Horrible people

What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[d]
    nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[e] yet to be
    among those who come after.” – King Solomon / Ecclesiastes 

I hate what is happening in our country….in our little corner of the world. Not like a “I hate pea soup“, kind of hate. More of a “I hate child molesters and cancer“, kind of hate.

America is irreversibly binary now. If you’re not a nerd – ‘binary’ means “1’s and 0’s”. On or off. Up or down. One thing, or the other. 50% of America has been conditioned to hate the other 50%. It’s a quiet civil war that’s been brewing for the past 20 years. And war, silent or otherwise, is good for business. And business lately is good for those who propagate it – and that’s everyone you’ve supported or will support. Let me explain.

I see it happening everyday online. People are championing a candidate at the cost of their ties to neighbors, friends, and family. Broken relationships line the causeways of these campaigns as we defend the actions of these very, very, very horrible people.

Horrible, horrible people.

We’ve forgotten there are no noble or good candidates. There might have been back when (maybe Washington…Lincoln….after that it gets fuzzy fast). But for the most part, these are not great men, and women. They are not to be praised and applauded. They were never public servants in the sense you and I thought they were. These are power brokers. Professional liars and profiteers. A lobbyist feeding frenzy. And yet, despite everything we know about all of them -years later, people run to the altars of their memorials, ‘self-sacrificing’ themselves on the blood soaked stones of their legacy.

If you are a Progressive Liberal – your heroes were and are all liars (hang on – the other side’s shaming is coming). From FDR to JFK to Bill Clinton to Barack Hussein Obama – your historical trail of tears is laden with deceit and malfeasance. These were not good men. FDR, JFK, and Clinton all cheated profusely on their spouses and had multiple mistresses. My favorite FDR quote is this one about Mussolini…

There seems to be no question that [Mussolini] is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy.”

Mussolini – for those of you who don’t know, was a socialist in Italy who later embraced facism. He became the Prime Minister in 1922, declaring himself, “LL Duce” or “dictator” in 1925. He was such a horrible person, he and his mistress were shot by Italian partisans as they attempted to flee from Allied forces to Switzerland. (Mussolini was a big fan of Hitler by the way).  Remember – FDR’s hero.

One of Hillary Clinton’s heroines is Margaret Sangler. I especially love this because, well – you’ll see….

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” Sanger wrote. —Letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble on Dec., 10, 1939

““The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” she continued. Woman and the New Race,” 1920, Chapter 5: The Wickedness of Creating Large Families

Or, my favorite,

Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks [races of people] that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant … We are paying for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.

Remember, Ms. Clinton says she is in “Awe” of this person. An American Hitler whose one goal was to introduce abortion to minority communities and extinguish the “bad genes” of the less desirable races. You can’t “sort of like” someone like that. You can’t “half way” admire them, anymore than you could be  neutral or slightly positive on Charles Manson (“…he was a good leader, you have to give him that”, would sound silly). But how are we to take it when Ms. Clinton says,

I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, tenacity, her vision“.  Her vision was to kill as many black babies as possible in the shortest period of time – because black people were destined to be prisoners in jails.

These are horrible, horrible – very horrible people. And Conservative heroes are no better. They’re just as bad. Not worse – but just as bad.

You have guys like Reagan…believed to be the champion of “how to do it right”as a Republican.

Reagan  increased the national debt one hundred and thirty percent. 130 percent. Imagine your brother in law taking credit card, and doubling your current balance. And then adding another 50% on top of that. Then handing you the card when he was done and people telling you years later how great of a man your brother in law was. That was Reagan.

And oh – if you’re not a big fan of Obama or Clinton for their policies in the Middle East, you need reminding that Reagan SUPPLIED WEAPONS to Iran – then and now a sworn enemy of the United States….(it was WORSE back then, if you can believe it) in the hopes of getting American hostages released in Lebanon, just like Obama gave millions of dollars to Iran to get the Naval hostages released. Just. Like.

But Hillary meddled in Libya, and put weapons in the hands of ISIS to overthrow Qaddafi!!“, you say?

Reagan took millions of dollars from the weapons sale in Iran and routed that money to a rebel army in Nicaragua in an attempt to depose Anastasio Somoza Debayle….the South American equivalent of Libya.

You don’t like how Hillary deleted all those emails from her private server? Maybe you forgot someone named Oliver North. North shared with the world that Reagan’s administration knew what was going on with Iran and Nicaragua. Confessed how he and his assistant Fawn Hall had shredded thousands of documents of evidence describing the extent of their involvement and Reagan’s involvement. North got a fine, probation – and community service with his conviction being overturned a year later (BUT HILLARY SHOULD GO TO JAIL!!!) Reagan and then President Bush maintained their entire lives afterwards they had no knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair.

These are bad, bad……horrible, horrible people.

They are not heroes. Or heroines. They are not to be applauded, or remembered with fondness, and yet…..

In the past 7 years, the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize has authorized over four hundred and twenty drone strikes – planes flown remotely from the United States over other countries that we never formally declared war against. Sovereign countries like Pakistan, where since 2004, 2,500-4,000 people have been killed. An estimated 420 to 966 civilians, with between 172 and 207 child deaths. An estimated 1,100 to 1,700 injuries.  Do you even know who those people were…..or why they were killed?

These are bad, horrible people. Fatally flawed in key, critical ways.

Evil, narcissistic, self-serving ego-maniacs who talk out of both sides of their mouths and divide us one against the other.  And we let them to it. We love them, for it. The new American aristocracy.

Yet, today – there are families that don’t meet for Christmas anymore because of them. Couples who are divorced as a result of imbalanced loyalties to their party. Countless millions of “unFriends” on popular social media sites like Facebook because one person got caught in a lie this week, as opposed to another person the next week. We hate each other, in servitude to them.

And it’s never going to stop.

There will always be another FDR who loves him some Mussolini. Another Bill Clinton / JFK rapist.  Another Clinton. Another Trump. The names and faces change, and that is all.

The insanity of it overwhelms me this morning…how we trade in our neighbor for our “political champion”. These men and women who profit as our respective “Romes” burn to the ground to our thunderous applause. Forgiving every sin as we send our respective gladiators into the arena with bloodied sword and soul.

