneasy, but my audience only sees ‘Spunky.”


When speaking to an organization or business, I try to learn about the group before the event. What’s their focus? What will rock their world?


For my seminars, I keep in mind those people have come to learn. It may be old news to me, but for many, it’s the first time they’ve ever heard the information. I focus on how I can help them. They don’t care about me! They want to know how I can enrich their lives.

 Why would improving one's speaking skills be important to a writer who might not feel particularly comfortable with speaking? Seems obvious to me, but I repeatedly read about authors who just want to write and not promote or speak in public.

*Chuckle* Besides the obvious?


Yes, the Internet is a powerful tool, but authors cannot rely just on the Web.


As authors, we’re gonna have to talk to people! We’ll need to speak at book signings and library events. We’ll speak to book clubs and writer’s groups. And we can’t forget the media! If we’re on TV or the radio, we are speaking.


Speaking makes us more marketable as an author. All of the possibilities I mentioned above revolve around speaking about our book. However, those opportunities expand ten-fold when we are able to speak professionally on a given topic. (And those venues appreciate us more when we talk about something other than our book. In fact, the media will demand it!)


Think of all the businesses, organizations, and events that need speakers. We open ourselves up to new audiences, ones we might not reach on our own. Many of these venues pay us to speak as well.


And a strange thing happens when we speak - more people buy our books!
Need I say more?
                              #############

     As far as I'm concerned that just about puts it in a nutshell.  And in my book Diane's exactly right, but we're not here to talk about my book, today this is about L. Diane Wolfe's book.  So thanks to Diane for some good advice and here's some information about her book which is now available:



                                THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDS
                                    BOOK V … HEATHER
                                     BY L. DIANE WOLFE

                          When confidence turns to frustration…

         A new beginning awaits Heather Jennings. The position at Clemson means she will finally realize her dream of coaching basketball. Heather is ready to focus on her duties, using sheer force if necessary to prove her independence.
  
      Sadly, her triumph is hampered as her father and greatest advocate lies dying of cancer. Battling her grief, she must also deal with a sister who appears incapable of responsibility or achievement. And once basketball season begins, a talented but cocky player who resembles her in every manner challenges all that remains of Heather’s patience.

         Heather’s life changes when she encounters a man capable of handling her bold and feisty attitude. Straightforward and smug, he entices her to date him, and despite his gruff nature shows a great capacity for compassion. However, the last thing Heather needs is a serious relationship with a man equally fixated on work and opposed to marriage…


Release date: March 16, 2010, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
$19.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 282 pages, Fiction/YA
ISBN 978-0-9816210-5-0 / 0-9816210-5-8


How about these reviews!>>>

“Heather deals with real life and real situations.” 5 Stars
- Teens Read Too


Curl up onto your favorite reading spot and journey along with Heather as she seeks the balance of family and work relationships. Be prepared to be pulled into Heather’s world and you will find yourself cheering her on and wanting to scold her at the same time. L. Diane Wolfe has created amazing characters with believable attributes and flaws; making Book V in the Circle of Friends series a true gem.”
- Donna M. McDine, Write What Inspires You Book Reviews


“Even after reading the novel, I am haunted by these characters… These characters are real to me, living breathing people that I now feel like I’ve known for years. This is the power of Wolfe’s writing.”
- The Book Pedler



Described as “encouragement personified”, Wolfe’s five-book Southern-based series portrays love and friendship overcoming all obstacles. Known as “Spunk On A Stick” to her fans, Wolfe is also a professional speaker. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in North Carolina. “With a positive attitude, any goal can be achieved!” http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/      http://www.spunkonastick.net/



Book Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn7tSWQqdYc


Author Information:

                                  L. Diane Wolfe
                        Professional Speaker & Author
     http://www.spunkonastick.net/      http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/
           http://www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com/


Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Her YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principles. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contributes to several other sites.


Links to purchase:

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Circle-Friends-Book-V-Heather/dp/0981621058/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265066454&sr=1-12

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Circle-of-Friends/L-Diane-Wolfe/e/9780981621050/?itm=12&usri=l++diane+wolfe

Dancing Lemur Press L.L.C. : http://www.dancinglemurpress.com/id18.html

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2012: The End of the World and Other Fun Things

            Is there anything more fun than the end of the world?  Mass destruction, cataclysm, apocalypse --all favorite entertainment devices that lend themselves well to high drama, tension, action, terror, and, of course, amazing special effects.  What draws us to fantasies about the destruction of our world? 

