11 Unofficial Rules for Walking In Public

walking

I can’t tell you the number of times I have almost been bowled over or hockey-checked against the walls with people barreling out from a side hallway or office directly into the main hallway of where I work.  It’s amazing.  To be honest, these folks walk like they drive on the highways around here – they do whatever they want to do without regard to rules, etiquette or just basic common sense.  Here I am just talking about WALKING in public.  The emphasis is on the word “public” which means there will probably be other people walking.  I know that’s a shocking concept to actually THINK of others but it is something which is seriously lacking and all you have to do is walk around downtown or an office building to see it.

So I have come up with 11 unofficial rules I have for walking in public:

  1. Be aware that there may be others walking around you!  In the world of billions of people, if you walk out into a public hallway or sidewalk there’s a good chance other people will be there too.  If you remember nothing else remember this #1 rule.
  2. Walk on the RIGHT side of the hall/sidewalk.  How hard is this?  Just do as you would driving.  I’m amazed at the people who seem to be confused by this and will try to play chicken with you or force you to move out of their way.  This is the same for entering and exiting stores.
  3. Don’t tailgate someone.  Keep at least a body length between you and the person in front of you.  If they are going too slow then go around them.  I have felt the breath of my neck several times and simply stepped over to let the tailgater pass by.  Hey buddy where’s the fire?
  4. No sudden stops.  If you have to stop suddenly, look behind you and make sure you aren’t about to take someone out.
  5. If you are stopping to have a conversation, move to the side so others can pass.  Look, I know it’s an important conversation or office gossip you are sharing but other people may want to get by.  It’s not that important to stop walking traffic for your conversation.
  6. When the elevator opens WAIT until people on the elevator exits BEFORE you enter.  Never assume the elevator is empty.  Always look before you jump onboard.
  7. When you approach a crosswalk, obey the appropriate signals to walk.  Getting hit by a car is going to hurt you regardless of who is at fault.
  8. When walking through a parking lot, it is YOUR responsibility to watch for cars.  You can see the cars better than the drivers can see you.  Don’t have one of these macho standoffs with a car.  Again, if you get hit it will hurt you more than the car.
  9. If you feel the need to light up a cigar, cigarette, vape or whatever – be mindful of people behind you.  My wife and I once were totally swallowed up by a cloud of smoke once when the people walking in front of us decided to light up.  Just turn your head around and look behind you.
  10. When you exit from a side office or hall way into a main hallway, YIELD to walkers who are already in the main hallway.  They don’t know you are going to shoot out of there like a missile.  Look both ways before entering.  How hard is that?
  11. Don’t text and walk.  People totally lose their minds when walking and trying to text at the same time.

I honestly don’t know where people learn their walking behaviors and it seems to be more common now in our “selfie” generation to people are in their own world instead of being cognizant that other people may be doing the exact same thing.

Walking with foot traffic isn’t complicated.   Just look where you are going.  Even if a hall or sidewalk is sparsely populated, it doesn’t mean you can cut around corners and charge headlong into them.    Pay attention to your surroundings and assume that there might be others walking too.

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I’ve Lost The Writing Mojo

writerThere…I have confessed.  My writing has lost its steam.  I was rolling along pretty well with writing a page-per-day or 1,000 words each day working on my next novel.  Now it seems I look for every reason NOT to write.

“I MUST click on that link about what happened on the Andy Griffith Show that no one knew.”

“There must be a cat video I haven’t seen yet on YOUTUBE.”

“I need a nap.”

“I need to shop for a new (add tech gadget here) to help me with my writing.”

Here’s a good one…..”I will even read about writing.  I just don’t want to write.”

What’s wrong with me?

Apparently every writer goes through this.  Well, I don’t like it.  In fact, I would rather write a blog post than work on the novel that’s just sitting there laughing at me on my to-do list.

This is terrible.

The easy answer is to just sit down and write.  So why can’t I do it?