It’s never, ever going to stop. There is nothing new, under the sun.

 

 

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A tale of 2 Bills

I don’t like writing. In fact, most of the time when you’re reading something I’ve written, you should know that it wasn’t fun for me. If you’ve ever had water in your ear after swimming in some icky public pool, or you turned your head the wrong way in the ocean or a lake and heard that water rushing into your ear canal and knew you’d be doing the “hop hop hop” dance on the sidewalk with your head sideways soon- that’s what writing is like for me. Philosophical water in my metaphorical ears. Writing helps me get it out.

Today, I had water in both ears. One of my Facebook friends was “lambasting” that there were people in rural communities (of which I live in) were supporting Donald Trump. Bear in mind, I’m neutral in the race here. I happen to deplore most politicians, and am of the persuasion that while we believe there are 2 sides and parties, there is only 1 side – and one party. We’re watching the ultimate back-room-reality-show playing out. If you don’t believe me, look at everything the last President said about debt, supporting banks, troops overseas, and the Patriot Act – then go back and look at what happened in each of those arenas. They’re all placeholders – these men and women – for the next relief pitcher in the lineup on the same team. (steps off soapbox, takes off tinfoil hat).

But it irked me, because their post implied that a vote for Trump and or any disparaging remarks about Clinton, was somehow ‘less educated’ or ‘morally reprehensible’. More water in my mental ears. These are my friends. These are people I respect though – so how to communicate a rebuttal? And this morning – it hit me.

Jello-Puddin’ Pops.

Nobody likes Bill Cosby anymore. You can’t get people to stand in the same room as Bill Cosby, for fear of being in a photo with Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby said he is innocent, and never did (not once) what any of the women said he did with his sleeping pills and his Barry White records.

One poll with Debate.org showed that 55% of people think Bill Cosby is guilty of rape.

One MSNBC poll showed that 59% of people thought Bill Cosby was guilty of rape, and that the “numerous allegations against Bill Cosby changed their (your) perception of him”.

56% of people said in one “Quibblo.com” poll that they believed the women’s accusations against Cosby were true, because there were so many of them. Another “yougov.com” Poll shows that 57% of people believe Cosby’s accusers.

I suspect the number is even higher now – as the court case has dragged on and gotten wider in scope. Let’s agree that 6 or 7 people out of 10 believe in their hearts – that Bill Cosby is a rapist – at the very least has a string of sexual misconduct charges which are probably true, do to both the quantity and the breadth of time those charges occurred.

But what does any of this have to do with a Billboard in rural somewhere or another?

(I’m rolling up my sleeves right now, to show you that I’ve got nothing hidden here. You’re about to see the magic trick unveil before your very eyes….here it comes)

9-6-2016-4-28-54-pm

Remember – nearly 7 out of 10 people believe Bill Cosby is a rapist, because of the sheer number of women that have made accusations over such a prolonged period of time with absolutely no connection between them or chance at financial gain. People Magazine reported just recently that the Prosecution in Cosby’s case was seeking to allow the testimony of over 13 women to show a “pattern of sexual abuse“.  And that when it hit me. When the water came out of my ear.

No one reading this would ever accuse these women of lying against Cosby at this point. There would be near “zero” levels of victim shaming. “This guy needs to go to jail”, 7/10 or more of you are saying, as you read this. But things shift hard when you change a last name.

Meet Bill (and Hillary) Clinton.

Bill, (I can call you Bill, can’t I?) has had over 15 women in the past 40+ years accuse him of either rape, or sexual misconduct.  Here’s a sampling of a few:

Juanita Broaddrick:

“….Broaddrick  (now 73) said they talked for a few minutes (in 1978) about a campaign issue, before Clinton began kissing her. Broaddrick, who was married, said she pushed Clinton away and said she wasn’t interested. She told Dateline: “Then he tries to kiss me again. And the second time he tries to kiss me he starts biting my lip (she cries). Just a minute… He starts to, um, bite on my top lip and I tried to pull away from him. (crying) And then he forces me down on the bed. And I just was very frightened, and I tried to get away from him and I told him ‘No,’ that I didn’t want this to happen (crying) but he wouldn’t listen to me.” Broaddrick said she was traumatized and didn’t come forward for decades because of Clinton’s influence.”

Kathleen Willey:

“Willey was a Clinton supporter who had campaigned for him and donated thousands to his 1992 presidential bid, according to 60 Minutes. She said the sexual assault occurred in the Oval Office in a private study. She also told 60 Minutes he kissed her on the mouth, touched her breasts with his hand and then put her hand on his genitals while he was aroused.”

Paula Jones:

“Paula Corbin Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, sued President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment.Jones accused Clinton of sexually harassing her in a Little Rock hotel room in May 1991. Jones alleged Clinton propositioned himself to her and then exposed himself.”

Sandra Allen James:

“James said she was invited to his hotel room during his presidential campaign (in 1999). She claims he pinned her against the wall and stuck his hand up her dress. “. She says she screamed loud enough for the Arkansas State Trooper stationed outside the hotel suite to bang on the door and ask if everything was all right, at which point Clinton released her and she fled the room. When she reported the incident to her boss, he advised her to keep her mouth shut if she wanted to keep working.”

Eileen Wellstone: 

” Eileen was a 19-year-old woman Clinton is alleged to have met at a pub while he was a student at Oxford University in England. According to Capital Hill Blue, a retired State Department employee said Wellstone claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Clinton in 1969. The State Department employee said he spoke with the girl’s family and they declined to pursue the case. He said Clinton admitted to having sex with Wellstone, but said it was consensual…”

Christy Zercher:

“Christy Zercher was a former flight attendant who accused Clinton of groping her while he was on a campaign plane in 1991, the New York Daily News reported. She first made the claims public in 1998. Zercher claimed Clinton rubbed her breast and asked her intimate questions while Hillary Clinton slept a few feet away.”

