Monday, May 30, 2011

What is in a Name

One of the curses of becoming an adult is the fact that foolishness no longer makes sense to us. The latest nonsensical thing to enter my awareness happened when I was standing in line today at the supermarket. A young mother was holding an infant that appeared to be about four or five months old. Another woman asked the mother what she had named the baby. “Rehtaeh,” the mother replied.

“Oh!” the woman exclaimed. “I’ve heard of that. That is Heather spelled backwards.”

When I got home from the store I leaped into my computer chair and started googling to see what was missing from my dull and uneventful life. I was aware that Oprah, of television fame, reversed her name to produce the name Harpo, which is the name of her production company. Just to show you how far behind I am, I learned that this practice has a name. Ananyms is the process of reversing brand names to produce a new word. I am going to assume that this term applies to proper names as well.

I have known several people who have received abominable names from their parents, to change or drop the crippling appendage sometime before they are through school. I know a man who actually has the name, Skippy Scamper. I have never asked him how many fights he had in school, but I assume that the ridge on the upper part of his nose resulted from some encounter with a schoolyard bully.

It is said that in Colonial America, the Indians were allowed to pick their own names after they were old enough to have gained some sense of identity. I can’t help wonder what problems might result from naming your kids Rumor, Tallulah, or Scout, as one movie personality did. If something doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger, I have been told . . . or maybe not.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Secret Information - Don't Tell a Soul You Read this Here!

There are many things in the world that ought to be kept under wraps and not discussed at all. Novelists often think that they need to go to great lengths, ad nauseum, and give each detail of a romantic scene. Then there are the ‘tell all’ books that crop up after some well-know person dies or leaves office. I can survive without knowing what he/she ate for breakfast before they jumped from the 14th story window of their condo.

I am especially bothered when someone working for the government discloses information that might be valuable to a foreign government or terrorist’s organization. I admire people who can keep a secret, even a juicy secret, until the Halleluiah Chorus is sung for the last time. There are, however, things that aren’t worth locking away forever.

A case in point is the decision by a couple living in Toronto, Canada not to divulge the sex of their baby. It seems that they sent out the usual birth announcements, but kept the sex of the baby secret. It seems to me that this is a prime dedication looking desperately for a cause. You can click on the title of this article and read the story for yourself, but you have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone else.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is the End of the World Coming on May 21st?

A friend of mine is a rather successful recreational gambler. I asked him about the secret of his success. He said, "If you are going to gamble, you need to cheat just enough to give yourself an edge."

So that is what I am going to do here. I intended to post this early this morning, but I knew I might unleash an argument. I decided to wait late enough in the afternoon that most of you would not see this it until tomorrow, and no one would have a chance to disagree. The statement has been made on Family Radio by Harold Camping that the Rapture will occur tomorrow. Camping gave a rather long explanation, or at least long enough to convince some otherwise intelligent people that he knew what he was talking about. According to his prediction, tomorrow at six o'clock p.m. the Rapture will occur. Many of his followers are in malls and other places that have high incidents of traffic and they are trying to get the word out. A few people have sold all of their earthly possessions and are prepared to immediately enter eternity. Some have even gone as far as getting non-Christians to take charge of their pets. I am not going to be unkind and comment too much on the fact that Camping was wrong once before.

I won't wear my fingers out on my keyboard giving you a hundred and one reasons why this is not going to happen. You would get bored before I got through and so would I. Instead read Mathew 24:36 where Jesus says that no man knows the time except the Father. I rest my case. See all of you tomorrow.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tennessee Sex Trafficking Report

The Tennessee State Assembly released a report yesterday created by The Center of Community Services at Vanderbilt University, in association with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that I find shocking. It was featured on the evening news, but I have no idea if the report was nationwide. I would assume that other states have released similar reports about their own areas.

I find this report disturbing because it is about sex trafficking, and it is not the kind of thing you would expect to be happening in a place like Tennessee. There are a few high crime areas in the state, but the report states that 85 percent of Tennessee's 95 counties have a problem with sex trafficking. Prostitution is sometimes referred to as the second oldest profession, and it has been with us since the beginning of time. All towns of any size have a problem with prostitution, but the information released by the Vanderbilt study involves the sale and exploitation of young women and minors in a manner that can only be described as slavery.

Law enforcement studies have discovered that most states that have Interstates have a problem with major crime. Organizations that make arrangements for business conventions select cities that are readily accessible to interstate traffic and also to entertainment. Nashville, Atlanta, Memphis, and other southern cities provide the necessary services to meet those needs. Organized crime is ready, able, and willing to exploit the opportunity for profit.

Many of the young people involved in sex trafficking are runaways who fled abusive homes. The report states that one in four runaways fall victim to these crimes in the first 48 hours. There are also instances of children being snatched off the street and 'disappearing' into the system. They are forced to comply by physical punishment, drugs, and threats directed toward their family and loved ones. There is also the Stockholm syndrome that comes into play after they have been imprisoned for a few weeks.

The Tennessee report is rather lengthy and contains many graphs that are of little interest to the general public. You might want to read the introduction on page five for an understanding of the results of the study. There are two case studies included in the report that I think many of you will find interesting. Carrie's story on page 39 and Rachel's story on page 42 of the report. Read carefully through them and see if there is anything you can do to help solve this challenging problem.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Cell Phone Menace

You probably saw the story on the morning news about the woman that was evicted from the Amtrak for talking too loud on a cell phone. After ten straight hours of this, the passengers objected. The train stopped and the police held the passenger until a family member could arrive and pick her up. I am still laughing over the story, for I have had similar experiences. I bet you have too.

