Wednesday, September 21

Good Reads Unread...

True confessions time...well, maybe just one... or a category of sorts. These are books that everyone would assume that I have read...but I haven't. I was a voracious reader as a child (gives me a vocabulary that includes "voracious") and could read several books in a day.

By the fifth grade I read Michener (Hawaii...and really I only recall the the part about the creation of the is entirely possible I never finished it!). And a good bit of Shakespeare... And so it may surprise my family and friends to know that there are several classic novels that I never bothered to pick up.

Though it is entirely possible that I wrote a book report on several of them (and gotten As). (I know that "As" is the plural of one A. But it looks better as "A's". However, I know that is wrong and to honor my apostrophe watching friend Michelle - I shall leave it as it is.)

That rabbit trail almost derailed my confession.

I'm currently finishing "The Help" - a character in it reads "To Kill a Mockingbird" (has to get it brought to her from the white library). And I was struck (again...) with the fact that I've never read it. So, I'm taking a copy to the beach and reading it.

And - knowing that I can polish off a book at the beach in about a day - I am trying to decide what other classic literature I skipped (or forgot) that I would like to take along. I understand that there is a building in town with books...and they just loan them out! Remarkable.

So - here is a list of books that I don't remember reading...that people seem to think are pretty good: Gone with the Wind (yeah...Karen...breathe...I never saw the movie either. And frankly my dear, didn't give a damn. But maybe I should!); Catcher in the Rye (I understand it is not about baseball or bakeries...); Pride and Prejudice (scrolling through her works on Amazon...don't think I ever gave old Jane Austen a shot.)

Wow...pulled up a couple of lists of "the top books everyone should read" (oh Mighty Google...)...I didn't read a LOT of them...what the heck?

I DO remember the book "51 Sycamore Lane". It was about a kid who thought a lady in his neighborhood was a spy. And she had a chicken. And I remember a book about a house that was secretly heated by a volcano in the basement...(and found it by deep and time consuming research! The Finches' Fabulous Furnace!! {which - Michelle will be pleased to see - uses both the correct pluralization AND possession of the Finch family!!})

Okay - so, now that secret is out. What is the ONE book that you think I should not miss? Maybe I've read it...looks like chances are likely - I have not. (oh...but I have read the think of something else.)

Meanwhile...I have a new Archie comic. Catch you later.

Tuesday, September 20

Fired Up Hamster

Okay - I'm going to get somewhat political...or something...

I was not headed back to the computer to blog (although I know it has been way too long...). I was just passing through the living room when I got to hear this "news" story: Non-American made goods being pimped by american universities for their students to decorate dorm rooms.

Here is the gist - an SMU student (should that be "a SMU student??" - no...staying off the rabbit trails...I'm supposed to be fired up!) has decided to bring light to the horrific situation that is denying us 500,000 jobs (though where they came up with that figure...who the heck knows...). She discovered the shocking fact that none of the goods that are available in the catalog that SMU sends their students are made in the good old USA. None of the comforter sets (39.95) or pillowcases (~6.95) or lamps (some other ridiculously low price...) are made here?

Seriously? Is anyone surprised by fact?
Have you not BEEN to Walmart? or Sam's Club? or any other bargain mart? Look at the tags...none of it is made here. We know that. That isn't a surprise. But we have chosen price point as our key decision maker. Screw quality - we're just going to throw that shirt out when the stitching gives way in a few washes. It was ONLY 12.99!

I think a lot of us try to resist - but our wallets are thin. And when push comes to shove - we go for the 39.95 comforter set. No matter what the consequences.

But let's not get all high and mighty when we discover that the bargain marts and cheap catalogs are getting their products made in China, etc.

And the other angle of the story - that this was somehow horrifically tainted because the university gets a kickback on the sales. We keep begging institutions of higher learning to keep tuition costs down - but we would want to quash an alternative revenue stream? These colleges and universities get money from every corner that they can...are we gonna get all up in arms about the fact that they get income from the vending machines on the campus (which they most likely do...)?