Carolyn Moffet:

“Carolyn Moffet was a legal secretary in Little Rock in 1979 and says she met then-Governor Clinton at a political fundraiser. She said he was invited to his hotel room, telling Capitol Hill Blue, “I was escorted there by a state trooper. When I went in, he was sitting on a couch, wearing only an undershirt. He pointed at his penis and told me to suck it. I told him I didn’t even do that for my boyfriend and he got mad, grabbed my head and shoved it into his lap. I pulled away from him and ran out of the room.”

Helen Dowdy:

“Helen Dowdy, the wife of Hillary Clinton’s cousin, claims she was groped by Bill Clinton at a wedding in 1986. She told Jerry Oppenheimer, the author of State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Clinton pulled her onto the dance floor during a slow song. She said the dance turned into a grope. Dowdy said “It was a very uncomfortable feeling. He was holding me very closely, pulling me into him. It was almost like a teenager would do. It was so inappropriate.” She told Oppenheimer she tried to pull away, but “he’s a big man.”

Regina Blakely Hopper:

“Regina Blakely Hopper was a Miss Arkansas pageant winner in 1983 and is now an attorney and lobbyist. Hopper had a consensual relationship with Clinton (during his marriage to Hillary), according to L.D. Brown. There are also allegations made in Roger Morris’ book, Partners in Power, that Clinton once “forced himself on her, biting, bruising her.”

Now – I want you to pretend your daughter is working as an intern in the White house. (I have a daughter now….it changed a lot of my perceptions and she continues to do so as she gets older and my eyes are wider to the world she has to inhabit).  Imagine a few years after college, your 25 daughter is in the news. Her boss, the President of the United States has just testified about his sexual relationship with your daughter in the Oval Office, including but not limited to “anal, oral, and vaginal contact“.  I’m a dad. It wasn’t consensual. I’d explain to my daughter that she was the victim of a predator. Someone in a position of power over her that took what he wanted from her, at the cost of turning her name into an eternal locker-room-joke. I’d explain to her what I thought should happen to her boss. (redacted redacted redacted redacted). I’d make her talk to the women you just read about, above.

But wait………there’s more Pudding (forgive the pun)

Bill Clinton has/had a friend. You probably never heard of him. No one has reported much about it, oddly enough.

His name is Jeffrey Epstein. He said he helped setup the Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Global Initiative”. (He’s a former Billionaire by the way). Probably a really nice guy, right?

Nope.

One news agency reported,

“Epstein, who counts among his pals royal figures, heads of state, celebrities and fellow billionaires, spent 13 months in prison and home detention for solicitation and procurement of minors for prostitution. He allegedly had a team of traffickers who procured girls as young as 12 to service his friends on “Orgy Island,” an estate on Epstein’s 72-acre island, called Little St. James, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

He’s a really swell guy………..

“Police in Palm Beach, Fla., launched a year-long investigation in 2005 into Epstein after parents of a 14-year-old girl said their daughter was sexually abused by him. Police interviewed dozens of witnesses, confiscated his trash, performed surveillance and searched his Palm Beach mansion, ultimately identifying 20 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who they said were sexually abused by Epstein.”

And he had a really nice airplane…..

“…The tricked-out jet earned its Nabakov-inspired nickname (“The Lolita Express”) because it was reportedly outfitted with a bed where passengers had group sex with young girls.”.

Guess how many trips Bill-I’m not Cosby-I’m Clinton flew on the “Lolita Express”?

26 times. This is that many times…with a known pedophile and rapist.

X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X,X.

At least 5 without secret service. (remember how good the secret service’s reputation is lately before that number seems small to you first)

(Crickets)

(Crickets)

Now imagine, Bill Cosby’s wife is running for President. And standing next to her in every shot on the TV, is Bill (Cosby).

You start to say to yourself, “Why are you still with this man?“.

You see the faces of all the victims in your head and think, “All those poor girls, and young women….

You think to yourself, “I can’t let someone like into a position of power…and hurt more girls, take advantage of more women….” You vomit a little in the back of your throat, maybe.

Before you disparage people in a rural community somewhere for an anti-Hillary billboard, maybe you stop and think about all of this. Maybe you consider that people in rural communities are smarte two. And maybe they’ve just got better memories than you do. Maybe it’s just a choice between raping-people, and non raping people, and they’re choosing the non-raping people.

Or maybe they have more daughters and sisters.

If 14 people are enough for Bill Cosby to go to jail – it’s enough for Bill Clinton to go to jail. and maybe take an accomplice or two away with him. (Wait, am I implying that his wife knew what was happening across 40 years of serial sexual misconduct?….)

In his book, “Inside the White House” by former Secret Service member Ronald Kessler – then First Lady Hillary Clinton was heard saying to her then President Bill Clinton,

“……Come on Bill, put your d**k up! You can’t f**k her here!!…..”

….when spotting Bill talking to an attractive female.

Yeah. So maybe, well………..yeah.

That’s enough of that.

And the water is out of the ear, again.

 

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Time is getting faster…

When I was a kid, and something broke around the house – things were different. And when I say, “kid”, we’re talking about 35 years ago.

I remember once that a hinge on the back fence broke. If it broke on a Saturday after 5 o’clock, that hinge wasn’t getting fixed until Monday night – at the earliest, if Dad got home from work before the hardware store closed (there were no Lowes or Home Depots). More often than not, Dad would measure the hinge and look for scrap metal at the machine shop he was managing…and make up a new hinge over time…replacing it the following weekend with a beer next to his tool bag. He’d go slow, and methodically. A neighbor would walk up to the fence. There was talking, and the passing over of another beer.

Car repairs were titanic time voyages. There were trips to the library. Copies of a book called the “Chilton’s Manual” were made. Quarters were deposited into ancient machines called “Xerox” copiers (that’s pronounced “ZEE-ROCKS” if you’ve never heard of them). Trips were made to a NAPA store. Parts were ordered from a warehouse somewhere in Idaho, or Wyoming or a state you saw colored on a map somewhere in school. It took weeks. There were sheets in the driveway for parts to be laid – in order of disassembly – so as to insure they were put back in the correct order.  There were bottles of beer. And more neighbors. And nothing happened on Sundays.

