Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book Review: Birth of Satan

The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots by T.J. Wray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews >>

The Birth of Satan is a fascinating historography of the development of Satan, and why we need him to make life and death make sense.

Authors Wray and Mobley were raised in religious homes with similar cultural beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong, God and the Devil. Their experience with otherworldly beings, influenced by popular culture lead them to team up because they had one strong belief in common, a belief in the Devil.

They writing team brings the reader into their fascination with the Devil at the beginning because In the beginning there was no devil, it's only in later interpretations that the Bible develops the anti-God into Satan. The development of hassan into the Devil is systematic and incorporates the cultural contact of Biblical authors throughout time.

Apocryphal writings as well as medieval interpretations influence our current cultural believes that now include the writings of Steven King and inclusion of Urban Mythology.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Book Review: Cancel Christmas!: a novel

Title: Cancel Christmas!
Author: Rocco L. Martino
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9780741 456373
Publication Date: October 2009
Pages: 218
Price: $14.95
Publisher: Infinity

December 25th or that last Saturday in December, what difference does it make what day we celebrate Christmas? To Mr. Timber Bleakheart, President and CEO it makes a lot of difference, $100-million to be exact. Cut the cost, increase the profit, there’s a business to run and the world’s richest list to climb!

We enter the world of Timber Bleakheart, confirmed bachelor who has taken his father’s company and made profits soar. He’s put competitors out of business, laid off 10% of his work force to control his remaining employees through fear and intimidation and now he wants to Cancel Christmas. Accustomed to getting his own way, no matter what, he sets out to increase his company revenue by $100 million per year. He’ll smash Christmas, just as he destroys everything that he deems a problem or obstacle in his quest for more riches.

Surrounded by employees who suffer inner turmoil just to keep their jobs, Timber Bleakheart is completely unaware of the unlikely pairing of General Council and the President’s Assistant who come together first idealistically, then romantically. We see the good people coerced into helping their greedy boss despite their supposed convictions in order to save their already low paying jobs.

With money as a motivator the campaign is on, compelling Senator Christian to support his position in the Senate, Timber Bleakheart garners favors as the senator’s major campaign contributor. Add a lobbyist extraordinaire and a marketing firm who focus on their own interests without care to the possible outcome should the campaign to Cancel Christmas succeed, together make up the cast of characters of this intriguing Christmas story. The overwhelming sentiment from these powerful men in media and government is expressed by the principled lawyer:

“The people don’t count. Even if they care, they just don’t bother, knowing that nobody is going to listen to them anyway. Congress certainly doesn’t care about the people. They care about being reelected.”

Characters flirt with dangerous ideas comparing American media techniques with the Big Lie theory espoused in Mein Kampf, sacrifice the many for the benefit of the few and other seditious views. Changing the observed date of Christmas would be more equitable for the non-Christians who are required to take-off a Christian holiday but observe their own religious holiday on their own time. Merchants would benefit with extra shopping days before Christmas and of course, business would have fewer disruptions in the last quarter of the year. Clearly, the plan is a win-win all the way around.

The romantic excitement coupled with the moral dilemma keeps you reading to find out can they actually cancel Christmas? It looks like Timber Bleakheart may just get his way on this too, then an unpredictable turn of events changes absolutely everything.

Not wanting to spoil the ending, readers will be left to think about the plot and how this might change how they relate to others in difficult economic times. When even the little things make a difference that can amount to millions of dollars, ethical decisions have far reaching ramifications. Who has the courage to fight for their beliefs?

Free review copy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If You Have Teens, You Should Be Laughing

Delightful teens are a product of years of dedicated, thoughtful parenting. It matters not what background you come from, the parenting you have done with your own children should be progressively better. If not, you may be experiencing rebellious, difficult kids.

The fruit is the proof of the tree’s goodness. Are they sweet, inquisitive, and fun? Are they sour, dull and a drag?

Decisions start early:

How to handle a crying baby? Pick baby up, love baby, care for baby or let baby cry itself to sleep?

How to handle an energetic toddler? Direct toddler, involve toddler, play with toddler or restrict toddler or worse, punish toddler?

How to handle the endless questions? Answer them, Explore, Learn or Refuse to answer, verbally or physically snap?

How to handle teenagers? As any parent of teens knows you’re done handling kids and gentle guidance into adulthood should be the order of the day.

By the teen years the good or the bad parenting you’ve done has made its mark. Parents are either saying: Can’t wait until they leave or Gosh, they really challenge me to be a better parent in the most fun ways.

If you’ve got teens and you’re not laughing at the funny things they say, the silly mistakes they make and inspiringly naïve ways they look at the world, don’t reject them, there is still time to do better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Worst Christmas Since the Great Depression

Come on people, ya’ll are just being greedy not spending money to buy things you don’t need, or need. It doesn’t matter you don’t have a job. You’re just not in the spirit of the season. It doesn’t matter that prices have gone up. You’re just stingy. It doesn’t matter that your standard of living has plummeted. You just don’t understand what Christmas is all about!

It’s a sad state of the nation when people willing to work are forced to work for less than it costs to survive and on their day off, have to stand in line with below freezing temperatures to get bread & ramen noodles. We're not even talking about people who have lost everything, because they've stopped being statistically counted.

But where’s their Christmas spirit? After all, there are all those tax incentives if they’d only buy a house. Then they’d buy all the things you need to go with a new house and a new car and a new wardrobe and CDs and movies and books and toys and jewelry and greeting cards and go out to eat at restaurants and take vacations and send gifts to friends and get new luggage and redecorate their house and go to plays and musicals and build a pool or a hot tub, have parties and you know, have a life.

Haven’t you seen all the commercials, the marketing, and all the pretty holiday advertising? They come to get you on the Internet. Search for “coat” and clothing company catalogs will show up in the e-mail, pop up ads will abound. Look up real estate and have coincidental marketers call your home for a free market analysis.

Can’t you tell that the man at the top is stomping his foot. It’s not Chris Crinkle, it’s the billionaire wishing for his Christmas thrill, to reach a Trillion.

Come on people, get with the program.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wind In Her Hair

When she was in 6th grade, there was a race. It was the first time in the history of that school that boys and girls ran together. The coach was thrilled when girls signed up to run. With the preliminary races complete, it allowed him to show the demographics and how entirely equitable the program had become. It meant more money for the school and more money for himself.

The last race came, four runners: three boys and a girl. The boys complained to the coach. They didn’t want to run against her. They didn’t want to hurt her feelings. They were boys. Of course, they were going to win.

The girl was happy when she ran. She felt free. She felt good. She laughed as the air pushed her hair out behind her. Running was joy.

Line up: lane 1 boy, lane 2 boy, lane 3 girl, lane 4 boy.

Ready, Set, Go…

The fastest boy, the one they knew would win was in Lane 1, on the end. But who would be 2nd, 3rd & 4th?

The girl was next out of the gate and holding her own. Until the boy in lane 4 pulled on the girl’s shirt, then the boy in lane 2 pulled on it too. The boy in lane 2 kicked her in the calf. She slowed for a second. The boy in lane 4 put his arm out to hold her back.

The coach yelled, 1st Place, Lane 1. 2nd Place, Lane 4. 3rd Place, Lane 3. 4th Place, Lane 2. The boys all gave each other the high-five.

The girl looked at the coach. “That’s not right.”

“That’s just the way it is,” he said.

The boys laughed. They thought they had won. Culturally, perhaps, but in the larger scheme of things, they were the big losers.

Until the boys make amends, she decided to not run with them again. At any time she could run with them. But until the time when they make it right, she runs for herself. She’s free and she loves the feel of the wind in her hair.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Natural Consequence Versus Punishment

As human beings, we are a part of the natural world even though some egos would like to say that we’re better than or apart from Nature. Human beings are subject to all the same laws as all other creatures, natural consequences included.

Natural consequences are those things that can’t be helped. They are scientific and subject to the same results if Jack does the experiment or if Jill does the experiment.

An experiment with gravity:
Jack and Jill went up the hill, to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down, broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

Fall at the top of a hill + gravity = Find yourself at the bottom of the hill.
Natural consequence.

Punishment is entirely a different situation. Punishment is not the natural consequence of actions. Punishment does not come from any natural law.

We can see the difference between Natural Consequence versus Punishment in this example:

If a dog failed to finish all the food, the natural consequences might be:
a) another animal might finish the food
b) carrion birds or flies would finish the food
c) the food would rot

If a child failed to clean their plate of all food provided, the natural consequence might be:
a) another person might finish the food
b) the food might go bad
c) an animal might finish the food
d) the food might be thrown away

Not a natural consequence might be one or more of the following:
e) forced to finish the food anyway
f) denied food at another time
g) spanked
h) grounded

Parental authority allows for punishment of children, but don’t let that be misconstrued with anything like the natural consequences of actions.