          Recently I watched Roland Emmerich's 2012  starring John Cusack. The film is based on the ancient prophecies taken from the Mayan calendar that suggest the world will end on December 21, 2012.  Starting in real time of when the movie was released (2009) and moving through 2010, the story culminates with the disaster as predicted--and that's all in the first half of the film.  The balance of the film slows to a little more dramatic action, which is continually interspersed with additional scenes of visual effects. What you end up with is two and a half hours of mind-numbing, edge of your seat thrills.

          Don't get me wrong, it's all a lot of fun.  It reminds me of a thrill ride at Universal Studios except it lasts a whole lot longer.  The special effects are pretty incredible while the action is wonderfully absurd.  We witness the longest earthquake in human history with all destruction conveniently choreographed to allow our heroes to barely escape certain death from cracking highways, crashing overpasses, and collapsing buildings.  There are fires and explosions.  It's all flashy and noisy and great fun as we watch millions die and our largest cities turned to rubble.  And that's not all!   There are tsunamis, volcanoes, fire from the skies, windstorms of deadly ash.  Oh, and did I mention great fun?

         I'll have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and apparently I'm not the only one.  It's all about the action and effects.  The acting is fine and the story is somewhat absurd.  You can pretty well guess what's going to happen; who will live and who will die.   There are lots of cliches, but that's the way the world ends, right?   If you enjoy special effects extravaganzas and exciting on the move action, I highly recommend 2012.

        What is it about the end of world that fascinates us so much?  I've been a big fan of these types of movies since I was a child and it is still probably my favorite genre.  I think World War 2 and the emergence of the atomic age had a lot to do with it.  I can't really think of any end of the world movies prior to that big war.  Then after Hiroshima we became curious--what if?   What if the war to end all wars happened?  How will radiation effect us?   We saw giant mutants and cities destroyed by radioactive monsters in the films of the 50s.  We witnessed worlds where very few people survived.

         One of the best atomic apocalypse films ever is  Stanley Kramer's ON THE BEACH with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner.  A film with little action or special effects, the post apocalyptic world and how it affects those who remain is eerie and memorable.  Another favorite is THE ROAD WARRIOR with Mel Gibson.  Once again we see survivors of the "big one" struggling against the forces of evil who want to take control.  With action to the extreme and a hugely imaginative vision, this film is perhaps the 80s counterpart to the more recent release of THE ROAD, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. 

        Another recent favorite of mine is KNOWING with Nicholas Cage.  I found the special effects in this film to be outstanding and the spiritual story was unique. You can go to Amazon to see my review of Knowing and the many interesting comments that follow it. 

         The trend in zombie films is probably related to the apocalypse mentality as well.  The George Romero DEAD trilogy and its spinoffs and remakes and the infatuation with zombies seems to have a lot to do with end times.  The recent zombies are not the voodoo zombies of old.  These new zombies are brain eating terrors that seemed to have been activated from death sleep by some fluke of the modern age.  Who doesn't at least secretly like zombies?

        Might it be that we humans have this hidden desire to rid the world of us?   And while we're at it maybe take everything else with it?  There seems to be a curiosity to see the world knocked off its axis and split apart, or maybe better blown apart.  There are some Biblical implications here as well.  Christians, as well as other religions, look to the destruction of this world so it can be replaced by God's new better world.  For some of us we may be looking forward to this renewal of earth into heaven.  Maybe it would be a good thing to see God trash this world and start anew.

        Until the ultimate day of doom arrives I'm sure we'll see more books about the topic and more films with better special effects.  Let's hope they come up with better stories as well.  But, hey, if it's a good noisy thrill ride then that's okay too.

           Are you a fan of apocalyptic films?  What are your favorites?   What do you think is the reason for the popularity of these types of films?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blog Boggled: In a Buggy and Not Even Amish

It's beginning to be a bit too much!

       That's my first ambiguous statement of the day.  Won't even tell you what I'm talking about.  I'll let you figure it out if you want.   Or if you'd rather, tell me what that statement means to you.  You might want to use it as a writing prompt.  But enough of this and on with today's topic.

