Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aches and Pains

I exercise regularly in an effort to maintain my weight, to stay limber, to maintain a healthy heart, and to keep my immune system strong. I'm not a granola-munching kook about it, but I've kept at it dutifully and purposefully for more than 7 years. Because my aged knees move back and forth as if lined with butter laced with large shards of glass but minus the butter, I am kind of limited in the sorts of exercise that I can handle without causing severe internal bleeding or spontaneous combustion.

I have gotten comfortable going barefoot on my elliptical, but recently I messed up my foot a bit and I had to exercise for a week wearing sneakers. This slight change in my routine, curiously enough, left me so achy and sore you would have thought that I had just competed in a triathalon. This got me to thinking. Sometimes when we experience pain as a result of some new activity, it's a sign and warning that we are doing something that we shouldn't. Other times, these aches are an indication that we are stretching ourselves in a healthy manner that will lead to some positive benefit in the longer term. Of course, the pains are not necessarily limited to just physical afflictions in our bodies. They can also arise from dealing with awkward or uncomfortable feelings or situations. Ultimately, it all boils down to being wise enough to discern whether we embrace the pain and press forward, or whether we should turn and run from it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I'm not good around people, even people that I know pretty well and would consider my friends. I am agoraphobic and deal on a daily basis with a spectrum of social anxiety issues. What comes naturally to many, is a constant struggle for me. One day I can go through a personal interaction and appear like I am doing fine. The very next day it can cause me to break out in a rash. What seems strange to some folks is that part of what I do for a living requires that I give public presentations at various conferences around the world on a regular basis. I've given talks in front of gathered crowds of many hundreds of folks and was perfectly comfortable. However, I can grow faint trying to make small talk with a co-worker around the coffee station.

Some think that this issue is no big deal. All I need to do is get more practice. Fake it until I learn a bit, and then it'll all be smooth sailing. I can assure you that my anxiety is not for lack of trying. There is something in my programming, how my brain is wired, that runs deep. It is more than questions like where I should put my hands, or where I should set my eyes, or how I should maintain my posture. The feelings of anxiety are not trifling or fleeting. The pain across my chest, the intense headaches, and the screams within my soul can be torturous. Sometimes I can be holding my own pretty well when something tips within me and I know that I have to get away immediately. I know that I have caused people pain with my actions and others to think that I am a real jerk with how I can treat them in some situations. The truth is, even though all of the issues are brought on by the presence of others, my actions and response have nothing to do with these people. I fall into survival mode and it's all about me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tear 'em Down

Usage of some of the great names of human history has been twisted to the very antithesis of what made them famous. To the driver who gets hopelessly lost following an easy route, "Way to go Magellan!" To the one who makes a boneheaded mistake, "Deep thinking Einstein!" In this vein I have come up with another, "Tear 'em down Paul!" I guess that like "Cher" or "Madonna", our well-traveled explorer Magellan or our big-brained scientist Einstein, are quite well known. However, the name Paul is kind of a common one, so I should attempt to explain myself.

Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote a good fraction of the New Testament of the Bible. In his younger years he belonged to a group of ne'er-do-wells known as "The Pharisees". Paul's job was to harass the crap out of anyone who dared to call themself a Christian. In fact, his unquenchable passion was to root Christians out into the open and work to shame them, beat them down, and at times, to kill them. Then one day at the peak of his crusading, God confronted him and he changed teams. Boom, just like that.

A guy I work with garnered some major international attention several years back for his work. However, it was eventually found that his findings were wrong and his approach kind of naive. Where once he strutted around like a proud rooster taking every opportunity to seek credit and make his name known, he was forced to deal with his damaged reputation. Recently he has taken to beating down anyone who dares tread upon the smoldering embers on the ground that he had soiled. He unmercifully attacks those who make many of the same sorts of mistakes that he made. "Tear 'em down Paul!" Now you may think that I am sitting up on my lofty peak shaking my head at this poor soul. Quite the contrary, I recognize myself in his ways. It leads me to recognize that the measure that I use to pass judgment on others, will also be used on me.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

Black Friday is the name given to the Friday following Thanksgiving that officially marks the start of the holiday season.

