Monday, February 9, 2015

COME TOGETHER

Isn't the internet the most marvelous tool we have today? We can research anything -- and watch anything. Such as the following video. I'm sure most of us have seen this on television. A great advertisement for Android. But also a great reminder of how different species of the world manage to get along, and in some cases, really love one another! When will we human species ever learn?



Peace...
Marilyn

Saturday, February 7, 2015

If there is ever any doubt...

that Christians have been as guilty of barbarism as the current day Islam jihadists, one only has to read this heartbreaking story by Bill Moyers: Black Men Burned Alive
In this horrible picture, one must remember that this happened in America in the twentieth century. Burning people alive goes back as far as one can research Christianity. Sadly, this one took place in my home state of Texas.

The current practice by GOP politicians of condemning all of Islam and presuming that every Muslim is capable of such barbarity as we are seeing practiced by ISIS and Al Queda, thus hoping to win votes from the ignorant, is reprehensible at best. Criminal at its worst. It is meant to inflame, but can only do damage to more innocents. It makes as much sense as blaming all Christians for the acts of our ancestors. And it perhaps will cause more young people to join in the movement, thinking they are defending their religion.

Surely, there are enough folks in the United States who can speak up and say they do not want to hear this from their politicians. Nor will they vote for anyone espousing such beliefs.

Peace,
Marilyn 

ADDENDUM: I recently read an article by Marianne Williamson that contains the following quote, which I find so true for today's world: "Terrorism is hatred turned into a political force, and the only thing powerful enough to fundamentally override it is to turn love into a political force. But that, we will not be able to do until we are willing to make love more important than money, and others more important than ourselves."  


You may read this enlightening article at Terrorism Loses Humanity Wins
                                         

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

GOOD STUFF THAT HAPPENED IN 2014

As we move into 2015, the TV news shows as well as the Internet are full of the "10 Biggest News Stories of 2014". Unfortunately, most of the ones they speak of happen to be bad news stories. So many times we have to hunt for the good news stories. We might get one a week, or if we're lucky, some newscasters show a heartwarming story at the end of their broadcast. Some of those we remember; some we don't. I decided to find some of what to me mean "good stuff" that happened in 2014. If you have one or more to add to my list, feel free to put them in Comments.

I'll start off with my favorite song of the year. (Next is probably "Let It Go", but more for the message than the overall feel-good experience.) Turn it on and watch:
I defy anyone to remain in a gloomy, negative, pessimistic state while listening to Pharrell sing "Happy". You may even find yourself tapping your feet or wanting to get up and dance a little. Watching folks from all walks of life dance to it is also a lot of fun. I really got a kick out of the Park Ranger.

While stories of Ebola deaths continue to dismay us, there were some good news about it as well. We must not forget the stricken people of Africa nor the aid workers who so generously assist in their recovery. This little boy shows his happiness at being healed.


Mothers of toddlers out there: there is good news for you if your little ones like to play in the dirt and make mud pies. They may get a dose of antibiotics that will cure them of whatever might be ailing them at the time!  New Antibiotic From Dirt

Some lucky students overburdened with college loan debt were happy to hear what a nonprofit organization accomplished with donations. "Strike Debt", a group of anti-debt activists born out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, said it purchased $3.9 million in delinquent private student debt and immediately canceled it". Strike Debt

I fell in love with Pope Francis this past year! He is such a humble, saintly person who seems to follow the teachings of Jesus closer than any Pope of the past. I am particularly impressed with his statement on gays: "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?"  That's just one of many reasons he is such a remarkable breath of fresh air to the Roman Catholic church.

Everyone knows what generous gifts given to charity that Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and other recognizable names make each year. The young do so as well.
(Photo from boredpanda)
There is a young man that I saw interviewed on one of the news programs recently who invented the GoPro camera, which is small enough to track the flight of a bird. His name is Nick Woodman. He and his wife Jill gave the third largest gift in the U.S. last year of $500 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. They set up a charitable foundation in their own name, the money to be distributed to causes they support -- as yet to be decided. Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fame) and his wife Priscilla Chan donated nearly $1 billion to the same foundation in 2013. It is good to know that the younger generation of technical geniuses realizes the need to help those less fortunate or to invest in causes that help the world. The silicon valley foundation supports local as well as global nonprofits in the areas of education, affordable housing, transportation, and environmental issues.