Threaten a dog, beat a dog, or tease a dog, and the dog will bite.
Natural consequence.

Punishment is simply the choice of the authority/punisher to inflict their will on someone under their authority. When they say to the punished, ‘it’s a natural consequence of your behavior'; the authority seeks to avoid the responsibility for their actions. Avoiding responsibility may go unpunished, but there are always natural consequences.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Worldopoly - A New Game

Just a thought I had today for a new game. Rather than Monopoly, which I love but gets boring when there aren’t enough players, is to have a new game, what should we call it? Worldopoly.

The object or goals of the game would be very challenging taking intelligence, economic savvy and a view to a better future. The instruments of measure would not be money but creating the most participation within the game and you’d have to be a business genius with a work ethic to play. There would be a variety of levels.

Of course the top level comes with the most perks but it also requires ruthless ethics and the desire to have the largest “empire” for lack of another term, at the moment.

Contradicting the current situation where downsizing and eliminating players, this game would be great fun because everyone gets to play, which means it’s really challenging because there is so much going on all the time.

Worldopoly requires Captains of Business to create areas of expertise. Within these areas of expertise which can either be specialized or diversified, the goal is to create a working, thriving economy of trade and productivity.

Awards to the Captains in some agreed upon fashion when the largest number of kingdoms for which they derive their awards are busy, useful and ecologically friendly. Awards go to kingdoms when all the units of population households are participating to the utmost in the economic exchange patterns.

Goal of household is exchange within the kingdom is set for the greatest good to the greatest number with the least amount of exploitation allowing for the growth of levels, expertise and career or trade excellence as a goal rather than the most points for the least work. Responsibility levels call for most exchanges but even at the lowest level human rights are protected.

Awards to the lowest level households increase the economic exchange and therefore benefit the kingdom level and the empire level.

Worldopoly offers win-win situations for everyone concerned. Players are allowed to move their pieces to improve themselves, their households, kingdoms and empires which benefits everyone.

No incentive for non-production at the kingdom or empire level. There is no profit in non-production for kingdom and empire. Their challenge is to improve, inspire and motivate participation. More participation at every lower level, benefits them directly.

The goal: to make the best better creates a competition at all levels to strive for personal fulfillment, personal gain through the aid and participation of the players at all levels.

Of course, the greatest risk comes with the greatest responsibility, and the captains want to create the prettiest, best built, ever lasting empire with the happiest people because it feels good to win. And it’s a win-win. There are no loose-win scenarios, that’s too easy.

Oh but here’s the exciting part: it’s a pyramid of overlapping triangles with ratios for population with unit productivity quotients.

Credit for clean environment, debits for hazardous materials factored in on production for the land mass quotient that supports the population. And it’s all based on working, thriving, healthful choices of units.

Units could be a co-operative population number accounting for different life phases. Pluses and Minuses factored in at the kingdom and empire levels for a variety of situations. Health care and vacations factored into a minimal equation of pursuit of happiness points at the unit level so that the minimum could be based on a 2 members + a number of additional or replacement units. All life phases are factored so that monetary “work” and volunteer “work” and household “duties” are valued at as the unit contribution so that all unit needs, as well as societal needs are met.

Bean-counters would find a challenge to factor in all the variables to level a unit production point system. Rewards at the kingdom level grow exponentially with each functioning unit. The glory to the captains not only creates a dazzling level of awe and inspiration of legendary proportion, the competition between empires makes for challenge and intrigue because if captains are unable to have so many productive kingdoms, they loose status, and perhaps the number of kingdoms contributing to the empire is less, because it just too much to handle. Same applies to kingdoms that become less environmentally friendly or have fewer productive units, the leadership risks challenge and replacement by the captains who would directly loose by the bad management or accumulation of non-contributory kingdoms. The win-win model is key to
this game.

Excesses are not allowable and actually cost the player, unit, kingdom & empire exponentially. For example, bad behavior at a player level impacts live-style, lower life-style impact productivity, which impacts unit worth which impacts kingdom totals which impact empire glory. It’s to the empire’s advantage (and possible expansion to greater glory) to encourage higher levels of behavior and ethics.

Kingdom leaders are stretched to include more bright ideas and increase the collective knowledge based in their own responsibility/privilege balance by adding population ratio required contemporaries with which to play/compete.

Allowances are allotted for self-adjustment, change of status and learning curves, however, time limitations and production ratios are more important as shifting organization balances the ratios of number of players, units, kingdom leaders and empire captains with a natural equilibrium. Checks and balances on a new level, new game, that’s Worldopoly.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Make Money Move

Talking heads suggesting that minimum wage is a living disgust the rational human being. The equation is simple even the slow media personality should be able to follow the equation to the number indicated allowing for variables of location across the country.

First the questions:
Educated /trained professionals and trades-people should be able to attain what level of societal success, in general. The general answers will set the societal expectation and standard.

Ability of Home-ownership?
Option for Children?
Option for Extended Vacations?

Requirement of Health care, Housing, Sustenance this is the base:
Lower levels are where people begin, they can work out of lower levels by showing loyalty to a company or developing area of expertise.

Single Person/ Entry/Bottom = housing, utilities, sustenance, health care, car, insurance, clothing, vacation (time & money). (18 – 21 years old)

For a moral society, partnership should be encouraged by making coupling affordable. One partner should have the option to care for the household duties of both without adversely impacting financial & social status at five years of work or entry level expertise. Options offered for home-ownership or children or vacations or new cars. (21 – 25 years old)

For a healthful society, families should be encouraged by making children affordable. One partner should be encouraged and have the option to care for the household duties and the children without adversely impacting financial & social status somewhere between five & ten years experience or five years of expertise. Options offered home-ownership & vacations & new cars or home-ownership & children & new cars or vacations & children & new cars. (24 – 34 years old)

Minimum for productive members, all options should be attainable at fifteen years of experience or ten years of expertise. (33 – 43 years old) These would be the years of societal equilibrium.

Of course, options for more training or more education get the minimum faster and there is always the bigger and better options for work-a-holics or rich-kids.

Productive member pay-day is that all options are attainable by 45 years of age for the average person/family: House, Kids, Cars, Vacations = Happy Population = Lots or Money Moving!

So the challenge becomes the big-guy’s dilemma, how to encourage economic moves that pay the working person what is right, what he/she has earned.

Entry level, kid’s wages, minimum wage isn’t even sustenance in any economic arena in the US. If you think it is, you are wrong and you have never lived on minimum wage.

GOOD NEWS: The benefits to a thriving economy that offers people these options as basic life milestones is that moving money makes money move.

Let's see:
Houses (buying & selling = employment = money moving)
Home Repairs (employment + supplies = money moving)
Cars (buying & selling = employment = money moving)
Car Repair (employment + supplies = money moving)
Insurance (employment = money moving)
Food (employment + supplies = money moving)
Clothes (employment = supplies = money moving)
Vacations (employment + supplies = money moving)
Kids (employment + supplies = money moving)

The possibilities are endless, but you have to make sure that the lowest guy has the basics covered easily and everyone else does better.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Customers, please don't bother us!

Mr. Franklin, my boss would get upset if the phone wasn’t answered by the second ring. Why? The customer was important to Mr. Franklin. Without the customers he wouldn’t be in business. The cultural standard for companies was to have the best customer service possible. A company wanted the best customer service because they wanted to have more customers and happy customers were good customers, loyal customers. So way back then, I answered the phone quickly and courteously because I didn’t want to disappoint my boss or the customer.

If the occasion happened when I didn’t have an immediate answer for the customer or another company employee was required and on another line, the customer was asked if they preferred to a) leave a message, or b) could hold for a short time. If they said they would like to hold, we were to notify the company person/department that they had a call waiting. At first, it was by note, then we upgraded to a flashing button on the phone. The idea was for the customer to be the least inconvenienced as possible. Why? Because we wanted to serve the customer, so they would be our customer.

By the attitude (and time on hold), today’s company couldn’t care less which company you use, or what services you have with them.

Case in point, I want to add to my service, don’t have to, just want to. Before I decide how much service to add, I’d like to know my options, the cost, you know, the details, the fine print. So, I called. The first thing the recording announces: Go to www.we.don’ to find your own answers or hold for 10 minutes.

I opt for both. I hold the line and turn on my computer.

