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




Tue, Mar 31 2009

Still plenty of festivals for now

The April issue of Deb's Monthly Review is available for viewing. Many communities are struggling to carry on with their festivals because of the current economic atmosphere. Funding that generally comes from state and national levels has decreased. And local folks who might have had time to volunteer their time during past festivals are now working more to make ends meet and don't have the free time to spare. Many communities are relying more on corporate sponsorship of events, which works well as long as the companies can keep turning a profit. Some people feel discouraged by the increasingly commercial tone to festivals, but without a strong volunteer force and plenty of money a lot of communities are either going to have to go more commercial or give up some events entirely. If you bemoan the fact that your local festivals are getting too commercial, give a thought to donating a few hours of your time in order to help keep things a bit more folksy and friendly.

posted at: 03:46 | category: | link to this entry



Mon, Mar 30 2009

On enforcing the law with character and compassion

The whole incident with Ryan Moats and his family was unfortunate. But I hope no one uses the situation to speak badly of the majority of officers who protect and serve. I was glad to see that a lot of older, wiser officers have spoken out about how the officer's behavior was brash and uncaring. I was especially concerned about the remark Officer Powell made, "I could screw you over." That should have never been said. Any officer who would use his position to make such personal threats has a lot to learn about working with the public.

The good news is that no one was injured or killed during the chase or during the hospital parking lot incident. This could have ended with more tragedy piled onto the family's grief over a dying relative. I'm hoping that all police departments use this as an opportunity to go over similar scenarios and assist their officers in doing the right thing in following not only the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law.

I would suggest one other idea. We need a way for motorists in emergency situations to be able to signal to officers that they are in a 911 type of situation, whether it be by cell phone, a newer car's online navigation system or some other device. Maybe some tech-savvy people will work on it. Someday soon an emergency drive might summon an immediate police escort instead of an angry confrontation.

posted at: 07:12 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Fri, Mar 27 2009

Lunch hour terminal troubles

We ran out for a few things at the grocery store around noon today and ended up being in checkout at the wrong time. Just as my spouse had swiped his card and was getting ready to sign the little electronic box to pay for the food, every card terminal in the place went down. We were trapped for 30 minutes or so while they fixed the problem and got things moving again.

It was interesting to watch the reaction of customers. Some of us were fairly good-natured about the whole thing, but some folks pulled out cash, which was a type of transaction the registers could still handle. One man wanted to write a check and was told they couldn't really verify his account while the terminals were down. He remained calm, but he kind of whined about his inconvenience and suggested that accepting a check should be at the manager's discretion under such unusual a situation. But the store manager was rather busy trying to get the larger problem taken care of. She would probably not have thought it a good use of her time at that moment to stop and approve checks. When the young woman from the bakery section came around and offered us each a chocolate chip cookie he took his good-naturedly, but his expression didn't say to me that he felt that it made up for his inconvenience.

We live in a time when we're all rather at the mercy of machines some days. And when we finally got our groceries home and built our burritos with chicken and lettuce and fresh cilantro and salsa, we realized how much we take for granted when it comes to technology. I've thought about it off and on all afternoon. No matter what challenges your productivity in any given day, attitude still has a lot to do with how you look back on things at the end of a day. It's been fun remembering today with a smile instead of a whine.

posted at: 18:04 | category: /Food | link to this entry



Thu, Mar 26 2009

The appeal of sunshine is strong today

I've been busy working on festival listings and currency trading. I'm going to forego in-depth blog entries this afternoon in favor of going out to enjoy 66 degrees, a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine. Meanwhile, check out a couple of items of interest:

reQall for Blackberry or iPhone.
Listy

posted at: 12:59 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, Mar 25 2009

Blanket statements on Americans and illegal drugs?