There are several things that strike me as problematic with this definition.
  • This whole gaudy production has been foisted upon us by the retail establishment to try to trick us into spending money with as much unplanned frenzy as possible. The name of their game is to launch their shock and awe gimmicky ad compaigns in the most shameless manner possible to increase their profit margins to the limits.
  • Christmas is listed on the calendar as Dec. 25. It is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Soon every group and their mother invented their own day for celebrating time off from work. Christmas became a taboo word replaced by the generic "holiday".
  • The notion of "creep" pervades this definition. Creep refers to the subtle push by retailers to extend the buying season further and further forward. Before the Thanksgiving fixin's are even covered with Saran wrap and stuck in the fridge, these folks are trying to draw us into their establishments.
  • I will not be told by some outside force that I should get into a "holiday spirit" based on their need to make money. I will let the Spirit move me to prepare for the ensuing celebration.
Black Friday? Indeed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 11

It seems that about this same time every year, the holiday known as Thanksgiving rolls around. This year is no different. I wanted to say that I hope you all have a blessed day with great food and pleasant company. Even if you find yourself alone with a bag of chips and a T.V. dinner, I hope that you can still find some measure of joy to mark your day. Finally, I also want to thank my loyal cadre of readers and visitors for supporting me on this site.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Foot Steps

Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale, "The Princess and the Pea", tells the story of how a minor annoyance greatly impacted the life of a young lady. When a tiny pea was placed beneath a stack of soft mattresses upon which she laid, she endured a most uncomfortable and restless night of sleep. Although it is easy to dismiss this premise as unlikely or far-fetched, you will not count me among that ilk. I know all too well how something so small can drastically alter one's quality of life. Let me tell you the tale ...

Just a week or so ago I noticed a bit of a dull pain in my left foot. I kind of dismissed it as I had stuff to do and did not want to waste energy on such a small thing. Several days later I noticed that I was favoring my right leg ever so slightly as I walked. Upon acknowledging this fact, I realized that there was now an acute throbbing in my left big toe. After a long day on my feet at work, I was happy to get home and sit on the couch. Taking my shoes and socks off, I found that the outside of my toe had taken on a deep purplish hue and made me wince even if I touched it lightly. The next day I made an appointment to see the podiatrist. They set me up with an appointment about ten days later. I figured that I could get through that well and good. I mean, I proclaimed that a single toe had no right to be so demanding, and that would be that.

Fast forward through a few days and the pain had spread up through my calves, my knees, my quads, and my hips as I altered my normal gait to compensate for my toe. Monday morning I found that I could no longer bear up, and with still a full week before my scheduled appointment, I called the doctor's office to see if they could fit me in earlier. They found a slot for me yesterday and I had to endure a small surgery involving several long needles, a very sharp knife, and a level of pain that would have dropped a mature musk ox. What a lot of drama for a such a small toe. Oh, and don't call me princess.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Immanuel's Veins

Vampires are one of the latest fads in books and movies, both as antagonists and protagonists. Creatures in one moment beautiful, worldly, and sophisticated, and in the next, blood-thristy, brutal, and deadly. If you are looking for a good vampire story, then perhaps you might consider Ted Dekker's Immanuel's Veins. This story takes place in 18th century Moldavia, just a stones throw over the Carpathian Mountains from Transylvania. The Russian empress Catherine the Great has sent Toma Nicolescu, one of her most trusted warriors, to protect a family of local nobility, Kesia Cantemir and her two beautiful daughters Natasha and Lucine. Catherine views the two unwed daughters as valuable political cards. If appropriate royal suitors can be found for this Russian-controlled land, then alliances can be forged and her empire strengthened.

Natasha has embraced her mother's passions for life, food, wine, and a different bed every night. Lucine is much more careful where she lays her affections. Yet, she and Toma develop an undeniable spark almost instantly. Toma's defense of the Cantemir's, and especially Lucine, from a strangely dark and aggressive group of Russians from a neighboring castle, seems to go beyond duty. Yet Natasha is intrigued by these people and is pulled under their spell and control. She becomes drunk with their passion, spirits, and ways. Lucine too becomes confused and ensnared in this web, and follows Natasha to the Russian castle and is seduced by the patriarch Vlad Van Valerik. She gets pulled in before she fully understands the great peril that she has placed herself in. The heart embraces what it should flee.