The website isn’t intuitive but I navigate to the service area which provides only general information and a shopping cart. I click on all the links to hidden information to find some additional charges but still not all the answers to my questions.

After 20 minutes, Mark answers the phone.

Customer Service: “Hi I’m Mark. How can I make you very pleased with our service?”

I laugh: “Mark, at this point VERY pleased isn’t even on the scale. I’ve been on hold 20 minutes. But if you could answer some questions I have about…”I continued to explain what I wanted, that the website offered only general information, I needed answers to my questions before adding to my service.

Mark was very pleasant and said: “Let me see if I can get that information for you. Would you mind holding while I get that information?”

“Okay, I’ll wait a minute.”

Ten minutes later. “Hi this is Veronica, I’m sorry but your account isn’t showing on my screen.”

Back to square one.

Veronica answered the questions and was in the process of filling the shopping cart attached to my account.

“No. I don’t want to add the service unless you can attach it to my current plan.”

“But it doesn’t make a difference.”

“Yes it does. I want everything all on the same contract.”

“But you have different dates now.”

“No, my contracts are all together.”

“On your account, it shows… you’re a very long time customer… oh… they are on the same date. Why is that?”

“Because, if I’m not happy… I can decide not to renew my contract, all on the same day.”

“Really? Wow…So can I add the service?”

“Unless you can add it to the current contract, I’ll just wait.”

“You won’t have to wait and it will only be a $175.00 fee to cancel if you don’t renew your other contract.”

“Yes I know.”

“So I can add the service?”

“No, because I don’t want to have the fees attached to different dates.”

“No one ever asks about that.”

“It seems so.”

“On a scale of 1-5, 5 being best, how would you rate my service on this call.”

“I didn’t really get any service, but I was on hold for more than 30 minutes before you answered some of my questions.”

“I’m sorry.”

Bottom line:Cost to this company because they were unable to provide the additional service without penalty fees: $100. Plus I’ve gone from not thrilled, to unhappy with their attitude toward me, their customer.

But what’s $100. times how ever many other customers get frustrated?

My old boss, Mr. Franklin would have been angry if any of his customers were treated with such distain. He would have fired the offender and personally called the customer and made sure they were pleased with the service, his personal attention, and probably thrown in a little extra to make up for the trouble.

Don’t fret over me. I’m not holding my breath until a supervisor calls to make sure this long time customer is a happy customer. They won’t be making more money off me for additional services I want because they’ve made it too aggravating to add it. It affects their bottom line every day, but they really don’t care so long as customers don’t inconvenience them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009



Seeking a Monarch who could and would utilize honest, hardworking, loyal, talented vassal. Offering includes all skills, previous training and continued training (if required), ideas, thoughts, inherited talents, and undying gratitude in exchange for a good productive life. Details negotiable, warm climate preferred. Please e-mail introduction and preliminary information.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thinking Halloween Thoughts

Captain Jack Sparrow continues to inspire people, especially young people, around the world to be a pirate... for Halloween, that is.

Some of the store bought costumes are quite amazing. The designers and manufacturers are increasingly imaginative. But I prefer to make my own. The best part of getting dressed up is putting the costume together.

Pirate costumes are particularly fun and cheap. Most people can put a pirate costume together from one or two closets with a minimal number of purchases. My pirate challenge this year was to outfit four pirates. We've got the crew thing going...

As Lady Captain it's my job to be stunning because I won't be the tallest but I must command attention! I'll be topping my outfit with a satin oriental jacket and some Aztec Gold.

The crew will be dressed according to their rank and value to the ship. All have similar striped pieces: socks or arm warmers, it's the only identifiable part of the gear that shows we're together. We'll be dressed in high-pirate fashion because there be a North wind a-blowin' here matey.

Sing "Yo-Ho" as you hunt through your clothes. Look at things sideways with a Jack Sparrow kind of sway. Remember these guys were interested in wearing top quality and yet, they wore it for long periods of time.

Pirates wore most or all of their jewelry. Why? Well, would you leave your valuables around a bunch of pirates? They were pirates, not stupid. So wear rings on all your fingers, several necklaces, pins, earrings, feathers, and hats.

Halloween is a night when flamboyant is good and being a flamboyant pirate is outstanding!

Read more about pirates:

Read more about on of my favourite pirates:

Read more about women pirates:

Read about talking like a pirate:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adult Noun Deficiency

It’s another symptom of adult attention deficit disorder, thought studder, or whatever you want to call it that happens with frequency when stress, distraction or overload is the mode of the day. It would be most annoying if I didn’t usually find it absolutely funny.

The phone call

Store Clerk: May I help you?

Me: Yes, well, I hope so… I’m looking for the, the…

Clerk: um

Me: Sorry, I’m having a moment, I can’t think of what it’s called…

Clerk: Okay

Me: It’s the stuff that’s under the deck that catches the water that drains off decks, do you know what I mean?

Clerk: Yes.

Me: Do you have some?

Clerk: It’s in stock.

Me: Great, how much is it?

Clerk: um… What’s it called?

Me: I don’t know.

Clerk: It’s over by the corrugated roofing supplies.

Me: Okay… Can you look it up?

Clerk: I need the name.

Me: Yes, me too. That’s why I called.

Clerk: Can you hold on? I can go look.

Me: Sure, I’ll hold.

Musical Interlude

Clerk: Hi, Are you there?

Me: Yes.

Clerk: It’s Deck Drain.

Me: Laugh

Clerk: Laugh

He continued and gave me the size and price information.

Me: Thanks

Clerk: No problem.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Sage of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you remember mom’s chocolate chip cookies? Do you bake the cookies your mom used to bake?

Fortunately or unfortunately, rarely did my mother bake cookies. It was usually an event: PTA, Troop activity, Church event, something like that, so that even when baked, the cookies weren’t meant, nor did the cookies remain within the household… In our house it was about store bought cookies. Which was okay, I’m not complaining. I’m sure the stock in Oreo went up during my adolescent years.

Like the rebellious daughter I was told I was, I don’t buy many cookies from the store (sorry, Oreo). I actually bake cookies for my teenagers who consume them wholeheartedly. I’ve never had to worry about preservatives, nothing freshly bakes lasts long enough that it’s an issue. What I find myself concerned about is a variety of recipes, what kind of chocolate chip cookies shall I bake?

I admit to slothful baking, I use the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag. I’ve used the recipe so often over the last 20 years that it’s nearly memorized. But since I’m not chocolate chip brand loyal, there are slight variation, which leads me back to the bag because sometimes it’s ½ cup sugar and sometimes it’s ¾ cup sugar. All these recipes are brand approved and honestly, my kids love them.

But I got a bee in my bonnet and thought I’d make something new… Something new involved opening my favorite search engine, typing in "chocolate chip cookie recipe" and the response selection was overwhelming. Have you been to some of these recipe sites? They’re amazing.

Take for example… over 200 chocolate chip cookies recipes: Chocolate Chip Cookies III, Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies, Urban Legend Chocolate Chip Cookies, Wilderness Place Lodge Cookies, Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies, Chocolaty Peanuty Pretzel Bar Cookies, Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Anna’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, The Absolute Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie, Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, Trisha’s Chocolate Chip Cookie, Betty’s Chocolate Chip Cookie, Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie, and so on…

Once I started reading recipes, I couldn’t stop… two hours later, overwhelmed and with tired eyes, I decided… the recipe today will be… the one on the back of the package. Old habits die hard and I know the kids will like ‘em.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

When Your Soul Cries

There are times in life when a soul cries out. Sometimes it cries for sadness or regret, other times it cries out because it’s time to do something.

It may be a photo or a name that triggers something deep within, then a thing or an action just has to be done. For some people it’s not very strong, not very loud and those things or actions are not done, they are past over. In old age, these people cry tears for the loss of what might have been. They are old and regret. They are identified by the verbal wondering about self but the lack of action and the dodge of responsibility even when they stand at death’s door. But for those who listen to the stirring of the soul, a great wonder is the reward for following the yearning created from the depths of self.

Little is it realized when a mother looses a child that the rest of her children become dearer to her. Little is it realized that when a child looses a parent that the other family members become more important but that the vulnerability of acknowledging or accepting the new and diminished situation creates a space for inequity. Little is it realized that surviving trauma makes a soul stronger, a voice unique and force with which to be reckoned.

It is all the traumas, big and small that properly handled create empathy and compassion. Compassion as an understanding without words, peace within a heart, a broken heart made whole, not by repair necessarily but by understanding and acceptance that things done cannot be changed.

