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Moody Blues

February 2, 2018

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by mood rings. I had one that was a silver band and a big moody bubble on top.

It was always black.

Black, according to the lore, was depression. It was also poor circulation and reacting to the outside temperature as well as your temperature.

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Remarkably like my old mood ring.  No wonder it went in a box.

Mood rings are supposed to be attuned to your state of mind, but it was really clued in to your heat. A mood ring is constructed from thermochromatic crystals. They change color based on temperature. Black is cold (it isn’t really black, it’s infrared, which we can’t see, so it’s black to us), red is angry, orange is simmering, yellow is mellow, blue is HAPPY.

I was always black.  In truth, I was skinny and had no fat or muscle in my fingers so they were always cold. But, yes, it was still accurate. I was a melancholy child.

And the ring was gaudy and uncomfortable, so it went quietly into a box.

Perhaps you’re familiar with Amazon Add-Ons. They’re cheap little things that you can add to your order. A few weeks ago, there were add-on mood rings. A dozen of ‘em, and they weren’t gaudy bubbles, but attractive bands. I figured they might be fun for my Sunday School kids.

But one of them fit me. Most were very small. I’m blessed (?) with small fingers, though, so it fits the ring finger of my right hand, except in the morning. My fingers swell at night and the ring is a half-a-size too small for morning wear (the left hand is taken and will be forever – I wear my Dad’s gold wedding ring now, and I am amazed it is the perfect size, all day and night).

Now my mood ring is always blue.  That’s because I live in Florida, have a very little fat on my fingers and slightly high blood pressure. Occasionally, it will slip towards green and lately, in the cold, to yellow, but there are always streaks of blue.

The new one. Purty.

And it’s true, mood wise. While I will always ride just a little higher than emotionless, that emotion is joy. I have very few detractors in my life and a typically bright sun in the sky (as opposed to grey, drizzly blankets in Seattle). I’ve relaunched my publishing company to a wider market, feeding my spiritual gift, and my family is wonderful (my dogs smell, but they just need a bath and better hygiene habits; and my pool is green… hmmm, maybe I have a mood pool), but life is grand.

Why not have a ring that says so?

 

 

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Fun in a Public Bathroom

January 30, 2018

THAT’S a scary title, isn’t it?

Tough, I must share: Being on blood pressure medication, the little boy’s room is my second home (thank the dear Lord for indoor plumbing—my heart would have exploded in the days of out-houses).

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Engineers are funny people. There’s a guy to takes meeting in the bathroom. Business meetings. Fortunately, there’ a stall with a door, so I don’t know if he has the video part of the video conferencing on. Then there’s the guy who talks on the phone while doing his business. Another Facetimes.  There’s the dude who whistles while he “works,” while I’m holding my breath. Trips to the loo are often an adventure at work. Twice I caught a woman walking out of the Men’s room. In other instances, she’s described child labor, so I’m fairly sure she actually is a woman (either/or, if I didn’t have to use the men’s room, I wouldn’t. Men are pigs).

Church is often fun. There’s a guy who sneaks in for a smoke, and when anyone walks in, he holds his breath, as if the smoke he’d been puffing out would disappear.

But this Sunday was my favorite bathroom adventure. Let me paint the scene…

…I was washing my hands, another guy was doing the same beside me, suddenly the door slams open. Very small boys rush in, the smallest bellying up to the bar and singing out, “Don’t look at me!”

We adults laugh.

Moments later, another one says, “ohhhh, that feels so gooooood!”

Again we laugh, and I add, “Leave it to a kid to say what every man is thinking.”

Y’know, for years I thought urinals had leaky pipes… the floor is always wet.

As I said, men are pigs.

 

Goodbye 2017

December 31, 2017

2017 was an interesting year. Lynette graduated with her degree, I finished a novel (and halfway through the next book), Alyx is getting better after years of pain, Ben is a semester away from his  BA and was accepted into the MBA program. Charli is gainfully employed.

And yet it felt like a quiet year. We got a new roof, new plumbing, survived a hurricane, and got a little older. I had big successes at work, yet still… quiet.

Lynette and I are entering a new phase of life. She’ll be entering the workforce (prayers that she finds a good job, please), I’m tackling a new venture that won’t make money but will fulfill my motivational gift (more on that with a press release soon). And the kids are all adults now. A week into 2018, we won’t have any teenagers anymore.

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I like both the sentiment and the irony of a good advice with a comma fault.

2018 will be laying a lot of groundwork. It’s a year for positioning for greater opportunities occupationally, avocationally, and spiritually. I suspect it will be another quiet year, one of planting for the future.

