Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)




Fri, Aug 31 2007

Wishing you a spider-free holiday

I will be staying close to home this holiday weekend. I wish for each one of you reading this that you have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend, whether you travel or stay in the backyard. And I hope none of you unexpectedly runs into the giant spider web in Wills Point, Texas on your travels. I know Texas does everything in a big way, but this is one tourist trap I'd avoid at all costs. I have such arachnophobia that I still have trouble speaking of the internet as "the web" and the search engines' practice of visiting sites as "crawling".

posted at: 17:50 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Aug 30 2007

Opening windows saves some energy

It's hot in the inland counties of the state this week, though our coastal section has been fairly tolerable. If it does get bad here, I do have a small air-conditioner in a window of the home office. But this summer, thanks to the installation of new windows, I've been able to get by with much less use of that air-conditioner. When the room had to stay closed (because the old windows were in such bad shape that we feared they might stick open) I was using the air-conditioning on several summer days. Now that I can open both windows and let the breezes flow, we'll be using less energy, which is good for our pocketbook and good for the grid.

posted at: 08:04 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, Aug 29 2007

Katrina didn't cause crime or fix crime; it only spotlighted issues

Two years after Katrina caused much of the population of New Orleans to flee, reports are that crime is flourishing there. People seem angry and even surprised. I guess they thought that a rebuilding of the city would result in higher morals and more caring for one another. A little reading into the Book of Genesis could have told us that a big old flood doesn't really change human nature for very long.

Many times when people talk about the Genesis flood there's a lot of emphasis on the wickedness of mankind and how God used the flood to pronounce judgement on those who were evil. But the flood story mostly speaks to me of salvation. Once people had been told that rain was on the way, there were only two choices. Get into the ark and be saved or don't believe it will rain and continue the path you're on—and drown. It wasn't rocket science, but it did take faith to choose to go into a boat on dry land and be safely sheltered there long before the first raindrops ever hit the ground. And it says a lot to me that we don't read in Genesis of hordes of people, or even a few people, coming to Noah and asking for refuge during all that time he was making ready a way of salvation from the destruction to come.

I'm not picking on the people of New Orleans. They aren't an exact representation of the people of Noah's day. But some folks' surprise that the physical rebuilding of much of New Orleans didn't automatically transform it into a crime-free, shining city reminds me that we often forget what saving is. Any sure form of saving takes a savior who is willing to save, one in trouble who chooses to rely on that savior and the joining of the two with a mutual faith and trust that makes it impossible for anyone to ever really take that experience away from them.

posted at: 09:50 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Tue, Aug 28 2007

Night shows in the sky

The lunar eclipse this morning was impressive, but I didn't know until after-the-fact that scientists were using the opportunity to look at something else. I can't say that I've ever heard of helion meteoroids until now.

We star-gazers in the Western U.S. might have a chance to see another meteor shower on September 1. I enjoy the Perseids, but it sounds as though the Aurigids might be a bit easier to spot, with their long trains. Those of us with less than perfect eyesight do appreciate the benefits of meteors that linger for an extra second or two.

posted at: 06:38 | category: /Science | link to this entry



Mon, Aug 27 2007

Be vigilant

The September issue of Deb's Monthly Review is up, for those who enjoy catching up on festivals and events. I send out a subscriber notice every month for those who want to know when the new issue is up for viewing. Unfortunately, this month I found it necessary to warn folks to watch their kids, and all kids in general, at events such as parades and fairs, as well as at parks and libraries, where kids might be innocently spending their time. I'm glad to know there are others taking notice of people like Jack McClellan, who has been sharing information online about little girls and how to get close to them. At least one blog has gotten really serious, posting photos and the license plate and description of Jack McClellan's car. Judges in Southern California have managed to put enough pressure on the man to make him at least consider leaving the state.

Steve Wilkos, who worked with Jerry Springer and who has a law enforcement background, confronted Jack McClellan on his new show.

I don't know why Jack McClellan is the way he is, but I wish he would have the courage to stand up and say that the hurt stops here and now and that he will get help for his leanings. If Jack McClellan has done nothing for which he can be put into jail, so be it. But that should not stop the public from keeping watch over his comings and goings in public places where children might be present. He has already admitted that he would go further than he has now, if it was not illegal to do so. If you want to call that perverted, then do. If you want to call it a cry for help on his part, then do. Either way, the result should be that we all work to keep kids safe from him, and other people like him.