Bloggy things that bug me:

1.  When people don't date their posts  --  I have rarely seen this and I'm not sure how they do it, but every once in a while I'll find a blog with posts that are undated.  I guess I can usually find the date in the comments, but if it turns out the post is old its often pointless to comment because there is a possibility that no one will see my comment.  This is a minor nuisance, but it wastes my time.

2.    Maybe there is an easy solution to this one that somebody can help me with, but is there a way to filter out or flag blogs I am not interested in.  I don't have a super memory and sometimes I find myself going back to look at blogs that I've already decided are a waste of my time and I don't want to keep looking at them.  If I could just find a way to mark them or something like that I wouldn't have to waste my time.  Most of my blog gripes could be fixed for me if I could do this.

        I don't want to knock anybody's interests.  There are blogs that some people love that I don't care to visit repeatedly just because something has drawn me back to it and I forget that I've already decided I don't like this blog.   To show that I think I'm being fair, I will use the example of Craft Blogs.  Now there are some that I visit because of the writing.  Sig's Beadedbears Nonsense and Complete Waste of Time  (with a title like that how could I resist) is often a blog about bead craft, which is something I don't do.  But Sig doesn't always write about beading and sometimes writes what are to me some very interesting stories.  I like to check all her posts to see what she's talking about.  Even the bead topics she can make pretty entertaining and if she gets too beady then I just move on.  I do think Sig is an excellent writer.

           On the other hand I do not care to learn to crochet, or build dollhouses, or a myriad of other things that don't interest me.  I am not criticizing any of those who have things for which they are passionate and they do deserve to have the blogs they love.  However, I would like to save some of my time for the things that I am really interested in and not return to the blogs that don't interest me.

 3.   Super shmancy stuff that takes too long to download.  Some of these sites are beautiful, but sometimes they also lack substance.  I am sure that some in the blogosphere want to see all sorts of technology and gimmickry and I too am amazed.  But it's not what I'm looking for.  Maybe if I had faster DSL, or whatever, or a faster computer then it wouldn't bug me as much.  However, when I have to wait a few extra seconds and then there is nothing of real substance to read then I feel like I've wasted my time.

 4.   People with too many blogs.  I know I may be stepping on some toes here.  Some of the bloggers I regularly follow may have more than one blog.  In some of these cases, I understand the multiple blogs and it's reasonable.  I too have thought about having more than one--perhaps putting my Bible study material on a totally separate site and I may still do this eventually.

         What really bugs me is when I find a blogger who is new to me and I go to their profile and there's maybe 5 or 10 or more blogs that they have.  Usually I just turn around and leave, unless one of the titles looks especially interesting.  Here's what I've often been finding:  Many of the blogs have no posts yet and the blogger is just taking up a title for who knows what reason.  Sometimes the blogs are just duplicated under different titles--maybe this is an AdSense issue, or I don't know why they would do this.  Sometimes they are just multiple picture blogs, or the life of my dog blog, or some private issue or something that should have remained private.   Maybe some of you can help me with this--why multiple blogs (and I'm talking more than 2 or 3)? 

           So there you have it--a few of my rants.  If anyone can give me some advice it would be appreciated.  How do you hadle some of these issues?  Have any of these bugged you too?

       And not to be all sour grapes, I want to acknowledge some fine posts about blogging that I've found recently.  They have given me interesting ideas and advice and actually addressed some blogging buggy things that I've been thinking about addressing but they did it instead.  So check them out:


Elena Johnson How to Build Your Blog  --- She gives some outstanding advice about building up a following and making your blog better.  This is only one of her posts on the topic so for blogging info check out her other posts as well.  Of course, judging from all the comments she's gotten most of you have already been there and left a comment.  If you haven't then go-- you must!

How to make a blogger happy by Amanda is also worth a look.

Elena Johnson About Leaving  Comments   -- did I already mention Elena?   Well I'll say it again.


Pam reported Blogs of Substance at Pam's Perspectives   New blog by Pam called Words of Wisdom  This looks like something that might have substance to bloggers like me and you.  I need to check this out a bit more, but I guess they are try to catalogue blogs that have something worth reading.  This might be right up my alley.  Go over there and see if they are doing something that interests you.  Maybe you can promote your own blog of substance there as well.