I think one huge thing is the lack of success in getting an agent or getting published.  It is difficult to stay motivated when you put a lot of work to submit what the agent/publisher wants only to be rejected.  If you think it’s just simply the work of submitting your manuscript, let me tell you that it’s more involved than that.  For the last submission, the agent wanted the following:

  • Two-page synopsis on the book
  • Query letter
  • Book marketing plan (isn’t that their job?)
  • Chapter summary
  • First five pages of the manuscript
  • My writing resume

Each agent wants something different so it isn’t that you can simply prepare all of this ahead of time and send them out to every agent.  Oh no.  Not so fast my friends.

So you spend time working on these requirements, send them in and immediately – thanks to the power of technology – receive a rejection email which was probably an auto-reply.

And you wonder why I have lost some steam?

It gets old.  When I first started this writing hobby (I call it a hobby because it isn’t my full-time job nor have I been published by a real publisher) you could submit your manuscript with a query letter to the publisher.  Now the publishers won’t even talk to you unless you have representation of an agent.

So, instead of being rejected by publishers, the rejections come from agents now.

The most common reason for rejection is:  “This is not what I’m looking for right now”.

I will tell you that writing is a very subjective and a very competitive venture.  One agent got bent out of shape on how I used the word “parsonage” in one of my manuscripts.  I was happy that she even gave me feedback.

So, yes, the lack of success of finding an agent/publisher has worn me down.

Another thing is that I work a full-time job.  It is difficult to carve out writing time when you work a real paying job.  I have tried several ways but none seem to gain any momentum at all.  I don’t want to get up earlier than I have to and I run out of gas at the end of the day.

So why even do it?  Why bother writing?

Oh, believe me, I have asked myself that question many times.  Why do I put myself through this?  Just work my job and let that be it right?  The problem is that I can’t do it.  I feel the desire to write.  I can’t seem to turn it off.  It’s not that I think I’m so good.  That’s not it.  It’s not that I want to be successful – although I wouldn’t turn away the extra money from it.  For some reason, I just HAVE to write.  Maybe it’s my “calling” or my purpose in life.  I just can’t stop doing it.

So what’s the answer?  Well, I’m not liking the answer.  It’s going to take discipline.  I KNOW that’s the answer but I don’t like discipline.

It seems I can find every reason NOT to write.  I need to re-discover reasons TO write and then DO it.

 

The First Sundays of August

first sundayWhen I was growing up as the son of a preacher man, the first Sunday of August marked the beginning of a new church year in our denomination.  Over the course of 18 years at home, seven of those first Sundays in August were the first Sunday in a new church.  Let me tell you that those first Sundays in a new church were scary.  I never liked them.  The preacher’s family is always in a fish bowl but never as much as that first Sunday when everyone is checking out the new preacher and his family.  It was never a fun experience for me and perhaps one reason I am quite reserved in the beginning when I meet new people or I am in a new situation.

Kids are cruel and I have experienced that first hand in the church and before any first day in a new school.  In many of these first Sundays I heard their unfiltered comments.  “He’s ugly” or “He looks nerdy” were the ones that pierced my feelings the most.  Yes, it was a cruel initiation at a new church.  Unfortunately, if the parents didn’t like my dad being the pastor, the kids took it out on me.  I was just part of the collateral damage to their dislike for him.  It wasn’t always like this but I would say it happened more than not.

My dad pastored churches in Georgia.  The worst memory of all was a small community in South Georgia named Axson.  It wasn’t even a city but it has lasting injuries on my memories.  My dad replaced a long-time pastor who was related to many of the members so that first Sunday was filled with people checking us out.  This little community church had a lot of folks who were involved in tobacco farming which was a bit interesting since our church taught that smoking was a sin.  Not sure how they worked all that out in their salvation but they were a tough bunch.  The first Sunday I heard the kids’ cruel comments and their snickers as I would pass by.  No one wanted to befriend me or even attempt to talk to me.  I was an outsider and they were intent on keeping it that way.  They made my life hell especially on the school bus where they would sit in the back of the bus and flip me off.  I would have complained to the bus driver – and he did witness it – but he was related to them too.  Yeah, some things you can’t forget – even 40 years or so later.  Our time at this church didn’t last long as it became just too much to overcome the adversity.