When your soul cries, seize the moment, appreciate the direction from the inner self, the conscience, do what can be done to listen to and act accordingly. Amazing things happen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wise Women in the Kitchen

Some of the best memories of childhood often center in the kitchen. Ask people about the things that made their childhood good, it usually includes yummy food from the kitchen given with love by a parent or grandparent who served the favorite food. Taste, Smell, Touch Sight and Sound these are the hallmarks that bring tears to the eyes of the old people when they recall their own family, their own childhood.

The wise women of today, often overlooked by contemporary culture quietly continue the tradition of kitchen memories; giving to their children and grandchildren old or new versions of family recipes. These are the things from which our souls and our bodies gain strength.

To create a family tradition and sensory experience children will take with them through life, you must rotate enjoyment of favored foods sprinkled with love and smiles.

Make a list of recipes you enjoy cooking. Make a list of recipes your family loves to eat.

Survey the lists: How many recipes on the list are for every day meals? Do you keep these ingredients on hand? How many recipes are for special occasions? How often do you prepare these recipes?

One of the points of wisdom grandmother so cleverly included in family traditions was the variety of meals that offered an array of foods over the course of the week, month and year. Many meals were prepared from similar ingredients but changed in taste and texture by the side dishes or the spices.

Traditional meals don't just happen. There is a plan, maybe grandmother didn't share the plan with you but if you smell a certain dish and think holiday or Sunday afternoon, I guarantee that your grandmother had a plan.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Where do you get your stories?

Writers get asked that all the time. The simple answer is that we make them up. The more complicated answer is that we observe life, mix things around a bit and come up with what is hopefully interesting, if not, exciting.

Take my neighbor, please!! (Thank you, Henny Youngman). But seriously, my neighbors are a great source of material. Because I try so hard to ignore there idiosyncrasies (read: scum-bags), it’s only the truly moronic triumphs or their ultimate asshole exhibitions that get my attention.

How does this become a story?
Honestly, the process is different depending on how I’m feeling, that I can not change. But I can share how it works in this particular case.

The facts, Watson, just the facts:
1) The neighbor is an ex-military guy who was trained to be an electrician.
2) Going through a mid-life crisis. At 40+ he decided to buy a motorcycle and play biker.
3) He protects and gets nervous about what he calls, his “man-cave”.
4) There is a strange humming noise that comes from his house, periodically.
5) When his house hums, my house lights blink.
6) This only happens when he’s home. When he was gone on vacation, no hum (his house) and no lights blinking (my house).
7) The service guy from the electrical company said that it seemed someone in the neighborhood had something pulling a lot of electricity but he couldn’t be sure which house.

Add bits that are seemingly unrelated
Alta Vista Search for the following:
1) Electro magnetic fields
a. Learn about electrostatic, magnetostatic and electrodynamic.
2) Electro magnetic device
a. Surprise > E-bombs < top the list
In further reading, I find that the pulses of electro static energy can disrupt power within a short distance.
b. The government believes that terrorists may use this type of device to disrupt our communications and defense systems.

So the story might be:
A mid-life crisis, disgruntled former military guy who has decided to disrupt commerce and is planning to attack the largest retailer (the HO or home office is just a few miles away) in the country with his device to wipe out not only their systems but their sister company, a banking institution with which he had a less than pleasant relationship.
An electrician gone mad sets out to contaminate the country with E-bombs by traveling from biker rally to biker rally setting up a network of drunken neophytes he’ll use to create chaos.

But the REAL story is more than likely the piece of shit is stealing electricity from the power lines, reducing it in his basement without a proper Faraday cage or grounding, and my house, for whatever reason is the recipient of parasitic pulses, or maybe the jerk really is a terrorist?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just Do One Thing

It’s probably part of being profoundly patriotic that volunteering for causes is just part of my life. It’s probably part of being passionate about parenting the next generation that volunteering in the community is so very important. But the biggest part about volunteering is that it does matter, everything matters, it all matters.

As a parent with teenagers, I find that volunteering is a wonderful way to focus that abundance of energy in constructive ways. Constructively busy teens are happy teens. It’s good for youth to learn about a situation, see how the world is, contribute in some way to make it better and imagine a world without such difficulties.

When my kids were little, our goal was to make one contribution to the community per month. We started small with drawing pictures for the sick and the elderly, and picking up trash (with gloves) at the park. As they have grown the projects have gotten bigger and I’m so pleased when they find new and wonderful ways to contribute to the community in which they live.

Sometimes, you might volunteer at something that you find you just don’t like to do, I’m thinking about poop patrol, it’s just not my bag. I’d rather collect dog & cat food for the shelter. It’s the same cause, that is near and dear to my heart (our dogs are previous pound-puppies) and I serve in a way that works for me and works for the shelter.

There are so many ways to volunteer and so many causes that really do need help it can be overwhelming. Sometimes the coordinators want a commitment to help all the time. Just do what you can. If you find you like it, you’ll be back.
Here are a few things that you might consider giving a try: making valentines to send to the VA hospital, walking shelter dogs, giving toiletries to the women’s shelter, collecting dog & cat food, setting up a community Christmas tree, sending cards to chronically ill children, recycling cans, picking up trash along the highway, collecting rice for the hungry, donating to war victim recovery, calling politicians and telling them how we feel about the environment, planting trees, singing at the convalescent home, books for kids, writing letters to soldiers, making crafts to raise money, speaking at groups about animal cruelty, telling friends about good things happening in the community, recycling newspaper, helping to set up for educational events, magazines to veterans, being on advisory boards, making prayer shawls, dictionaries for children, sewing blankets for premature babies, sewing bags for kids at the homeless shelter, collecting pop tops for Ronald Mc Donald House, working at the recycling center, school supplies for needy kids, teaching tobacco cessation, planting flowers, shopping for an invalid, delivering food to needy families, backpacks of food for needy children over the weekend, giving blankets to the homeless shelter, giving unneeded things to charities that help families in economic stress, collect horse feed & medicines for the horse rescue, cleaning at the animals shelter, and the list goes on of needed help in the community.

Remember you don’t have to do everything, just do something, just do one thing, because every one thing really does matter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cliffhanger Concluded

Just as I was posting the update...

Serina called, she's the contact, the president of the board, and if memory serves, I think I've read her name as a reporter for a local newspaper. We'll be meeting in town at a coffee house later.

She said several times that this was about good faith. Is that what this is about? What exactly does that mean?

Perhaps, I wonder too much, but did LaDonna just get out of fulfilling her obligations by passing the delivery on to another friend/associate?

At this point, I believe I'll get the gift certificate in a few hours. But it's not a victory in any sense of the word. The overall tone wasn't appropriate to the positions of the people in this situation. The gift certificate needed to be hassled out of them and even then, begrudgingly given, by way of a messenger who is not responsible for the fiasco; it's just plain... sad.

I wonder, what was the real motivator? Why did this become such an important issue yesterday?

In the end, we've decided to donate the gift certificate to a cause that we know will use it. Perhaps, that will help with healing from the sadness of this most unnecessary situation. Then, we just move on.

Cliffhanger continued

Here we are, wondering about customer service again... An update to the door prize situation. It's now after the " 8/1 deadline" and I received a call 8/18.

"This is LaDonna."

I know it hasn't been that long, but Let Go & Let God really does work! I was driving and thinking about my to-do-list, etc., so I was a bit fuzzing about the name for a second. This makes me chuckle, because I was really hot on this just a few weeks ago.

Anyway, three calls and six emails from LaDonna directly yesterday. With the results that I'm to meet with someone else, some day at some location in town and someone will call.

Oh, then an associate of LaDonna's sent an email that she was highly offended by my blog. Originally, I did not use her name but the company name, she said she was offended that Google didn't bring up her company as a mail service. I had reported what I found on Google, M**** company was a computer company. I stand corrected, M*** company is a mail service company and has been so for over 20 years. I've removed the name of her company, not because she asked nicely because she didn't (in fact her email was in RED) but because I don't know all the details of their relationship, and sometimes things aren't necessarily as they seem, perhaps she's been drawn into a situation rather than voluteering to cover for her friend.

Anyway, in an another email the same associate reported the post office was unable to locate any of the letters. (It reminded me about the return receipt request, what was that number again?)

In all fairness, the postal service isn't always the greatest. But as I mentioned in conversation with LaDonna, we've had our share postal problems in the past at a different address (really, who hasn't had missing mail from time to time) and I do sympathize.

However, it doesn't change what these people have been telling me. LaDonna says the mail company mailed the letters, that's why she uses them. The mail company said that they were tracking the letters as a favor to a regular client but they didn't mail the letters.