            Hope I didn't upset anyone.    I'm just here tossing it out to you--feel free to toss it back my way if you like.  And by the way if you were wondering about the Amish connection in the title, that's just me capitalizing on the popularity of the genre of Amish stories out there.  I'll do anything to get a reader.  I just hope I don't waste anybody's time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Make God's Word Work For You

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:22 (NIV)

         Most readers of today's post are probably familiar with the Bible to some extent.  Some may have heard parts of the Bible and dismissed it as unnecessary.  There are other books, there are other philosophies, there is my own common sense and life experience--why do I need the Bible?  My response is this: Have you really studied it and applied what it teaches to your life?  Many of us like to make excuses based on what we personally believe and not the wisdom that has already been available before we were even born.  If you claim that you have heard the word but it's really not for you, then you may also be wrong in your thinking.  The Bible is giving some solid advice and if you don't actually apply it to your life then you cannot say that it is wrong or it is not for you because you don't really know for sure.



 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'   But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.   And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:33-37 (NIV)

             Everywhere you look throughout the Bible you will find practical advice that is just as true now as it was two thousand years ago.  The knowledge found in the pages of this book is sound advice.  In some cases it seems like good old common sense.  You might say, "I knew that".   But did you really know everything and how did you know it.  And if the teachings are such common sense then why do we hear people making insincere vows like Jesus talks about in the above passage?  If everyone in the world took the above advice then we could always believe everything we were told.  It's not like that at all and that's because a lot of people are not doing what the Bible says to do.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?   Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.   Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.   If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?    So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'   For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.   But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:25-33 (NIV)

        In 1988 Bobby McFerrin had a huge hit with the song "Don't Worry Be Happy" based on a saying by Indian mystic Meher Baba.  The title was a mantra from the mystic for many truth seekers of the mid-twentieth century.  But he was really saying nothing new.  It was already right there in the Bible.  And how beautifully Jesus put it as we see in Matthew 6:25-33.   This is practical advice that might be at home between the covers of any psychology self-help book.  The person who has wisely studied the Bible will realize that Jesus isn't telling us not to work for our sustenance or plan for the future.  He is simply telling us not to worry. 

       Medical research has proven that worry, anxiety, and stress can lead to unhappiness, illness, and even death.  The medical field provides us with pills to combat our worry, but it is only a stopgap measure.  The psychological field wants to treat us in other therapeutic ways that can have benefit, but there is some disagreement as to what really works in the long term.  The Bible gives a simple solution that is worth a try if you can muster up the faith to believe.  Give up your worry about earthly things to God and see the bigger picture of what the future holds.


Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.   Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.   Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)

         Here is some straightforward advice from the book of Romans that would be difficult to dispute.  And why would anyone want to dispute this advice.  There is not much here that one can logically argue against.   With some minor alterations this passage would fit right into any modern help book.


But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)

            With a book filled with so much advice; a thorough reading, study, meditation, and application of the contents is going to instill you with much wisdom.  The knowledge you gain will change your life, improve your life, and bless your life.  Most importantly you will have the knowledge of how to gain eternal life through Jesus Christ.  It's up to you to receive this knowledge through hearing, learning, and accepting it as truth.

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.   And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

           There is something like this to be found in nearly every religion.  Even most secularists would probably agree with the second part of this commandment as it makes total sense in regard to good relationships with other people.  However, if one truly focuses on the logic of the first commandment it makes complete sense.  People can fail us and annoy us and instill anger within us.  It can be easy to feel hatred toward another person.  When you are loving God with all your heart and soul and mind, then loving your neighbor becomes channeled through the Holy Spirit and a forgiving sense of love becomes easy--just remember the importance of the word all.   The "all" part is the real challenge.  We may never achieve it absolutely, but it is definitely a goal to which we should aspire.


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.   Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

      To me this is one of the most beautiful passages in the English language.  When it is translated into another language then it is one of the most beautiful passages in that language.  This is poetry.  It doesn't stop here either.  If you are not familiar with ths passage, I would suggest that you read the entire chapter 13 in 1 Corinthians.   You might even want to commit this chapter to memory.  Every marriage, friendship--every human relationship should be grounded in the words expressed here.

