Very Best in the Whole World?

I just received an email promoting an ebook awards program.  Great, I thought; now I can promote my books and increase my sales.

Then I read the first line of the message – “The fifth annual eLit eBook Awards are a global awards program committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.”   An author needs a pretty big ego to even try for an award like that.  I think my books are good, but very best in the world? – probably not.

Then I read the end of the email – “Save $10 – now just $70 per title”.  So I not only need to think I am the very best in the whole world, I have to bet $70 that I am.  Maybe I’ll settle for pretty good and take Judy out for a nice dinner with the $70.

 

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Emmaus retreat

I have been preparing to launch the Emmaus retreat program at All Saints (my church) for two years.  Finally it is starting!  Tomorrow we leave for our first retreat with nine retreatants signed up.

These last few weeks have been the most stressful times I can remember.  I am certain that the devil  himself was trying to make us fail.   Unlikely technical problems developed like my email software started randomly dropping parts of outgoing messages.  Then Word started to hang and I had to restart the computer to get it working again.

Many non-technical problems started popping up.  Dozens of men said they would go as soon as we were able to get started.  But we began signing up people and we had only three registered just two weeks before the start of the retreat.  We would cancel the retreat if we didn’t have at least six.

Then, three weeks before the start date, one of the team members had an emergency and would not be able to participate.  I had to find a replacement in one day in order to get him introduced to the retreat team.

Then the co-leader’s father died and he had to leave the state just two weeks before the retreat.  He would be back in time for the retreat but he would not be around for the final preparations.

And then, a priest who was signed up to assist at the retreat called and said he couldn’t make it – six days before the retreat.

But the Holy Spirit was with us.  I had an old computer in the house and switched to that one – slow but everything worked.  Six additional retreatants signed up in the last two weeks before the retreat.  A replacement team member volunteered and was immediately integrated into the team.  A priest was found who just happened to have an open time slot and he agreed to fill in for us.

So tomorrow we leave with all of the known problems resolved.  Sunday evening I will finally be able to relax after a successful and joy filled retreat.

 

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I need to get busy on my new #novel

My fourth novel, a sequel to “The Plagues”, has been languishing for many months but a recent discovery I read about forces me to get busy on completing it.

The new novel explains a lot about the “Baal”, the alien beings seen in The Plagues.  In the new novel they are seen interacting with primitive people living in an area that is now at the bottom of the Persian Gulf.  The aliens first arrived there about 12,000 B.C.  With the help of the aliens, the primitive people advance very rapidly.  Wild hunter-gatherers develop cities and governments and what we call civilization flashes into being.

Now, in real life, archeologists have discovered the remains of cities from about 8000 B.C on the edge of the Persian Gulf.  They speculate that they were built by an advanced  civilization that lived where the gulf is today.  As the last ice age ended, sea levels rose and filled the gulf to its present state forcing the people to rebuild on higher ground where the discovery was made.

So, I need to finish the fictional story before it turns into non fiction.

 

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#Help!

Help!  Help!

The screams are heard across the state.  We have been attacked by sinister aliens who are destroying us by burying us in frigid cold white stuff.

Our media has already been taken over by the alien force.  They are claiming this is just “snow”.  The same stuff we see every winter.   But I know the truth.  The aliens have been practicing their vicious attacks each year and now they have perfected them.  They will not stop now until every human is frozen and buried in this white poison.

But Hah!  I also know how to protect myself.  I have two cases of wine in the house.  I will never freeze.   More antifreeze!  I need to beef up my defense before I go out there, mount my trusty steed and attack them.

Back already.  The bicycle got stuck in the snow and my matches wouldn’t light.  Oh well, more wine!

 

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Colonoscopy – Hah!

Many people have been telling me that I should get a colonoscopy.  They tell me it’s very important at my age and that I’m being foolish for not getting one.  They point out that my insurance will cover the cost.  They tell me that the anesthetics that are used make the procedure completely painless.