All the drama aside, current status: waiting...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Judges Need To Get Together

It’s a bad habit, reading the paper. Your head ends up full of information, if given a second or two to process, recognizes the injustices our society continues to exhibit.

In the old days, judges represented the people, the society, so through their sentencing of convicted criminals, they were making ongoing statements about the values of the society. Judges are allowed latitude in sentencing guidelines for circumstances that may not appear in the newspaper. Still those guidelines and the standard sentence for various crimes represent the true values, not the hype, of what a society values. For this reason, many believe that premeditated murder is the worst crime and that death is appropriate. Everything else is up for negotiation. Despite all the media rhetoric about protecting children, children are our future, each individual is valuable, the sentencing pedophiles to help protect children clearly isn’t as much a priority as protecting property , because the pedophile sentences are not as harsh as those give to burglars.

Yesterday’s paper, Region & State, Page 5, Judicial Briefs: 3 cases, 3 judges.

Case 1
23 year-old man pleads guilty to multiple commercial & residential burglaries. The sentence: $4,000 restitution + fines, 20 years in prison.

Case 2
25 year-old man pleads guilty to commercial burglary (netting $400), high-speed chase with multiple collisions and one injury. The sentence: $10,000 restitution + fines, 20 years +10 years suspended for the burglary, and 3 – 15 year sentences from the chase & collisions and personal injury collision. A total of 65 years +10 years suspended.

Case 3
25 year-old man pleads guilty to more than 3 years of continual rape of a minor (from age 7 to 10 or 11) and threatening her to stay quiet about the rapes. The sentence: On a reduced charge of “second-degree sexual assault on a girl” in exchange for a guilty plea, SIX YEARS.

This might be a good place for a closing comment, but the situation pretty much says it all.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Human Polygraph

Polygraph machine (or lie-detector) measures physical changes of temperature, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, during questioning or a psycho-physiological detection of deception examination.

On the 60s-70s TV show, Endora put a spell on Darrin to tell the truth, much to the advertising executive's dismay, he tells the client that his product is disgusting. But like all the other shows, Samantha helps smooth things over and Mother's Stew becomes Mother's Doggy Stew, sales sky-rocket, and Larry gives Darrin his job back.

Linda Carter's character, Wonder Woman had a golden lasso. If she put the rope around you, you had to tell the truth. This came in handy when time was running out and there was too much information needed to make the ending possible without the supernatural help of the lasso.

But the old-fashioned way works best... Mom.

Real mothers have a way of knowing when their children are lying. It becomes second nature. A real good mother doesn't need to wait for their child to open their mouth, they don't have to hear the ridiculous lie, they have a sixth sense about it.

Then there are the extraordinary mothers who expand this gift to include the rest of the world. These moms are statistically on par with Sherlock Holmes. Call it what you will, an angel whispering in the ear or a BS-detector, but when the liar-liar pants on fire starts talking, the Super-mom bells go off, it matters not if it's in person or on the phone...the game is afoot.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Poor Service Saga Continues...

Poor Service Saga Continues…

The ongoing theme in American Culture today (or maybe it’s just me) is poor service. Here’s the latest on a still pending story.

On 5/31, my kids and I picked up trash along a planned corridor as part of the Keep America Beautiful, and Keep Benton County Beautiful campaigns. We attended the conclusion ceremonies and were surprised by “winning” a door prize.

Instead of the prize, we were given a promise note:

“Congratulations! You have won the Keep Benton County Beautiful drawing! To redeem your $25 Lowe’s or Home Depot gift certificate and packet of other goodies (coupons, product and a t-shirt), please contact LaDonna Meredith by August 1st at 479-*phone number* or at keepbentoncountybeautiful@ (When prizes are redeemed, photographs will be taken for the local newspaper.)”

(Phone Number & contact info listed on their website )

So, I emailed.

Talking with a friend, she said she had had some business with LaDonna, she was very difficult to get a hold of, she doesn't return emails, in fact, she had a really hard time getting a return call from her. My friend encouraged me to call often.

So, I called & left a message. I was diligent in calling, as my friend suggested.

La Donna returned my call after a week or so. She said she had been sick with the bird flu and would put the certificate in the mail, I should have it in a few days. I waited several days. Called to let her know I hadn’t gotten it. She didn’t call back.

So I called & left a message. I was diligent in calling once a day. La Donna picked up the phone. She said she’d had surgery and would mail the certificate return receipt request. I should have in a few days. I waited a few days. So I called to let her know that it had not come. She didn’t call back.

Finally, La Donna & I spoke again. She said she had been sick with pneumonia. But that she had a stack of gift certificates and would send another out right away.

Of course, I didn’t receive anything. So I called again, regularly. My messages were, as you can imagine: nice, firm, hope you’re not sick again, hey what’s going on, why not just give me the address to pick up the prize packet, if you’re sick is there someone else handling the business, etc...

Believe me, I’m not stupid. I know when someone is ignoring me. But by this time, really it’s the principle. She issued promise notes with a deadline then refuses to fulfill her end of the deal.

So I started talking to people. I found that she’s funded by Walton Family Foundation. I called them.

I told the story about LaDonna's illnesses, mailings and the missing prizes, is there someone else to contact? They are very nice. But it’s against their policy to give out information.

Listed on the website is an alternate name President Bob M** & his phone number. I called. It’s disconnected.

This morning, I get a call from a company, the woman says La Donna M** is their client and she’s verifying the address. They’re checking the dead letter bin at the post office because LaDonna may not have put a return address on the envelope. I mentioned the return receipt request form that should be attached according to what LaDonna told me.

I googled and found a different company by the same name, I'm thinking this is a little game.

Out of courtesy, I called La Donna, and left a message.

‘I know you had a friend call. I did make it through the 7th grade, I know it’s a game. So you can send the prize like you said you would or I’ll just mention to anyone that might want to know that LaDonna is a liar. It’s up to you.’

What happens when a non-profit organization that receives foundation funding promises door prizes at an event and doesn’t provide them?

What happens to that money?

If the prizes were donations from Lowe’s or Home Depot, what happens when gifts for distribution are not distributed to the prize winners?

Can the prizes be used by people associated with the "cause"? Is that okay? If so, why give out prize notices at all?

Why do they let people who fail to fulfill obligations be the Director of organizations?

The actions or inactions, as the case may be, appear to be deliberate and systemic. Therefore, I don’t believe I’m the only one that has requested the prizes and not received them.

Why all this "it's in the mail" when I'll pick up the prize and the packet as it says on the flyer? I've asked, why don't they have an address to pick up the prizes, even if at this point, they don't want my smiling face for the newspaper?


Will the Foundation fund this organization next year?

Will the Director finally get it together and distribute the prizes at the last minute? be continued...

Thursday, July 16, 2009


At 18, I married what I thought was a prince, he turned into a frog. At 22, I tried again. You got it, "Croak." Third time, I was nervous... three strikes & you're out kept running through my mind... I married a regular guy and *poof* my prince appeared. 20 years later, happy marriage, happy kids...if this fits your idea of a contribution to your publication... please email, at your pleasure.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Answered Prayer

Pastor: Remember God answers prayers in his own time. We know this because the Jews were 40 years in the desert before he answered their prayer and brought them into the Promised Land.

In the pew a man turns to his wife and says: At that rate, I should be getting that puppy any day now.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Book Review: Dancing with Words

Dancing with Words: Storytelling As Legacy, Culture, and Faith Dancing with Words: Storytelling As Legacy, Culture, and Faith by Ray Buckley

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ray Buckley's Dancing with Words: Storytelling As Legacy, Culture and Faith read quickly and was full of touching stories about storytelling. Good information about how to put a story together, how to let your light shine thorugh, how a story needs to come from the storyteller to ring true to the audience.

Completely enjoyed this book and wished there had been more... one sign of a good storyteller. Thanks Ray!