Today – we discovered the clips that hold the valence on top of our horizontal blinds in the kitchen broke, or got lost during cleaning. I walked upstairs to my personal-computer (PC) and browsed to a website named, “Thingiverse”. There are millions of pre-loaded 3D printer files stored in the “Cloud” (I believe the Cloud is in Idaho, or near it at the very least). I typed the words, “HORIZONTAL BLINDS” and found an image of the clip I needed. In 16 minutes, I had 2 parts printed that fit. 36 minutes later, the parts were installed and the valence was hanging back in place.

The Nissan Sentra I own made a bad light come on my dashboard. The word “soon” was emphasized with the flashing yellow light. Plugging a ‘code reader’ into the car’s “computer” revealed that the fuel mixture going into the engine was too lean. My mechanic (in no fewer than 5 minutes) told me it was a broken vacuum line. We Googled “Sentra Broken Vacuum Line” and 5 minutes later, were staring at the part in the engine compartment…..a one inch break in the manifold. 5 minutes after that, I had the part displayed on my Galaxy S7 “smartphone” on a website called “Amazon.com”.  2 days later, the mail lady brought me a box with the part in it. 5 minutes after that, I watched a video on how to uninstall the old broken part, and put in the new broken part. The new part cost about one fifth what it would have cost to buy at the dealer….about $40.00. Total fix time, including analysis, about 30 minutes.

I have a “smart” TV. Or rather, a “smart” TV “receiver”. (that’s the thing that makes the noisy sounds come out of the speakers).  We don’t watch “one show” anymore. We’re currently watching all, of one show. I’ve seen every episode of the comedy series, “Scrubs”. I’ve watched each one, in sequence, 2,3,5 shows at a time. We’re currently watching every episode of the TV show, “LOST”. I am convinced this show is better than most of the new shows made today – but back when, it sucked. Because you had to wait. A week. Or months after each season conclusion. Last night after season three concluded, I “Googled”, ‘who is Jacob’, into my “smart phone”, when I felt a little lost in the plot. We’ll be done with the series in the time it took one season to come out years go. We’ll watch about 100% more actual “show” because there are no commercials on NetFlix – or YouTube – which I now watch like TV. Which is weird.

The “wi-fi” that drives the signal from my cable router to my “smart” receiver is spotty. So I went back to “Amazon.com” and found something called a “ethernet-over-power” adapter. It plugs into a 3 prong wall outlet near your TV….and has a twin that plugs into the wall by your cable modem wherever it is on the other side of the house. It “transmits” the “world wide web” at “gigabit speeds” through the copper power lines of my house. When I watch “LOST” now, it doesn’t lock up or stall anymore where I have to reboot something, or turn something on and off.

When I first got married, we “splurged” and bought a service for $9 a month called, “Netflix”. You would ‘dial up’ “Netflix.com” on your 486 computer, using a 56K modulator-demodulator (that’s modem for you young folks). It called a computer in Riverhead, NY. That phone in Riverhead was connected to a computer that I could tell what movies I wanted to see. A week later, I’d get 2 DVD’s in the mail.  We’d watch one, and mail it back. 3 days later, we’d watch another movie. Today – Netflix accounts for about 30% of the entire traffic on the web. And I can watch as many movies as I want – as long as I want- as fast as I want. On vacation, we logged into our account on the rental’s TV. All the shows and account settings followed us there. . . no spending time with a ‘TV Guide’ necessary.

This morning, all the WiFi in my house stopped working correctly. The Android devices stayed connected, but the Apple phones and Pads didn’t connect. My son, who plays online games with friends in different states (at the same time) stayed connected via his X-Box. In 30 minutes, I was browsing 3 different support forums searching, “ANDROID CONNECTS TO WIFI BUT NOT APPLE”. It took me about 5 hours to figure out that adding my “POWER OVER ETHERNET” device had corrupted the internal settings of the Linksys wireless router, and it needed to be reset to factory default settings. I went from device to device and changed connections. Everyone was relieved….(no WiFi for several hours, that’s almost like no air or water now.). No repairman was called. No services rendered or received. No invoices or credit card swipe machines. It’s expected now – if something isn’t working – the solution is just inside your curved HD screen….

For 15 years in my prior professional life, we made video tape demonstrations and copied them from one VCR to another VCR. We made 10 copies at a time, and a customer wanting more information would wait 3-5 days for theirs to come in the mail. If they were an important customer, it took 24 hours and we sent the tape UPS RED, EARLY AM. I now have a job that lets me work from home. I connect with customers via Skype, GoToWebinar, our website, cellular phones with international plans, TeamViewer, Gmail and email.  Those customers contact me real time via a “TALK TO US NOW” page on the website that is always up, and sends chats to my phone wherever I am, whenever I am wherever I am. 3 customers said they were purchasing after my webinar on Friday, and only 1 did. I am sending the other 2 notes via email and skype in an attempt to close sales before Monday, on Labor Day Weekend, using a program called, “JING” to capture screenshots of my software that they can see via one ‘click’ instantly.  Sick days for me now mean, “Can I sit in this chair and do I have the strength to push these keys on this keyboard?”. 98% of the time, the answer is yes.

Time is getting faster. In the past year, using the resources we all have access to, I taught myself how to build and maintain a hydroponic greenhouse across an entire year – using 3 different methods to grow hundreds of tomatoes and lettuce heads and pounds of basil. I used YouTube to teach myself how to can and preserve jars of tomato sauce using the produce I’d grown. My best friend and I taught ourselves how to make our own wind generators and solar powered houses….using Google and Amazon for 90% of the journey. I learned how to prospect for Gold, and together we built a Gold Dredge like the ones they use on the TV – and we dredged an actual creek 3 miles from one of the original goldmines in North Carolina. We taught ourselves to make “air conditioner-misting-systems’ that increase the inefficiencies of our home’s outdoor heat exchanger. According to the power company, it has saved my friend somewhere between $500 and $1000 in electric bills this year alone.  In my pre-internet-library world – this would not have been possible.

Everything we want to know – everything we want, is 1 second to 1 or 2 days away. Not weeks, or months, or years. I’m thinking – right now – I can put a headset on right now, and tour any museum in the world, in Virtual Reality. Or, I can research 10 career fields with my oldest son whose a Junior in High School, and schedule a college campus tour online having taken a virtual “walk around” via YouTube with him in our living room. I can connect with alumni via email and skype or Facebook chat to guide his decision about a Major. In minutes.