Okay - maybe I'm missing an angle here. What they heck made this a lead story (maybe second...but definitely in the first block) on the national news? Enlighten me here.

As Michael Douglass' character said in The American President "so...what was the third story?"

Hamster SMH (that's "smacking my head" for those who are not acronym savvy...)

Tuesday, September 13

Yo! Washington! Get back to work!!

I just finished reading my friend Chuck's current blog post. He represents a new face of unemployment - one that I'm not sure that ANY of our current politicians is willing to face the reality of. Chuck is not the only friend that I have who has dealt with this situation in the past couple of years.

It took over a year for one highly skilled accounting manager friend to find a position. An engineer who had to temporarily leave his field just to have enough $ to live. Talented people in a lot of different areas. All out of work or working below their skill set because the jobs just aren't there!
I don't know what the answer is. And I wouldn't elect me dogcatcher... But if I don't see some damn spirit of pulling together to accomplish something up there on Capitol Hill...I'm gonna start the frickin' Hamster Party and run. And I'm going to start smacking folks on the back of the head when they spend more time campaigning for their next election than doing their damn job.

I think we should stop elections. We would get better results if we filled our political offices with a completely random draft. We can even include members of the animal kingdom. I'd personally like to elect that orangutan that is trying to quit smoking.
The system we've got going right now isn't working.

Hamster fuming...and before I got all riled up I was going to make some random observations about Jersey Shore...

Wednesday, September 7

Random thoughts on prayer

I feel the need to post...but I don't know what direction to head. Let's just see where the rabbit trail leads.


Brain locked up.

Fingers paused over keys hoping for direction.

I've been doing a bit of praying lately. It seems like a lot of folks in my life are going through things right now that are challenging. I'm trying to turn worry into prayer.

You see...I'm more of a worrier. I'd like to change that. So I'm trying to pray more. And realize that I can't control every situation. And I should stop and listen.

It seems like the path is so obscured sometimes. And I'd like to tell you that I bow my head and the sun comes out...birds chirp...answers sweep in... But that wouldn't be exactly realistic.

I've read a lot about prayer. The Sunday school class that I attended (and occasionally taught) before I started leading the Youth class did several studies on prayer. I must confess...I'm still pretty lousy at it.
When I communicate with God, I feel the connection. So, why don't I do it more often?

fingers hover over keyboard again...waiting patiently for direction...

I don't have the answer to that question either.

Too many distractions?

Lack of willpower?

fingers hovered again...distracted by TV noise, closed door and turned on uplifting music

Sometimes the world is too noisy. I need vacation. I'll be headed to the Outer Banks in a couple weeks. Hurricanes will take a break while I am there.

Strange parallel runs through my head. Thought faster than fingers can type. I was about to say something like "look around and see if there are people around you that need a prayer". I'm not exactly sure why that thought popped in. And then I thought of a passage in the last Harry Potter novel.

Yes...I am an avid fan of the Harry Potter series. I read the books, I saw the movies. And I listened to the series on CD (unabridged) several times through. Usually it would start during an NPR pledge drive and I'd reach for the first available book. And since I had all 7 HP books on CD in my car...often I'd start with whichever one was in reach. (don't get me wrong - love NPR, I pledge...hate the fund drive).

There are a few folk out there who have listened to or read the series more than once. And there is remarkably skilled foreshadowing...intersecting plot points...and a deeper subtext. And that becomes more apparent in the later books.

The point I was making (was that a rabbit trail within a rabbit trail?) the last book (spoiler alert...) when the trio is on the run and they listen to a radio broadcast by the "rebel forces" - one of the order urges the wizarding community to cast spells of protection over the Muggles in their neighborhoods. To protect those who didn't even know that they needed protection - but who were suffering through the obstacles in their daily lives.

We can pray for those who don't even know that we are aware they are suffering. Not only can we...but we should.

And perhaps when we do...we get a little closer to the answers.

Hmmm...I think I'll call that hamster beaten.