So the first Sundays at a new church weren’t always a great experience and unfortunately the bad experiences burn into our memory more than the good ones but there were some good experiences.  I remember two.  The first Sundays in Villa Rica and Savannah were the best ones I have memories of.  Both churches had teens that actually talked to me the first Sunday and included me as a part of their group.  When I say teens I’m not talking about a huge megachurch.  Back in those days and in the church I was a part of, a “big” church would be a congregation of 50 or more.  Most were not.  After the Axson experience, the young people at Villa Rica was the next “first Sunday” at a new church and was a total opposite of the bad I had gone through in that nasty little family church.  (No love lost there)  The young people at Villa Rica made me feel at home from the first Sunday.  I still remember the Smiths and the Horsleys and how they were some of the coolest people I ever met.  The first Sunday in Savannah was also very welcoming as well.  I also loved the city.  It was my last “first Sunday” I was experience at a new church.

The other churches were Valdosta, Moultrie, Temple and Homeland.  You’d probably need to Google it to find Temple and Homeland.  I was too young to really remember the first churches in Valdosta and Moultrie.

I have to tell the story about Temple.  The church was actually called “Oak Hill” and was probably the smallest church my dad ever pastored.  It was on a hill somewhere near Temple, Georgia but there wasn’t a tree on the entire property and most definitely absent of any oak trees.  I don’t think I ever heard why it was ever called “Oak Hill”.  My dad was appointed to this church after leaving a one-year stay in Moultrie, Georgia.  We left a church that had a parsonage (a house for the pastor and family) to Oak Hill which did not have a residence for the pastor.  My parents were unable to find a place to live in the short time to relocate there.  With time running out, we decided to temporarily move into the Sunday School rooms in back of the church.  It wasn’t a huge issue since the church was so small that they were using the Sunday School rooms anyway.  The issue for us was that the church did not have “modern” bathrooms.  The only facilities were two outhouses on the property.  Yep, outhouses – like Little House on the Prairie days.  We used them too and at my age I saw it as an adventure but my parents weren’t so enthused about it.  We each took baths in my small kiddie swimming pool.  I can’t remember exactly how we did that but it was quite an interesting temporary situation.  Eventually we were blessed with an opportunity to buy a mobile home and set it up on the property.  If memory serves me correctly, our pioneer days experience lasted for about three months.

As far as my first Sunday at Oak Hill….there’s not much to say about it since the church had no kids or teens at all.  I was the youngest one there so there wasn’t any peer pressure to deal with.  In the year at that church, my mother was my Sunday School teacher and there were some Sundays that we were the only ones my dad had in attendance for his sermon.  Yes, it was small.

Those seven first Sundays formed me.  Not just that one day but in the other Sundays that followed.  It wasn’t a charmed life.  Learning the new people.  Knowing who you could trust and who were a bad influence.  It probably had a lot to do with my introverted ways.  I wouldn’t always open up too much too soon until I got to know people.  Many times people would comment about how quiet I was.  I was quiet but I learned to observe people first and I still do that even today.

These first Sundays in August prepared me for the other firsts such as the first days on a new job.  In reflection those church Sundays might have prepared me for dealing with the new situations as an adult.  I have learned that the person who tells you office gossip on the first day is always the person who is the problem in the office.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to name those people here.  I can tell you I learned that perception in the first Sundays in church and it has been true every time.  I can also tell you that nobody in your new place cares about what successes you have had in other places, you always have to proof yourself with the new people.

Today is the first Sunday of August but I’m glad that I’m not in a new church this morning.

The Government Ain’t Gonna Take My 3-D Printer By Gosh!

You’ve heard that thing people say about guns:  “Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.”

Well, now you can add:  “People with 3-D printers who print guns kill people”.

This is crazy.  People now have the ability to PRINT a gun and use it?

Yesterday a federal judge blocked the online publication of 3D printed gun blueprints that lawmakers around the country feared would lead to easily produced, untraceable firearms.  Well, not to be negative here but that’s not going to stop people from doing it.

I did some research on this and surprisingly, it is not illegal to make your own gun.  Gun enthusiasts have been legally making their own pistols, handguns, rifles and other firearms for centuries and there’s not even a requirement to register them as long as they don’t sell, share, trade or distribute their homemade firearms.