Life, is getting faster. I don’t know what the lesson here is, but acknowledging the speed from my ancient reference frame is, I guess, a good start.

 

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The art of Double Speak

When I was a kid, there were no Ipads or Chromebooks or, well – anything really but books. And in school you had book bags, and you schlogged those books from class to class to your locker and then home again. And back. Moms would wise up early on in the shopping cycle and get heavier duty backpacks that didn’t rip out at the bottoms from the weight of all the larger books. If you had Advanced Placement classes back then, you probably have scoliosis or degenerative disc disease right now, but I digress.

One of the books we were given to read, was “1984” by George Orwell. This dystopian novel revealed a government-centric world filled with what Orwell called, “double speak”. It was a way of saying something, and the opposite-something simultaneously with the expectation people should and then eventually would accept it.

One example of such comes in the form of this quote,

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”

I didn’t really appreciate what I was being taught at the time about the technique, but I’ll share what I’m seeing today as a result of the awareness.

I want you to imagine that we’re the CEO of McDonald’s. As of 2015, there were 36,525 McDonalds restaurants world wide. That’s 32 thousand.

Imagine with me – hypothetically – that the CEO (let’s call him Mr. McHappypants) came out with some new kind of program for all the stores. He was really excited about it – and somehow convinced everyone that his McHappypants idea was going to make everyone – burger sellers,  happy. Burgers were going to cost less money – and more people were going to have access to burgers. Win win all around.

What would happen if that idea caused over half of those stores to close? Close to 19,000 stores closed, in a few years, as a result of the one idea?

7-14-2016 9-22-41 AM

You and I both know exactly what would happen. Mr. McHappypants would be relieved of his duties as the McDonalds CEO. There would be a massive shakeup. Investors would demand investigations into possible corruption and lawsuits would be filed.

So, about that.

Last night I was reading this article from CNN Money. I found this one paragraph particularly interesting:

Instead, Obamacare funded the creation of non-profit co-op insurers to provide consumers with alternatives. But more than half of them have failed since their debut in 2014, undone mainly by enrollees’ unexpectedly high medical use. Other insurers — particularly UnitedHealthcare (UNH) — have announced they are pulling out of Obamacare, further restricting consumers’ choices.” (emphasis added)

This isn’t about the whole, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”, thing. Or the, “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan”, thing. As I write it, I’m not sure what it’s really about other than to point out the Health Care Exchanges – the lynch pin of the entire Affordable Care Act, are going going gone.

The Exchanges Supreme Court Justice Roberts had to bend the law insisting the word “State” didn’t mean what you and I were taught “State” meant – are failing. Have failed. You’ll never believe why. Some of you will, maybe.

Many insurers found enrollees have higher health care needs than expected, forcing them to hike rates.

So, do you remember the math of how this was all supposed to work out?

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The plans were hinged on the McHappypants idea that there would be tons and tons of younger healthier people paying premiums. That we’d all be in the plans together – and the multitudes of younger happier and healthier people paying into the newly created exchanges would offset the costs of the older people with pre-existing health conditions. It was the first time in our history as a nation that the Federal Government forced its citizens to buy a product, or be fined.

The problem with that – is it never happened. Because the fines were unenforceable (I believe intentionally). If you’re a young 20 something – the only way the government can collect your fine is if you receive a tax refund. If you don’t – there’s literally no language in the law collect the fine. Moreover – if you lie on your tax form and say, “I already have a plan”, there’s no way to verify if you’re lying. Ever. So this happened instead.

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CNN writes as a result,

A recent Kaiser study found the benchmark silver plan premiums are projected to rise 10% for 2017, on average, for a 40-year-old consumer in 14 major cities. That’s double the 5% increase for 2016 policies

If you’re reading this, you probably have a policy that’s increased 10, 15, or even 20 percent in the last few years. Your rates never went down. Most of my friends don’t have a plan at all, in fact- they don’t make enough money to purchase one, but make too much money to qualify for the subsidies to get anything. Double-speak is really good at telling you the crap sandwich you’re eating tastes amazing.

Ok. So what’s the suggestion? How do we get out of this mess that is only getting worse by the day? A public plan. Or a “Single Payer” health care system (like the VA).

Adding a public plan in such areas would strengthen the marketplace approach, giving consumers more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government…” (President Obama)

I’ve made all these graphics and written all these things to warn, and to educate you.

This is coming. It’s the next phase. It was always the intention.

When the plan came out, there were a host of predictions made. My favorite (I listen to all media outlets, not just the “right”) was from Rush Limbaugh. In 2013 Limbaugh (hate him or love him, just read) said this:

Americans had to lose their healthcare plans in order to for Obamacare to work.  There was never any intention for anybody to keep their current plan.  The only way Obamacare could work, as designed by Obama and the Democrats, is precisely because people would lose their plan.  It had to happen that way.  The only way Obamacare could work, the only way Obama could reform the healthcare system the way he wants to reform it is, precisely if everybody lost their plan.

The shift is happening – right now.

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As early as a year ago – former Secretary of State Ms. Clinton was against a “single payer” health plan. Just a few days before the Iowa caucuses, she said that a public option – a single payer plan – would “never, ever” happen. That the ACA was fine. And she would defend it voraciously.

Just before being acquitted essentially of all charges in her email scandal this month, Ms. Clinton had this to say…using new language and terminology….a change of heart maybe?

I’m also in favor of what’s called the public option,

(Huh?)

In addition to this – here’s the ‘solution’ that scares me – and should scare all of you, the most. President Obama made what has probably been the most dystopian suggestion I’ve heard, to date….

he said Congress should help reduce the cost of prescription drugs by requiring drug makers to disclose their production and development costs, increasing the rebates manufacturers must give for drugs prescribed to certain Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and allowing the federal government to negotiate prices for certain high-cost medications.”

The Federal Government will soon have the ability to go to any corporation and force them to reveal private information about their business. Negotiated raw products prices and contracts with suppliers. Salaries of research and development staff. Sales and Marketing practices. All of it. Just short of taking a patented product developed by said companies and making it themselves (for the good of the people).