        We could go on and on citing examples of good Biblical advice that, if put into application, would make your life better.  But why continue just citing the passages.  Go to the book itself.  There are many things that might be difficult to understand, but there is so much reward in digging deep into God's Word and finding the treasures buried in it's pages. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blogging to Remember

          I forgot to wish everybody a happy St. Paddy's day--and me being partly of Irish extraction.  I never knew that I actually had any Irish in me until about fifteen years ago when I started studying a family history book which my aunt Nancy Jackson had collaborated on.   Seems some of the ancestors came to the United States from Ireland back in the 1700s.  I always manage to wear some green, but I'm not hardcore about the whole Irish thing.

        I did fix up some fine corned beef Irish stew and ate it for three days in a row.  With just two of us in the house now dinners don't go as fast as they used to--there's almost always some leftovers.  Now until I get inspired to cook up another meal of real food I guess it's cereal for supper again--or cookies if we have them.

         This past week you readers have been very patient with me as I totally got off my schedule when my story on Wednesday got continued on Thursday and finished  yesterday.  Two days of scheduled blog topics got postponed, but I guess we have the right to do that if we feel like it.  I started telling my story on my Wednesday post and the memories kept coming.  That's a cool thing about blogging I guess.

         Last Monday I had a Blog Boggled post that turned into a love-fest for some of our fellow bloggers.   That's another nice thing about this blog community--the spirit of support and sharing.  This coming Monday's Blog Boggled post will recognize some other blog posts that deserve recognition and I will address a few things that bug me.   That is, if I don't get all lovey-dovey again and even if I do get bugged sometimes I still love you all.

          Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT was the topic last Tuesday.  The planned topic for this coming Tuesday will be Films of Ominous Premonitions of Cataclysm and Apocalypse.

           On Wednesday I'm going to be graced with a very special guest appearance by the Spunky one, L. Diane Wolfe.  You have probably seen her lately on other blogs as she's been making the rounds promoting a new book.  I'll have a few questions for Diane and I hope you'll join us.

           This coming Thursday and Friday I plan to go back to the topics intended for this past week:  A debate question about summer vacations and an article about mythical creatures--or are they real?

            For your weekly dose of the Bible join me tomorrow as I continue last week's topic about how the Bible can benefit us.   I hope that Ginny stops by again--Ginny, I really enjoyed your challenging comments last week.

         Have you written your memoir, another person's memoir, or do you plan to?    When you are writing, are ingrained memories ever brought to the surface that causes your writing to become sidetracked?   Do you like to plan blog posts ahead of time or do you prefer spontaneity?  Do you have any questions that you would like me to ask Diane?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sad, Madd, Glad--- and Just Plain Ol' Dad

This the final installment of a three part series that began Wednesday and continued yesterday.

  “There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them.”          
 Tom Krause  --- motivational speaker

          Failure is a state of mind.   Some of us may allow an outcome that we have designated as failure to shape our lives and define who we are.  Our failure may make us afraid to move forward in our lives or even give up.  True failure is that which makes us stop trying.

         On October 10, 1988 a concert event for which I thought I had thoroughly planned and in which I had invested several thousand dollars did not turn out as I had expected.   It was not a time for remorse--what was done was done.  I analyzed the "what ifs" of everything that led up to that concert and pondered many what ifs of my future.  It soon became clear to me what I had done wrong.  For one thing I had become too greedy and that greed had made me reckless.

          In July of that same year I had finished up a road tour with the theater company I had managed for nearly ten years.  Each year the tours had gotten shorter and the show dates had gotten fewer.  My wife and I had two kids and the oldest was now of school age.  We decided that this was the time to quit the gypsy life and settle down.  We would use Maryville, Tennessee as our home base and start an entertainment promotion business.  We had plenty of experience and contacts.  We also had a dream that was too big.

          As soon as we got back to Tennessee we started setting up operations.  I put together four simultaneous projects, which as it turns out was a big mistake as we were lacking focus.  I thought I had everything under control and that soon we would be raking in huge sums of money.  We began closing our Canadian bank account and various U.S. accounts and having all of the money transferred to our new business account.  Years of savings--thousands of dollars--were invested in our new projects.  If we had set smaller goals we probably would have slowly built a credible business, but we wanted everything to come quickly and all at once.

