Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, Apr 30 2009

May festivals

After much typing and editing, the May 2009 issue of Deb's Monthly Review has been uploaded for your viewing pleasure. Your only problem should be picking and choosing what festivals to attend. May is just teeming with festivals. If I missed your local favorite, you can always drop me a line or two and let me know of your displeasure and why your favorite should have been included.

posted at: 16:30 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Apr 29 2009

Are governments and WHO stirrng pandemic into panic?

If we don't have a whole lot more trouble with panic than with pandemic over the swine flu, I'll be surprised. We need to look back and remember, and be careful about not giving too much hype to the whole situation this early. If the illness moves deeply into most neighborhoods we can use our knowledge to move quickly when it's time, without putting whole crowds of people into absolute frenzy, can't we? If we can't, we'll have a much larger problem to tackle than swine flu.

posted at: 14:20 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 28 2009

Republicans and Democrats: When middle ground becomes a decisive place to be

Arlen Specter surprised at least a few of us when he annouced plans to place his allegiance formally with the Democratic Party. Love his move or hate it, it says something about the way things have been going lately on Capitol Hill.

I don't really fit in with either Democrats or Republicans and have generally gone more for an individual candidate than their party line. I lean heavily toward the Libertarian way of thinking, but I don't quite feel enough of an alliance to join the party in an official manner. I'm not terribly fond of the two-party system and would love to see things opened up for other parties to participate more fully. It is nice to know that one can "jump the line" now and then, but I have to wonder how this makes those feel who voted for Senator Specter as a Republican. Will they follow his lead or will they feel betrayed by his move?

I rather suspect Senator Specter won't be the first Republican to declare at least a tentative allegiance with the Democrats party. In recent years I've heard more than a few somewhat conservative voters express discomfort with the cold pronoucements given by Republicans who lean heavily to the far right. If thoughtful politicians are finding themselves examing their own positions, it might actually be a good thing for both the Republican and the Democrat parties in the bigger scheme of things. I hope so. There's always that danger that those who take the middle ground are seen as flip-flopping on the issues. Personally, I like someone who recognizes that the more we learn in life, the less learned we often feel. Even those hard-line, far-right leaning Republicans have to have noticed that Jesus saved some of his most scathing rebukes for the brothers in the fold who thought they already had all the answers to the questions.

It seems to be a self-correcting mechanism that makes one of those two major parties come to power, make mistakes, lose favor with voters and then be abandoned for the other party. I don't know if the swing from left to right is a healthy correction, but it does seem to be a very repetitive process throughout our human history. The question is always how long the pendelum will swing one way before being weighted in the other direction.

posted at: 14:46 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 27 2009

Writing done by someone who makes a living at writing does not guarantee the accuracy of the information

I can see some merit in the statements made by Bonne Erbe. However, it should be noted that there are times when people posting to blogs have included information that was either presented incorrectly, or omitted entirely, from news outlets that were thought of as journalistic and professional. I've used my own blog a time or two in order to correct material that was printed in a local newspaper. Integrity in writing is a lot more important to some of us than whether the person writing is paid or not for work.

posted at: 14:33 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 23 2009

Sssssssss...is this thing on?

I was watching a few minutes of an old episode of Stargate SG1 the other evening and noticed something. It was one of those things that only sinks in when you're not really engaged in the plot itself and you watch, and listen, in a way that distances you from a very unemotional place. Teal'C was speaking to someone from a remote location. I realized that his speech had been altered in such a way that it sounded a lot like our speech would here and now, if we were talking on a two-way radio or regular land line. It's the sound that is often missing from our cell conversations. I believe it's called "sidetone". (I love the science fiction genre, but my lack of science savvy is the reason I've never written more in that genre.) I realized that the technical aspects of the show were being geared to our present-day thinking and perceptions. Talking over a radio, or similar device, in some future universe would be at least as clear as the sound on our current-day cell phones, wouldn't it? Maybe I'm wrong. I'm not good at thinking either mechanically or technically. This was just an odd moment that reached out to be and got processed by some part of my brain that thought it heard something incongruous. It reminded me once again how much fiction, including science fiction, is always more about the time in which it's written than the time about which it's written.