I'm going to be volunteering at our local county fair next month, and you can bet that I'm going to be vigilant in making sure kids have a great time without being bothered by these kinds of people. Let's all do, within the law, whatever we can to prevent pedophiles from hurting any child's chance at a life and future of their own. Jack McClellan, or any other pedophile, should not have the right of free access to kids. If you agree, please let lawmakers know how you feel.

posted at: 09:29 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Fri, Aug 24 2007

Unicycles and stilts may be a winning combination

Congratulations to all the local kids who are semifinalists in Nabisco's Oreo & Milk Jingle Contest.

posted at: 11:43 | category: /Food | link to this entry



Thu, Aug 23 2007

McDonald's new sandwich

I hear that the new Angus Burger from McDonald's has a heart-stopping 41 grams of fat. Do you know how many foot-long Veggie Delite sandwiches from Subway I could eat before I got anywhere near 41 grams of fat? Maybe half a dozen—not that I could ever actually do that. I'm concerned that this new burger may be the fastest way yet to a quadruple bypass for hungry Americans.

posted at: 13:47 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Wed, Aug 22 2007

The falling and resulting fallout of lower incomes

I have always appreciated the work at U.S. News & World Report, but I have to say that I respectfully disagree with James Pethokoukis' blog entry on U.S. incomes being higher. Mr. Pethokoukis may be seeing statistics and interpreting them using one or more mathematical calculation and adjusting them for this or that data. Or maybe he simply meets a lot more people who are doing better financially these days. Whatever he's using to get his opinion, he isn't talking to the people I've heard from lately.

Most people I've spoken to personally in the last couple of years are having at least some degree of difficulty making money stretch as far as it did not so long ago. Maybe I just live too close to the land of the big dotcom bust, but the people I'm speaking of include teachers, agricultural payroll workers and people in many fields that are not internet-centric. Many have had to rely on their unemployment benefits once or twice in the past five years. Many are having to pay more out-of-pocket for health insurance premiums or have had fewer procedures covered by insurance and so have had to pay more out-of-pocket for health care. Food costs are higher than they were a couple of years ago. Some families have consolidated housing costs by moving more than one generation into a dwelling and sharing expenses. That household may appear to be bringing in more money as a unit, but it doesn't mean that those two or three families are better off now financially. Parents are buying gym memberships for their families, using at-home entertainment gadgets and taking advantage of free park and recreational programs for kids instead of putting them in expensive individual classes and programs.

Most of the people I meet are cutting off extras, squeezing down options, pinching pennies and putting less into savings, using more entitlement programs, delaying large purchases and dipping into long-term savings to pay for basic needs. I hope each of you reading this can take a look around and say that your neighborhood is doing better with incomes. But I suspect that many of you won't be able to do that. I can only hope that Mr. Pethokoukis' positive numbers reach my particular corner of the world soon.

posted at: 07:22 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Aug 21 2007

Do dead poets and live presidents meet in a speechwriter's mind?

What do President Bush and Shakespeare have in common? It seems that it's a fellow named Michael Gerson, who we apparently have to thank for such pointed phrases as "the axis of evil". If Shakespeare had been born as a contemporary of President Bush, I wonder if he might have been an oval office speechwriter. After all, he wrote in the vernacular of his day. If he could be alive today he would probably write in much the same style as today's writers. Writers write because they must, no matter the time period in which they live or the framework in which they work. Or, as Robin Williams' character John Keating said in Dead Poets Society, "I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world." He was quoting Walt Whitman, who seems to me as far removed from President Bush as Shakespeare does. But if there are only six degrees of separation in life, maybe it's the written word that helps to cross the divide from one generation to the next. You or I could be contemporaries of anyone we wish, if in reading we recognize a dream we have in common with those who lived, and wrote, before us.

posted at: 10:01 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Mon, Aug 20 2007

How can you know for certain when everyone is out of the bank?