I know for a fact that the biggest issue I will have is saying “no.” Perhaps if I didn’t have to work 8 or so hours a day, I could say “yes” to more things (and I will still say “yes” to many things). I just have to recognize that saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to other things. I have been seeing how saying yes to the wrong things has cost me over the years.

When writing a story, the first thing I establish is a spine for the story. Once you know the spine, you know what scenes to include and which scenes to discard. I have not been good about establishing the spine of my life; for many years I wandered in the vocational desert, accepting anything to pay the bills. I have a glimmer of my life spine now and aim to work toward it this new year. Partially through more training in certain areas to see how I respond to them. Partially in asking trusted advisers. Funny how raising a family can cloud the spine. It doesn’t have to, mind you, but I allowed it to. That’s not the fault of my family, of course. In fact, they’ve been an amazing “consolation prize.”

Cheers, 2017; hello 2018. No resolutions, just some intentions. I look forward to it unfolding.

UFNo

December 29, 2017

This is the year!… proclaimed one article.

UFOs are real!… proclaims a “highly placed government official.

They’re heeeeeerrrrrrr… proclaimed another article.

OK, part of this is the websites I hang out on, but I’m amused by the hard-core science guys who claim they believe aliens have visited Earth…Image result for ufo

The problem with this, of course, means a lot of our science is wrong. They’d have to admit that the Theory of Relativity is incomplete (shhhh, don’t tell them that it never passed all the tests that Einstein himself created for it).

Unless…. a generational ship.  Hmmm. A species who abandons their planet to take hundreds of generations to reach Earth. That might end badly.

Or a species who lives for thousands of years, who would see us as short-lived mayflies. That would probably end badly, too.

Perhaps we shouldn’t hope for visitors from the deep blue, after all.

Anthropomorphism as Bribery

December 16, 2017

Thirteen years ago, I bought my first brand-new car; a cherry red PT Cruiser. I loved the retro look and room interior. I kept it in the garage for years, until I had to build an office in there, thus relegating the Cruiser to the driveway.

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She even weathered a hurricane and kept her shine!

It has been a wonderful car, despite neglectful maintenance. I’ve had to replace the radiator and transmission once, battery several times, but all in all, my 14 year old car is wonderful.

The last couple years, though, she’s been struggling. The warning light comes on (something to do with the catalytic converter), the door chime sounds when everything is buttoned up (thankfully, it’s stopped), and now the brake light flairs even though it isn’t on.

In it’s younger years, it was a car. A machine. Not a person, not a boy or girl, just a car. But the older and crankier she gets, the more I anthropomorphize her. I speak encouraging words, pet her dashboard, beg sometimes.

Sure, it’s bribery; we can’t afford to replace her right now. But it’s also gratitude. She is hanging in there, even in the cold. She works diligently, under harsh conditions, when she’s hurt, and sure she sends up flairs, but doesn’t really complain, and she’s dependable. If that isn’t female, I don’t know what is.

Justice League of… ah, okay…

December 2, 2017

I didn’t have high hopes for Justice League, and in some ways it was better and in some ways worse than I expected. I got to see it with my sister and brother-in-law, which made it great, but…

SPOILERS! Read Ahead At Your Own Risk!

Things I liked:

  • Aquaman’s character. Surprise, I liked it.
  • Barry Allen
  • Batfleck. sort of
  • Casting was good for the most part
  • Overall, it was impressive action, with a brisk flow

Rating: Solid C (understanding that C is average, not bad)

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Things I did not like:

  • Aquaman’s display of powers. He moved fast through water without moving. Flying through air is cool; flying through water is weird. He looked like he was holding his breath. I mean, he was, but there should be some hint that he was breathing water. Gills? Not sure; Aquaman is tough to do live action. And he didn’t talk to fish… Mostly, I did like Aquaman, though, so it’s a technical thing.
  • Henry Cavil as Superman. Doesn’t work for me and I don’t know why.  Big guy, but he looks goofy, especially with the CGI upper lip.
  • Flash. Didn’t really care for the costume (what were the wires for?); slow motion running; okay, and Superman watching him in slo-mo, cool, but he looks goofy running.
  • Cyborg’s clunky look, but otherwise, he was great (the last bit where he was smoothing out the armor is a better look).
  • No Darkseid? What’s with that? Parademons = Darkseid
  • Overly dark movie; I get it, Darks… uh, I mean Steppenwolf is a dark guy. I think it was too early for this movie.
  • Batman asking for help? That’s where they went wrong with this movie (that, and killing off Superman in the last movie).