I understand what Hillary Clinton is saying about Mexico when it comes to illegal drugs being sought by Americans, but if she is going to say such things she should also be clear that the appetite for illegal drugs does not apply to many Americans. However, great numbers of us do pay taxes to sustain the lifestyles of the illegally drugged, with lots of free public assistance programs and free emergency room care. We pay taxes that go to feed the families of our precious endangered police officers who are, more often than not, outgunned by the illegal drug dealers. We pay taxes to cover the salaries of judges who are saddled with clogged court schedules that 10 judges couldn't realistically handle. We also pay taxes to pay for parole officers who end up losing track of half the repeat offenders who violate their parole and are back buying drugs the minute they hit the streets. Last, but not least, we pay taxes to store all the backlog of evidence for drug (and other) cases sitting stacked in warehouses with not enough personnel to sift through and verify said evidence. So I really don't feel like hearing that all of us are part of the problem. The people who are part of the problem are part of the problem. The rest of us would just like there to be a little self-control and self-responsibility trotted out for review once in awhile. And by the way, Ms. Clinton is a smart lady. Surely she won't forget that we also pay taxes so that she can serve her country by holding an office. I'd like her to remember that when she accuses us of contributing to the delinquency of our neighbors.

posted at: 16:58 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Tue, Mar 24 2009

A view to all sorts of things

Someone once said that as long as you have a window, life is exciting. This concept is played up nicely in the photo blog called What I See Out My Window.

posted at: 15:28 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Mon, Mar 23 2009

Have newspapers had it as newspapers?

If there's really no such thing as bad publicity then maybe Newspapers Demand Google Welfare will help, rather than hurt, a dying print news industry. I'm sad to see so many newspapers headed down a path of no return, but I'm concerned that a lot of their owners and/or managers were not proactive in taking steps to keep up with the fast pace of new media outlets and have not recognized the fierce hunger that young (and some older) people have for instant news. It's hard to enjoy a newspaper as news when, by the time you pick it up and look through it, you've seen almost all the stories via electronic media hours beforehand and have gotten several updates that make the original print story look really dated. Perhaps newspapers as newspapers may have to evolve into something more like feature magazines their print editions serving as in-depth additional material to enhance more timely online information. In the sad meanwhile, we're seeing a sad number of classic print newspapers just give up and print their last editions.

posted at: 18:57 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Mar 20 2009

It's pagophagia

I'm sorry, readers. The correct word for the ice craving would seem to be pagophagia. I'm not sure how I mis-typed such a unique word. The odd thing is that there are a few instances on the internet where the word is spelled papophagia. Collective consciousness is apparently sometimes also collective blunder.

posted at: 12:32 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Papophagia

I enjoy a bit of ice now and then, particularly in hot weather. But there are apparently some folks for whom ice has become an addiction. The many comments below the entry there tell me that this is a much larger issue than most of us ever realized. I'm wondering if this whole matter gets overlooked more when the patient lives in a warm climate.

posted at: 08:31 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Wed, Mar 18 2009

When words come incorrectly and sentences leave capriciously

I'm getting frustrated that spell checking doesn't do well with grammar checking. I typed "I've know" in my last blog entry and it went right on through for public ridicule. We live in a time when people will accept the grammar of one adjective or one adverb as a full sentence, but we don't live in a time when present verb tense can correctly replace past verb tense (or any other tense). Editing is something I do a lot, but I seem to have proved to myself that frequency doesn't mean perfection. I'll have to be content with the tone of the entry and the thought behind it, rather than the proficiency of its sentence structure. In my case, creativity stirs the pot of life's alphabet soup with a freeness that often wins out over any inner food critic.

On another note, Eric and I tried to exchange a comment or two on Twitter recently, but poor Twitter had some sort of hiccup and lost at lost one or two of the entries. It's frustrating. It's like trying to write an accurate grocery list while someone keeps rearranging the cans in the pantry.

posted at: 09:21 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Mar 17 2009

The real parallels of the universe

I had to reach into a safe place the other day to communicate with someone I've know for many years who suddenly challenged me and turned me away. They spoke angrily out of fear and panic, so I knew I had to keep my wits about me and meet their negative attitude with an attitude of calm support and a sure message that I cared about them. I still had to call them on their lack of caring and honesty, or I wouldn't have been honest myself. I made my way through it all with prayer. But I'm still having a lot of leftover emotional pain. I'm trying to remember that our toughest tasks remind us to keep going back to the safest place we know. In my case that would be the One who I believe created me and knows me best. I believe this Creator also knows the person who challenged me and knows them better than I do. Right now I'm realizing that sometimes all we humans get to do is care from a distance that we didn't choose.