Those of you who have read the novel, “Atlas Shrugged” just shivered with me. It’s happening….now.

Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” (Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand)

What’s the point of all this? The point is – it’s coming. It will be here, soon. It’s here, already in many instances. There is no point of return.

Double-speak is a powerful tool in the hands of those who craft its verbiage. I’ve found for as many people were were in favor of the ACA – in countless presentations of all of the facts – defend it vehemently to this day. Even as their premiums rise. Even as their plans are cancelled. Even as their deductibles rise from $2,500 to $10,000 and $15,000. Even as they all get ready to stand in line with the Veterans who have been waiting as long as as a year to see their VA doctor, many dying as they waited.

Orwell predicted this though long ago when he said,

If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.

 

 

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The other side of Father’s Day

When my mother was a younger girl, her father (my grandfather) was abusing her. From stories I could piece together from various people, it was bad. One such story involved the man literally jumping up and down on top of her in anger as she lay helpless on the floor.

Year later, I saw for myself what a piece of s**t he really was to her mom (my grandmother) and Mom. He denigrated “Dee-Dee” (my grandmother) in front of us….incessantly swearing at her and calling her names. One time grandma was at work (I never saw him work, ever) and “Popeye” pulled into the parking lot of the sweatshop to pick her up. He didn’t slow the truck down and stop – and rather made her run to get into the truck as I watched her trip and struggle to open the door and get in. She was in her 60’s at the time.

When I was a little older, my dad came over with me to Grandma’s house when she was alone. He had an envelope that he handed her with some secrecy and said,

“Evelyn – if you ever want to leave here – you call me. These are two tickets to Florida. I will come, pick you up, drive you to the airport and fly down with you to your sister’s house and drop you off at her door. Anytime – day or night – we go. 

When “Popeye” had cancer years later, and his eye was literally “popping” out from tumors – it was my mom who was taking him to his chemotherapy treatments at Stony brook University Hospital. From the backseat I could hear him calling her a “whore” and a “bitch” as she drove him back to his falling apart house off of Bay Avenue in Patchogue.  I remember thinking if my father ever heard him calling her those things, would Popeye  live to see the next stoplight – and why mom never told dad what took place in these car trips.

In the past 45 years, I’ve seen for myself how horrible dads can be to their families.

I’ve met no fewer than 3 other women who were physically or sexually abused by their own fathers. I suspect a few others have lived through that hell, based on some signs I’ve started picking up on but haven’t admitted as much in public.

One dad I know has a special needs son. After his divorce, he told his ex-wife that their visitation agreement was going to change, because the son was over 18 years old now. The dad had plans to travel and experience the world with his soon to be new-wife. His weekends were his therefore, and if the son wanted to visit, there had to be “sufficient notice” going forward.

I’ve watched no fewer than  5 dads leave their wives for another (usually)  younger woman and leave their young kids behind to deal with the tragedy and abandonment of the divorce. Some intentionally torturing their soon-to-be-ex wives throughout the entirety of the legal process via their lawyers. Some moving halfway across the country to get away from them. All of them hit what I affectionately call the “RESET BUTTON”, and started their cycle of brokenness over and over….again……..and again.

Right now, a man I’ve met or known is Facebook chatting with an old girlfriend online, or making plans to meet somewhere after work…packing the cracks of his marriage with the black powder and fuses of infidelity. I don’t know who specifically – but I’m sure it’s happening.  Someone you know – they’re doing it right now. There is a 100% chance of infidelity in your circle of friends, and it’s usually the “perfect dad” or the guy everyone thought would never do it, that’s doing it.  A dad has decided in his heart to sentence his children to a life of wondering, “Why didn’t you love us?

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When I was growing up, I watched every episode of “Little House on the Prairie”, produced by a man named Michael Landon. He starred as the show’s main character, “Charles Ingalls” in the iconic TV series and exemplified everything I thought a father was supposed to be. Every episode I saw was a blueprint to follow in love, sacrifice, and dedication to family. He was everything I wanted to be someday as a dad.

Years later I learned about Landon’s personal life.

He was married no fewer than 3 times. He was the father of 9 children across the 3 different families.  Landon was a heavy smoker, and admittedly an even heavier drinker when not on screen. By all accounts, he was a horrible father in real life. At one point, Landon started sleeping with a much younger makeup artist (Cindy) who would become Landon’s third wife.

Landon’s children dealt with the aftermath of his infidelities in different ways with his son later battling severe alcohol abuse, and his daughter fighting most of her life with the horrors of bulimia as she coped with the loss.

Michael Landon was a piece of s**t father. One thing in public when everyone was looking, and another person entirely when the doors were closed. Just like my grandfather, and so many other fathers out there.

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I have met men that are inspirations to me – “on and off screen” that are the real deal. Men I can look to and say, “I want to be like that guy”.  Guys who were and are real life Charles Ingalls-es.  They make me want to be a better dad…..a better husband.  They genuinely walk the walk…and I’ve learned by watching them. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned. Things I hope my own sons will identify with and embody someday:

a. A father is a keel. “Be a keel” I was told by one man. A keel is the part of the boat that sticks down under the water that no one can see. It serves one inglorious purpose – to keep the boat upright as it sails forward. Fathers and Husbands can’t lose their crap in a storm…whether that storm is an argument, or a family difficulty. “Be a keel” means understanding your role and responsibility is to expect and deflect the pressure of those storm waters, and keep the boat upright. I catch myself in moments whispering, “be a keel” to myself, echoing what another father taught me years ago. In those 5 to 10 seconds of reminder, many an argument or inflamed situation has dissolved backwards into peace and calm – and the sailboat continued on, upright.

b. A father can never love his wife, or his kids, the way they were meant to be loved.  A man I love and respect taught me this before I was married to my wife Karen. He turned straight at me in counselling – in front of her – and told me, “You can never love your wife the way she needs to be loved“. (What?) “Only God can love her completely and fully.” I remember now in very critical moments that they will be disappointed with me – and my job is to apologize to them, ask their forgiveness –  and direct them to Christ as the only person who can meet that deepest need in them. He also reminded me that only God can love me the way I was designed to be loved – and not to seek that fulfillment from my wife and kids. I’m here to serve my wife and kids on behalf of Christ, and be Jesus to them in the overflow of His love for me. These are hard words for men that come from imperfect families growing up as many fathers look for a validation in their wives and kids that only God can ever / was ever supposed to give them.