What would I do? Glad you asked.

Batman should be the last member. Wonder Woman gathering everyone makes sense, but Bruce? No, no, no. Batman does not ask for help.

I could see WW deciding it’s time to end the growing fear of heroes. So she begins to collect them for a team to promote transparency and PR, and in the process, we see Cyborg’s origin, Flash screwing up, Green Lantern giving away his weakness (yellow), Aquaman scaring people on land and sea. They’re all in, or reluctantly so,  and then when she tries to recruit Batman, he refuses. End of the dream. They are all dangerous, and he points out what each could have done to quickly end their iconic battles. And he’s right. Batman knows how to use their powers better than they do! Even Diana weirds people out with her insistence on the Greek gods. If Batman wants partners, he’ll train them first. Nor does an alive Superman need them; he has too many people to protect without adding them to the list.

Until something happens that requires all of them. An alternate-Earth invasion that began a long time ago (and out-Skrull Marvel with Earth 2 doppelgangers replacing the Earth 1 counterparts), who were fomenting hero hatred and fear. Batman and Superman put it all together, and they take the lead of the new JL and pull the team together, orchestrating the team’s movements and driving the strategy, coordinating two-man teams to address issues across the globe (maybe they run into other heroes; Atom, Plastic Man, Black Canary). Someone knows all their weaknesses, someone is Batman’s equal, and that someone is Alfred, replaced by the Earth 2 version, the Outsider. His crew are in need of a new earth. Until the JL triumphs through brains, guts and everyone using their powers skillfully.

Thus keeping it lighter. In comics, DC is lighter and Marvel is grittier. Even the heroes are loopier. Flash should run during the day (running in the dark is a bad idea), a guy who swims and a guy with a ring and weird sense of imagery, another guy who dresses as a bat. I don’t want campy, just enjoyment. Who isn’t in heaven when they have a magic ring?  DC should make being a hero FUN, not just funny.

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Greedy Me

November 9, 2017

I heard a speaker last week proclaim Greed is Bad (agreed), Profit should not the Driving Force for Every Endeavor (agreed), The American Dream is Bad (could not disagree more).

We can all agree that greed is bad. An unholy pursuit of profit is also bad, but the American Dream has been so misunderstood for so long that it causes otherwise intelligent men and Millennials to do backflips in decrying it.

The pursuit of profit is only bad if it edges into greed, but the American Dream isn’t about greed or even profit. It’s about the God-given right to pursue your dreams; to determine how you do business, and to do with your earnings what you wish.

Sure, dreams can be greedy, but many aren’t. A Millennial mindset that should be applauded is the desire for their money to mean something; for companies to give a percentage of revenue to worthy charities (even though it can be done cynically to increase sales by some companies… who cares? The money still goes to charity).

What the American Dream does not do is absolve you of responsibility for yourself. By all means, pursue your passion, but don’t expect other people to pay for it. Cut expenses to the bone, work a flexible job, and pursue, pursue, pursue. You should NOT, however, be taking government assistance to finance your dream. I may be happy to help you by choice, but not by fiat, which is what taxes are.

That’s why most actors have restaurant service experience. It’s flexible to allow for auditions to be crammed in, but pays at least meager bills. For most artists, a second or even third job is necessary. There’s nothing wrong with this American Dream.

Yet the speaker was right; it is far too easy for greed to drive us.

Part of greed is working yourself to the bone to support a comfortable lifestyle; to be so busy paying the bills that we have no time for other worthwhile endeavors, like volunteering, charity, or church involvement.

I’m guilty of this. Very guilty. And now trapped until we can dig out from my own stupidity (though it keeps us here in Florida, which isn’t all bad; I have amazing friends).

I am so guilty, that a prophecy said over me concerning many spigots to be turned on was interpreted by me as revenue streams, for which I’ve been waiting years to come true. But if I realize those were ministry opportunity (and loosen my idea of what ministry is), it was fulfilled a long time ago and continues to this day.

The speaker’s chiding did make me rethink a few things, and it’s opened the door to a new sorta-business opportunity (sorta, because I won’t make much from this and it will require a lot of work, but it will benefit me in other ways and hopefully a lot of others). More details when it’s built out a bit more.

So, greed is more than just money; it’s comfort, it can be pleasure, overwhelming desire for experience with places, people or food… and greed distracts you from better things. I firmly believe that anything bad is just a counterfeit of something good. Greed is love of something that benefits me at the expense of others, so the real thing is love of God (unbelievers would say Love of your Fellow Person and Society as a Whole – believers get all that, as it all falls under God).

What does greed look like to you?