So the issue isn’t that people CAN make their own guns, it’s over the technology which can make it even easier to do it – especially to the outlaws who aren’t supposed to have guns.

Not to get all religious on you here but when I saw this story about 3-D printers making guns, I immediately thought of the verse in the Bible that tells us:  “….inventors of evil things…” (Romans 1:30)    People are continuing to think of new ways to do evil and this 3-D printing of guns is just another invention that will fall into the hands of evil people.

It doesn’t matter which side of the gun debate you stand on, this is something that affects everyone.  Even those of you who are law-abiding citizen and using your firearms for what they are meant for should condemn this new method of making firearms.

So what is a 3-D gun?

3D guns are firearms assembled from ABS plastic parts – the same material found in Legos — that can be made with a 3D printer.  3D printing uses computer-created digital models to create real-world objects, from simple chess pieces to more complex objects such as functioning clocks.  The printers follow the shape of the model by stacking layer upon layer of plastic or other material to make the objects.

The next obvious question most people have is:  “Does this 3D gun have the same force as a traditional handgun?”

Most of the sources I have found answer this question with an emphatic “no” and that most models have been found to have very little effectiveness and most fall apart when used.

In 2013, police in New South Wales, Australia, manufactured copies of Wilson’s original 3D gun, known as the Liberator, using a $1,700 desktop printer. They then placed it in a vise and fired it multiple times, using a wire to pull the trigger. Each time, the gun blew up as the bullet left the chamber.

So as it stands now, the one firing a 3D gun is more likely to be injured than their targets.

Okay, so we have a momentary sigh of relief here BUT there are two concerns here:

First, the very use of a 3D weapon by an “outlaw” on innocent people who are unaware of the ineffectiveness of the homemade firearms could still be a threat.  Just having one of these pointed in your face is enough to instill fear.

Second, I’m sure that those who intend to use this to do harm will continue to develop this technology so it will become more effective.  There are some evil geniuses out there so don’t be surprised if this technology gets better (or worse depending on how you look at it).

So how does this fit into the second amendment where people have the right to bear Arms?  Who knows?  I guess if the day comes when the Government is coming down the road to take over our lives that if they take all of our guns then we can still PRINT out some to defend ourselves right?

The courts will reconvene on this issue on August 10th and expect there to be more debate on this issue.  I’m sure there will be that same argument for the pro-3D gun printing side which will say “if you outlaw 3D printers then only outlaws will have 3D printers”.

My friends this is just another example of people thinking of new ways to do evil.

 

 

 

 

What In The Sam Hill Are You Doing? (And Other Weird Sayings)

sayingSometimes we say words or phrases that we have either heard or has been passed down to us.  Here are some more of these sayings and why we say them:

“What In The Sam Hill?”

Back when people practiced some restrain in using profanity, some would use substitute phrases such as this one.  Sam Hill was a miner and geologist in the 1800’s in the United States and was known to have a foul mouth.  It is thought that the use of his name is a substitute for using foul language.  (And I had always thought it was SAND Hill!)

“Let’s Bury The Hatchet”

While it sounds fairly violent, it is actually a saying people use to reconcile their differences.  It is thought to have originated with Native Americans as a ceremonial act between tribes when they would come to an agreement by burying their hatchets in the ground.

“Let’s just throw in the towel”

This is usually what someone says when they surrender to a situation.  The term comes from the sport of Boxing.  As soon as a boxer’s coach notices that his fighter had been hit too many times and is no longer able to defend himself, he will throw a towel in the ring to end the fight.

“I’ll be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail”

Although not commonly used today, this referred to the quickness that one intends to do something.  A “shake” is a recognized unit of time in how fast a lamb can move its tail.  So if someone says that to you, that means they will do something quickly.

“We’re gonna have a gully washer”

If someone tells you this I suggest you had better get inside.  The term “gully washer” means heavy rain which originated that any gutter or gullys will be cleaned by a downpour of rain.

“I’m fixin to go to the store”

This is a Southern term which dates back to the 14th century when “fix” meant to set one’s eye or mind to do something.  The meaning of getting ready to do something is American in origin and was first recorded in the 18th Century.  When someone tells you this, it means they are getting ready to do something soon.