There were many little animal stories for the animal lovers among us. Look at Leon Trotsky the pig in his wheelchair:
Read his story and others like his here: Amazing Animals Show Us How

Speaking of animals, In March of 2014 the United Nations International Court ordered Japan to cease the hunting of hundreds of whales in the Antarctic each year under the guise of "biological research". Have you ever listened to recordings of the sounds whales make when communicating? Beautiful, haunting melodies. Elephants, dolphins, and whales more and more appear to have human characteristics and even methods of communication. They deserve our protection.

Although we can always do better in protecting the environment and the creatures of our planet, there were many positive strides made in these areas in 2014. The Great News Network will keep you informed of the advances being made.

Here are some items of uplifting news you may not have heard yet. (These can be read about in depth at Cracked. Warning: this site has language some might find offensive.)

  • The first ten years of this century had the lowest number of annual battle deaths in history, even with the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does this mean we are closing in on World Peace?
  • Fewer teens are drinking, smoking, and doing drugs than ever before. (Except for marijuana.)
  • The United States and even the world, contrary to the ongoing fighting by jihadists, is becoming more tolerant and less hate-filled than ever before in history. This is especially true of racism and the acceptance of the LGBT community.
  • The world's literacy rate is at an all-time high. In the U.S., 99% of adults can read and write, and the higher percentages in other countries is remarkable as well.
  • The Number One surprising good news listed in this article is that the world's poverty rate is dropping. From 1991 to 2012 the number of the world's extreme poor was cut in half.
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On a closing note, I want to quote from a little booklet I read from each day published by Silent Unity called Daily Word. World peace was first in everyone's prayers for the new year. Unity said it beautifully:

"World peace begins with people who are peaceful within themselves. It starts with those who find nonviolent ways to settle disputes. They respect others, honor differences, and realize God is in everyone. With every person who finds tranquility, the collective energy of peace grows, like a gentle breeze stirring love within all it touches."

May 2015 find all of us filled with peace and love,
Marilyn

Thursday, December 25, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS

I neglected to get Christmas cards out this year, so I thought I would share a few memories from my family Christmases. These are just a few that I have on my computer. I hope to get around to scanning many more photos in the future. In the meantime, I wish all of you - my readers from around the world - a blessed Christmas. And may our New Year see Peace and Love settle upon our planet earth.


Love,
Marilyn


Sunday, December 7, 2014

CHRISTMAS TREATS

My good friend Jack keeps doing more and more, while most folks his age are doing less and less. This video is a presentation that those of you who were in Unity of Denton during the 90s will recognize. Jack performed this in church for us every Christmas.


I have posted some of his pastel art work in the past, but these have to be my favorites. He did them recently.




I am not certain, but I'll bet Jack would be willing to sell these. What a nice Christmas present. If you wish more information, let me know via the Comments, and I will contact Jack. Also, at the end of the video there is a list of Jack's e-books which are for sale on Amazon. He has been very prolific with his creative endeavors.

I hope all of your Christmas preparations are going well, and that you are looking forward to a very Merry Christmas!

Peace,
Marilyn

Friday, November 21, 2014

THE BRIGHTEST AND BEST

Audrey, my environmentalist/violinist granddaughter, made 3rd chair, 2nd violin, in the Duke Medicine Orchestra. She is at Duke University finishing her Master's Degree in Environmental Management. The picture above was taken when she and her mother Carajean went on an adventure to Devil's River this past September. They joined Audrey's former ballet teacher and his wife, and stayed at a beautiful place on the river itself. I thought they would be "camping out", and couldn't feature my daughter Carajean roughing it! 

Carajean wrote the following about her son, who, by the way is consistently on the Honor Roll at school. According to Mom, he and his dad enjoy their time together at the monthly tennis tournaments and on bicycle rides, weather permitting. The photo below was on Tanner's 16th birthday in August. Note sister Ashlyn's gerbil Chips hanging out in his pocket. The hat must be for learning to captain their boat on Lake Austin next summer. He certainly looks the part!

