Saturday, January 28, 2012
Kristen Zajac has written an inspiring and educational book for kids entitled Chasing the Spirit of Service. It's about a girl who misses her airman father when he's away and the story her great-grandfather shares with her and her friend, Adam.
Emma's great-grandfather was one of the first African American airmen in World War II. He flew a red tail plane from Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and had to put up with a lot of racial prejudice.
Because they learn about the dedication of people in the military, Emma and Adam decide to do their part by showing gratitude to them. Kids who read the book will be inspired to show their own appreciation, and to understand some of the sacrifices military people have made.
Julie Tucker's bright and colorful illustrations capture the feel of the story beautifully.
This is a great book to help today's kids understand an important part of American history.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
My friend, Kim, who is a writer with a kid who has special needs, nominated me for the Liebster award on her blog, http://thesimplelifekdl.blogspot.com That award is for good blogs that have less than 200 followers and anyone who gets it is supposed to pass it on to five others. Although I follow lots of blogs, some of which are wonderful, it isn’t always possible to tell how many followers they have but here are the ones I’ve chosen for the award: http://strengthfortheweary.wordpress.com/ This blog by one of my Christian writer friends, is full of helpful encouragement for people dealing with difficulties and sometimes includes good poetry. http://www.leeroddybooks.com/blog2/ Lee Roddy is a well-known author, but new to the blogosphere so I’ve chosen his blog because I think more people might like to know about his books and what he is up to. http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/ This blog is by another friend, Brad Sargent, who has worked for years to prepare material that can help churches grow. http://fromcarolsquill.blogspot.com/ Carol Peterson writes encouraging and interesting material on this blog. http://beyondmentalillness.us/ This is a writer I’ve met in a local group and his blog is inspired by his son, who has autism. I don’t know enough about the treatments he suggests to tell if they work or not, but I’m including it because I care about Special Needs. Please visit these blogs and, if you like them, become a follower.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Monday will be Chinese New Year, and, according to their calendar, this will be the year of the dragon. I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area where I enjoyed watching parades with lines of people dancing in a dragon costume.
In that culture dragons are considered symbols of good luck, but in European ones dragons were considered evil and dangerous.
It's interesting that in both Asian and European cultures people believed in dragons. Perhaps in both areas they had found skeletons of dinosaurs and guessed what sort of creatures those bones must have belonged to.
In both cases, the concept of dragons inspired many myths and legends. As a kid I loved reading about dragons and, to tell the truth, I still do. Those stories have enriched the imaginations of children for many generations. Maybe someday I'll write one myself.
What's your favorite dragon story?
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I've read that little kids tend to believe everything commercials say is true. Hopefully, they'll learn that isn't so.
But commercials are trying to make us all believe their claims. Could they be a form of attempted hypnotism? Are people actually more likely to choose brands they've seen advertised?
When I was young and TV was new there were about five minutes of commercials every hour. Now the amount of time spent on advertising often seems equal to the actual program time. And the ads are louder than the programs so leaving the room doesn't protect us from hearing them. I understand there's a new law that's supposed to forbid that, but it obviously hasn't taken effect yet.
And many commercials are just, plain rude.
Of course businesses must have a way to let people know about their products and services just as I want people to know about the books I've written, but it must be possible to advertise without hitting people over the head. Have you seen any polite commercials?
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Last year my area had one of the wettest winters on record and this year seems to be one of the driest, but other areas have had opposite extremes of weather. Everyone is talking about climate change.
There are lots of explanations for climate change. It could be caused by chemical pollution of the air and the air quality has certainly changed for the worse. Perhaps it's simply a natural change that happens every few thousand years. I've read there was a mild ice age during the middle ages.
But I have the true explanation. It's the skateboarders. They jump up and down so much that they've tipped the planet. ;-)
Okay, I'm being silly.
Whatever the real cause, I guess we'll have to figure out how to adapt and cope with it.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Here's a confession: I have an irrational fear. I'm scared to use the automatic oven cleaning feature on my gas stove.
Yes, I know it's irrational. An unclean oven full of grease buildup is much more likely to catch on fire than an oven using that feature. Even though it heats to hundreds of degrees the stove is insulated and has been scientifically tested. And, yes, I've used it many times before with no problems.
But it still scares me.
Sometimes ovens simply must be cleaned and the instructions that came with my stove say not to use cleaning products that could do the job so sometimes I have to do it. If courage means doing the right thing in spite of your fears maybe that means I'm brave. At least I keep telling myself so. But the self cleaning feature still scares me and I hate doing it.
Am I the only one who feels that way.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
After Christmas some people my age and older sent me handwritten thank you notes. But I thanked people for gifts and hospitality with e-mail messages and got e-mail messages expressing appreciation from others. The days when people had to sit down and compose polite, handwritten letters to all the distant relatives who sent gifts they often didn't like are clearly over.
But thanking people is still important.
Some folks work hard at jobs where they may get complaints if someone doesn't like what they do, but rarely get praise. There have been times when I've thanked people like those repairing streets, collecting trash, stocking shelves in a grocery store, or cleaning public buildings and they have seemed both pleased and amazed. Unless they have something to gripe about, most people take those workers for granted, yet the world would be a lot worse if nobody did those jobs.
And a few times when someone did an especially excellent job I've contacted their employers to say so. Whenever that happened the person who took my call seemed shocked and surprised that someone would bother to contact them with a positive comment, although they often get negative ones.
It only takes a few seconds or, at most, a few minutes to express appreciation for people who do a good job, but doing so can mean a lot to someone. In 2012 I hope to thank a lot more people.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I've heard most people don't keep their New Year's resolutions. Perhaps that's because they forget or because the resolutions are too difficult to be realistic.
But there's no reason why our resolutions have to be about major changes or things we intend to keep doing for an entire year. Why not make resolutions to do just one simple thing in the next few days?
For example, instead if resolving to loose fifty pounds in a year why not just resolve to avoid eating sweets tomorrow? Or, instead of resolving to keep a home or office clean and organized why not promise to tackle that one pile of papers and file or toss them all by the weekend?
If we keep that one resolution perhaps we'll be motivated to make another small one. Success is a motivator, so perhaps we can mark the calendar with a reminder to do one small resolution at the beginning of every month. Maybe if we get into the habit of making and keeping them, we'll even want to try making a resolution every week.
But if we don't keep a resolution that's no reason to give up. The first of January may be the start of the year, but every morning is a new beginning.