“I survived by the skin of my teeth”

It sounds like some kind of dental nightmare.  It means to narrowly escape something.  The origin goes back to the Bible and the Book of Job in the passage “My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.”

“They were looking at me like a deer in headlights”

What presenter hasn’t had this experience?   The phrase refers to the behavior of deer who are caught in the beams of car headlights at night and their tendency to freeze instead of running out of the car’s path.  This means people are staring without comprehending what you are saying.  You might want to repeat it again.

“He/she is a brown-noser”

You’ll hear this term mostly in an office environment around the water cooler (or wherever the office gossipers gather).  It refers to someone who is flattering someone for their own interest such as a promotion or favor.  The origin goes to how dogs greet each other and try to be friendly by sniffing their butts.  Yes, the next time you witness this in the office you’ll laughing as you envision them as dogs.

“Not my circus, not my monkeys”

If you hear this one, don’t worry.  There aren’t any real monkeys around but the term does originate from the circus.  When people say this they mean something isn’t their responsibility or that they are not controlling the situation.

 

Adjusting To Changes In Life

lifeIn my last check of my work email on Friday, I read an email that announced one of my co-workers was going to be leaving.  This news took the wind out of me for a moment.  I wasn’t expecting it.  I normally don’t have such a reaction when people at work leave.  It happens.  People move on.  New people will be hired to replace them.  The problem is that you hate to see the good ones leave and he was one of the good ones.  I told my wife that it seems the good ones always leave and the annoying ones NEVER leave and if they do they are replaced by TWO annoying people.

That’s how it goes.  You have to adjust.

Today I read a post on Facebook about someone I have known over the years who had been in critical care recently due to heart-related issues.  From what I can tell, the last status is that he is at home recovering.

Life changes.  People leave us.  We grow old.

Sure, it can be depressing if you let it but you can’t stop it.  I told my wife recently that I still can’t believe I’m in my 50s now.  It doesn’t seem real to me.  My mind isn’t there but my body is.  You can’t stop getting old.

So, if you can’t stop it, the only choice you have is to roll along with it.  Adjust to the changes of life.  Adjust to getting older.  Realize people are going to leave your life.  It’s a harsh reality but you have to do it.

More than likely I won’t have another 50 years unless I’m really lucky.  I want to make the most of what time I have now.  Enjoy the now.  Don’t stay stuck in the past and don’t worry about what’s ahead.  Live today.  Enjoy the people in your life right now.

We have all had to make the hard choices in life which have caused us to lose a few friendships along the way or move away from our comfort zone.  I know that I find myself at times on the same treadmill which is work Monday through Friday and then off on the weekends.  I get stuck in that routine.  I could change it except for the fact that I have bills to pay and responsiblities to my family.   We all do what we have to do for that purpose.  There was a time that I was all about my career and what I could accomplish on my job.  I became a known name in my field and was involved in a lot of projects and other opportunities.  I thought that was the thing but all it got me was MORE work and MORE expectations as well as the stress that went with it.  In recent years I have toned it down and have returned to what was truly important.   I figure that I never want to be the person who will wish he had spent more time at the office etched onto my tombstone.

If there is one piece of advice I have given people is that things change.  Sometimes they don’t change as fast as we would like for them to change but it doesn’t change.  The best ability one can have is the ability to adjust to the changes.

When I transferred from a job location I had been for over 20 years, someone asked me how the office would ever do without me.  I simply said that they would hire someone else.  I didn’t mean for it to be as blunt as it came out but it is true.  I moved on and they hired someone else.

The one thing I hate about being an adult is that I have to make the difficult decisions and, ultimately, suffer the consequences of those decisions.  It was easy growing up because I could always blame my parents or my teachers because of the decisions they made but now it’s on me.  I don’t like that part.  I don’t like having to play the $200 electric bill instead of getting a new computer.  I don’t like staying home when I want to go somewhere but it’s just a part of how life changes.  You adjust your thinking when the responsiblity rests on your shoulders.