"Tanner is playing in what is called a 'Champs' tournament. There are three levels of tournaments (outside of the local tournaments here in Amarillo), ZAT, Champs, and Super Champs. These tennis tournaments take place every month all over the state of Texas. You play within your age group, I think Tanner's is 16-18. Everyone in the Champs tournament has already won the ZAT tournament. If he wins a Champs tournament then he can only play in the Super Champs tournaments thereafter, where everyone else has won as well. So the skill level increases every time he wins a tournament. Private High School tournaments are called TAPPS tournaments. They occur once a year in the spring. He won second place last year, a freshman against a senior. And this past August he won the TriState Area Tennis Tournament with a tie-breaker against an 18-year old. He is good and improving but will never be a professional. The competition is crazy!" (This proud grandmomma said if he kept it up, he might be a professional some day.) 
                                                                               My older son Craig sent me an update on granddaughter Hannah, who auditioned for and was accepted by the Booker T. Washington Performing Arts High School in Dallas. 

"Booker T. scores out very well on academics. They have to be able to keep their grades up, even with the emphasis on their particular 'major' (Hannah's being theater). Hannah is taking several advanced placement courses - some where she's the only freshman, I think."

My youngest granddaughter, Kelly, has also made the A Honor Roll, and was recently given the Math Assessment test. She scored 100% - the only 100 in her third grade class. Mom Amy sent me the following on her cheer team.

"Her cheer team recently won Showcase at Concordia University. They now go to Regionals the day after Thanksgiving in San Antonio."

Kelly's big brother Travis has been sharing quality time with his dad Matthew (my youngest child), as Tanner does with his dad Branch. Travis has been taking golfing lessons, and playing in frequent PGA Junior Golf tournaments. Last month he won his second one, shooting a 41 on 9-holes. I don't know who was the proudest - Dad or Travis!

He's also on the A and B Honor Roll.. His dad mentioned to me that one of the two Bs was an advanced placement class.

The last I heard from my oldest grandchild Cameron, he had moved into his own apartment in Fort Worth, and his new job at the Unitarian Church was going really well. I just found out why I haven't heard more frequently - he's been a busy, busy guy! Last year he and some friends formed a group of singers who are available for hire during the Christmas season. They have their own website now. Uptown Christmas Carolers  Cameron is the handsome dude on the far right!
Besides his church position as Director of Education and planning the upcoming caroling season, Cameron has also recently recorded backup vocals for a Motown revival album sung by Leon Bridges. The new album hasn't come out yet, but he says he will let me know! Here is a sample of Leon Bridges singing: Leon Bridges. From opera to hymns to Simon and Garfunkel, and now some low-down, Motown blues. Cameron, your range is fantastic! 

Last, but far from "least" is Carajean's daughter Ashlyn. I haven't heard much out of Ashlyn since she started her first year of college at OSU in September. I know she was very busy at first getting acclimated to her new surroundings, and rushing the sorority she wanted to join. (She made it.) A while back, the whole family got flu shots. I'm not certain if they've had them before, but Carrie said this time everyone except Tanner came down with the flu! (I think they must have been exposed before their shots!) Ashlyn ended up with a bad infection and cough requiring antibiotics, much to her chagrin, and was coming home weekends to be medicated. Her mom said she was extremely upset that the cough medicine contained codeine, causing her to oversleep one morning and miss an important biology exam. I hope to hear more when she comes with her mother and big sister for a visit in December. 

This has been so uplifting for me to write about, and to realize how blessed our family is to have such great kids! All healthy, smart, talented, and of course, I think they are all beautiful! 

Love and peace,
Marilyn

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gettin' It Off Our Chests!


If any of you are as dismayed as I am at the results of this past election.. and are wondering what on earth has happened to the people of the United States to cause them to elect such, in some cases, ungodly candidates, you will understand it better when you read former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower's article The Rise of the Stealth Ogliarchy. In this article, he spells out what many of us have suspected for quite some time.. at least since the Citizens United verdict issued by the SCOTUS. That being, the elections are more and more frequently being bought with "dark money" donated by special interest groups. Big oil, big Pharma, Koch brothers, etc.