When Toma finds out the truth of who these Russians are from an otherworldly friar, he sets out to rescue his beloved Lucine and face-off against the half-breed Vlad and his coven. Yet while his skills as a warrior are well-honed in conventional combat, he faces this showdown armed with nothing more than a handful of wooden stakes, a book, a crucifix, and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. Dekker takes his time laying out each part of the narrative and painting the mood. His love scenes are powerfully written and really help you understand the vampire lure and the power in their blood. A very nice effort and a thoroughly enjoyable tale.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Background Noise

I once knew a man who stood out from the others that he worked with. The difference was marked not by positives, but rather by negatives. He was withdrawn, disconnected, soft spoken, and joyless. This manner was all that I knew of him. Yet in talking to some of the others, he was not always this way. In fact, he once was quite talkative, self-assured, outgoing, and quick with a joke or a good-natured barb. Something inside of him had broken and taken him miles and miles from what he used to be. If you observed him just for a moment as he went about his work, you likely would conclude that there was something off about him.

After working around him for several years, I finally came to learn a bit about the root cause of the darkness that had enshrouded his life. It all traced back to a single instant in time. At that point he was in his early 20s, newly married, and actively at the helm of his life, charting it in directions he had foreseen since he entered high school. He had been in the military a few years and had a long and successful career ahead of him. Already he had shown enough talent to be placed in a supervisory role in aviation mechanics, and he was about to receive another recommendation for promotion and transfer to the next level. Then in an uncharacteristically careless moment, he was sloppy with the maintenance records on one of the Cobras in for servicing. An entire training crew was lost that day. In a heartbeat the colors of his world flickered out into gray. He was discharged from the service, and as his career was ripped out of his possession, he fell headlong into apathy and depression. In short order he drove his bride away.

One day I came to work and learned that he had abruptly quit and taken a new job back with some old friends up north. I pray that he found some healing up there and a spark that could grow into flame. I've known all too well that place of apathy and depression that life can spit you into at times. One moment you are alive, and in the next, everything that you have banked on has been violently ripped out of your possesssion. Moments where notions of checking out are more than just background noise.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Sometimes a gift is assembled or purchased in haste. A quick trip to the local big-box store or a last minute run into the nearby card shop on the way to some occasion. Phew, thank goodness that is over with. No thought. No emotion. No heart.

Sometimes a gift is dreamed up in grand jestures, racing thoughts, and bubbly emotion. In times like this giving can be so much more powerful and satisfying than receiving. Here the heart overflows its normal bounds.

Recently my daughter gave me a wonderful treasure that fully fit into this latter category. A bookmark that she made and decorated herself. The bookmark acknowledges my love of reading. The leaves and beads were chosen in green as it is my favorite color. The heart, because she loves me. This, my friends, is the good stuff.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Waiting on a Friend

I received a lunch invitation from a friend of mine some time ago. I quickly acknowledged his request and replied that it sounded like a good idea. Yet the weeks have gone by and the calendar page has turned a couple of times. Why? Could it be that loneliness is more secure than relationship?

A friend of mine who I was really enjoying getting to know, suddenly moved away. We both noted that this was goodbye and not farewell or see you soon. Why? Are friendships so disposable?

A relationship with a trusted mentor soured somehow due to a conflict I had with someone else in our circle. I had come to believe that our time together was valuable for both of us. Yet six months have gone by without contact. Is brotherhood such easily oxidized metal?

But I need someone I can cry to
I need someone to protect
Making love and breaking hearts
It is a game for youth
But I'm not waiting on a lady
I'm just waiting on a friend

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I have just finished reading Ted Dekker's 2008 Thriller Adam. The story is about an extremely cunning serial killer dubbed Eve who murders his victims by infecting them with a form of meningitis. His ritual is to kill a young woman every month on the new moon. Thus far he has taken 16 lives. The lead FBI profiler on the case, David Clark, much like a method actor, infuses every bit of himself into trying to develop the mind of the killer. This skill makes him very successful in his work, but led his wife Heather to divorce him. New to the case is FBI pathologist Lori Ames, who meshes very well with David both personally and professionally. Their bond is strengthened when David gets close to Eve and takes a bullet to the head. Though clinically dead for nearly an hour, Lori brings him back to life. However, David has lost all memories of his face-to-face encounter with Eve.