posted at: 09:33 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Apr 22 2009

Bored? Well, you might be and you might not be

Well, it's unusual for me to get this far into the day and have forgotten to blog. I've been very busy researching events and doing other tasks. When people say they are bored, I always try to reach inside my mind and imagine what that would feel like. I think I've been bored a time or two, probably when I'd been ill and was not yet navigating as usual. I'd stared at twelve episodes of Walker Texas Ranger, three versions of the national news and even roamed past The Jerry Springer Show in a desperate big to watch something new and feel some sort of excitement about the day. I had no energy or stamina to get up and do things. But my mind and heart wanted to be occupied. Even when do happen to get into that particular state, if I can be near a window, I'm usually not really bored. There is always something to get the creative juices flowing.

I think what happens is that sometimes people use the word "bored" when they're actually feeling lonely. It doesn't have to be the kind of lonely where you don't have a date on Saturday night. It can be that disconnected feeling one gets even in the middle of a room full of people at dinner. And I think it happens more often to extroverts. It's not that they're inferior to introverts, but they thrive on the type of stimulus they get from being around other people and from a lot of action. Introverts just tend to take a different kind of comfort in being alone or in moving around alone. Well, it's just a thought. And hopefully you aren't bored after reading this late-night post.

posted at: 22:27 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 21 2009

Is the very act of practicing my religion going to defame your religion?

I'm just beginning to look into the issue of religion and defamation that the United Nations has apparently been tackling for some time now. I read one Adventist man's take on things. He reminds us of how trusting we are in the U.S. when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. He also talks about the way countries' customs can affect the passing of international law. I tend to check out the general Seventh-day Adventist take on religious freedom, mostly because the denomination has a history of helping individuals from all faiths to practice their religion and follow their personal convictions in the workplace and in legal situations. Seventh-day Adventists' point-of-view is not the last word on this topic by any means, but it's a well-educated viewpoint when it comes to the legalities. I'm going to look for more material, but I do have to say that I'm unsettled by the UN's leaning in this whole direction. For one thing, how on earth would we as individual nations, ever enforce such a resolution? If my religion is Christianity and your religion is Islam, whose religion can be defamed and whose can not? Even in a democratic country, if speaking out in favor of my religion, or religious principles, goes against your religion or religious principles, which of us is the defamer? And who decides that? It's a complicated topic that I hope everyone will spend a bit of time studying so that it doesn't sneak up on us when it's too late to do anything about the UN's decisions.

posted at: 11:32 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 20 2009

Warmer than usual for April

There's no use complaining about our heat wave in California. Many folks live in climates with summer temperatures that are above 90 degrees most of the summer. And we're blessed to have only a few days a year that get higher than the mid-80s. It does seem as though it's come a bit early this year. We just have to keep the potted plants watered and catch our exercise time in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures have moderated. Dinner ideas move toward salad, sandwiches or even cereal, rather than casseroles that require heating up the oven. We don't have central air in this house, but a couple of years ago we bought a room air conditioner for the office, so I can at least work in comfort on the days that do get hot. Most of the time I can cool things nicely by opening windows for a good cross-breeze. It's amazing how little things that add to comfort can make so much difference in one's ability to be productive.

posted at: 17:05 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Apr 17 2009

Bargain struck?

It's good to hear that the studios and SAG may have ironed out most of their differences. It's been tough to sit on the sideline and watch so many talented people have to use their energy to argue with one another instead of juices being able to focus on creative projects. While we wait for the fun of entertainment, it's tough sometimes to remember that the entertainment business is often more aptly described as the business of entertainment. I just hope everyone got at least something they wanted as we wind down to the end of this latest dispute.

posted at: 16:23 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 16 2009

Working high-tech through low-tech

Today I got to visit with some friends at their workplace. Their jobs have them interacting with some of the basic communication infrastructure of our country and they use the most amazing materials to keep things going smoothly. I don't want to betray their trade secrets, but I was fascinated to learn that they sometimes buy components for security purposes right off the shelf at their local hardware store. The wildest innovation often comes along when creative people start playing with very old, very basic tools and materials.