View all my reviews.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


The data was in back in the 1970s, maybe earlier. Change required for survival. Immediate change. Radical change. Red Alert! The Lorax told the children. Walter Cronkite told the World. Things must change.
At the time, the scientists were confident that things hadn’t gone too far, but we needed to start the 1980s with different sources of energy.
Here we stand now, 30 years later and still our power comes from death. Our transportation powered by death. Our lights energy produced from death. Our society based on and fashioned by way of death. Death is the impetus of coal. Death is the essence of oil turned to gasoline. Death brought from the ground where it belongs, where it should stay. Twisting death back to life in our world has put us all in impending peril. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of death brought to the surface of our Mother Earth has polluted the air, the water, polluted all that brings life. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of weight turned from solid to liquid to gas in the matter of a short period of time. The change in the weight distribution has caused serious changes to the planet, we all call home.
Mother Earth who brings forth life is serious ill. Can’t you see the change? Can’t you feel the change? The vibration from our Mother who gives us life is different. The sun on our skin is different. The weather is different. The animals act differently. Everything is different.
How has the planet changed? Has her shape changed? Has the axis changed? Has the orbit changed?
At present it seems that those steering the World destiny are not in touch with the most basic connection. Those that have eyes that see, those that have ears that hear are marginalized, pushed aside instead of allowed to do good things, make good decisions for the Greater Good.
My generation, coming of age, learning to drive at the time of the perilous announcements by the Eco-Movement of the 1970s, we’re okay with returning to walking, or horses, if that be the case. We were also excited about the idea of all energy coming from the Earth’s energy, water, air, gravity. Clean the air, clean the water. Return to Eden was the phrase used regularly by my peers. Now, middle-aged we have yet to be heard, or even considered. The massive generation, the largest ever born, even more than the baby-boom, whose presence was given to smooth the change has been pushed to obscurity, seemingly unheard, but certainly unheeded.

Our Mother weeps for the children that kill her, for they too shall die. Remember the Lorax, he speaks for the trees and the bees and all of these. We say Please and hope that it’s not too late.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: Another Book

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't

This was a really quick read. It reminded me of the young kid who finally learns a "dirty" word then completely over uses it.

The studies and stats were funny, sad, interesting and mostly kinder to the asshole contingent (in number as well as severity of immorality) than my personal observations.

In the end, the author offered no real reform until the guy at the top is decent and wants to impliment reform. But invites you to write him about your experience so he can use it in future projects. Okay....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Review: Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shadow of the Wind was a tough one at the beginning. I'd like to encourage those not interested within the first few chapters to continue reading.

It wasn't until chapter 10, with the exceptin of a few characters that kept me reading, that I really got into the story enough to say, I'll finish the book. I had figured out what may be the schoking who-done-it part early.

It wasn't until chapter 20 or so when I was glad I kept reading because the answers presented themselves and I enjoyed the way in which the onion peeled, ever doing deeper into the characters with every twist and turn.

It wasn't until the end that I was thrilled that I had caught up to my kids and finished this book. I was pleased with the story and thought wonderingly how the rest of Daniel's life would be.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Book Review: Emily Post

Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners by Laura Claridge

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Emily Post Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of Manners came into my life on a whim. I clearly judged the book by the cover. I wasn’t particularly interested in Emily Post. Sure, I knew about the little Blue Book that had influence many generations in America. But I hadn’t given the author much thought, in spite of her name being, 50 years after her death, a household name. What drew me to the book was the cover. I absolutely loved the dress.

The photo is of Emily Price wearing the most gorgeous dress. It was the dress she wore for her 1890 debutante ball and I fell in love with the 19 yards of fabric and lace.

Emily Price Post born seven years after the Civil War was raised an only child from a wealthy family who lived on the edges of the elite. Her father was from a well to do Maryland family. Her mother was from a wealthy Pennsylvania coal family. Her uncle was an interesting character into a variety of projects including the building of the Statue of Liberty. Emily played in the foundations of the statue when she was a child, perhaps, a portent of her position in American culture as a foundation of social structure.

During her life time which spanned 80 + years, she saw the advent of the radio and television, transportation go from horse to auto and the launching of Sputnik, women’s vote, women’s rights and more.

Her personal acquaintanceships are the who’s who for many generations. Her personal accomplishments as a clothing designer, landscape designer, architect, interior designer, author, and radio personality are impressive. Her family life lacked directly because of her need to work obsessively indeed to her detriment. Her public persona of “just another working woman” got tiresome and I came to not like the older Emily Post.

Some fifty years after Mrs. Post’s passing her legacy fades because there are entire segments of the population who don’t have a dining room table and will never worry about which fork to use because they eat their food right out of the paper in which it’s wrapped.

But I still love that dress!

View all my reviews.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Essence of Towels

Time gives a perspective to events that can change the way one may relate to others in a positive or a negative way, the choice is for each person.

Events that shape our lives sometimes seem small while they are happening. Over the course of years, events that are not dissimilar may be joined together in a series of moments that show how we are trapped in the sameness of our decisions or how we have matured, changed grown into a different, hopefully better person.

Case in point: How to fold a towel

At a young age I was shown how to fold a towel. I remember the lesson because it was delivered in a “you should know this already” tone. Honestly, I can’t tell you if it was the first how to fold a towel lesson or not, but it was the one I remember. It was exactly how towels should be folded and that is how I folded them.

Fast forward to marriage #1

He: Why are you folding the towel like that?
Me: Because that’s how towels are suppose to be folded?
He: You’re so stupid. Do I have to show you everything? Fold towels like this. If I find them any other way you’ll regret it.

Fast forward to marriage #2

He: Why are you folding the towel like that?
Me: Because, that’s how I was told to fold them, but I’ll fold them anyway you’d like.
He: I would like them folded like this when they’re in the cupboard and like this when they’re on the hanger. If you love me, you'll do as I say.
Me: I'll fold them how you like them.
He: That's a good girl.

Fast forward to marriage #3

Me: How would you like the towels folded?
He: Is it clean? **Laughing**

It's all about perspective.

This is story about my personal growth. It took a while to get there but finally and again I realize that the most important thing is the essence. The essence of the bathroom towel issue is “are they clean?” The most important thing isn’t about control, it’s about comfort and putting priorities in place. Folding the towel in a particular way doesn’t really matter. Fold it how you like. Fold it and be happy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poverty in America

Two former co-workers met on the street.

Ann: "OH Becky, we all just miss you so much since they laid off your department."

Becky: "Have they hired anyone back?"

Ann: "No, they just redistributed the work and sent the essential stuff overseas. Cost cutting, you know how it is."

Becky: "Yes, I know."

Ann: "They're doing so good now, I got a bonus."

Becky: "Good for you, Ann."

Ann: "Yes, we're going on that cruise I told you about."

Becky: "Do send me a postcard."

Ann: "I will. You know Becky, you lost so much weight. I just hate you for looking so good."

Becky: "You should try my new diet."

Ann: Is it one of those expensive drink diets?"

Becky: "No."

Ann: "Is it one of those with the special food?"

Becky: "No."

Ann: "It's not counting calories, is it? I hate that."

Becky: "No."

Ann: "Don't keep it a secret. Tell me!"

Becky: "Poverty."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Book Review: Reading Magic Review

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
For this reviewer, there were no revelations in Reading Magic. Most of what Mem Fox writes is in the “of course” category for me. But what was exceedingly enjoyable was her take on reading to kids. Her style and examples were delightful.

This was a quick read in the pick-it-up, put-it-down, pick-it-up style of reading I seem to do these days.

While waiting at the dentist’s office, I read a portion of this book aloud to my 13-year-old son, who said, “I love it when you read to me, even if it’s reading about reading.” Reading Magic provides plenty of ammunition against the the learn-at-school-only crowd.

Get this book if you want to understand how children learn to read, how to teach children the particularly difficult language of English (which is only about 50% phonetic) or how to improve your read-aloud persona. Read it. Follow the suggestions. Read to your kids, every day for just 10 minutes. You will be glad you did.

For the rest of this review, check out the review section at

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book Review: Winning Words

Winning Words: Sports Stories and Photographs Winning Words: Sports Stories and Photographs by Charles R. Smith, Jr.

My review

Reviewed for, should be on site shortly. Sports play such an important role in children's lives. Coaches need to stay focused on the positive aspects of sports and motivate kids to do their best. Winning Words provides some great examples with some inspirational quotes.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Confessions of a Neighbor Namer

I like to think of them as pet names. It isn’t something that everyone has or deserves. Pet names are saved for those neighbors and co-workers who have at one time, or more likely many times, sunk to the level of absolute idiocy, far past the “give-em-a-break” line of demarcation, on one or more of the characteristic of personality scales by which levels of humanity are rated.

Most pet names evolve over time. They change based on the latest stupidity witnessed. Frankly, I try really hard to NOT notice what my neighbors are doing. But even with great effort, the dumb just seeps through the fence and all the “ignoring them” resolutions. It usually happens after a loud bang. Even though I know, it’s just another neighbor proving that the missing-link is alive and well, I can’t help myself from looking. I’m compelled to go see what made that noise. I’m caught in the Gladys Kravitz syndrome again, looking through the window and seeing things I wish I hadn’t seen.