Ok, I agree to all of that, but why do I want someone to ram something up my butt even if it’s free and painless?  I could just as well watch the paint dry on a wall – it’s free and painless.  Or I could count the leaves on trees in my yard – again it’s free and painless.

Oh, but if I did that I would miss the joy of drinking gallons of stuff resembling fermented cow urine, that will give me explosive diarrhea.  Gosh, doesn’t everyone really like to get out of bed ten times to make a desperate run for the toilet.  Watching the paint dry is beginning to sound pretty good to me.

But, they say, “This could save your life!  It’s not just watching paint dry.”

Well, what WILL it do for me?    If I go through with this free, painless and pleasant experience I will get one of three results.

First possibility – nothing is found.  Hooray!  I just went through a night of diarrhea and lost half a day for nothing.

“But”, they say, “You will have peace of mind knowing that your butt is in great shape,”

I already have peace of mind and, since I’m not a model, I don’t care about the shape of my butt.  Oh, that’s not the shape you meant?  Oh well, I have peace of mind anyway.

Second possibility – they find early stage colon cancer.  Hooray!  I just qualified for surgery.  When the surgery is finished I recover, I spend several months basking in the pleasure of chemotherapy and radiation therapy that will just about kill me, literally.  Then I get to worry for the rest of my life that it will return and I’ll have to do it again.  Of course, I’ll have to have more of those wonderful colonoscopies on a regular basis.

With all of that done, I could live another five or six years until I die from a stroke or heart attack or other age related illness.  But if I had done nothing, I would have died in five or six years of stroke, or heart attack or other age related disease or from the colon cancer that I didn’t know about.  Again, watching the paint dry looks like a good option to me.

Third possibility – They find cancer and it is far advanced.  But as of now, I have no symptoms, so it wasn’t going to kill me today or tomorrow or in a week or even a month.   Hooray, I go into immediate surgery.  The doc takes out most of my colon and anything else he finds that might be suspicious.  With no colon, I now get my own personal colostomy bag.  I get to spend the rest of my life with a bag of crap hanging out of my belly.  Oh yes, the rest of my life will now be maybe a year, two years absolute tops.  And I will be enjoying the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy during much of that time.

But, if I had not done that first colonoscopy, I would have known nothing about the cancer for another week or month or maybe six months.  I would have enjoyed my life with my family and friends.  Then I would have become very sick and passed away in one or two or three months.

Watching the paint dry still looks like the best option to me. So, all of the advice givers can go get their butts reamed out while I have a glass of wine and watch the paint dry.

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How sad for our country

In a recent news story I read that the United States is building its next generation aircraft carrier, the FORD-class carriers.  The numbers behind the USS Gerald R. Ford are impressive; about $14 billion in total cost, 224 million pounds, about 25 stories high, 1,106 feet long, and 250 feet wide.  The new FORD-class aircraft carrier will be the largest, most lethal ship ever when it joins the US fleet in 2016.  The scope of the ship’s construction is hard to fathom, but the anchor chain is made up of links weighing 360-pounds each.

With its nuclear power plant and extraordinary size, the Ford is manufactured only here at Newport News Shipbuilding, VA.  Ships this big have to be built in a dry dock that is twenty-two-hundred-feet long and 250 feet wide.

A carrier’s effectiveness is judged by its ability to deliver lethal military force from these 4.5 acres of sovereign U.S. territory.  That lethality comes in many forms — like the weapons aboard the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Sea Sparrow Missile also factors into lethality with its ability to fly four times the speed of sound, turn on a dime, and intercept anti-ship missiles more than 30 miles out.

Ford’s lethality is also enhanced by the RIM 116 short-range defensive surface to air missile and the radar-guided, rotating 20mm Gatling Gun called the Phalanx CIWS (Sea-Wiz).

The story was written with such pride but how is it possible to be proud of spending $14 billion on a tool of death and destruction when there are people starving, teachers who can’t live on their pay, people who are homeless, people losing unemployment compensation and on and on.  The real needs people are endless and yet our government leaders and the dinosaurs at the head of the military organization think it is more important to build the most destructive, monstrous and expensive ship ever made.