posted at: 20:03 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Wed, Apr 15 2009

Health, wealth, happiness and coming to California

I see again that, by the map, California ranks nicely in the "good life" department. I suppose that goes along with the Happy Cows TV spots, in which freezing, snow-covered bovine herds are pictured struggling through raging blizzards to get to earthquake-riddled pastures in sunny California. If the cows mirror the attitudes of people, then Minnesotan cattle do not share the depressed state of cattle in neighboring Wisconsin. Minnesota has cold and snow (and humidity and mosquitos) to rival Wisconsin, so I have no idea what the difference is. We lived in Minnesota for a short period of time and we did visit a park in Wisconsin, where two drunken young males gave us a very rude greeting. I wouldn't hold that against Wisconsin in general, but it does make me wonder if some Wisconsin cattle are treated in similarly ill-mannered fashion by the rough-hewn miscreants of the Wisconsin population. (I doubt very much that the aforementioned young men would even remember their bad behavior now, due to the amount of alcohol they had consumed. Hopefully they have learned to be responsible citizens and have become productive members of Wisconsin society.)

Be that as it may, Wisconsin cows and humans are certainly welcome in California. We aren't perfect, but we'll try not to make your winters too harsh and we'll try not to allow drunken schoolboys to punch you in the noses when you visit our beautiful parks.

posted at: 12:51 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 14 2009

Wolf Point, Montana rustling conviction

Though the news has been full of pirates lately, we appear to have a rustler or two left in the West. I've always thought it was strange for people to steal large animals from one another in this day and age, but I guess even rustlers recognize the business practice of rebranding as a big deal.

posted at: 15:59 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 13 2009

Fire Ant Gazette goes dark: Eric Siegmund? Still going strong!

I'm a little surprised that Fire Ant Gazette has been shuttered, but I knew that Eric was contemplating the potential scope and strength of his web presence some time ago. I'm anticipating more good things from him. A lot of other people will be waiting with me to see what happens as he takes the next big step.

posted at: 10:52 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Apr 10 2009


Whoever was responsible for cutting the underground fiber-optic cables is without compassion, is without common sense, is without scruples. This is true regardless of what their motives were in the sabotage. If someone they love, if they love anyone at all, had been unable to call for medical help yesterday and had died, the vandal(s) would have ultimately been at fault. Now that their misdeeds have had time to sink into their mind this morning, I hope they realize that. They can't take back what they did. There are important conversations that couldn't happen because of their actions. It's on their heads.

The same is true of any of us who "cut off" other people in our quest to be right, to protect our position, to prove ourselves superior. We can try to make amends in some other area of life, but we can never restore those moments that are lost because of cavalier attitudes in judging others.

People may be doing the same thing spiritually in relationships with one another all the time. Of course, there's more to communication than pure infrastruture, but when infrastructure is cut off, there's no chance for further growth or amends or healing. The one you have a dispute with might have been willing to stay in there to grow and learn with you. You have cut them off and you may even be feeling pretty superior about that. But what then will you be praying if you pray The Lord's Prayer in that state of mind, asking God to deal with you the same way you have dealt with others in your own life?

posted at: 07:50 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 09 2009

Infrastructure vandalism inconveniences many

We've been without internet and phone service since about 2:30am this morning. The news folks are telling us that someone deliberately cut a fiber-optic cable and interrupted service to quite a few of us in serveral Central Coast counties. It's good to be connected again.

posted at: 16:27 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Apr 08 2009

Is anything so bad that no good can come of it?