The value of our life is the NOW.  The present time.  What we’ve done in the past is over.  We can’t go back and change anything.  The future isn’t here yet and it unfolds according to how we live the present.

 

 

The Greatest Show In Church

ringmaster-costume-largeIn the movie “The Greatest Showman”, P.T. Barnum was asked about his show:

James Gordon Bennett: Tell me, Mr. Barnum, does it bother you that everything you’re selling is fake?
P.T. Barnum: Do these smiles seem fake? It doesn’t matter where they come from. The joy is real.

On Friday, I tuned into a religious broadcast where an evangelist was being interviewed.  My first thought was to turn away but I was amazed by his charisma and candor.  He reminded me immediately of the P.T. Barnum character which was portrayed in the movie.

This “man of God” (a.k.a. Showman) was going on about how God was healing the deaf and the blind during his revival meetings.  He said this one person he had laid hands on was healed instantly as the person’s ear opened up and at another service in Utah another person was healed and he didn’t even have an ear drum.  This man was healing people left and right.  Miracles seemed to be everywhere he goes.

Okay, enough already.  I was in a Pentecostal church for over 40 years and I heard this line most of my life.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard that God would heal the sick, the lame would walk, deaf ears would be opened, blinded eyes would see and the dead would be raised.  Folks, I don’t mean to be harsh here but in the 40+ years I never witnessed any of these miracles that was allegedly happening.  So when this evangelist made claims about these miraculous healings, I want names.  Proof.  Who are these people you speak of?  I need some verification of this.

In all of my years I never witnessed a miracle. Not once.  Not ever.  It never happened.  Now this guy is spewing this same old, worn out Pentecostal propaganda and people are+ still buying it.  Yes, this is still the Greatest Show in Church.  I never saw it.  Now, I always HEARD it happened.  This evidence would not be allowed in most courts because it would be considered heresy.  I will be fair and say that I have known people who were healed but I wouldn’t say they were these miraculous healings this evangelist was selling.  I won’t say it wasn’t from God but most of these healings were also aided by doctors and medicine.

I honestly don’t want to be negative but I have heard enough.  It’s time to stop the theatrics and empty promises of these miracles.  I believe the reason we don’t witness legitimate miracles is that evangelists get in the way of it because it inflates their ego.  Then people start following the evangelist instead of recognizing the source of the miracle.  They say that God WANTS to do these miracles but He’s not going to do them to build up someone’s sideshow.  For years, I would often play an old audio cassette tape form a sermon I heard that told of miracles that happened in the speaker’s ministry.  I even asked for proof and never got it.  I wanted to believe.  I trusted these people yet it all seems to have been a show.  Smoke and mirrors.  Like the Great Oz where it was just a man behind the curtain.

I’m not being a rebel or doubter here.  I WANT to believe this stuff is happening and I do believe God can heal people but I’m just saying that as much as people want to sell this idea, I have never seen it happen.  I’m not saying it doesn’t happen or it wouldn’t happen.  I’m just saying there isn’t any evidence that there are miracles happening today.  It saddens me.  I want to see it. Enough of these sideshows with salesmen selling fakes. Either God can do miracles or He isn’t for some reason. Someone is lying to people here just to promote a church, a ministry or a preacher.

There was a time I believed these stories without any question but after over 40 years of seeing absolutely NO deaf ears opened, blinded eyes that could see and no one getting out of their wheelchair, I’m calling it like it is.

I often see a young man in the building where I work who has to have a mobile cart to get around.  He’s the nicest man you could meet.  I have thought many times how awesome it would be if God would raise Him up out that cart so he could walk on his own two legs.  I don’t lack faith that God could do it but I lack evidence that He is doing it.  I have absolutely no proof that it is happening today.

My friends, it is demoralizing to have gone my whole life being taught these things only to have never witnessed a single miraculous healing of any kind.  If you’re like me, you have to wonder why this is.  I don’t want stories anymore or a salesman claims, I want to see a God who is all powerful and not just some man claiming God is doing this things only to find he’s just a man behind the curtain making people think that an all powerful God is doing these things when He’s not.

God doesn’t need their help.  They need to stop selling Jesus.