I loathe the pain of conflict, but I love the way it drives me into the arms of the One who has all life's answers when I have none. The details of the situation are different from what I went through, but the sentiment is the same in this song. If you're unable to be there for someone, it's great to know that trusting God to take care of them is not settling for second best. He loves both of you above and beyond any human limitations. My path with my friend has been sidetracked into parallel paths for now, but I hope we're both traveling to the same place under the care of One who walks between us and holds both our hands.

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



Mon, Mar 16 2009

Dinner with friends

After a lot of false starts, my spouse and I and another couple finally made it to a lovely early dinner At Shadowbrook this past weekend. We started planning to have dinner there more than a year ago, by turns, each of the four of us were caught up in medical procedures and surgeries. It was very strange and we joked for a long time that we might not ever make it to dinner together. But we did finally make it to a table with a lovely view and had great food and great conversation. Delayed gratification is sweet. And speaking of sweet, the Chocolate Molten Lava was a perfect ending to the meal.

posted at: 06:42 | category: /Food | link to this entry



Fri, Mar 13 2009

Happiest districts in the country

Well, I guess we made Number 32 of the happiest districts in America, according to a new Gallup Poll. We're in District 17. The territory just north of us, District 14, was the Happiest District of all. If you go to the State and Congressional District Resource for Well-Being web page you can use the Quick Report Builder to get maps or comparison tables of either states or districts and find out where your area ranked.

I don't think anyone whose area ranked lower in some ways should feel bad about it if they love the place in which they live. Not all of us relish the same things in life. And the truth is that different perks bring with them different stresses that people tend to adjust to over time. I wouldn't be happy waiting days for a call to evactuate for a hurricane, but I'm content to live in a place where the ground beneath shakes hard now and then. We each have to decide what well-being is for us and find a way to have that in the place that we make our home base.

posted at: 17:54 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Mar 12 2009

World Glaucoma Day

Today is World Glaucoma Day. I didn't realize I was a day ahead of things when I scheduled my eye exam for yesterday. Thankfully, all was well in the eye pressure department. (I don't mean to be cheeky, but I have to say that the scrolling area on the aforelinked web site is a little tough on my eyes. The speed of the scroll is a little too rapid for comfort. But please don't let that stop you from going by the site and learning about this condition that can lead to loss of vision.)

By the way, if it's been some time since you've been tested for glaucoma you'll be pleased to know that the rude puff of air that used to startle the overly sensitive among us has been widely replaced by a strong blue light. (I can't promise this will be the way you get tested, so be sure to ask the eye professional first.) You'll still get the anesthetic drops prior to the test. I find this method much less traumatic than getting blasted with air.

posted at: 14:22 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Wed, Mar 11 2009

Check out someone else's thoughts today

I'll be dashing about today, having blood drawn, having an eye exam, visiting my spouse at his workplace and doing errands, so more intense blogging will probably be on hold for the day. Enjoy one of the fine blogs listed to the right of this page, find some new blogs to explore or perhaps start one of your own and write down some of those things you've been itching to say.

posted at: 05:49 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Mar 10 2009

If it's Tuesday, this must be languor

Mondays are often much easier to make productive than Tuesdays for me. I'm sure it's partly psychological in nature, but it does seem that Tuesdays are full of things that don't fit in with other goals or objectives. It's not a beginning, it's not hump day, it's not the end of the work week and it's certainly not a weekend. Thursday has similar connotations, but it has a different feel to it, because it's after hump day and I know that the next day is the end of a traditional work week, so I'm using a sort of terrestrial tail wind to bluster me along.