Will this Frankenstein help with Al Qaeda?  Do we need a monstrosity like this to contain the crackpot in North Korea?  No, we need this because our government has lost it’s way.  It is no longer the government of the people and for the people.

 

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What’s wrong with this picture?

 

What’s wrong with the priorities in this country?  In almost every state in the country, the highest public employee is a coach? And Minnesota??  Top TWO are both coaches?

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Lying in Politics Hits a New High

I found a first person story about what The “Affordable” health care act is doing –   http://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/2013/11/14/lies-damn-lies-and-obamacare/?cmpid=edpick&google_editors_picks=true

It is amazing how Obama and crew will throw out lie after lie to push through their pet project.  This looks like it will be even worse than I was expecting when I first heard that the federal government thought they knew more about health care needs than the patients and their doctors and more about insurance than insurance companies.

I sincerely hope I need no health care at all for the rest of my life.  I don’t want Obama’s cronies telling me what needs to be done.  Unfortunately every taxpayer is going to pay a lot for this and it looks like it’s too late to kill it.

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An #Acrostic Poem

 

I thought I would try my hand at writing an acrostic poem.  Not being much of a poet, I didn’t expect much but I really like what came out.

Grandson

Growing bigger, stronger each day
Running, jumping, that’s how you play
Always happy, never a frown
Nothing, it seems, can keep you down
Don’t grow so fast my little one
Soon, all too soon, childhood’s gone
On to greater and grander things
Ne’er to fly on a child’s wings

 For Richard, Aaron, Jakob, Lukas, Tyler and Shawn

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Uncle Henry’s Ghost

I have been chastised by my most faithful reader, “Enough of your crazy ranting!  I want something fun to read.”

Actually, she was much nicer than that but I did get the message.  Here, in atonement, is one of my short stories.  I promise to work on more of the fun things in the future.

Uncle Henry’s Ghost

 Having little to his name when he died, the reading of Henry Fromm’s will went quickly.   And, of course, since young nephew William was the only living relative, there would have been little time required in any case.

Bill trudged home slowly after the reading.  His hope for inheriting a bank account full of cash had been dashed at the reading.  After all of the expenses were paid there was hardly the equal of a week of Bill’s salary left.  Uncle Henry’s little bungalow on the edge of town was not what he wanted for his new home and it wouldn’t sell for much.   It was too small and too far out of the way.

 Bill and Margaret were engaged and between them, they had little in the way of financial support to start their wedded life.  He had hoped to get something of value from Uncle Henry’s estate to help them start their own life.

“Well,” he thought, “we had nothing before and now we have more than nothing.  I should be happy for that.  I just hope Meg feels that way.”

 “Hi Meg,” he called when he saw her bounding toward him.

“Hi Billy.  Ohhh, we’re not rich, are we?” She said as she noticed his crestfallen expression.

“Well, I got everything he had, but it’s not much.”

“Don’t look so sad! We have each other, we have jobs and now we have something more than we had before.  What did he leave to you?”

“There’s almost no money left at all.  The only thing of value is his little house and no one will want that.”

“I think that’s exciting! Let’s go take a look at it.  Can we go inside?”

“Yeah, I have the keys to the place.  When do you want to go?”

“Let’s go right now.”

“Ok, hop in the car.  You know, Meg, I’m so happy that you’re taking this so well.  I was worried that you’d be disappointed.”

“Bill Fromm!  I am surprised and hurt that you would think I’d feel bad about not getting enough from an inheritance!  I thought you knew me better than that.”

“I know you’re a wonderful person. But, you know, I want you to have everything.  I want you to be happy and never want for anything again.  I guess I was worried that you would be as disappointed as I was.”

Bill turned the key and, after a few sputters, the old car coughed, groaned, shook and roared as it struggled back to life.

“I’m surprised that you were disappointed.”  Meg shouted over the noisy car.  “I never thought you were greedy or envious.”