A notably weak aspect of this story concerns the notion of near death experiences (NDEs). Lori and David come up with the notion that if David can be killed clinically, his lost memories from his first death can be reawakened. So they go through this bit of hocum, not just once, but twice. Lori injects David with some stuff to kill him, gives him time to explore his mind in his NDE state, and then revives him in the nick of time. The chase and encounter with the serial killer was really kind of standard fare for Dekker, wherein he relied on vehicles that he has used before. This time there was a bit of a twist involving demonic possession and who the character of Lori really was. However, what elevated this work to a higher plain was the interspersing of a nine-part article from a (fictitious) magazine that provided the back story of the serial killer and his tragic life. It was written with such feeling and realism that it really helped you understand the mind of the antagonist (and I should add that I thought this was a real set of articles until I got further into the book). This amounted to a novel bit of inspiration that was my favorite aspect of this work.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Excuses Excuses

As I quickly peruse the news wire each morning, I sometimes stumble across zany, wacky stories, that are really just tangents to any measure of "real" news. However, they can pull me in and make me laugh or cry. Sometimes they can achieve both feats simultaneously. Such was the case with a story focussed on amusing ... ahem ... excuses that workers have given to their bosses about why they were not be able to make it into work.
  • My 12-year-old daughter stole my car and I have no other way to work.
  • I was in line at a coffee shop when a truck carrying flour backed up and dumped the flour into my convertible.
  • A deer bit me.
  • I got a cold from a puppy.
  • My child stuck a mint up my nose and I have to go to the ER to remove it.
  • I hurt my back chasing a beaver.
  • I have a headache after going to too many garage sales.
  • My brother-in-law was kidnapped by a drug cartel while in Mexico.
  • I drank anti-freeze by mistake and had to go to the hospital.
  • I was at a bowling alley and a bucket filled with water crashed through the ceiling and hit me on the head.
Some of these are authentic reasons to be sure. I would guess that if you hovered around anyone for any significant length of time, they would do something coo-coo that would cause them to have to miss work. Others are clearly a clever way of saying "Sorry, I am out of vacation days and have no sick days left, and I really just feel like playing hookey today."

Monday, November 14, 2011


There was a time where something that I was heavily involved in was suddenly taken away from me. It was many years ago and now I can't even distinctly remember what the activity was. I just know that it was something that people in my circle kind of knew me for. A buddy of mine sat with me as I licked my wounds and let the dust settle. He then remarked, "Well now, part of the counterculture that defined you is no more." I thought his observation amusing and the notion that something external helps to define me to others kind of sensitized me to this kind of thinking.

So, the grand question of the day is, what are you involved in that serves to define you to the outside world? It is worth pondering a bit. Is the activity honorable? Scandalous? Pointless? Inane? It is this latter category that I will touch on today. I go way back to my time spent as an undergraduate in college. I went to a university located in upstate New York. The summers there were reasonably mild and pleasant, but seemed to last for only about 2 weeks. The rest of the time, the land was covered with glaciers for as far as the eye could see. The average temperatures hovered about 50 degrees below absolute zero. Furthermore, it was always snowing and windy and miserable. Yet there was this guy that I saw regularly on campus who wore corduroy "short shorts" all throughout the year. One day I had a conversation with this guy (as he knew a friend of mine) and I asked him about his choice of apparel. He told me that the whole experience was actually pretty miserable, but he dressed like that because he had actually gained some level of notoriety and he liked the attention. (Let's pause now and let this sink in a bit.)

I think the message here is excruciatingly clear. Be careful what you let define you or what you chose to let define you. Make smart, reasoned, and intentional choices or you could end up like that wackadoodle in his short shorts.