I'm thinking of starting a file of things that I'll do only on Tuesdays, simply to alleviate the languor. Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind is retrieving trash cans from the curb after the collectors have come by to empty them. I'm hoping to think of a few more exciting tasks such as alphabetically organizing the spices or ironing the welcome mat.

posted at: 13:08 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Mon, Mar 09 2009

9-year-old girl not being excommunicated is merely technicality?

It's been very difficult for me to read about the pregnant 9-year-old girl in Brazil. Everyone in this child's life seems to have failed to be able to protect her. I'm not even speaking to the Roman Catholic Church's position on abortion. I'm just very concerned that no one seems to be standing up for this little child who has been abused and thrown into a world she is not equipped to navigate. The Church authorities have plenty to say now, but where were they when this child was in need of protection? The Belfast Telegraph reported that the stepfather, who is accused of raping the little girl, has not been formally accused by Catholic Church authorities and that the only reason the little girl has escaped excommunication (which was dealt out to her mother and to the doctors who performed the abortion) is that she is still considered a child herself. Then will no one in the Catholic Church step up and be her advocate, finally? I hope they will. They owe her that much and a whole lot more.

posted at: 11:14 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Fri, Mar 06 2009

Work week's end

The ends of work weeks are usually tiring, but also inspiring. It's tempting to think of the things one didn't quite get to take care of, but a weekend, or at least day, separates this week from the next set of work week goals and provides the opportunity to view things from new angles and with new energy. It all reminds me a little of the way I feel after a long walk or workout. I'm tired, but it's the kind of tired that provides a sense of accomplishment. The physical body feels increased circulation, the mind resets, and I put myself into a place that gets my whole being ready for the next challenge. Add a spiritual rest to all that and some good companionship and it becomes like a little bit of Heaven.

posted at: 18:12 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Thu, Mar 05 2009

Corned beef and cabbage

My spouse and I are headed out to a Grange meeting this evening, one which will be preceded by a corned beef and cabbage dinner in honor of the upcoming St. Patrick's Day. We never ate corned beef at my house while I was growing up, though we did cook cabbage now and then. For some reason, the tradition never caught on, even though my mother had definite Irish roots. I've never prepared this particular combination of meat and vegetable, but I know there are many cooks who swear by their own particular method, including pre-soaking the brisket, adding one's own spice mix or pouring in a bottle of Irish stout.

Oddly enough, the folks in Ireland usually prepare corned beef and cabbage only for American tourists, which means that yet another traditional American dish has been adopted from a culture that never even valued it in the first place. In that respect, corned beef and cabbage dinners join the ranks of green beer and fortune cookies. But we seem to enjoy all the folklore that goes with boiling a brisket with spices and tossing in some Irish potatoes, green cabbage and maybe a few colorful carrots. I sometimes wonder what St. Patrick would think of the whole ritual.

posted at: 17:43 | category: /Food | link to this entry



Wed, Mar 04 2009

Economic peek-a-boo

The only bad thing about online banking is that it's really easy to tweak one's emotions by going and looking at personal investments during a big economic downturn. I do look, but I feel like a little kid peeking at a scary movie from behind trembling, interlaced fingers.

posted at: 12:39 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Mar 03 2009

Darwin's daughter

I just read kind of a sad article about Charles Darwin earlier today. I had never realized that his wife was a Christian, or that his beloved daughter had died so young. NPR's web site says that Darwin became more vocal about his scientific theories after his daughter Annie's death. Any parent who grieves that much at the loss of a child must believe that life and death are pretty personal matters and are not just chaotic incidents in some cosmic accident. I have a feeling, which is just a feeling, that he never stopped asking questions of God and that he, and we, might have misinterpreted his questioning as a breach of faith. His refusal of pat answers may have shown a yearning for a closeness with God that many of us never dare to reach for in our lifetime. As I said, it's just a feeling I have.

posted at: 15:14 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Mon, Mar 02 2009

Homeowners: All in this together, sort of

Tennesseeans may soon be catching sight of a sad, funny, apropos bumpersticker.

posted at: 09:02 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



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