While there are greedy people who dream of breaking into banks and stealing large amounts of cash, one unfortunate woman was forgotten by bank employees and locked in alone at a Bank of America branch for several hours. I never thought about the private viewing rooms that safe deposit box holders use, but I have often wondered if anyone does one final bathroom check before they lock up a bank at closing time.

posted at: 08:54 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Fri, Aug 17 2007

Performers often judged, not on work, but on other behavior: And who decides which behaviors are okay?

Reading the ABC News article on Steven Seagal reminded me of the dark days of McCarthyism and the blackballing of performers. I've never been able to understand why some performers can have drunk driving convictions and other court-ruled crimes and go on getting jobs one after another. Other performers' who reveal a staunch political stance or make disparaging remarks about someone in office often receive criticism and censure on the part of both those who hire performers and those who pay to see the performers' work. (I don't mean that Steven Seagal did either of those specific things, but something changed in the industry moguls' attitude toward him, and in many fans' attitude toward him.)

In the end, I suppose the business that is entertainment is a lot like other businesses, where braggarts and schmoozers often get the office with the best view, while workers who do their work well and without fanfare often go unrewarded, or even end up being punished when they blow the whistle on negative working conditions or when rumors, either idle or manufactured, threaten their good name.

Some years ago Mr. Seagal was decent and generous to someone I care about, so he has a special place in my heart, even though we've never met. I hope he gets a good word from those who have accused him. And I hope we see more of his work in the future.

posted at: 16:19 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Thu, Aug 16 2007

And it came to pass...

We've all said "If I knew then what I know now..." at one time or another. So the video in this post from the Cato-at-liberty blog must leave Vice-President Dick Cheney with cold chills. I got a few chills myself, when I sat and watched him almost tell the future.

posted at: 11:43 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Wed, Aug 15 2007

Housing slump continuing in most states

The real estate market seems to still be in duck and cover mode in most states. If sales of homes are up in places like Wyoming and North Dakota, that's fine with me. Though the northernmost states hold a great deal of natural beauty, their harsh winters were too difficult for me and whoever wants to live in those places can have my acre there.

posted at: 09:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Aug 14 2007

A red cross: The symbolism behind the symbol

The issue that Johnson and Johnson is having with the American Red Cross over the use of the red cross symbol made me think of all the finger pointing that went on following Hurricane Katrina, when different agencies sought to grab credit and avoid blame. For some reason I thought of the story of Solomon, in which he offered to divide a baby in half when two women each claimed the baby was hers. While this particular dispute does not involve any particular infant, I can not imagine how this sort of complaint will be beneficial to Johnson and Johnson, or to the American Red Cross—who must now spend resources, time and money to defend the use of a symbol that has allowed them to cross virtually every political boundary on the planet. While most everyone I know has no malice toward Johnson and Johnson in general, I think it's going to be pretty tough for most of us to side with them on this one, since we know they're in business to make a profit. Whatever happens in this dispute, I hope humanitarian work somehow becomes even better because of it.

posted at: 07:36 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Mon, Aug 13 2007

The lure of cheap merchandise

We've had our eyes opened lately concerning the inexpensive products coming out of China that, while cheap, may also be full of hidden dangers. Other countries' products are not always subject to the same rigid safety standards we demand in products that are made in the U.S. It may appear to keep costs down to import licensed, mass-produced items from places like China, but the long-term cost may have to be added up in a lot more than dollars and cents. In the case of the recent lead-paint issue in toys imported for Mattel Inc., one particular executive even chose to end his own life over the shame.

We can't blame China alone, when we demand to fill our lives and homes with mass-produced items at the lowest cost possible. Somewhere along the way, quality of product, and quality of life, are both going to suffer a major loss.

posted at: 09:36 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Fri, Aug 10 2007

Lack of home sales breeding mosquitos

One doesn't usually think of the real estate market affecting public health issues, but the glut of empty homes in Northern California may be doing just that, if they have unattended swimming pools and other standing water.

posted at: 07:59 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Thu, Aug 09 2007

Evolution just isn't what it used to be

I've decided that if folks who cling to the theory of evolution will allow me some dignity and leeway in my creationist views, I'll do the same for them in their views, since evidence for evolution does seem to change the details from one discovery to another. Both views require a great leap of faith, but creationism still wins out for me on an emotional, warm-fuzzy level. I enjoy embracing the idea that God created the world out of an overflow of love and out of a natural bent toward creating good things.

posted at: 08:08 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Wed, Aug 08 2007

404 in many languages and dialects

I ran across a 404 File Not Found page that seems to cover just about everyone. Have a look.

posted at: 08:42 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Aug 07 2007

News from slightly giddy quarters

The news lately has been a little heavy, so I went looking for some stories with a bit lighter touch. I found out that folks in an auto store in New Hampshire got a bit of a surprise when a bobcat kitten walked in to have a look around.

