Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prejudice and Bigotry

Prejudice is the assumption that all members of a group are the same.

In primitive times it was wise for humans to assume that all wolves, bears, and panthers were dangerous. If someone got sick or died after eating a certain plant it was sensible of everyone else to believe all plants like that were poisonous. Even if the assumptions weren’t completely accurate, they helped people survive.

Bigotry is a negative assumption about a group of humans.

In past centuries most people never traveled more than 20 miles from their homes and it was normal for them to be uncomfortable around others who looked and sounded different from those in their own communities. Often they only encountered different people in times of war. It was understandable that they became bigoted.

In the 1960s and 70s we worked hard to eliminate prejudice against people based on their race, religion, sex, or national origin and the Americans with Disabilities act made prejudice against others with special needs less likely as we became more familiar with those people. While the problem hasn’t disappeared completely, bigotry is a lot less common now - except for one kind.

Political party bigotry has become rampant, and the people with the most power in our country are working to encourage it.

Thousands, if not millions, of Americans now believe all Democrats want to undermine the basic moral values of our culture. Probably about the same number think all Republicans are either ignorant rednecks or selfish rich people.

In the English language we use the word, “wrong” to mean both inaccurate and immoral. Because someone’s beliefs are innacurate doesn’t necessarily mean they are immoral, although they might be.

In my humble opinion it is both inaccurate and immoral to encourage bigotry against people because of their political beliefs, and completely immoral for politicians, journalists, and others to encourage political bigotry.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marvin Wilson

Today we have another author visiting us. He doesn't write for kids, but some of his experiences may be helpful to parents. Please welcome Marvin Wilson.

Marvin, on your website you mention how much music lessons helped you. Can you please explain why taking music lessons can be beneficial to kids?

It’s much like sports, the benefits are many: learning self-discipline, the increased sense of self-worth and confidence when you gain some skill and keep achieving new levels, and of course the satisfaction of being able to perform and be applauded for entertaining and bringing some joy into people’s lives. I recommend music and/or sports for any kid. But you can also do the same thing with academics, so if a child is not interested in or has not much natural skill in music or sports, you can damage them by forcing them to do either one, hm?

How old were you when you started taking lessons?

Well, my mother started teaching me to sing when I was one year old. My first public performance was in church at the age of two. Standing on the piano bench next to her as she accompanied me, I sang “Give me that Old Time Religion.” I took choir in Junior High, at age fourteen the Beatles invaded the US and I took up the guitar—Dad was a guitarist so he taught me basic chords—and then in High School I continued in choir and took music theory, started composing music. I went to college on a music scholarship. I went on to play lead guitar and sing lead in several rock and roll bands for fifteen years as a professional musician. I still play, mostly in my church’s Praise and Worship band, and occasionally in pit orchestras for community and civic theatre musical productions.

What do you think is the ideal age to begin?

As soon as a child shows interest ... never to young! My granddaughter was only two when I noticed she was playing a toy piano will all ten fingers. Really working the keys, not just poking at them like most kids. I encouraged my daughter to get her into piano lessons as soon as possible. Their budget was tight at the time, young family and all, but she’s five now and taking lessons. I think she’s really got the talent.

You seem to have gotten into a lot of trouble when you were a young man. Is there anything your parents might have done differently to help prevent that?

No, and aside from being a Hippie as a young man, doing the pot, free love and all that, if you call that a lot of trouble, I didn’t at the time of course, I did not really get myself into a lot of trouble until I was in my mid fifties. Nobody’s fault but my own. My business had failed, my marriage was on the rocks, I was at a spiritual all time low, not connected to God at all, the way my strong Christian parents had raised me, and ... I just got lost, I mean really lost in the world of drug addiction and sensual, sexual gratification. Nearly killed me, and would have except for my finding Christ one day, and receiving Grace. I laid my sins and addictions down at the cross and asked God to take these demons from me, please free me, heal me and make me whole again, and ... praise God, He did. I’ve not had one single craving or tempting thought or impulse since that moment. And anyone who has had or knows someone who has had a serious narcotics addiction can tell you that is nothing short of a miracle. I write about all of this in my first book, I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie).

How much influence do you think parents have on their children’s future lives?

Immense. Either positive or negative, the kind of parenting a child receives will mark them for life with advantage or disadvantage. Parenting, good parenting, is, sadly I believe, becoming a lost art. And I believe in lovingly administered corporal punishment, too. A good smack or two on the behind does a lot more to steer a kid in the right direction than these wimpy “time-outs” that are so popular these days. Ridiculous. The kid’s got video games, internet, comic books, all kinds of stuff to do in his or her bedroom, and you call that disciplining? Also of utmost importance is providing spiritual direction. Had I not known and remembered my Christian teachings as a child, I may not have thought to turn to the altar decades later for redemption. That direction I received from my parents as a kid saved my life and soul many, many years later.

What’s the most important thing your parents did right when you were a kid?

Even thought we were poor, Dad was a preacher in a very small denomination, we were never for lack of love and strong family togetherness. I always knew Mom and Dad loved each other and all us boys. We did things together, always had family dinners together, every day, Dad took time to play ball with us boys ... it was great. I didn’t know how fortunate I was to have such a together and loving family until I was grown and out in the world, where I discovered it was the exception for so many, not the rule.