c. Two different fathers have bought taught me the same invaluable third lesson – keep talking to your children. Never stop communicating with them. Make time to always be talking to them…asking them questions, and getting them to vocalize what is happening in their heads. I think ultimately this boils back down to time investment as well. You can’t talk to your kids if you’re not actually physically there to talk to them. Both of these dads have raised beautiful, successful and independent daughters, and I admire what they’ve accomplished. Their daughters are the kinds of women I want my daughter to be someday, and so I’ve paid attention to how they’ve spoken to them and the kinds of things they say to them, when they are talking. The words we use matter…and can be life giving, or life altering.

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Here are some of the words I use, or try to use now in my own family:

a. “I love you“. Dads can’t say this enough times. Dads need to say this when they least feel like saying it. If you’re a dad and you think you say it enough times…if you’re trying to count in your head right now how many times you’ve said it to your kids today, or this week – you didn’t say it enough times. Every time you tell your kids, “I love you”, you’re placing a deposit in the bank accounts of their souls. The pile of self-worth grows larger and larger and larger. Soon they are swimming in the knowledge of your love for them like Scrooge McDuck swimming through a pile of freshly minted gold coins.

b. “I’m proud of you.”  The blessing of a father is a hallmark moment for a son or daughter. I’ve met and befriended men who are to this day – years after the loss of their dad, looking for someone….anyone, to tell them they are proud of them. My own father before he died had such a moment with me. He sat me down and told me that he had made more mistakes with me than he could count….that as a dad, he had failed as often or more than he had succeeded – but it was critical to him that I understand how proud of me he was…who I had become and was becoming. I can point to this single event and moment in my life as the turning point for me as a man.

c. “I’m sorry. Would you forgive me?”  These are the hardest words for a husband or father to utter. They epitomize failure….embody the realization that we aren’t what was needed in the moment. Saying “I’m sorry”, to one of your kids or your wife though – is critical to the health and success of your family. In vocalizing the words, “I’m sorry” a dad admits to having made a mistake – admits to have experienced a learning moment. These words are proverbial “jackhammers” to our worst enemies as dads – our pride. Most fathers teach their sons to “demand respect” from their wives and kids, the exact opposite of what’s needed.

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Much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late: if only I’d known then what I know now, how much smarter, abler, stronger, I would have been. But nothing really prepares you for kids, for the swells of emotion that roll through your chest like the rumble of boulders tumbling downhill, nor for the all-enveloping labor of it, the sheer mulish endurance you need for the six or seven hundred discrete tasks that have to be done each and every day. Such a small person! Not much bigger than a loaf of bread at first, yet it takes so much to keep the whole enterprise going. Logistics, skills, materiel; the only way we really learn is by figuring it out as we go along, and even then it changes on us every day, so we’re always improvising, which is a fancy way of saying that we’re doing things we technically don’t know how to do.”  – Ben Fountain

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In the end – when my eyes close one last time and my heart beats no more, I want to know that I was a good dad, and a loving husband. When my name is mentioned somewhere, I don’t want to be remembered for being funny, or smart, or a business owner. I want them to say, “He met his wife when he was 19 and she was 17, and he loved her right up until he was gone“, or, “Have you met his kids? He was so proud of them and loved them more than anything…they were his life“.

Every day is a struggle. A realization that I wasn’t given the tools I need and am learning as I go most times. These “swells of emotion” that are rolling through my chest “like the rumble of boulders tumbling downhill” ever present.

But I have resolved to never be a Popeye…

…..to never be a Michael Landon.

To be more like Christ and a little like Charles Ingalls.

 

 

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I was watching, Dad

Dad,

I was watching when you were taking care of all the women that didn’t have people to stand up for them.

Rosemarie, Donna, and Patty next door. She was a widow, and you spent more time in their driveway fixing her car and stuff in her house than you did in our own backyards some summer weekends.

Ethyl across the street. All times you cut the lawn, and the home repair work. How you made us gut and prepare all the snapper we caught when we went fishing and bring it to her because she was on Social Security. How that one tree that fell in her yard almost killed you when it snapped back on your legs when you cut it down with your chainsaw so it wouldn’t damage her house after the hurricane.

Amalia – the little lady from Spain that we drove to church every week because she couldn’t drive herself and was “trapped” in her house. She smelled like old people, and told me my school-spanish was wrong. She was going to teach me “Castillian” spanish – the language of the kings.

Rosealie next door to us. Another widow, whose husband died while we lived there, leaving her  alone in that house.

         >>>(I believe she was mentally disabled, almost like a child, now that I think back)

You checked in on her – helped her move when the state took her property away for the highway project. Bought her junky furniture to help with the move and get some money in her pockets. She was the kind of lady no one would talk to or help because she was different – and you did both of those things.

Widows, all around us. You were the only guy helping, now that I think about it.

How you took care of little Richie Frye because his welfare mom wouldn’t spend any time with him, and just let him run loose around the neighborhood dirty and hungry. We hated him at the time, to be honest. I didn’t get it then – but I get it now. She wasn’t a widow – just single if she was ever married at all. She probably appreciated you picking him up and taking him to the beach with us those times. Weird now that I see it that way. His brother kicked the shit out of me one day – and you still took “little Richie” to the beach. That stung, Pop.

You fought for Mom’s mom, when grandpa was abusive to her- which was a lot. I heard when I was a kid watching you tell her you’d drive her to the airport, buy 2 tickets and fly her down to her sister’s house in Florida and take her away from him…all she had to do was tell you. You handed her a ticket that she never used. I saw the whole thing.

Dad – I have a lot of women in my life now. It’s kind of weird. But they all need my help to one degree or another. And I’ve been helping. I didn’t connect to the why until just now.

It always comes with a cost though.