I stood stunned, as I watched a near 50 year old, 5’6” wanna-be-scumbag-biker with his new Harley, in his new jacket, with his new bandana, yelling at his wife to help him pick up the motorcycle that just fell over in the drive-way.

I stood aghast, at the fist-fight on my front lawn, which was actually, just friends of my neighbor. That was our introduction… I’ve seen this one, misjudge the location of the edge of his deck, the intension was to through the contents of the B-B-Q on to the ground below, but he missed and the red hot coals rolled all over on the deck at his feet. Currently, we’re watching his cooler collection grow. Apparently, every time he goes on a picnic, fishing or camping trip of sorts, he forgets t bring his cooler and buys another one to add to the stack behind his house, where he can’t see them, but I can. There are four and we’re just a few weeks into summer. How many will be there by September? One wonders… the anticipation is intense, isn’t it?

The transformation of a pet name brings with it the history we as neighbors share. At the beginning, before they reveal their truly stupid self, I use their names. If a neighbor is destined for a pet name, it doesn’t take very long before… Doug becomes Duh-oug, Duh-oug the Goof, Goofy Doug, Doofy. Sad but true, each revision is a reflection of one or more episodes of usually drunken (we hope) stupidity witnessed by neighbors who a) couldn’t care less and b) are trying to avoid knowing anything else about these people.

The only trouble with using pet names exclusively when referring to neighbors is that it preempts ever calling them by their given names again… once you name them, it’s just better not to talk to them anymore. Talk about them, yes. To them, No. Because they’ll never understand what you mean when you forget yourself for a moment and say, “See ya later, Doofy.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Go Green...Air

Essential for life, it’s the air we breathe.

Typically indoor air quality rates two to five times as polluted as outdoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Much of what we use to keep the inside of our homes and buildings clean is the leading component of toxic chemicals in the air. EPA reports that measured VOCs Volatile Organic Compounds) of indoor air can be as high as 1,000 times greater than outdoor air.

Since World War II, over 80,000 chemicals have been developed for use as cleaners, pesticides, personal care products, and plastics. Many of these chemicals contain neurotoxins. Neurotoxins suppress the nervous system and overload kidneys and liver impairing the body’s ability to rid itself of waste.

Symptoms of breathing chemical toxins or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are headaches, allergies, nose bleeds, fatigue, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, shortness of breath and memory loss. Continued exposure can lead to chronic or acute health problems, immune system disorders or cancer.

Chemical toxins or VOCs are highly present in oven cleaners, dishwasher detergents, toilet cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, air fresheners, carpet cleaners, antibacterial cleaners, perfumes, carpet shampoos. Empty containers should be taken to the hazardous waste site.

Many perfumes and aftershaves have petroleum or gasoline as a scent preservative. These types of products can deaden the sense of smell as well as contribute to allergies and breathing problems.


To promote good air quality switch to environmentally friendly products such as Earth Friendly or Seventh Generation Cleaning Products. To promote good personal air quality switch to non-toxic natural perfumes, aftershaves, bath & hair care products.

Homemade Glass Cleaner:
1/8 cup vinegar
1 cup water
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake and apply. Wipe Clean.

Recycling Centers & Info:

Go Green Info:

Non-toxic Cleaning Products:

Learn how to make Non-toxic Household Cleaners, download the free recipe book:

Monday, April 6, 2009


Excellent song

Book Review: Lady Elizabeth

The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison Weir

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I prefer reading history to novels but this novel was very well presented. Liked it. Some of the more shocking scenes are completely fiction, still I understand why it was done, for all those novel readers. :)

It goes back to the library shelves.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Greatest Sacrifice

It was the Greatest Sacrifice: the innocent taking freely the burden of sin, so we would not have to suffer what we so honestly deserve. It was the Greatest Gift we could receive. Jesus’ triumph over the wages of sin, over death, for us.

“It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit.”
John 19:30

And on the third day…

As the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb…
Matthew 28:1

Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Salome brought spices that they might come and anoint Him…
Mark 16:1

But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb…
Luke 24:2

Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there… Jesus said, “Mary!” She said to Him, “Rabboni”
John 20:11,16

Mary told the disciples what she had seen. When the disciples assembled and were in fear, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:19-22

Holy Week, the last week of Lent, commemorates the time Jesus carried the burden of sin for us. This was the week he suffered betrayal by his closest disciples.

This was the week of the Last Supper.

This was the week He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

This was the week the Sanhedrin tried Him.

This was the week the Jews tried Him again in front of Caiaphas.

This was the week He was turned over to Pilate.

This was the week Pilate tried Him twice.

This was the week that He suffered.

This was the week that the crowd called for Barabbas.

This was the week He was crucified.

This was the week He died.

This was the week He was buried.

This was the week the tomb was opened.

This was the week Christ appeared to the women on the Road to Emmaus.

Let us travel a personal Road to Emmaus. Let us meet Jesus on the Road. When He calls our names, let us answer as Mary answered, “Teacher!” May we come to know the breath of the Holy Spirit and receive the Greatest Gift He Gave, Peace Be With You.

(Beautiful picutre of Jesus courtesy of "free painting Jesus"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Too Young to be a Hippie

Is it a message being sent when you're told more than by one? Or just dumb gone out of control?

Sticks & Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

This saying is what those of us who suffered unmerciful teasing developed into a shield creating the mental image of water flowing off a duck's back. It was the mantra of the outcasts. It was the seed to attitudes and perceptions that become core beliefs about self, about peers, about authority, about community and about society.

Recently, and by more than one person I've been called a hippie.

The first time I just blew it off. I'm not old enough to be a hippie. I was born and was a child in the 1960s. My coming of age story is 1980. So we're not talking, even close, to being a hippie.

My older cousins were the right age had they taken the drunken, druggy way of beach bum life, they could be called hippies. But they didn't. I did see hippies in the community, they were always dirty. That's my memory of hippie.

Since I am none of the hippie things, not a bum, not a drunk, I'm baffled by the comment.

But it's happen again. I was told "You're a hippie." So I asked, what do you mean by that? The woman giggled, obviously embarassed and walked away.

So I thought, is the deodorant not working today? I went to a friend and said, "Sniff me."


"Just sniff me, do I stink?"

"No, you smell like Gardenias."

"That's the South of France soap I'm using."

"Why did I just sniff you?"

"Because, **** just called me a hippie"

"She, what?"

"Called me a hippie"

"Why did she say that?"

"I don't know. I asked her. She giggled, blushed and walked away."

"Well, that's weird."

"That's good. I thought maybe my deodorant had failed me."


Still I'm puzzled.

Evidence that I'm not a hippie...

I'm too young. I love and drink Starbucks, regularly. I don't camp. I must have functional plumbing in my house. I love shopping. I love my new car. Illegal drugs are out of the question. I don't hand out flowers at the airport. I don't think Charlie Manson is misunderstood. I work hard. I'm not a flake.

I don't take stupid comments seriously, I just wonder, how did they get there? And it makes for a moment of self-reflection, smell-check and blog material.

I am that which Thou hast made.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The experience of having business with an ethical company that truly puts the customer first is so rare, but so pleasing, gushing on them just isn't enough. Shop

The story began with my 17-year-old wanting to upgrade the xbox for online game play. Reluctantly, I agreed that he could shop online & find his Nirvana machine. Our super tight budget this year, made this purchase more than Christmas for him.

So the box arrived, the features most used & features learned, it seemed fine for about 60 days or so. But then a problem surfaced. One feature didn't work. Updates and online service was consulted. In the end, the box needed to be returned.

Universal Mania was so nice about it. The arranged for UPS pick up for one box, a FEDEX label for another box and a new xbox arrived in a few days.

The new box arrived and within a short time, the same feature was discovered to be missing.

Universal Mania swapped again.

The new box arrived and within hours, the same feature was discovered to be non-functional. Again, consulting online help, because we really wanted to keep this xbox. The company had been so nice, I felt horrible emailing yet again.

It was the supplier that was responsible for the condition of the xbox, but Universal Mania were so accommodating and kind. They have discontinued business with the faulty supplier.

They were so nice about refunding the money, I will shop with them for any electronics we may want.

I want everyone to buy something from them. Support a good company that stands behind their products.


Since they no longer offer xbox, my gamer is looking for that elsewhere, but has his eye on a Universal Mania GPS when he gets his own car.

Thanks Kurt for everything. You've been more than wonderful!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Living Wage versus Minimum Wage

I heard someone terribly confused the other day. She made the statement that she was paid a living because she made minimum wage. Unfortunately, the woman was serious. Minimum Wage isn't a Living and you can do the numbers for yourself.