“No, it wasn’t envy or greed.  I just wanted so much to have something really special for you.”

Meg leaned over and kissed his cheek, “Ok, so you’re a softhearted sweetie and I love you.  Now let’s go see your new house.”

The brakes cried in agony as the car stopped in from of Uncle Henry’s little house.  The mostly white picket fence needed a little repair and a paint job, but it could be an attractive feature.  The yard had clearly been untended for a long time.  Weeds and grass, previously pulled and mown, were now showing weeks of unhindered growth and threatened to hide the cottage completely.

A pile of old, yellowed newspapers adorned the front step and the mailbox spouted a wad of papers and envelopes almost as high as the weeds in the yard.  But the house itself appeared to be well maintained with nice, fresh paint, solid rain gutters and a good looking roof.

“It looks so quaint!  I bet there are lots of people who would like this place.  I kind of like it myself,” Meg said as they surveyed it from the car.

“Quaint is an interesting way to say old, crummy and run down.” Bill answered.  “Well let’s go in and take a look around.”

“Quit being such an old grouch.  Other than needing a bit of yard maintenance, it looks really nice.  Now put on your smile and let’s go in and see what your new place looks like.”

The gate took some pulling and pushing before it could be coaxed into opening once more.  The hinges squeaked as Bill pushed it aside.  But the key turned easily in the lock and the door swung open with no squeaks or groans.

“Well, it seems that at least the door is in good shape,” Bill grumbled.

“Quit griping and get inside.  Let’s raise the shades and open a few windows,” Meg said. “It’s too dark and stuffy to get a good feeling for the place.”

Meg quickly took care of the shades and the windows while Bill took a quick walk through the remaining rooms.

“Everything looks pretty good,” he called to her.  “There is a room here that has a lot of boxes of stuff.  We’ll have to sort through it and dump the junk.”

“That sounds exciting!  Let’s start now.”

“It’ll be time for dinner in a little while.  We won’t be able to do much today.  Maybe we should come back this weekend and take look.”

“Is something bothering you?” Meg asked.  “I’m surprised you’re not more excited than I am about this.”

“No, nothing that I can put my finger on.  I’m just a little uncomfortable.  I never was in Uncle Henry’s house before; I feel like I’m sneaking and snooping.  Maybe I’ll get over it soon.  Well, let’s get the first box and we can get started today.”

Bill carried one of the boxes into the sitting room and set it on the floor in front of Meg.   Sitting across from her, he ceremoniously opened the box and they both peered inside.

“Papers!  A whole box full of old papers, letters and documents.  Now we’ll have to look at every one to determine what’s important,” Bill complained.

“Look at the date on this one,” Meg exclaimed. “They’re really old.  These must have been from his parents or grandparents.  He wasn’t old enough to be signing papers so long ago.”

Taking the paper from Meg, Bill peered very closely at it, as if he understood exactly what it meant.  “Wow!  This is dated more than one hundred years ago.  It must be from his grandfather, not his father.  Some of this stuff might be valuable just because it’s so old.”

“Excuse me!”

Meg and Bill both jumped at the deep bass voice coming from the doorway.

“Who are you?  What are you doing in here?”  Bill demanded.

“I am the caretaker of the house.  Where is Henry?” The visitor demanded in return.

“I didn’t know Uncle Henry had a caretaker.  Why is the yard so unkempt?  And why is mail still in the box and papers piled on the porch?”

“I am neither the gardener nor Henry’s employee.  I take care of the house.  And you say you are Henry’s nephew.  I didn’t know he had any relatives.”

“How can you be the caretaker but not work for Henry?” asked Meg.   “Who do you work for?”

“And you are…” was his icy response to her question.

“She is my fiancée.  But just answer the question,” Bill demanded.

“I am the caretaker of this house.  I always have been the caretaker of the house.  I work for no one.”

“Listen,” Meg replied, “if you don’t give us a straight answer, I’m going to find a cop and have you arrested!”

“A cop indeed, that would be interesting.”