Friday, November 11, 2011


The final volume in the King Raven trilogy by Stephen Lawhead, Tuck, ensues on the very next accelerated heartbeat from whence Scarlet ended. This story focuses more on the character and point of view of the loyal, humble, brave, and godly Friar Athelfrith (aka Tuck). In this portion of the tale, the rightful king to Elfael, Lord Bran ap Brychan (aka Robin Hood, Rhi Bran y Hud, King Raven, or Bran), is continuing to lead his small band of Welsh outlaws in missions designed to reclaim his kingdom from the Norman ne-er-do-wells who unrightfully have been awarded his land by King William of England. Time after time, Bran and his group use their cunning and their mastery with the deadly longbow to outwit and outflank their pursuers. After Bran exposed a plot to King William regarding a serious threat to his crown, the king had promised him justice. However, he went back on his word and installed the wicked Abbot Hugo as regent of Elfael to gain favor with the church.

Ultimately, Bran realizes that his band is too small to take back and maintain control of his lands without raising military support from the other Welsh kings in and around Elfael. Yet everything he tries seems to come to naught. His requests are turned down flatly. When Bran and his forces finally take back control of Elfael from Abbot Hugo and his relatively small number of troops, King William calls all his barons to bring their armies of knights, men-at-arms, and foot soldiers to put the uprising down. He raises an army of more than 1000 professional soldiers aimed to quick quash Bran and his band of a few dozen locals. Yet Bran's group have fully adapted to forest warfare, and easily slaughter several hundred of King William's warriors who are only trained in open-field warfare with the sword. However, after some initial set-backs, they adapt their strategies and start to make progress in putting down the uprising. Yet before the final attack trumpets sound, help from the other Welsh kings and one powerful Norman baron arrives and swear loyalty to Bran. Tuck takes advantage of a chance meeting with King William to convince him that the costs of battle far outweigh the costs of peace. This leads to a negotiation of peace and a full settlement of the conflict. Bran's kingdom is restored and the legend of Robin Hood grows. An absolutely top-shelf series to which I give my highest recommendation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roid Rage

It's a bit embarrassing to admit this, but I have been battling with hemorrhoids for several years. I think most folks, even if they have never suffered from this condition, at least have some understanding that this is an unfortunate buttockal issue. I suspect that you would be more comfortable if this topic remained sequestered in hushed conversations between a patient and their doctor. Yet here I am. Truth be told, there are some days where the associated pain becomes quite unspeakable. Imagine if a flaming Canadian weasel, oozing spicy picante sauce from its pores commenced to nipping at your backdoor, and you can start to understand my ... errr ... discomfort.

The other day I thought to do a bit of online research about effective treatments for my ailment. I came across the website from a well-respected treatment center that offered the following mirthful and inane advice. They said that an easing of symptomology can be affected by soaking one's nether regions in epsom salts for 15 minute-long sessions 4 or 5 times a day. They recommend that you sit in the treated water, in a comfortable position, and that you may even recline if you so wish. I don't know about you, but I have to go to a place called "work" every day. Where am I to find the space and privacy required to bathe my posterior lobe 4 or 5 times a day?

Oh, and in case you are interested, the doctors who put together this treatment scheme stated that the proper mixture is to add 1 cup of epsom salts for every six inches of water. This is as recommended by the Epsom Salt Council. This made me wonder if a seat on this council was an appointed or elected position? Heck, I've got plenty of time to consider such dalliances as I soak in my personal dippin' tub. Good thing they have Wifi in the break room here at work.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Speaking of Death

Today's post centers on a topic that I dread dwelling on. Hovering anear this shadow leads me to places that take a right toll on my psyche. It can turn a bright air into a gloomy cloud and steal away a smile in an instant. It is about death. A process and an instant that we will, each of us, inevitably face one day. I have always hastened away from any whisper or prodding that makes me think about or face my own mortality, but recently I overheard a conversation that I just couldn't dismiss or wave away.

A lady at work had been struggling for more than a year helping to care for her ailing mother. She gave all that she could to support her and tend to her. Yet the long hours each day spent at her mother's bedside and tending to her mother's affairs, created an anxiety and a continual disturbance within her own family. She was absent both in body and in her thoughts. As days became weeks, weeks became months, and months became a year, her reserves of strength and cheer had been fully depleted.