First, let's define minimum wage, the purpose, the type of job and the results.

Minimum Wage became required because there were people who abused their power over their employees to not pay them for their work. This became required minimum wage for entry no-skill type jobs. Entry level no-skill jobs were fast-food, labor and the like.

The employer would have incentive to train the worker during the minimum wage period and promise raises, if after training the employee would stay on. These jobs were mostly part-time and taken by teenagers.

The incentive for the employee was work hard to work your way up and make more money by performance and loyalty to the employer, or understand the value of training, schooling and developing a marketable skills to get to the point of making a living wage.

The time in a life cycle to begin making a living wage should coincide with the fertile years & making a family: twenties. Scientifically, a woman's best years for child bearing are mid-late twenties to early thirties. Does it happen later? Yes. Is it physically advantageous for the average woman? No. So to create a healthy society, these physical needs that impact on society should be not only considered but of primary importance to policy makers.

Other minimum wage jobs were wage plus commission during the training or start up period for sales, or wage plus tips as in service, waiting tables etc. Hard work & service again providing more money, in addition to the minimum wage.

Dead-end minimum wage jobs like newspaper delivery, while a good job for a school kid were never meant to be more than temporary, part-time, fill-in.

Living wage jobs are for the majority of people working. They do this job for a living. How do you know if you've got a living wage job? Do these simple calculations for your geographical area.

For the purposes of these calculations let's agree that an average family consists of 2 parents, 2 kids. While yours may be different, the point of this exercise is to make a comparison in the end, so please play along.

How much does it cost an average family to:

Provide a average house 3 bedrooms, 2 baths (buy or rent) ____________
Food: Eat three healthy meals plus two healthy snacks a day ____________
Running Expenses: heat/air, water, sewer, electric, gas, TV, phone, Internet ________
Clothing: an average wardrobe work, play, church clothes _____________
Cars: Two cars (one with a payment, one without) _____________
Car Maintenance: gas, oil changes, tires __________
Car Insurance ___________
House Insurance _____________
Health Insurance & Expenses not covered ____________
Dentist 2 per year per person ________________
Eye Check & Glasses once per year _____________
Life Insurance _______________
School Expenses: Books, Paper Products, Sports, Music Lessons, etc _____________
1 week Vacation per year ______________
House Furnishings: linens,furniture,small appliances etc _________
House Maintenance: Lawn Care, Large Appliances, Repairs & Upgrades __________
Charitable Giving: Church & other organizations ____________
Anything Missed: ________________

What is your total?? ________________________

I guarantee it's not possible on a minimum wage job, two minimum wage jobs, three minimum wage jobs, four minimum wage jobs... and there is no more time in the week for two adults to have more than four full-time jobs.

In many areas of the country, this number starts in the $50,000 range and depending on your location could start closer to $100,000.

Well, two $25,000/yr jobs is the same as one $50,000/yr job, right?

Well, no. Clearly, you aren't thinking about living a life. Two jobs and two kids means what? Babysitters, unhealthy food, eating out more often, less family time, more taxes, less upkeep on the house, more strain, more adultery, more abuse, more divorce, more youth trouble, more crime, general societal break-down. (Don't believe me, travel through your city to the areas where mom & dad have to work to make the household bills.) Other parts of life suffer. Really. Which makes your number crunching, while numerically correct in the short run, do nothing for the long term of the family or society.

Let's look at the bright side of a living wage for the majority of American families.

American Companies would definitely make money because there would be more money circulating in the economy.

Car Companies would sell more cars.

Insurance Companies would sell more insurance.

Manufacturers would sell more stuff: clothes, shoes, coats, linens, rugs, can openers, sewing machines, lawn mowers, bird feeders, dining room tables, bedding, beds, sofas, tables, lamps, hats, socks, books, paper, personal care items, pencils, radios, TVs, movies, storage containers, shelving, flooring, tile, dishes, pillows, tools, yarn, crafts, cameras, computers, sports equipment, etc.

With one vacation per family per year, Tourism would be moving the economy along: airplanes, trains, cars, rentals, hotels, motels, eating-out, buying souvenirs, entertainment and all the items that make a vacation comfortable.

Society would improve right away because more mothers would stay home with their children, if their husbands could provide the family living (or mom could work and dad could be home, it matters not which but there would be a parent available to the children).

Fall-Out: Better School Test Scores, Better Behavior, Less Crime, Back yards and Play would be the after school program, instead of being shuffled from one stranger to another all day long.

Let's say there are no kids just the couple: ______________

Let's say it's a single person: _________________

Making a living in America is something that the soldiers coming home from WWII did. Look at the thriving economy they had.

We know from history that a living wage thing is a win-win all the way around.

A healthy economy is a pyramid in correct proportion: the base of the society has enough to sustain themselves well with enough to provide for the few that don't have enough and to provide the gravitational support required for the blocks higher or the pinnacle of the pyramid.

Who should be the base? The largest numbers of workers in America are high school graduates. This is the base. Trade school graduates should do better, College Graduates even better, College Graduates with extra training or specialized fields even better.

If you love America, insist on American Adults making a Living Wage and even better.

(I'll put the soap box away now. Thank you for reading.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Book Review: The Children of Henry VIII

The Children of Henry VIII The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Enjoyed this book. My schedule made reading this difficult, not for lack of interest.

There were moments when it was terribly exciting and I couldn't put it down.

I'm reading in historical order rather than in book publishing order and am looking forward to Lady Elizabeth.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Calm Creek

The Calm Creek moves quietly through the land, carving out its place in the world.

The water quenches the thurst of plants and animals, as it moves some things to other locations. Calm, yet persistent, the water wears away rock to sand. Large things become small with time. But the Calm Creek grows to join a river, and the river flows to join the sea.

So too I strive to become like the water.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Confessions of a Chocoholic

Confessions of a Chocoholic

I LOVE CHOCOLATE! I’ve always loved chocolate, but good chocolate. I’m not a chocolate fiend that will eat any old kind of chocolate. You could call me a chocolate connoisseur.

Milk Chocolate is a staple of the American diet. Without milk chocolate there would be no Kiss; just a little smooch to get you through a tough time or a small hunger pang.

Dark Chocolate is for a serious moment. Suck on dark chocolate to realign the attitude. Breathe. Release the tension of the day.

Really Dark Chocolate, you know the kind, with the Cocoa warning label… only for the experienced chocolate eater; not to be taken lightly and beware the habit forming effects that could impact your waistline and love life.

Hot Chocolate may be served anytime of the day, it’s a tasty alternative to bitter coffee. Whipped cream or Marshmallows on top, I’ll have none of those frills. I’m hard core, I’ll drink my chocolate straight, thank you.

Chocolate in combination with other yummy tastes hit the spot mid-afternoon like nothing else. Reese’s Peanut Butter cup what a great food item. Peanuts are protein, with chocolate.

One thing I did notice recently, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and even the smaller snack version in the multiple chocolate pack wrapped in pastel Easter colors are fresh and tasty, but somewhere along the way the candy man decided to add a second piece of paper cup adding to the overall weight of the product but not to the quantity of chocolate. In fact, if you think about it, buying candy by weight when each piece has two cups and one foil wrapper decreases your chocolate consumption significantly when you add it over a period of time. Frankly, I’d rather have the chocolate than add anymore to the landfill than is absolutely necessary.

Dear Reese’s

Please wrap the candy only once with light weight, biodegradable paper, so we can have more chocolate to meet the advertised weight on the bag. It's a truely sustainable plan for the betterment of humankind and the planet.

Yours Truly,

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Speech 3/4/1865

Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus in his second inaugural speech March 4, 1865 (for the speech in it’s entirety click on this link )

In 1865, America North and South had lost the war in Lincoln’s estimation. The sin of slavery was grievous but war was a sin too.

Both the North and South suffered substantial loss of life. Military deaths were over 623,000. This still outnumbers the military deaths for all other American wars. Both the North and the South had dead men, resulting in innumerable widows and orphans. Entire towns were lost and rebuilding the country was a monumental task.

Lincoln chose to frame the winning of the Civil War as a loss for the whole country and call for a healing as all participants despaired.

"Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." Lincoln's quoted language comes from Matthew 18:7 King James Bible.

Wesley's Notes (link to )

18:7 Wo to the world because of offences - That is, unspeakable misery will be in the world through them; for it must needs be that offences come - Such is the nature of things, and such the weakness, folly, and wickedness of mankind, that it cannot be but they will come; but wo to that man - That is, miserable is that man, by whom the offence cometh. Offences are, all things whereby any one is turned out of, or hindered in the way of God.