Sometimes the people you help – that need the help the most, don’t want it or reject what you did after the fact. I see now that it’s because the people closest to them always hurt them. Doing something nice for someone usually comes with a catch. People don’t want to feel obligated. They have enough unwanted obligations. So they push you away.

Sometimes the people you help don’t ever fight for themselves. They let you do all the fighting. And that takes its toll on you. It grinds you down to the point you don’t want to help anymore. You ask, “what the hell am I doing?”.  Sometimes.

Sometimes the most hurtful part is dealing with the people who have been hurting the women who’ve been hurt. They don’t like you standing up for them. It shines a spotlight on how shitty they’ve been to the person you’re helping. They get ferociously offensive, and lash out at you AND the person you’re helping. These are the worst kinds of situations. They take the deepest tolls. It evokes certain feelings…I wonder if you ever felt this way. They are not happy feelings.

Most times I don’t count the cost, and I find I’m waaaay out there – pretty exposed and vulnerable before I know where I am in the situation. I know that’s not a healthy place to be, but sometimes some people – the ones who hurt others –  only understand “crazy”. It’s their native language, and they won’t back down until you speak the song of their people.

I watched you sing those melodies more than once.

I’d like to hope you’d be proud of me – of the man I’ve become/am becoming.  But I get really angry – the way you used to get – when I see someone being mistreated. To a fault most days. I’m not sure I’m built for it the way you were. Or maybe the anger took the same toll on you it takes on me? There are enough genes in “here” from you, that I’m pretty sure it did.

Did you ever regret it? Helping? Did you ever once say, “this is the last time?” Did you ever get in so deep you looked back and thought….”Crap.”

You ended up living in the mountains in the Catskills by yourself with mom….but then she found a widow to help….and you started helping her too, when she was dying of cancer.

I haven’t yet…given up. In fact, I’m really proud of these ladies. (there are men to help/ I am helping. Just a lot of women lately, it seems).

They’re getting stronger….little by little. Small changes that turn into big changes when you take that burden away for a little while. Time to heal, and get back up on their feet and stand, you know? I didn’t appreciate how strong a woman could be, that is, until this latest season of my halfway through life phase.

I hope your granddaughter Abbey will be as strong as these ladies are, someday. God you’d love her, Dad. She’s amazing – the best of all of us.

I kind of get why you did it, now.

Sometimes people just need someone to stand in the gap and say, “I believe in you. I’ll help”.  To people that get forgotten. People other people don’t think will ever fight back. You were kind of a superhero like that, I guess…your other glaring faults and personal kryptonites aside. I could have had a worst example growing up.

Tell Mom, and Ethyl, and Rosemarie…all the ladies that I get it. Tell them your daughter in law and granddaughter – they’re strong like them….so much stronger than I am most days. I’m trying to be a better dad than you. I say, “I love you” a lot more than you did in front of the boys to them. Hug them- tell them I think they’re beautiful and that I believe they can do whatever they set their mind to.

Sometimes I drop the ball like you did – but maybe a little less often than you, and that’s gotta stand for something, right? Maybe your grandsons will do even better than you or I did with their wives and kids. I think that will be true. I know it.

I miss you. It’s hard figuring out what you would do. I have a hard time remembering your face sometimes – or your voice. Tonight was a good touchstone for me though. Remembering the widows.

That was all you, Old Man. And I was watching.

 

 

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Dandelions

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That’s a weird looking picture. Some sort of what-the-hell-hieroglyphic at first.  And it is, in a way most people probably won’t understand. That picture was my Church sermon this morning. A message just for me, as I sat here listening…not talking.

I’m really tired. I have poured myself out into the lives of other people these past few weeks. If I were a battery and you put me in a flashlight, you’d throw me out, type pouring.

This morning as I was listening, I started drawing. Me at the center – and the people I’ve been helping out on the perimeter…lines connecting them back to me with Microsoft-Paint-Paths. And then I heard Him.

Last night as my wife was driving our family home from an appointment, I’d come across something in Pinterest that jumped out at me. I pinned it, and filed it away to look at later. I didn’t understand at the time but God was whispering to me in the car when I saw it and preparing me for this morning. Hiding a clue. A note to a song he was writing.

It’s hard to explain to people, but this is what the conversation that took place between God and I just sounded like:

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Michael – I made you to pour out inspiration into others. That’s why your here

“But Lord, it hurts when the relationships don’t stick, or people take what I give them and just leave.”

Open your computer and draw the connections of the lives you are pouring out into.

“Okay, I don’t understand, but sure.”

Do you have everyone on there?

“Yes.”

What does that look like to you?……think.

“…………….it looks like the dandelion yarn sculpture picture I saw last night”.

(silence)

“Ok, here’s what I see. I’m the middle part of the dandelion. You’re the stalk. Everything I need to pour out into the people you’ve put in my life comes through you, out into them….”

(silence)

“Some people stay with me on the core, and others, well, they float away to seed out into others lives when what they needed from you-through-me-has been transferred”.

Yes.

“Lord it hurts sometimes when they don’t stay. When they go.”

I healed a bunch of guys who had leprosy, and only one came back to say thank you.

“Hmmmm.”

(silence)

(silence)

“Lord, remember how I told you that I wanted a “George Bailey” life? Like the end of that movie, “It’s a wonderful life”, how he sees everyone he’s helped over the course of his life?

Yes.

“This is how you’re doing it, isn’t it?”

(silence)

“I love you Dad.”

I love you too. Be my dandelion.
I am the Vine and you are the branches.
Everything you need comes from me.
As you love one another I am spreading through the wind to the end reaches.
I am your thanks. I am your reward. I am enough. I Am.”

“(silence)”

“(silence)”

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He takes seemingly disconnected things, little puzzle pieces that don’t have any connections at first – and “hides” them in my life like a dad hiding clues to a present for his children. Then, He subtly brings them together with one last piece and I find Him there, in the middle of a pile of things that could never be considered “random” in their totality. Clues hidden in space and time come together and I know that He was doing it all for me…to talk to me.

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“A dandelion?”

Yes.

“I doesn’t sound too manly, God.”

It has the word “lion” in it…(smiles)

“Funny.”

 

 

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