It was at this point that her mother made the decision to let go. It was a decision not made in defeat or in weakness, but in victory and strength. Significant time and energy were spent in thought and prayer and coming to terms with all that this would bring to bear before giving it voice. This decision was the kernel of the conversation that I perchance had happened upon that planted this unnerving seed within me. Then within just a few short days after her doctors had ceased the treatments, she passed on. The end was announced with a small obituary posted on the bulletin board. Although I was not there and do not know anything about the circumstances, somehow I sense that this death was met with peace, acceptance, relief, love, and understanding on all fronts. Yet I can't help lingering on the brave decision that set this end in motion.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Insights on Revelation

Over the past 8 months or so, I have been systematically working my way through Charles Swindoll's New Testament Insights series. In these volumes, Swindoll takes us book by book through the New Testament and provides his wisdom and practical interpretation of the word of God. Now I have just finished his most recent volume, Insights on Revelation. Revelation represents the final book of the New Testament, final in the sense that it appears sequentially as the last book of the Bible and final in the sense that it is believed to have been written last, circa AD 95, likely by the apostle John.

Quite a few years ago, I worked through Revelation from beginning to end. My lingering memory from that self-guided tour was that it read like the ramblings of a hippy on an acid trip. If you have ever been through it, you know just how utterly bizzare the language is. But now, in reading this detailed study with an experienced guide stepping me through verse by verse, I came away with much more understanding of God's plan for the end times during what is referred to as the Apocalypse.

The central purpose of Revelation is to provide a road map and fair warning of how God will bring the believers to His heaven and judge the unrepentant. The period of judgment and destruction of all opposing God, both human and spiritual beings, will be finite but severe beyond imagination. The last part of John's prophetic narrative describes the final battle between the armies of light and the forces of darkness. It describes God's ultimate victory and eternal kingdom.

The book of Revelations includes more than 300 references to 24 other books of the Bible as it connects pieces of prophesy mentioned or alluded to in other places. This writing makes heavy use of symbolism, visions, and all sorts of peculiar imagery. One thing that is clear is that the vision of the future that John witnessed most certainly overwhelmed him and the language that he used is a reflection of trying to wrap words around the essentially indescribable.

It is interesting that the prologue of Revelation directly states that those who read these words will be blessed. Yet while I think that the big picture of the end time is reasonably clear, the details and their interpretation are murky and mysterious. I would love to better understand why all the theatrics and pagentry are necessary. They must serve some important purpose. Why doesn't God just snap his fingers at the appropriate time and be done with it? So, while I have a much better and deeper understanding of the prophesies of the end times and the Apocalypse, I seem to have ended up with a much longer list of questions and uncertainties than I had when I began my study.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grind My Gears 25

"Just as sunflowers turn their heads to catch every sunbeam, so too have we discovered a simple way to get more from our sun."

That's all we need, another Norman Rockwell type of feel-good wisdom nugget to try to convince us that daylight savings is something that we all need to accept and embrace. You know what I say? I say that anyone who supports the notion of daylight savings is a bed-wetter. Furthermore, they really grind my gears. I mean, who says that the agricultural community with their soybeans and free government cheese has any right to monkey with the very fabric of time? Furthermore, I tend to think that Benjamin Franklin, who first proposed this whole bale of nonsense in the first place, had more than a few screws loose when he frolicked about in his knickerbockers flying a metal kite in a lightning storm. All of this tomfoolery causes me to have to run around my house twice every year adjusting literally dozens of clocks and alarms and displays. In this moment I harken back (and yes that is a valid expression) on the time I used to live in a portion of Indiana that revolted and said no to using any form of time pieces. Although Hoosiers are known anarchists with all of their corn and basketballs and rubber industries, they had this one right.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Trouble with Blogging

Each day I sit down at this cursed keyboard and it mocks me with its sing-song refrain, "What are you going to come up with today?" Try as I might to channel a sliver of Maya Angelou, what spills out is more like:

... The grand stone edifice fell across the alabaster mountains as the inky blackness dissipated into the aether ...

Gack! Truly mindless hackneyed pap that rots the brain. So, I try to conjure the rapturous mastery of the bard, William Shakespeare, and what oozes up from the mire is:

... The callow shaver approached his forebearer petitioning him for acumen and some perspicacity of his antiquities ...

Really? Complete and total dreck!