Shouting, Bill replied, “Listen, this is my house now and you are trespassing.   You can tell us who you are and why you are here or you can leave immediately, or else I will have you arrested.”

“Patience young man.  I am William Boyd, but I doubt that you have heard of me.  I built this house and I have taken care of it since then.  I think you are the trespasser here.”

“That’s enough of this nonsense.  Meg, run out and find a cop.  I’m going to stay here to watch this guy.  Hurry!”

Meg ran to the doorway and tried to push past the stranger but she went right through him like passing through a bit of fog.  She tumbled to the floor, jumped up and ran back right through the strange figure to Bill.

“My God!  I went right through him!”  she squeaked as she clung to Bill.

“I don’t like you!” the visitor boomed in his deep bass voice.  “You ask too many questions.  I liked Henry; he was quiet, he never asked questions.  You are going to have to leave my house now!”

“We’re not leaving!” Meg replied defiantly.  With a tear in her eye and a catch in her throat, she was not about to back down. “I don’t care who or what you are.  You are going to have to leave our new house!”

“Well young lady, I never used to believe in ghosts, but I have finally accepted the fact that I am a ghost.  As you noticed, you can go through me and I can go through walls.  Now there is nothing you can do to me, but I can make you very miserable.  I never sleep and I never go out.  As long as you are in this house I can torment you.”

The ghost almost seemed to be giving off a reddish glow.  “So, you will leave my house!  You can leave now and be happy, or you can wait until I have made you into a screaming maniac and you are carried off to an asylum.”

“Well sir,” the defiant Meg replied, standing up to face the ghost.  “You can live peacefully with us, or we can sell it.  Then it will be torn down and a gas station built here.  How would you like to haunt a gas station?”

“You probably shouldn’t be threatening a ghost,” Bill warned her in a whisper.

“I’ll threaten him alright!  I’ll put him out in the street and pour concrete where his house used to be!”

“You can’t threaten me!” he boomed.  The reddish glow was clear now.

Suddenly the glow faded and he asked, “What is a gas station?”

“Hah!  You don’t even know what the world is like now.  People don’t use horses anymore.  They ride in cars that are stinky, dirty things that ooze toxic liquids and spew noxious gasses.  They use gasoline for fuel in the cars and they buy that in a gas station.

“So your house will be knocked down and hauled to the dump.  They’ll dig a big hole where it stood and put in tanks full of poisonous gasoline.  Then people will drive through what used to be your garden and fill up the fuel tanks in their cars.

“You lovely house will be gone and the ground will be full of poison!  Would you like that better than having us move in with you?  We can be your friends, and when we have children, you can play with them as well.  You can stay here as long as you like and enjoy life.  Or death?  Whatever it is that you are now, you can be it with us living here with you or you can have nothing.”

“Would that really happen?  Has the outside world gone so bad since I left it?”

“Yes that would really happen and no, the world has not gone bad.  There are some things, like gasoline, that are bad but many, many things are better.  It’s is really a wonderful place.  I think you should join us and go out to see the world.”

“I can never leave this house.   This is very difficult.  I don’t like change.  I want my quiet little house where I am peaceful and happy.  What would happen if you filled the place with running, noisy children?  I’d never know another moment of peace.  I just don’t know what to say.”

“There’s nothing difficult about it.  You just go on as you have been and we join you.  I’m sure you’ll love the children.  How does ‘Grandpa Boyd’ sound?”

“It sounds absolutely frightening.  I have not been around a child for more than a hundred years.  Don’t they run around and make noise and throw things around and make messes?”

“Yes they do, and you’ll love it.  You never have to clean up the messes and you can run right with them and make your own noise.  I assume ghosts never get tired; you might be able to keep up with them.”

“Hmmm”

~~~

“Hey, turn the power rangers back on!  I love that episode.”

“Grandpa Boyd!  The TV has to be turned off and the boys have to eat lunch.”

“Meg, you have always been a tough one to deal with,” Grandpa Boyd said as he eased into the rocking chair.  “I just wish I could make this thing rock!”

 

 

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