No one got hurt, so the series of mishaps during a burglary at a gift store in Illinois ended up being rather funny. It's probably just as well the two female teens were apprehended this early in life. They don't seem to be cut out as career criminals.

If you're tired of movie sequels and remakes, here's an idea for new viewing. How about a Danish original, genre-bending, hand puppet "zombiewestern" called It Came From the West?

Goat Island, off Tobago, may have a funny name but used to belong to author Ian Fleming. And it's supposedly up for sale for about $3 million.

posted at: 10:19 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Mon, Aug 06 2007

Jack McClellan: Not a good situation at all

I haven't said much publicly about the situation involving Jack McClellan, but it's hard for me to put into words how frustrating it is for me to be doing an online magazine that points people to the general fun and celebration of festivals, fairs and events, only to learn that someone else is openly encouraging pedophiles to visit such events for the express purpose of watching children in order to indulge in some erotic fantasy. Many of these events are run as family-friendly celebrations, and the thought of people leering at innocent children with the help of an egocentric, publicity-seeking pedophile...

Let's just say that I'm very angry and upset by the whole matter. Parents, dance team leaders, sports coaches—please keep a close eye on the kids under your care. If someone seems to be hanging around and getting too close or singling out or photographing any of the children, don't be afraid to go up to them and find out what's going on. We might not be able to keep these people from their perverted thoughts, but we can certainly keep them at a distance from kids who are just trying to be kids.

Is it also true that this man is living off funds from our Social Security department for physical or mental health reasons? If he has the time and facility for all this travel and promotion of venues for pedophiles to enjoy, he has time and facility to get a real job and quit doing these things on taxpayer money.

posted at: 11:02 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Aug 03 2007

Vegan sex

Trent Stamp, who follows the ethics and antics of charitable organizations, brought up a topic on his blog today that has never crossed my mind, though I suppose it makes sense that a vegan might prefer another vegan that way. I'm a very old-fashioned type of person who cares more about sharing one's body with only a spouse to whom I've promised to be faithful. I wonder—are vegans more likely to be monogamous, inside or outside marriage, than meat eaters are?

posted at: 10:24 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Elves, Santa, defend beloved homeland

Note: This post is not appropriate for those who think of Santa as a pacifist who does nothing but grant wishes and pass out toys.

In light of the planting of a Russian flag in the vicinity of the North Pole, a counterattack by the elves and their red-suited leader should have seemed inevitable to the hapless Russian Navy personnel. Homeland security was at stake. We don't often envision Santa strapping on an ammo belt and pulling a small arsenal out of his big old red sack. I guess he showed them.

posted at: 09:09 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Thu, Aug 02 2007

The moon belongs to everyone, but the North Pole belongs to Russia?

Are we looking at the birth of a new kind of "cold" war?

posted at: 13:23 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Bridges: Part of infrastructure in need of attention

President Bush has promised help in the rebuilding of the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. It's my understanding that the bridge is part of the Interstate highway system, so it's possible that the area will be eligible for even more funding. It concerns me that much of our Interstate infrastructure is getting old and is probably in need of serious inspection and updating.

I found it sadly ironic that only a few days ago more than five million dollars in grants was awarded to projects in 25 different states to help make bridges safer. The bridge in Minneapolis/St. Paul was not on the list of recipients.

posted at: 11:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Wed, Aug 01 2007

Waking to new possibilities

Now, that is an alarm clock. If a pacemaker-type device could give folks with severe brain injury a chance at a better quality of life, it would be priceless. Kudos to Medtronic, Inc. for its development of the new treatment.

posted at: 12:11 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Quote Of The Moment
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
--Albert Einstein
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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!