Now, just when I am at the end of myself, trying to come up with something pithy to say, with a profound moral and a bit of wit, striving to pull a crumb out of my flacid and barren mind, along comes a request to write more, a guest post for someone else. You see, that's the trouble with blogging, it insists upon itself. But, as Abraham Lincoln, our nation's first president, said on this very subject, "That grinch even took their last can of Who hash!". Now I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but truer words were never uttered regarding the tumbleweeds skittering through my mental cupboards. The point is, I still think, somehow, I have pulled an ace out of my ... err ... "sleeve" with this one, I have. A blog with no point, very little humor, and no taste. Should fit in quite well here I believe.

Note: This post was written as a guest post for my online friend Ricky Anderson. His site is a great place for a laugh or two and some perspective.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


The second book in Stephen Lawhead's King Raven Trilogy is entitled Scarlet and picks up just after Hood ends off. This book was written from a different point of view than Hood, in that the narrative was mostly delivered by a captured member of the band of Rhi Bran y Hud (i.e. Robin Hood). A desperate and ill-fated attempt to kidnap the wicked sheriff of the forest, not borne out of cunning and planning, but out of rage and bravado, led to the capture and judgment of one Will Scarlet. Will sits condemned in a cramped cell, telling his story to a local monk. The monk is controlled by the evil and power hungry Abbot Hugo, who is seeking information that could lead to the demise of King Raven and his entire lot of outlaws.

Will represents one of the newest members of Hood's band of forest dwellers. At one time an important member of a small Welsh holding, he was suddenly forced out by the overthrow of his king due to the politics and greed prevalent within medieval Britain. Scarlet then searches out the growing legend of King Raven and his justice-seeking troop. His perspective is interesting and helps to develop the man out the legend that has become Hood. Along the way we are treated to a love story and to a desperate plot by Hood to expose the traiterous plotting of several powerful barons working to overthrow the king using the influence of the catholic church, all in his attempt to retake control of the kingdom taken from his family. A wonderful second entry in this saga. Now, onto the final book in the series, Tuck.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Exchange

I have read a lot of books over the past five years or so. Certainly most of them have given me at least some modicum of pleasure in the form of insight gleaned, gained wisdom, a vicarious adventure, or the appreciation of a skilled artist demonstrating their craft. I have taken advantage of my local library, located just a few blocks from my house, and checked out a fair number of tomes. However, I have also purchased a goodly number of books in this same span. I have taken no small measure of pride when incorporating the finished books into my personal library and then, over time, watching the stacks grow and fill the shelves in my bookcases.

But you know what is curious? There are very few books that I own that I have read more than once. I wonder then what the allure is that these bindings hold over me. For it seems that if those spines are not stressed and those leafs aren't rifled through from time to time, I have taken a bit of gold and buried it. Surely those volumes are more than just a decoration in my personal repository.(?)

At work recently, someone had the idea to set up a book exchange. Basically it is a bookcase filled with used books. The supposition is that if you want to take a book, the only price is that you replace it with another book. Thus the collection takes a different shape from week to week. The other afternoon, I passed by the display and paused. I ran my finger along the rows and up and down the jackets. These stories, passed one by one from hand to hand, really can make a wonderful treasure for all who stumble across them. In fact, they gain their greatest worth when they are shared.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter Marches On

Dreams have frozen,
Crystal in the morning
Birthtime rose,
A thorn for coronation

The unwelcome visitor creeps up on me each year like a thief. Slipping in unnoticed with his frigid touch. What confounds my mind is that he always catches me unawares, as if it were the first time. One day I come home from work and have a nice period to read and unwind outside on the porch. I pause every once and again to look out over my yard and breath deep the sunlight, the colors, and the warm, gentle breeze. Then it seems the very next day I arrive home in twilight. The once soft and formless trees, starkly mock at me with sharp and angular features in muted gray tones. The notion that the cold season has pushed out the warm, coupled with the knowledge that it will be a stretch before Aestas comes round to hold court on her emerald throne, leaves me melancholy. The sweet, flowing sap of life suddenly ceases to course through my veins. My attitude turns sour in direct proportion to the available light. Windows that used to reveal a scenic vista late into the evening, now display only harsh and glossy black holes that no fabric can mask. An unstoppable force that can be survived only through holing up into a sort of hibernation ... and the winter marches on.