I personally shudder at the election results in the state of Texas. I'm not happy with our newly elected Governor Greg Abbott, but God forbid anything happens to him and we have the likes of the clown Dan Patrick running our state! (Who appears to be gettin' it ON his chest here!)
Read what some of the recently elected or re-elected politicians have said in the past: One politician states Obama "is possessed by demons"; one states that gays "are out to recruit your children" and "gay people don't deserve civil rights"; another says Hillary Clinton is "the anti-Christ"; another said "Let's go to war with Mexico". Yes, these people were actually elected to represent the "people". You can read about them and other nightmare electees here: Look Who's In Office Now

Congressional Lottery? A suggestion by Michael Schulson in the Daily Beast shortly after the election isn't such a bad idea when you consider the ones we recently elected to office. He starts off  with "If you’re looking for an unrepresentative group of Americans, the House of Representatives isn’t a bad place to start. Its members are disproportionately old and white. More than 80 percent of them are men. They spend around four hours per day on the phone, asking people for money. Unlike most other telemarketers, they have a median net worth of almost $900,000. More than a third of them hold law degrees." He goes on to state that "not much changed" in this past election.
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In the past, I have published things written by my old friend Jack Garner. He gets particularly riled up at Letters to the Editor in his hometown paper. They always publish his response. Here is the latest letter that raised his hackles.

Letters to the Editor, Nov. 14 
Denton Record-Chronicle 
Senior Spending

"America’s senior citizens are in an enviable position. They have an ever-increasing percentage of the country’s wealth.

The federal government spends nearly seven times as much per capita on programs for people 65 and older than it does on programs for children.

Because of an aging population and rising health care costs, government spending on senior citizens will increase greatly during the coming years.

By contrast, young adults and their children are by far the poorest age cohort of Americans. They are suffering from the effects of automation, globalization and soaring student debt.

They will spend their lives paying interest on the government debt that their elders have racked up.

Government spending that will promote their future prosperity (such as infrastructure, education and basic scientific research) continues to fall as a percentage of federal spending.

Unfortunately, a substantial majority of older Americans show by their votes that they support these trends. They want to reduce government spending, including in the three critical areas mentioned, except when it comes to their own benefits.

Let’s hope that they eventually develop an increased concern for the future of those who come after them." ..... B** M*********

And here is Jack's acerbic response:

"Lo the tin woodsman still searches for a heart, and there is no suggestion of such an organ in the letter of B** M********* as he berates American seniors for their slice of the American pie. What do you advocate, Mr. M*********, for the elderly and infirm? Perhaps abandon them with no food on an ice floe as the Eskimos once did?

Personally, I don’t believe young adults and children that you cry crocodile tears for are the real reason for your tirade. I propose it is you and your class that would like to take away benefits from the old in hopes of lowering your taxes.

Your missive brings to mind Scrooge’s admonition to those trying to gather money for food for the poor on Christmas. Does Ebenezer nest some place in your family tree, Sir?

Senior citizens you rebuke are those that have worked their fingers to the bone, and paid tax burdens of a past generation. They include veterans of Korea, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm Would you toss the men and women that served into the trash heap now that they are past the age of serving? You, Sir, and your ilk are responsible for the Republican Party being branded as mean-spirited.

In closing, as I suggested in my opening, you are heartless and selfish. May the Grinch leave a chunk of coal in you stocking this Christmas, and may the New Year bring you a sense of generosity that you are now sadly lacking." ...John Nance Garner   (Ornament by Ann Lihl)

That's telling him, Jack!

However, what Jack has failed to note is that it is the corporate welfare in the way of subsidies, and the unfair tax code with all its loopholes that allow corporations to move their headquarters to other countries to avoid paying taxes, as well as the wealthiest 1% of the U.S. citizens not only taking advantage of the loopholes in the code, but also hiding their assets in foreign countries, that have helped to create such disparity in government spending. If they all would carry their share of the tax burden, the things such as "infrastructure, education, and basic scientific research" would have ample funds. And one must remember that the largest creditor of the U.S. government is Social Security! The seniors -- those 65 and older -- have contributed as much or more to the Social Security fund than any of the younger generations have had an opportunity to do.

No more tears for now. We are approaching the best holiday seasons of the year. And it is imperative to focus on the things we are thankful for. Stay tuned.

Peace and love,
Marilyn