You’re now an author of books for adults. Did you like to read when you were a kid?

Oh sure. Mom and Dad always read to us boys and we all learned to read at very early ages. I loved comic books as a grade school kid, then graduated to classic novels in Junior High, and turned into a sci-fi fan into High School. By the time I was in college I was well read in all genres.

What are the titles of your books, and where can people find out more about you?

Well the memoir I mentioned above, I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), then my first novel, Owen Fiddler, and my last release is Between the Storm and the Rainbow. This year I will have my second novel published, titled, Beware the Devil’s Hug.

All three publications so far are available on and can also be ordered from most bookstores, both in paperback format, Kindlereader, and other EBooks formats.

I have a popular blog at: <>

You can tweet with me at: <>, and

If you Facebook, we can “face” each other at <>

Thank you for having me on your blog to share with your readers today, Janet. I will of course stop in a few times this afternoon and early evening to interact with anyone who comments with any questions or thoughts they’d like to share. Thanks again, and God bless.

Thank you for sharing with us.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Today I'm at a writer's conference, so I won't say much here. However I'll be posting an interview with another author tomorrow.
I love writer's conferences! This one is for members of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators) and I look forward to learning and communicating with other writers.
Talk to you more tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day Story

I've probably told this story before, but I can't resist sharing it again.
Before Earth Day became a national holiday it was celebrated in Berkeley, CA, where I worked in the dormitories at California School for the Deaf.
We were having major problems with head lice. None of the staff had ever encountered those pesky creatures before, and we knew nothing about them, but they were driving us crazy. No matter what treatments the nurses gave the students, the lice spread, and spread. (Now I know that was partly because every week we washed all their combs and brushes in one bathtub.)
Finally one of the counselors got fed up and went downtown to the Public Health Department. They gave her something they said would certainly get rid of the infestation.
So we spent the very first Earth Day putting DDT on the heads of all the children.
Of course nobody knew back then how toxic that chemical was and it did work.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weather Forecasts

In many areas the weather at this time of year keeps changing, and that can make it difficult to make plans for outdoor activities. Even short term, professional forecasts can be inaccurate, but meteorologists can usually give us a pretty good idea what to expect. Instead of watching the ones on TV or listening to radio forecasts I prefer to check the online websites when I'm making plans.
Many people go to the National Weather Service's site, first, but I prefer because they get their information about current conditions closer to my home. The same thing was true where we lived before. However the Weather Service does predict things a few more days in the future. gives ten day forecasts. Of course the farther ahead the forecasts are, the less likely they are to be correct, but at least they give a general idea of what to expect. The fifteen day predictions on are even less likely to be accurate.
There are lots of other sites online that predict weather conditions, including local TV news channels, but these four are the ones I use most often.
When planning a trip or event I usually look at the 15 day forecast when thinking about what to bring, then go to the 10 day, and, finally, to the more dependable short term predictions.
Of course there are no guarantees because weather conditions can change unexpectedly. Once the day before my grandson was coming to visit all four forecasts said there was 100% likelihood of snow the next day. But they were all 100% wrong. We had a little bit of light rain, then clear skies and a disappointed kid.
Oh, well, he had fun in the sun anyway.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


When I was not quite five years old and my brother was two-and-a-half we moved across the country from the East Coast to California. There were no freeways back then and the drive took ten days. We slept in motels and usually ate in coffee shops since fast food hadn't been invented yet.
For the entire trip my brother refused to eat anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If those weren't available where we stopped he usually wouldn't eat anything at all.
That comfort food was one familiar thing when almost everything else in his life was changing.
Often when kids - and even adults - go through major changes in their lives it can help them adjust if they have access to a few familiar things. Those may be foods, bedtime rituals, or favorite toys.
What things were comforting to you when you were a kid?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Best Books

I asked my eight year old grandson what were the best books he's ever read or had read to him. Without hesitation he replied, "The Harry Potter books I've heard, and Lee Roddy's books."
His parents read him the first few Harry Potter books, but felt the later ones weren't appropriate for his age. I've read him most of the Ladd family adventures by Lee Roddy and he still likes me to read them to him when he visits even though he can read well himself now. He's also heard and read many other books, but he considers those two series the best by far.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


My grandson is spending the week with us and I love being a grandma. I wish we lived closer and could see each other more often, but the time we do spend together is so much fun.
Some children must live with their grandparents, who take the place of parents, and others frequently care for their grandkids, but it's still different from being a parent because they have the benefit of experience.
Others seldom or never see their grandkids.
But those of us who do get to spend time with our grandkids are among the luckiest people in the world.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Do you know any authors personally? If you don't, perhaps you can attend a book signing or hear a talk given by one.
When I was in Girl Scouts our troop had the privilege of visiting an author in her home, where she showed us the galley proofs of her book. That was an experience I've never forgotten.
Now that I am an author myself I've met hundreds of others at conferences, and almost all are creative, intelligent, and nice people.
In my humble opinion, anyone who loves to read should try to get to know people who love to write because they may become authors themselves someday.