There are few inventions that have changed our lifestyle as much as a cell phone. Most of the changes help us in positive ways. A generation ago, automobiles were less complicated and help was only a hike away. Today, there are few places where a car can be repaired, except for an authorized dealer.

And then there are the things like accidents, health issues, crime, and a dozen others, where we can summon professional help with a 911 call. Businesses are becoming more innovated and the competition is fierce. Some business owners have a need to be instantly available to their customers. A lot of problems can be solved with a brief phone call.

In the past, soldiers on a battlefield were weeks away from any communication with their family or friends at home. There have been many instances where a mother or father serving in the military has joined in on a birthday celebration from halfway around the world.

So here is my solution to the problem of cell phone annoyance. After the first minute of conversation, say excuse me to the caller and take a quick look around. If you see steam coming out of someone's collar, or an expression like Hannibal Lector's in 'The Silence of the Lambs,' try to cool it. I certainly don't want to lose any of you after we've had so much fun.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Need a Heartwarming Story?

I read a wide variety of books, but the ones on the suspense and mystery shelves are the ones that draw me irresistibly. I do, however, have a problem with many of the stories I find there. For lack of a better term, I will say that they have no 'heart.' The heroes in so many of them are homeless, unloved, uncaring-- they commit crimes with impunity, then dance away to live another day. I was delighted when I found a new series by one of my favorite authors, James Patterson, co-authored with Michael Ledwidge. I won't attempt to write a review of the story, but this series begins with 'Step on a Crack,' and tells the intrinsically involved story of, Michael Bennett, a New York detective who it trying to stop a crew of kidnappers holding the congregation of St. Patrick's Cathedral, hostage.

The thing that makes this book so interesting is Bennett's ten adopted children and the fact that he has a wife dying of cancer. The interaction is heartwarming, and it delivers the story in a way that might surprise many dedicated suspense fans. Give me books, lots and lots of books, but entertain me with a story that warms my heart.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Memorial Tattoos

There are countless ways to handle the grief of losing a loved one. Some of us write poetry to read at the funeral service. Others deliver a eulogy telling what the person meant to them in life. Colleges and universities benefit from memorial donations in the name of a deceased friend or relative. There are also elaborate tombstones, shrines, and personal tributes that take many forms. I was not aware of the many people who get personalized tattoos. Some of these tattoos are simple, having only the name of the deceased. Others add the birth and death date, and the more artistically inclined ask for a picture or some elaborate artwork. These tattoos run in size from inch long names to some that cover an arm or leg, or perhaps the entire back. Some of them are beautiful, some less so, but I was surprised at a news story that told of taking this to the next step. If you really want something personal, there are tattoo artist who specialize in combining the ashes from a cremation with tattoo ink. Rather than casting the contents of the urn into the sea or on a mountainside, you can have the deceased up close and personal—under your skin, so to speak. Click on the title of this article and it will carry you to a website that will tell you more.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Did Something Good Happen to You Today


When I was growing up, I had a lot of trouble trying to understand ‘why bad things happen to good people.’ A Jewish Rabbi named Harold Kushner wrote a fascinating book on the subject, although I do not agree with all of his reasoning. Rather than trying to argue with Kushner’s logic, I try to focus on the fact that bad things are going to happen, but the extent of the damage depends on us. We are all familiar with the statement floated by human behavioral experts, “No one can make you angry. You chose to be, or not to be, angry at some real or perceived threat.”

There are a multitude of things that upset our equilibrium, almost on a daily basis. It is easy to let them weigh us down. I would like to point out to you that there are also many things that should make us happy. After a lot of years of evaluating my own situation, I have discovered that the most enjoyable things are small, life altering events. But in each of them, we must allow them to take charge of our day. Happiness is the way in which we deal with the everyday things of life. Recently, I was at the hospital to take a PET scan. They had injected the radioactive iodine into my arm and I was waiting for the chemical to circulate – a process that takes approximately thirty minutes. Next to me on another reclining bed was one of the happiest people I have ever met. My spirits were rather low, but his smile, his chatter, and his attitude lifted my spirit. The technician who was prepping us for the exam asked the man what the doctor’s prognosis was. The man replied in a cheerful voice, “I have two months to live, tops.”

I turned my head away and took a deep breath. I found a very good thing in this man’s attitude, and I have tried to adjust mine as a result. I stop and think of how things were when I was a small child and the world held so much wonder. I remember the thrill of looking into a bird’s nest and counting the small furry creatures waiting for their mother to return. I remember sparkling creeks just right to wade with bare feet, and the endless expanse of a clear blue sky. If you try, you can view the world with the same kind of wonder that archeologist Howard Carter experienced when he peered through the small opening into Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt. It had been undisturbed for centuries and a layer covered everything. “What do you see?” the man behind him asked after a moment when Carter did not move or speak. “Wonderful things,” Carter answered in a hoarse whisper.

What have you seen today, and did you allow it to take your breath away?


Monday, May 2, 2011

Things My Mother Told Me

Whenever Mother's Day approaches, we tend to remember those things our mother's said to us. I bet you have your own list of favorite quotes
and it probably contained most of thses.

Don’t run with scissors.

Keep your hands to yourself.

If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze like that.

Don’t make me come in there.

If you fall off that swing and break your neck, you can’t go to the store with me.

If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just cleaned the floor.

You have better pray that comes out of the couch.

Because I said so, that’s why.

Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you have an accident.

Just wait until we get home.

One day you will have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.