          After the concert was over we were left with savings depleted and a debt that was starting to mount.  The other business ventures that we had going at the same time were also not reaping the fortunes we expected and we were unable to adequately keep them going successfully.  One by one, each venture concluded with no profit.  Without any operating capital or incoming cash I was forced to find a job to pay the bills and my wife had two kids to take care of and another on the way.  The entertainment business languished as I worked my regular jobs for a guaranteed income.

          In 1991 I was approached by the company that owned the road show and offered a short tour and then a position of manager of a costume distribution business that they owned in Los Angeles.  My wife and I carefully considered all of the options and finally concluded that this would be a good way to start over.  I accepted the offer and in July we made our move.  The new life looked like it was going to be very good.

         Then an unexpected jolt came into my life.  Less than a year after we had made our move my wife left me with my daughters.  I never saw it coming and still don't really understand it.  All I know is that I was left to take care of daughters ranging in age from ten to three years old.  I somehow managed to keep going.  I struggled with depression, but was mostly too busy to be sad--but often I was sad.  My marital breakup was not a failure, but just a sad event in my life that now I had to move away from.

         In October of 1992 I set up a new account for a customer at my business who had a store by the name of Madd.  The store was a sort of eclectic second hand store in Long Beach.  Since the store had just opened, the owner decided that she wanted to have a grand opening party.  She invited me and I accepted.

         I got a baby-sitter for my daughters on the night of the grand opening party and drove to the party at Madd.  The store was very small and there were so many people there that many of us were on the sidewalk in front of the store.  Since it was October the store was decorated with a Halloween theme.  There was a wide assortment of people in attendance.  Many were arty looking types, some where goths dressed in black, others had tattoos and piercings--nearly everyone was younger than I and much different in appearance.  I looked around for someone with whom I could feel comfortable starting a conversation.

          I noticed a quiet conservative looking man who looked closer to my age standing on the curb and struck up a conversation with him.  At that time I had a tendency to direct conversations to the topic of the situation that I had been experiencing with my divorce and the sadness I had felt.  This man was a good listener and kept up his end of the conversation. 

          Eventually I asked what he did and he told me he was in a band.  My interest in music being what it was, I probed for more information.  He said that he was in a small Christian band that he was sure I had never heard of.  Now my interest was really piqued and I pressed on with my inquiry.  He told me he played saxophone in a band called The Choir.

          I was stunned.   The Choir was among my favorite groups.  I had listened to them for years and owned all their recordings.  The man's name was Dan Michaels.  Now I didn't really care about talking about my problems and wanted to ask him questions about the music business.  He seemed pleased that I knew who he was and was more than happy to continue to indulge my conversation.

        Then at one point Dan directed my attention to another man and led me over to introduce me to him. This man was Gene Eugene, another artist whose work I had followed for years and owned recordings by.  Gene Eugene was a musical genius who wrote songs and performed as a singer and musician.  He also owned a recording studio and had produced some of the finest albums by some of the top Christian rock bands.  Now I was really floored.  We chatted briefly, but it was getting late and I had to get home to my girls.

          I wish I could have visited with these musicians for hours.  And for all I know the guys who Gene was talking to may have been other musicians from other bands that I liked.  I'll never know.   Gene Eugene died  in 2000 leaving a tremendous void in the Christian music scene.  The funky jazz rock albums of Gene Eugene and his group Adam Again are well worth checking out, as are all the various other projects with which he was affiliated.  Likewise, the ethereal soft rock of The Choir is exceptional music well worth a listen.

           That night as I drove home from the party at Madd, I was glad that I had gone and excited about having met Gene and the exceptionally friendly Dan Michaels.   But I needed to get back home to my daughters.  If there was one thing that I really wanted to be successful at it was being a daddy.  The years have been good and I think I did okay.

           Are you familiar with the music of The Choir or Gene Eugene (Adam Again)?     What is your philosophy of failure and success?   Have you had a time in your life when you felt like a failure?  How did you come back from that feeling?     Right now in your life are you failing or succeeding? 
          


Gene Eugene:    I wrote about him in a post of October 9, 2009