I have to admit that I have read Bible stories with similar anger. Just recently I had occasion to wish that I'd been spared a situation that started with a positive bent and ended up with so much negativity and ire and verbal abuse toward me that I wondered what purpose it served. I wonder if these horrible incidents in the Bible are repeated in order to remind us that even when things look hopeless, worthless and useless, God can make good come of it all. When we find ourselves in a situation that leaves us injured and feeling as though we've been kicked to the curb by coldhearted people, God can make good come of it all. When we do our best and our best is thrown back in our face, God can make good come of it all. It just may not happen on our schedule, when we think it should happen. It's on the Lord's time and schedule, which may mean years of waiting. I hope that's why those stories are in the Bible. Romans 8:28 is also there to remind us that God is the Martial Arts Master of balancing justice with agape love and mercy.

posted at: 15:54 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 07 2009

Potato salad anyway

I had planned to make potato salad this week. Since there are only two of us, I often make a big batch that we can enjoy for a couple of days, even to the point of making it a main dish. With this in mind, I was hoping for potato salad weather. To me, potato salad weather means sun and warmth with a high likelihood of dining al fresco. What we seem to be having instead is rain, accompanied by temperatures in the mid-50s and very little chance that dining on potato salad outdoors will result in anything except potato salad soup in a soggy paper plate. But since the celery and green onions were fresh and ready to chop, I made potato salad anyway. The flavors are blending in the refrigerator for a few hours while we work up an appetite at our respective jobs. I'll be typing now with dishpan hands.

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

Mon, Apr 06 2009

Pens, swords and snarky quips

It's easy to write snarkily when you aren't feeling your physical best. The pen really is mightier than the sword, particularly when you wield said pen as if it was an actual sword. I'm not usually a negative person. Even in low circumstances, I'm the one who sees a joke. But I suppose humor has its moods like any other form of communication. It's something to pay attention to when you spend much of your day writing things down that other people might read.

posted at: 10:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Apr 03 2009

Vegetarianism equals binging? It may not be carrots and broccoli at fault

If being a vegetarian at a young age increases the risk of binge eating and using unhealthy weight control measures, we should be careful to examine all sides of the issue. It's entirely possible that the actual foods children eat may not be the main factor. Some parents who feed a child a vegetarian diet may stress the importance of vegetarianism for their own emotional or spiritual needs and may inadvertently put pressure on the child to conform to those parental standards. As a child grows, peer pressure and institutional teachings can add further pressure to conform. I recall being introduced to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a young adult and finding that there are certain individuals within the denomination who stress vegetarianism to the point of making it a requirement to pass through trials just before the Second Coming of Christ. Say what you will, but that's a lot of pressure, particularly when placed on little children who are still learning to think abstractly. (I'm not picking on Adventists, but am using the denomination as an example because I'm very familiar with the sociology of Adventist congregations. The basic principle would be applied to any school, church or other social that extends family life into a larger circle of influence.)

There are a lot of great reasons to be a vegetarian. But we need to remember that physical food has additional spiritual, emotional and social significance in all our lives. I hope researchers will take these things into account as they study to find out how to help children make wise food choices that will take them into their adult years.

posted at: 09:30 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 02 2009

Busy on Thursday

I've been hunting paperwork for household income tax filing, plus gathering notes and preparing correspondence for our local Grange today, so blogging went to the back of the line. My own writing was even a bit neglected, though I went through some folders of odds and ends that I need to finish, incorporate into stories or articles retire to the circular file or perhaps put back into the odds and ends folder for a second chance at life.

We'll have a great Grange meeting tonight. We get to delve into the great thank you posters and notes sent by area third grade children who were recipients of dictionaries this spring when the Grange partnered once again with The Dictionary Project.

posted at: 16:39 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Apr 01 2009

No fooling

If it's April Fools Day, then I should be able to write anything I wish and have it taken as not being serious, correct? If that's the case, I want to say that I have quite enough blog readers and don't want another single one.

That was fun to write in jest, but it did start me thinking about the fact that we have many different ways of enjoying other people's work. If we go to a theatre performance or a live concert we are somewhat engaged by the performers at that point in time. We're sharing the moment with them as they work. But once someone paints a picture, builds a chair, writes a story, records a song or films a movie, their work is available for anyone to access and enjoy throughout time. So for anyone who feels concerned that they don't get much recognition for their artistic works, rest assured that many people may come along later to enjoy your efforts. Create all you can with that in mind.

posted at: 13:03 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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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!